RONAN DALY PEEKS BEHIND THE VEIL AT GUILTY CROWN (PART ONE), THE FIRST HALF OF THE THRILLING ANIME SERIES DIRECTED BY TETSURO ARAKI (BEST KNOWN FOR HIS WORK ON THE DEATH NOTE ANIME SERIES).
Guilty Crown takes place in Japan in the year 2039, ten years after the horrific Apocalypse virus brought the country to its knees and left the population paralyzed with fear. As a result of the devastation wrought by this virus, Japan had no choice but to accept massive levels of international aid. This effectively left Japan at the mercy of the organisation known as the GHQ. Now, a decade later, the country remains in a state of fear, with GHQ authorised to exterminate any possible cases of infection or any threats to GHQ. One group, known as the Undertakers (or Funeral Parlour to some), is fighting back to regain independence for Japan and hope for its people, all the while being slated as terrorists in the media.
A 17 year old highschool student, Shuu Ouma, (voiced by Deadman Wonderland and Fairy Tail's Yuki Kaji in Japanese and Austin Tindle in English) considers himself to be something of an outsider. He finds it almost impossible to read social cues or relate to the other students in his class and is most comfortable when working with his video software, creating music videos. It comes then, as somewhat unfamiliar territory when the beautiful singer for Egoist, one of his favourite bands, Inori Yuzuriha, (Voiced by Ai Kayano from the Deadman Wonderland OVA in Japanese and Fairy Tail's Alexis Tipton in English). Injured and scared, Inori is arrested by members of GHQ and Shuu is left to deliver a parcel to someone named Gai.
Confused and scared, Shuu follows the directions given by Inori's adorable, if slightly annoying robot friend to find Gai. Once he does, chaos well and truly ensues. Gai (voiced by Yuichi Nakamura and Micah Solusod, both from Fairy Tail, though voicing different characters, in Japanese and English respectively) is revealed to be the leader of the Undertakers and mid-battle with the GHQ, the vial that Shuu delivered breaks, infecting Shuu with the Void Genome, a mysterious power that allows Shuu to reach into people's very souls and withdraw and object that represents the core, the heart of who they truly are, not to mention allowing him to run up walls or jump on air. Rather conveniently, quite a lot of the people he reaches into have weapons at their core, allowing him to perform all manner of magical feats and attacks. Naturally enough, the Undertakers rope Shuu into joining their cause, (though he has one or two plans of his own) and the stage is set for some fantastic battles and moments of drama and character development.
As far as characters go, Shuu remains somewhat underwhelming, acting as an emotionally blank slate much of the time and a fairly stereotypical angry protagonist for the remainder. The humour and personality of this series, of which there is plenty, come from the supporting characters, those who may not feature majorly in every episode but who manage to fill in the blanks for what parts of a functional person Shuu seems to lack. Part 1 of the series covers the first eleven episodes and manages to move surprisingly quickly in that time, allowing great strides in character development and in the narrative of the ongoing conflict, not to mention a fantastic variety of weird and powerful weapons and gadgets being pulled out of people's chests. Inori, like Shuu, can occasionally seem to be devoid of personality, replacing it instead with a devotion to Gai and his cause.
The animation of this series is startlingly beautiful, making optimum use of special effects for Shuu's Genome powers, but also rendering simple scenes and characters in a vibrant, lifelike way. The soundtrack cannot avoid mention, as some parts of Inori's songs (sung by Chelly in both language versions) are integrated into each episode. Whether or not the style is to everyone's tastes, the music is undoubtedly memorable and emotional and forms a part of the narrative itself.
Guilty Crown is an enjoyable and fast-paced series whose benefits far outweigh the shortcomings of its protagonist. It's not a thousand miles away from previous anime titles but its quality speaks for itself.
Guilty Crown Part 1 is available on DVD and Bluray from 18th November 2013 from Manga Entertainment. For more, check out the official .
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