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DVD Review

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Guilty Crown
Part 2 (Episodes 12-22)


Starring (voice): Yuuki Kaji, Ai Kayano and Yuuichi Nakamura
Distributor: Manga Entertainment
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 28 April 2014

Shu's desperate quest to save Inori from the mysterious spectre known as Da'ath sends him hurtling through a horrifying flashback. Glimpses of the boy he once was combine with fragments of painful memories to hint at the harrowing origins of the Apocalypse Virus. Meanwhile, nefarious GHQ agents seek to incite chaos by turning the frightened band of young rebels against each other. Division in the ranks - and the shocking death of a dear friend - pushes Shu to the brink of madness, exposing Inori and everyone he loves to an eerily familiar enemy. As the terrifying truth about the power of the King's Right Hand emerges, Shu and his comrades must place their faith in one another - and fight for the future of their world...!

Following the climactic assault on the GHQ base that closed out part one, Guilty Crown picks up with Shu and his comrades in the Funeral Parlor resistance group reeling from the death of their leader, Gai. With the intervention of the emissary of the shadowy Da'ath organization, Shu's unlocked memories bring to light a number of unpleasant revelations about the true identity of Inori and her shared past with Shu and Gai, and their role in the advent of the Apocalypse Virus. Following a clampdown by GHQ, the younger members of the cast are held under siege in a quarantined Tokyo, with Shu's high school becoming their refuge and Shu himself, with the powers unlocked by his Void the only effective form of defence, becoming a reluctant leader.

The tension and fear endured by a body of young people cut off from society and forced to fend for themselves is certainly a potent source for drama, and one which the medium of anime with its perennial focus on youth could feasibly make interesting with a little good writing. Guilty Crown isn't a well-written show, sadly, and the siege storyline into which the writers seem to have placed their hopes of being taken seriously loses its nerve almost immediately with a superfluous school-festival episode straight out of the most identikit comedy series.

The tone lurches from whimsy to po-faced seriousness without succeeding at either; Shu's character development as he's forced down the path of a ruthless autocrat, ruling over the micro-society created by his Void, is occasionally compelling, yet ultimately lacks weight. More seriously, the series' deplorable attitude to its female characters reaches its nadir here, with the girls in the cast almost constantly under the threat of literal or figurative sexual assault. In the right hands even this aspect of the story could have been well treated, but the leering camera angles and prurient sexual references indicate that Guilty Crown is far from up to the task.

Mercifully, after a few episodes the siege is broken and the series settles into the home straight, with even the few remaining revelations about the cast's hidden past and relationships coming as little surprise at this stage. Viewed as a whole the show seems even more of a mess, with unmemorable characters and bland design only given life by the high budget; even the most enjoyable character, the absurdly nefarious secondary villain Major Segai, is poorly served by the writing. The directing and action set-pieces fail to carry the show as they did in the first half, and the eventual denouement plays out all too predictably, with the losses and reconcilations that inevitably feature as part of the ending to an anime TV series feeling hollow and weak.

Despite the talent on display and the creators' evident belief that they've created something momentous and memorable, Guilty Crown, with its cheap shock value and rampant sexism just can't validate its unwarranted seriousness. There have been better shows of its kind before and there undoubtedly will be again; I can only recommend you seek those out instead and avoid this one.


Richard Hunt

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