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Guilty Crown – “Genesis” – Episode 1 Recap

by on October 14, 2011

Guilty Crown is easily the most anticipated anime premiere of the
season. Already licensed by FUNimation, Guilty Crown is airing on Fuji
TV’s noitaminA block and is produced by Production I.G. The hype surrounding it is both a positive and negative thing, boosting the number of people tuning in
but also creating high expectations. With Production I.G.’s
credits and noitaminA’s growing success I foresee that Guilty Crown will
not only meet those expectations, but exceed them. Guilty Crown’s first
episode, “Genesis,” definitely indicates that this will be the case,
despite utilizing some of the typical tropes found in anime.

In 2029, ten years prior to the start of the series, Japan fell into a
state of emergency when an unknown outbreak known as the Apocalypse
Virus spread. Unable to support itself, Japan received aid from an
international organization called the GHQ. Though the country stabilized
and found order, the GHQ is the now in control and the people of Japan
are at their mercy.


The first episode starts in 2039, with
protagonist Shu Ouma standing at the top of a building watching a music
video sung by Inori – the lead vocalist in the group known as Egoist.
During this, said singer is on the run from the military after stealing a
mysterious void genom known as the Guilty Crown. Her objective is to deliver
the item to a man known as Gai, the leader of a resistance group called the
“Undertakers.” Being knocked off a bridge, Inori fails to deliver the
package and the night ends. The next day, Shu accidentally finds Inori in
an old warehouse he had been using to edit a video for a project. He
immediately recognizes her and talks with her briefly, but they are interrupted when the GHQ arrives to apprehend Inori. Little do they know that Inori
has actually left the package with Shu, who takes it upon himself to
finish the mission. In the end, Shu must decide whether or not he has
the courage to fight against the GHQ and save Inori.

If there
is one negative about Guilty Crown, it is that the story and
character set-ups aren’t all that original. Shu is the typical underdog
protagonist. At first he comes across as weak and troubled, but in the
end is able to step up to the plate and do what needs to be done. Inori
is the token mysterious character that gets saved and Gai is the badass that will
inevitably be a mentor to Shu. The story itself seems to take ideas from
a variety of series, with Code Geass leading the pack in “Genesis.” And yet I can’t say that I really minded
Guilty Crown using these previous ideas, because they were presented in
a way that felt fresh. As the saying goes, why fix what’s not broken? That said, there were also a few logic gaps present in the episode. When
Inori is apprehended by the GHQ, for instance, they carelessly leave Shu behind. It was also rather silly for
Gai to leave the void genom with Shu, after having just a few lines of
dialogue with him.

The juxtaposition of Shu and Inori in the
first scene immediately established the enticing atmosphere of Guilty
. It was beautiful and serene and yet, very chilling. This quality easily allowed me to overlook the lack of originality
in the plot. Speaking of plot, this episode moved fast, with each scene
building on the momentum established by the last. In the end it leads
to a killer climax with Shu activating the Guilty Crown and pulling a
weapon out of Inori. The ending was such a tease, but it left me on the
edge of my seat wanting more. This pacing worked well for the first
episode, as it established an intentionally fragmented plot and then
quickly got into the action. I think it is important to make a strong
impression on the first episode, and Guilty Crown was able to do so with
Shu’s courage at the end.

Production quality for this series
is up to the standards of any Production I.G. series, which means the animation is stunning. The setting is
detailed and the character designs are pleasing. I thought the mecha
designs were a little bland, but they aren’t the main focus of the
series so it didn’t really hinder anything. Hiroyuki Yoshino deserves a
shout-out, because the music was phenomenal. From the first song from
Inori, to Gai’s theme introduction, to the activation of the Guilty
Crown, it was top-notch from start to finish. It’s actually astonishing
how much the music added to the show, because the ending scene would not
have been nearly as good had the wrong soundtrack been used.

Guilty Crown’s hype is well-deserved, and “Genesis” provided a good start to what is sure to be an exciting adventure. I look forward to
seeing how both Shu and the Guilty Crown evolve, as well as how the mysteries of the plot begin to come together and make sense.

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