After the “Second Lost Christmas” that killed Gai, the city center district known as Loop 7 is quarantined by GHQ, now led by former Major, now Chief Segai. Ayase and Tsugami join Shu and Inori as classmates. After two weeks separated from the rest of the city, nerves are starting to fray, so the school council led by Kuhouin decide to organize a cultural festival. It is crashed by rioters who were supplied with military equipment by Segai in disguise, but before they can hurt anyone, Shu uses his new power – drawing out a void so its owner can use it – on Ayase. Her void is a set of prosthetic legs which, combined with his Inori sword, take care of the baddies. But when the TV feed is restored, the other shoe drops: the GHQ is closing off Loop 7 for ten years, in hopes of eradicating the alleged apocalypse breakout there.
We were a bit weary when we heard the words “cultural festival”, but this turned out to be a very good aftermath episode, with lots of good Ayase characterization. There isn’t any way around it, practically speaking: Ayase needs technology in order to prove to herself and others that she’s useful. She blames herself for Gai’s death, and is lost without him or her endlave. Fortunately for her, she’s got a friend who can draw out her very convenient – but still poetic – void that enables her to move as she would within an endlave, only with her own body. Which, any way you look at it, must be an absolute thrill. The final action piece with her and Shu kicking ass and taking names was awesome.
Of course, this was just the eye of the storm. Shu, all his friends, and perhaps tens of thousands of people are now trapped within the confines of a few city blocks. Things were already starting to get chippy, what with bands of the strong starting to prey on the weak. That shit’s only going to get worse from here, unless Shu & Co. can either stop it or break down the walls that surround them. There’s also this interesting dynamic with Segai treating Loop 7 like some kind of zoo or lab; no doubt he isn’t just going to leave Shu and his powers alone. Things may have gone from bad to okay to bad again in a jiffy, but the good guys aren’t without means…or guts.
With the apocalypse virus running rampant across the city and the Undertakers pinned at GHQ headquarters, Shu is racked with guilt, but Hare and Tsugumi snap him out of it. He gathers his classmates together and gives them the skinny on how he can draw out voids, how he drew theirs out before, and how he needs their help to save the Undertakers, who gave him the chance to be “someone who matters.” They storm GHQ while Inori sings a song that cures the city, but when Shu reunites with her, a pocket in space opens and a mysterious person draws out her void and nearly kills him, but Gai takes the blow.
The finale to Guilty Crown’s first half pulls out all the stops, and we mean all of them: we were reminded of such epicness as Macross Frontier (the last series we watched in which a songstress played a vital role) and Evangelion (what with all the apocalyptic sky-scorching, big bad government officials, and mythic superweapons). All this goes to show that when push comes to shove, we’ve seen most everything that’s in this series; it’s shounen with a slick futuristic sheen. But just because it reminds us of stuff doesn’t mean we haven’t enjoyed just about every minute of it and are eager to see how the good ol’ cliffhanger is resolved.
Like any good stopping place, this week gave everyone some time, including all of Shu’s friends, and hell, he even confessed what he is and what he’s done to them. They took it well, and it was cool to involve them, although we somewhat doubt they’d survive being tossed around in that Humvee as much as they were. Shu’s grand to-the-rescue entrance, making use of all his friends’ voids, was particularly rousing, and even his mom lends a hand with the hacking! Shu has had a crown all this time, but he’s felt guilty about using it. But it looks like someone’s taking that crown, and he’ll have to stop that guy and save Inori.
Guilty Crown will conclude in mid-January 2012.
Before Shu can become a member of Funeral Parlor, he must undergo basic training in order to keep up with everyone. Gai puts Ayase in charge of training him. Despite being wheelchair-bound, Ayase is tough and strong, and initially finds Shu hopeless, like everyone else. He proves himself to them in a mock battle in which he gets past Ayase’s endlave Steiner by drawing a void from Argo, one of the members in the audience. She gives him back his pen, and he becomes a full-fledged member. But Gai’s next big operation hasn’t started well.
This week, Shu meets more of the gang, as do we. We see a lot more of Ayase in particular and we have to say we like her proud, spunky character (voiced by Kana Hanazawa). Shu, meanwhile, is still pretty wimpy and unconfident – when he’s not drawing out voids, that is. Inori, so lovey-dovey up to this point, is much chillier to him, telling him not to get too close, then dropping a bomb on him: Gai told her to act like that, no doubt hoping the pretty girl would be successful in recruiting him. Part of us doubts this is how Inori really feels, but it’s what she’s told Shu, so that’s what he believes.
The twist of the knife comes when he sees Inori go into a bedroom with Gai, then hearing from Ayase that they do it two to three times a month. He gets the idea they’re a couple, when…it’s actually more complicated than that (perhaps she just has to sit by the bed and protect him from vamps or something?). His heartbreak aside, this episode efficiently dealt with Shu’s training and initiation. His void genome powers are crucial to Gai’s plans, and next week, Shu will likely need to put them to use in a life-or-death situation. And then there’s that dang pen he still has…
Ouma Shu contracted with Inori with the Void Genome that was meant for Gai, the leader of the resistance group called Undertaker. He’s pressed into service to deliver the coup-de-grace in an intricately planned operation to save a hundred citizens from the Anti Bodies, among them the sadistic Lt. Daryl Yan, son of the Bureau’s leader. The operation is successful, but Shu turns down the offer to join Undertaker. He believes he’s put it behind him and returned to his normal life when Inori shows up at school, having transferred to his class.
This episode was another feast for eye and ear; home to some pretty fantastic action and combat sequences, with some nice gamble suspense mixed in for good measure. Ouma Shu may not like it, but he has the powers of a god now, and a girl who isn’t shy about calling herself his. He stuck his neck out for her last week, and the reward was being thrust into a world he probably hadn’t even known about. It’s a world where government-sanctioned genocide in the name of eradicating disease is commonplace, and where the weak have to be protected from jack-booted thugs.
It’s only a matter of time before Shu and that little germophobic bastard Yan square off. There’s a lot to like here: you have your etherially beautiful songstress/muse, you’ve got old-fashioned and newfangled mecha (called “endlaves” here), your diverse crew of freedom fighters who have a very serious mission, but trying to keep it nice and casual between one another (contrast that with the cold military style of the Anti Bodies), and the concrete jungle of Tokyo to play in (the vistas continue to impress). Ouma Shu may still be a little on the dull side, but so far he hasn’t shied away from his duty when called upon.