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.
Gai’s next mission requires that Shu go to Oshima with his school friends Souta, Hare, and Kanon under the guise of a school vacation trip. In reality, Oshima’s shrine is a secret GHQ facility that can be unlocked with Souta’s void, and the core of the Undertakers are hiding out until Shu can draw it out. Doing this requires him to get Souta alone, which means arranging for him to meet Inori alone. When Souta’s about to confess to her, Shu interrupts by drawing his void out, and they proceed with the mission. They infiltrate the facilty easily, but Shu’s dad, Korosu – who he believes is dead and buried in Oshima, has already been there and taken the strange crystal that Gai was after.
Beach episode! It wasn’t that bad though. GC tried its best to justify Shu’s presence on Oshima. The actual fanservice bits are quite abbreviated and don’t detract from the mission, which turns out to be a bust prefaced by lots of bluster (the design of the various locks in the facilty were cool though). Combining Ouma’s regular school friends with his “job” was inevitable, but only Souta was directly involved. One thing we can say for sure is that Haruka is a really annoying mom. Seriously, put some clothes on when there’s company. We get it, you’re very attractive for your age, but that’s your damn son. Gross!
While Shu’s mom is a creepy cocktease, Shu’s dad is apparently the type to make others believe he’s dead, while he’s actually alive and well – and chief of the GHQ, no less. We were waiting for Haruka to drop her act and confront Shu, but here we get an entirely different shoe: Shu’s got a living dad, and where things stand now, he’s one of the bad guys. Like many of the things in this series, the hero with the parents he has to stand against is nothing new. But we get the feeling Korosu Ouma has plans for his clueless son with the magic right arm.
Shu is arrested and interviewed by Major Segai, who shows him why Yahiro betrayed him: his brother is at GHQ’s Isolation Ward, being treated for the Apocalypse virus. He wasn’t an addict; he was a dealer, to make money to pay the hospital bills. Segai tries to convince Shu to betray Gai when he and Undertaker storm the facility to rescue a dangerous criminal named Kenji Kido. Gai arrives disguised as his lawyer, and the operation begins shortly thereafter. With Inori infiltrating the facility on her own to rescue Shu, he decides to go along with Gai’s plan, drawing out Kido’s void, immobilizing the enemies and cushioning Inori’s fall. He uses her sword to mop up as Segai watches. Shu finally agrees to join Gai and Undertaker.
Order. All societies worth their salt have it. Japan has it in spades, as does America. But that order comes at a cost. In Guilty Crown, that cost is perhaps higher than in the real world, but it’s no less necessary. And those groups that have a problem with how that order is achieved and maintained – they’ll always be terrorists in the eyes of the order-keepers. We noticed how Major Segai didn’t call it “peace”, just “order”. Peace isn’t all that possible when bombs are going off and the government slaughters innocent people who refuse inoculation. Blood must be spilt for this society to survive, according to those in power. Blood is also inevitble if anyone is to oppose them. The no-omelettes-without-broken-eggs analogy.
This was a phenomenal episode in many ways; perhaps GC’s best. it showed a waffling Shu finally make a choice (though he holds on to Segai’s transmitter, just in case), and it also showed a GHQ facility getting totally wasted by an extremely coordinated, multi-vector attack by Undertaker. We like how mechas are only one facet of the operation and of this series in general; not the end-all-be-all of the show. Only Ayase is regularly even in one. Everyone has their role to play. Nobody’s all that deep yet, but we have a long way to go yet. We will say that Segai got some more dimension this week, and he genuinely feels his cause is righteous. We were also impressed with the lighting this week, and the soundtrack rocked, too.