Guilty Crown – 16

Mr. Kuhouin sends Argo to Tokyo to retrieve his daughter for an arranged marriage in exchange for diplomatic favor. When Argo touches down, he finds a dire situation in which Shu has adopted Yahiro’s ranking system and the entire student body has fallen in line. It’s a highly regimented operation in which the weak are discriminated against due to shortages of food and medicine. Shu has Argo detained, but when he escapes and tries to make off with Arisa, Shu confronts him with a member of his secret service. In the fight, a ceiling beam falls on her void, killing her – something Shu didn’t know could happen. Back at GHQ, Shu’s mother is helping Segai awaken somebody…

Wow, talk about a quick turnaround. We knew there would be big changes once Shu decided he wasn’t going to dick around anymore, but what we have here goes beyond a tight ship. His New Order is an authoritarian regime that draws its power from fear: both the fear of Shu’s void power and the fear of Shu, their last hope, being infected. So the weak like Souma are marginalized (with Shu even ready to let him die in a scene of heartless micromanaging) while those with strong voids get preferential treatment and are invited into the elite secret service. We like how the episode introduced a new Rank A character just to kill her in the end, not only to show us that even the strong aren’t safe, but to expose Yahiro’s lies to Shu, even if it may too late.

As for Inori, well…it seems she made a choice right beside Shu; the choice to put her conscience aside to serve her king. Tsugami is basically going with the flow, and Ayase is just flat-out disgusted with what Shu’s become (he tells her he’s glad they were alone when she slapped him so he didn’t have to “reprimand” her) , as is Argo (the best line of the episode adds some levity to all the dread: “We really liked that ‘pale-faced weakling strugglin’ for all he’s got’ thing you had going, you know!”). But as Shu says to Argo when he’s got a knife to his throat: let’s see you try to keep this mob together and keep them safe with no resources. It’s a thankless job, really. Is Shu expressing the archetypal excuses of the tyrant, or are his sacrifices justified to ensure at least some of his kingdom survives what’s coming?


Rating: 3.5

Advertisements

Guilty Crown – 14

With the school cut off from the rest of Tokyo and emotions running high, President Kuhouin struggles to keep order, leading to a vote of no confidence in her leadership from a rabblerouser named Nanba who is prepared to use force to grab power. Things get worse when the quarantine walls move inward, crushing and killing anything and anyone in their way. Chief Segai sends a message to the school that they’ll all be freed if they hand over members of the Undertakers. Nanba apprehends Ayase and Tsugumi, and Kuhouin loses control, but Shu, encouraged by Hare, stands up and calls for order. With the help of Tsugumi’s void, which can create holographic dopplegangers, Shu proves to Nanba and his followers that the government wouldn’t make good on the deal. Yahiro then calls for a vote, and Shu is elected the new school president.

Faced with the prospect of being locked behind walls that are closing in on them, and mass murder that even Daryl Yan finds distasteful, Shu & Co. find themselves in a desperate situation where calming the mob is key to their survival. Nanba and his ilk strike us as overproud bullies taking advantage of the situation to ingratiate themselves, but they aren’t pure evil or anything; they just want to survive like everyone else. This week was all about the school finding someone who can lead them. A big group like this needs direction, and ultimately, they choose someone who never asked for it but nevertheless possesses all the requisites for leadership. They crown Shu.

Since rescuing Inori, Shu has gotten far more tolerable as a character, and considering how many friends he’s made, he has no excuse to not rise to the potential his ability presents. This week he finally uses that power on Tsugumi, who has an extremely useful power. And Yahiro exhibits a change of heart about the guy who couldn’t save his brother, and eggs the student body to choose him. But it ain’t gonna be no picnic: Yahiro also proposes they start ranking people by how valuable their void is (on a scale of A to F; like school!), creating what is essentially a caste system to ensure King Shu has the most powerful voids at his disposal to deal with the threats that are coming. And they are coming. Chief Segai is a sick bastard.


Rating: 3

Guilty Crown – 07

Shu returns to school, where nasty rumors about his encounter with GHQ are snuffed out by Class Prez Kuhouin Arisa, heiress to the powerful, anti-GHQ Kuhouin Group. Shu’s mom Haruka surprises him by coming home while Inori is there, forcing them to meet. Haruka is off to a party held offshore on a cruise ship, which is the same party Gai and Shu crash. Gai alerted the GHQ about the party, and a gung-ho Colonel targets the ship with missiles. Shu draws out Arisa’s void – a shield – which saves the ship and provides a live demonstration of the Untertakers’ power to her grampa, the Kuhouin boss, who agrees to provide transport services.

Segai’s superior, Colonel Eagleman – a fairly stereotyped American – is constantly talking about “guts”, and having the adequate amount to triumph. Well, Gai essentially called in a GHQ missle attack on a civilian cruise ship he’d be on at the time in order to impress his potential business parter. How’s that for gutsy? As for Shu, he more confident and looks like he’s having a lot more fun in this episode. He’d probably have freaked out if he knew what Gai did, but he didn’t, and did exactly what Gai needed for him to do: draw out Arisa’s void. Saving the ship and Arisa double as a thank-you for her sticking up for him when assholish classmates get on his case, but most of all, she and Shu’s mother were people he was determined to protect.

While the military action was limited to running around, missile launches, and holding a big void umbrella, this episode was more about infiltration, charm, and theater. Gai was funny playing the lovable rogue for a flustered Arisa, and the ballroom scene with Tchaikovsky playing over the light show was pretty sharp. Oh yeah, it looks like Shu’s mom is aware of his powers – probably always has (she is a scientist). Her drunk exhibitionist act may fool Shu, but not us. Her idea of “protecting” could mean getting separating him from the Undertakers in the future.


Rating: 3.5