Guilty Crown 02 /// Persona 4 03
Guilty as Charged
Boy was I right about this show being “very much in the anime tradition”. This show is essentially a collection of tropes dancing around very pretty character designs. The animators want it all, and they want it now (and surely they deserve points for this, nothing’s worse than an episode where nothing happens). The risk is, of course, that in trying to please every crowd and hit every cliche, they’ll end up turning everyone off.
For example, you have some fast-paced music to go along with the fast-paced action. If you’re watching Guilty Crown and haven’t figured out it’s epic don’t worry, the show reminds you at every turn. But wait, Guilty Crown is also a fanservice extravaganza. And god forbid you try to ignore that aspect and enjoy the story, the show just won’t let you. But double wait, the show is also esoteric anime, with lots of mysterious jargon like Voids and Powers of the Genome and what not. Ignore that for a second and all of a sudden you won’t even understand what the characters are talking about.
This excess (and again, let me be clear here: excess is a sin, but it’s far from being the worst sin in anime, at least these people aren’t lazy) shows up best in the character of Inori. She’s supposed to be hawt and she’s supposed to be moe. That is, she’s meant to be super hawt and super moe. She sings in the show and she sings the opening song, and it doesn’t matter that the voices are utterly different and belong to different women because…What are real human beings to the phenomenon that is Guilty Crown? Nothing but tools.
To me the end of the episode was fascinating. I mean, this deal with Inori coming to school has been done time and time again, so it isn’t a surprise in itself, but goodness, right here, right now, after all those epic explosions and fanservices and mysteries? I think the characters of Tengen Toppa sat down at a coffeeshop, ordered double espressos all around and decided to write an anime. Next episode should be interesting…
Choices and Shadows
I liked the scene where Yu is asked to join the basketball club, and then his new friend Chie tells him to hurry up, and so he turns the invitation down. This is what the sim game aspect of Persona 4 is all about, and it was handled smoothly here. I do truly believe that school is similar to these sim games. I can recall specific moments back in high school when I deliberately chose to “cultivate” my relationship with a particular person or crowd at the expense of another, both because as a kid I didn’t have time to score points with everyone and also because often scoring points with one group meant losing points with another (precisely like how raising your rep with goblins in WoW damages your rep with the buccaneers, and viceversa). And I was somewhat conscious of this whole process. Freaky, no?
I love Yu’s oneliners. They’re precious. I don’t remember them being in the game…There were quite a few new things cropping up and the good news is that I think the pacing problem is getting fixed. I found this episode very manageable, even more, I think the anime was able to break out of the mold of the game in order to make things much more exciting. Consider the battle inside the castle as the guys went after Yukiko. At one point tons of minions showed up, something the game didn’t have IIRC. The interaction between Chie’s Shadow and Chie was more engaging here because we could get so many different shots as opposed to the more static conversations in the game.
[BTW, this deal with people’s shadows is super interesting and worthy of some thought. One might think that the point is for you to face the evil side of you in order to suppress it and even possibly destroy it (since the shadows never show up again). But the truth is darker I think. You don’t destroy your shadow, you don’t even suppress it, you transform it into your slave (a Persona) in order to wage battle. And let’s be frank, fighting and killing people isn’t exactly a good thing. Even if Yosuke and Chie will go on to use their Personas to fight evil, I don’t think the whole process is an innocent one. If, say, Chie wanted to use her new Persona to beat up her Mom I’m afraid to say I think the Persona would go along with the plan! So the lesson might be that a house divided cannot stand, and that rather than having good and evil fight over your soul, or rather than having good trounce evil or evil trounce good, what makes you most powerful is to be able to activate both forces and harness them for your own ends, whichever they may be.]
Now, sadly, there is another (potentially catastrophic) problem and that’s dissension in the ranks of the crew working on this anime. I do hope that gets fixed, because I think we have a very good show on our hands.