Friday, 14 October 2011

Guilty Crown - Episode 1

After an opening blitz of action, music and the theft of some unknown entity which seems to be rather precious to its initial owners, this season's other noitaminA show, Guilty Crown, introduces us to its own take on modern Japan - this time around, we have a country decimated by some kind of biological terrorist attack; a virus whose spread was only halted thanks to the help of myriad international forces... forces which seem unwilling to relinquish their grip upon the country now that they have more than a slice of it.

As we enter this world, we find ourselves tagging along with Shu Ouma, a pretty dull lad who just does what is necessary to keep his friendships just about ticking over, just as his country keeps itself up and running by the skin of its teeth.  Any hopes of normality soon vanish for Shu however as he finds his usual haunt inhabited by an injured girl after her escape from that aforementioned spot of burglary - the girl in question, Inori, seems to be known to him on account of her singing voice above all else, but there's little time to reflect on such things as she's dragged off by military forces who rather dumbly seem to leave the key to her earlier theft behind.

So, it's up to Shu to nail his colours to the mast from here - does he run from his predicament or face up to it?  Of course, it would be rather a short series if it was the former, which means that Shu soon comes into contact with Gai and a number of Inori's other acquaintances, before finding himself in the midst of a pitched battle as military forces look to wipe out everything in the area as vengeance for Inori's unwillingness to talk.  Just as it seems that nothing can stop them, fate conspires to "upgrade" Shu from a mild-mannered kid into something rather more dangerous...

Before we mention anything else, it has to be said that this opening episode of Guilty Crown is visually gorgeous, enough so to make it pretty watchable in its own right.  Beyond that, the biggest hurdle that the series is going to have to clear is the obvious comparisons to other much-loved shows, with this opening episode swinging from Code Geass to Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex via Revolutionary Girl Utena and a host of other comparisons.  This in itself isn't an issue if Guilty Crown's story and characters hold up to scrutiny, and this fast-paced introduction certainly hasn't done it any harm - now it needs to go out and stamp its own authority on matters so that we can begin to enjoy it outright rather than playing "spot the similarities to other anime" throughout its running time.

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