Friday, 21 October 2011

Guilty Crown - Episode 2

Shu Ouma's ordinary, boring world was turned up upside down come the end of Guilty Crown's opening episode, equipping him with quite the impressive power in conjunction with Inori - power that he has little choice but to immediately wield in the midst of the battlefield in which he finds himself.

Thanks to this power, the Funeral Parlour group manage to win their immediate conflict, taking care of the Endlaves they were pitted against with only minimal casualties themselves - however, their wider mission is considered a failure by leader Gai on account of the fact that the so-called "Void Genome" they'd stolen for him to use via Inori is now ensconced within an ordinary school kid.  Not exactly what they wanted from the "Power of Kings", to be honest.

Still, with the Antibody group seeking to take their revenge by capturing a large number of refugees in a supposedly safe underground garage hostage with a view to interrogating (and moreover exterminating) them, Gai decides that this might just be the time to make a stand with a show of force using their new ally and power - thus, a complex plan is devised within which Ouma and his power is particularly vital, culminating in an ambush and some calculated risks that would make Lelouch vi Brittania laugh maniacally.

In fact, that Code Geass reference isn't entirely accidental, as this episode of Guilty Crown (much like the first instalment) feels very much like it owes a debt to the aforementioned series in some ways, and certainly when it comes to pulling off a seemingly reckless plan thanks mainly to the special powers bestowed upon the show's protagonist.  Beyond simply comparing this episode to other anime (and goodness knows we could match up similarities to numerous other shows), it has to be said that Guilty Crown is an utterly gorgeous visual feast - surprisingly fan service-laden for a noitaminA show, but utter fantastic to look at from beginning to end.  Thankfully, this second episode also had some brains to back up its visual brawn, delivering some tasty action and smart set pieces that felt engaging while holding just the right amount of dramatic tension.  The only thing which breaks this spell is the horribly cliched ending to the episode - do we really have to go down the whole "mysterious girl who I've just found alongside has suddenly transferred in to become my classmate" route?  It was done to death decades ago, and it takes the sheen off what was otherwise a great episode.  Guilty Crown doesn't particularly feel like a noitaminA series at this juncture, but who cares when it's such a luscious viewing experience that with an exciting plot to boot; if this episode is anything to go by at least.

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