I don’t know what sort of complex or societal system that builds up the typical love-hate reaction on Guilty Crown. It’s kind of like the stereotypical complaints hurled at a show nobody likes because it hypes too much and panders too hard: generic, cliché characters with stereotypical and predictable waffing, with just enough angst and fanservice to tick all those check boxes. At least I haven’t heard a “designed by committee” complaint yet.
I really don’t think Guilty Crown has much if any of those things. It’s only problematic in conforming to what used to work for hit action anime and game titles. Well, what used to work may still work, I guess. I also thought if the first two episodes were taken wholly, it might had been significantly more enjoyable and more effective as a pilot episode.
To me, those complaints are what is truly cliché. The industrial nature of GC’s production is unavoidable and frankly, refreshingly obvious. We like shows like Ghost in the Shell, after all. We like those fancy costumes, showing us the gap between a man’s heart and a man’s desire. I think. Same with the writhing song bird showing equal parts skin and vocal prowess. Others have fancier words for it. That the show takes place between this weirdly hybrid world of underground terrorism and campus life, with a protagonist torn between the two worlds, is merely common and been-done. But that is not valid ground to single GC out for something anime has always been doing for the past 20+ years.
More pertinently, I believe the tepidly ill opinions towards Guilty Crown’s characterization and plot elements are not misguided, just misplaced or imprecise. It’s with that sense of irony in which I think there has to be a better, less-of-a-cliché way to state these complaints. Because then it can truly address that familiar and diverging emotion which makes shows like Gundam SEED Destiny best sellers, or why I watched Guilty Crown episodes 1 and 2 multiple times. More importantly, there are clearly things the show is doing right beyond the visuals, direction and music. As much as we may find the writing campy or been-done, there is still something to the characterization and the way the characters compose themselves which make it dramatic and interesting.
It’s sort of like how people grow out of Final Fantasy 7? What was amusing in 1997 is no longer in 2011; that is par for the course. But unlike Square’s blockbuster PlayStation game, Guilty Crown is fun to watch even by 2011 standards–to its credit, that’s proof enough that it has improved on the formula that has existed for over ten years, or at least since Code Geass. But for some reason I’m sitting here and wondering how many people probably tempered their enjoyment of the show because they would rather be less honest about their feeling as a result of this sort of cliche armchair criticism reflex. (And in the meta, how many people enjoy watching this tsundere reaction playing out?)