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Guilty Crown – Part 1: Limited Edition (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 28, 2013 by  



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“Guilty Crown” has turned out to be a fascinating anime series with cool characters, a captivating storyline, stunning visuals and pulse-pounding action!  But if you thought the first half was exciting, be prepared for a major turn in the series storyline in the second half of the season in part 2.  An exciting action anime series from Production I.G., “Guilty Crown – Part 1: Limited Edition” is recommended!

Image courtesy of © FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Guilty Crown – Part 1: Limited Edition

ANIME RELEASE DATE: 2011-2012

DURATION: 250 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English DolbyTrue HD 5.1, Japanese DolbyTrue HD 5.0, English subtitles

COMPANY: Aniplex/FUNimation

RATING: PG (Wild Thematic Elements and Some Incidental Smoking Images)

Release Date: August 27, 2013

Directed by Tetsuro Araki

Series Composition by Hiroyuki Yoshino

Music by Hiroyuki Sawano, Ryo (Supercell)

Original Character Design by redjuice

Art Director: Yusuke Takeda

Anime Production: Production I.G.

Featuring the following voice talent:

Ai Kayano/Alexis Tipton as Inori Yuzuriha

Yūichi Nakamura/Micah Solusod as Gai Tsutsugami

Yuuki Kaji/Austin Tindle as Shū Ouma

Ai Kayano/Alexis Tipton as Mana Ouma

Anri Katsu/Jarrod Greene as Arugo

Aya Endo/Caitlin Glass as Arisa Kuhōin

Ayana Taketatsu/Monica Rial as Tsugumi

Chika Fujimura/Martha Harms as Haruka Ouma

Daisuke Sakaguchi/Cory Cleary-Stoner as Sōta Tamadate

Kana Hanazawa/Emily Neves as Ayase Shinomiya

Kazuhiko Inoue/Charlie Campbell as Shuichiro Keido

Kouki Uchiyama/Joel McDonald as Daryl Yan

Kousuke Takaguchi/Scott Freeman as Ōgumo

Minako Kotobuki/Apphia Yu as Kanon Kusama

Nobutoshi Canna/John Swasey as Makoto Waltz Seigai

Takahiro Mizushima/David Trosko as Yahiro Samukawa

Takehito Koyasu/J. Michael Tatum as Shibungi

Yu Shimamura/Tia Ballard as Hare Menjō

Yuka Nishigaki/Leah Clark as Yuu

Shu’s entire world was shattered after a meteorite crashed into Japan, unleashing the lethal Apocalypse Virus. The chaos and anarchy born of the outbreak cost Shu his family and reduced him to a timid, fearful shell of the boy he’d once been. His life took another unexpected turn after a chance encounter with the stunning pop star, Inori. This mysterious beauty introduced Shu to the King’s Right Hand: a genetic mutation that allows him to reach into hearts of mortals and turn them into weapons.

Shu finds himself caught in the crossfire between those who desperately seek his newfound strength. On one side lurks a clandestine government agency, and on the other, Inori and the spirited band of rebels known as Funeral Parlor. The choice is Shu’s to make – and the world is his to change.

In 2011, Production I.G. debuted their new animated TV series “Guilty Crown”.

The series has led to a manga adaptation in “Monthly Shonen Gangan”, a light novel, a spin-off visual novel  game (which came with a 15-minute OVA titled “Guilty Crown: Lost Christmas”).

Airing on Fuji TV’s noitaminA, the 22-episode TV series will now be released on Blu-ray/DVD in the U.S. courtesy of FUNimation in August 2013.

The animated series is directed by Tetsuro Araki (“Aoi Bungaku”, “Galaxy Angel”, “Kurozuka”, “Attack on Titan”), series composition by Hiroyuki Yoshino (“Accel World”, “Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion”, “Macross Frontier”), music by Hiroyuki Sawano (“Blue Exorcist”, “Sengoku Basara”, “Soul Link”) and Ryo (“Black Rock Shooter”, “Nisenmonogatari”, “Psycho-Pass”) and art direction by Yusuke Takeda (“009-1”, “Blue Seed Beyond”, “Eden of the East”, “Ghost Hound”, “Ghost in the Shell Arise”, “Golden Boy”, “Sword Art Online”).

“Guilty Crown” begins with an introduction to the chaos that has afflicted Japan.

On December 24, 2029, the Apocalypse Virus was unleashed to the public.  Known as the “Lost Christmas” incident, the biological hazard had grown that Japan had no way to contain the threat, so with the help of the United Nations, an organization known as the GHQ was sent to Japan’s aid.

With the GHQ’s help, the virus was contained and order was restored in Japan.  But in 2039, a terrorist group known as Funeral Parlor has been causing problems for the GHQ, wanting to liberate Japan.

The series focuses on a high school student named Shu Ouma.  One day as he was visiting the film club’s workshop, he meets Inori Yuzuriha, the vocalist of the popular internet group EGOIST.  But as the two are talking, the GHQ soldiers (anti-bodies) come to the workshop and arrest Inori for her involvement with Funeral Parlor.  As Shu wants to step in and help, he is told that if he gets involved, he will be arrested for aiding Funeral Parlor.  Too scared to react, Inori had given Shu to deliver her robot to a location.

Shu ends up delivering Inori’s robot and meets Gai Tsutsugami, the leader of Funeral Parlor and he tells him that he must protect a vial.

Immediately, GHQ begins attacking the Roppongi area in search for a viral and when Shu sees Inori, wanting to react and not be scared, he goes to rescue her but the vial he was protecting, has shattered when the two are attacked by GHQ Endlave mechs.

What Shu doesn’t know is that the vial contained a Void Genome, a genetic weapon which came from the Apocalypse Virus and developed by Sephirah Genomics (the place where Shu’s mother, Haruka, works).  The Void Genome now has given Shu the “Power of the Kings”, the ability to use his right hand and extract voids from people.  With each person, a person has a specialized void and Inori explains to Shu that she wants him to use her void, which is a sword that he uses to destroy the GHQ Endlave Mechs.

But as Shu learns that Inori is with Funeral Parlor, Gai wants Shu to join their group because his power would be welcomed by them.  And when Shu sees how the GHQ have been killing innocent people in the city, he is conflicted of why the GHQ who were supposed to protect the people of Japan are engaged in something corrupt.  But at the same time, can he trust a terrorist group and side with a group that has also killed people.

What will Shu do?

The characters of “Guilty Crown” are:

  • Shu Ouma – The main protagonist.  A high school student who is a member of the modern image and video research club.  His mother Haruka works for Sephirah Genomics, while his father, an expert on the Apocalypse Virus, died during the “Lost Christmas” incident.  Shu now has the “Power of Kings” thanks to a vial created by the Sephirah Genomics, which allows him to extract a void (may it be a weapon, healing device, etc.) from a person.  He has fallen for Inori Yuzuriha.
  • Inori Yuzuriha – The vocalist of EGOIST and a member of Egoist. She follow’s Gai’s orders and allows Shuu to use her void, a sword.
  • Gai Tsutsugami – The leader of the resistance group known as Funeral Parlor, who are seen as a terrorist group to the world.  It is rumored that he is Inori’s lover.  He is infected by the Apocalypse Virus.
  • Ayase Shinomiya – A member of Funeral Parlor who has feelings for Gai.  She is paraplegic and an Endlave mech pilot that does not like people watching her get on her wheelchair.  Her void are special leg braces that allow her to skate over ground and fly.
  • Tsugumi – A member of Funeral Parlor who is a hacker.  Known as “Black Swan” and her void is a hand scanner that can create holographic projections of people.
  • Argo Tsukishima – A member of Funeral Parlor who is experienced with hand-to-hand combat and knives.  His voice is a blinding torchlight.
  • Yahiro Samukawa – Shu’s classmate.  On the outside, he seems like a cool individual but in truth, he is a drug dealer known as “Sugar” that has anger trying to save his brother who is infected by the Apocalypse Virus and paying for his medical bills.  His void is a giant scissor.
  • Souta Tamadate – Shu’s classmate who loves Inori and EGOIST.  His void is a camera gun that can open anything with locks.
  • Hare Menjou – Shu’s classmate who has liked him.  Her void is a bandage that can heal people and repair objects.
  • Kanon Kusama – The chairman of Class 2-A who also has feelings towards Shu.  Her void is a visor that can see things from afar.
  • Arisa Kuhouin – The Student Council President.  Her grandfather is the head of the Kuhouin Group that is at odds with GHQ.  Her void is a huge shield.

THE GHQ:

  • Major General Yan – In charge of the GHQ forces in Japan and the father of Daryl Yan who he does not get along with.
  • Suichiro Keido – Head of the GHQ Anti-bodies.  He wants to kill everyone infected by the virus and appears to have ulterior motives.
  • Daryl Yan – 2nd Lt. Juvenile Officer and the son of Major General Yan.  He is cruel and sadistic.  He also hates being touched by others, because he fears everyone may be infected by the virus.
  • Makoto Waltz Segai – A Major in the GHQ Anti-Bodies and wears makeup and a prosthetic left eye.  He is very sadistic.

VIDEO:

“Guilty Crown” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1).   As with the majority of Production I.G. anime releases, there is a lot of detail on background art, emphasis on environment and the character designs are well-shaded.    The series is colorful, cibrant and sharp.  I didn’t notice any major artifacts, nor did I see a lot of banding.  For the most part, “Guilty Crown” looks fantastic on Blu-ray!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Guilty Crown” is presented in English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0.  For the most part, voice acting on both soundtracks are well-done.  The biggest difference is that the English is 5.1 and its lossless track is immersive.  Better dynamic range, the use of the surround channels make the series much more immersive.  The Japanese lossless soundtrack is primarily a front-channel driven but for the most part, the English lossless soundtrack is the more immersive of the two soundtracks.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Guilty Crown – Part 1” features the following special features:

  • Episode 2 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with Alexis Tipton (voice of Inori), Austin Tindle (voice of Shu) and Micah Solusod (voice of Gai).
  • Episode 4 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with Monica Rial (voice of Tsugune), Emily Neves (voice of Ayase) and John Swasey (voice of Segai).
  • Episode Previews – (5:52) Featuring the after-episode previews for episode 2-11.
  • Guilty Crowns 4-Panel Theater – (7:25) Six total shorts featuring the characters in super-deformed format.
  • Into the Void: The Creative Vision – (10:07) At New York Comic Con 2011 with interviews with Ryo Ohma of Aniplex, Inc., Koji Yamamoto  of Fuji TV and Joji Wada of Production I.G.
  • Textless Opening – Featuring two versions of the opening.
  • Textless Ending – Featuring the “Phase 1” ending.
  • Promotional Videos – (3:16) Japanese promotional videos.
  • TV Spots – (1:51) Japanese TV CM’s.
  • Trailers

EXTRAS:

The limited edition of “Guilty Crown – Part 1: Limited Edition” comes with two 108-page full-color artbooks containing concept art, character designs, creator notes and exclusive illustrations.  Also, included is both the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the first part of the anime series.

When it comes to anime series with characters that have the ability to draw out weapons, a storyline that deals with a country held hostage by an government or some sort of natural disaster to a mecha anime series with plenty of action, the fact is that Japan has have had a good number of anime series that fit the bill and and trying to create something new and different can end up banal and contrived.

With “Guilty Crown”, the series has proven to be quite intriguing as the first half and the second half of the series are almost two complete opposites in terms of storyline.  But for this review, let’s focus on the first half of the series.

A storyline about a weak individual, a normal teenager who has been gifted a special ability during a time when Japan is in turmoil.  People are dying because of the Apocalypse Virus, meanwhile Japan who has been overwhelmed by the chaos, has turned to the United Nations and the GHQ is sent to Japan to eradicate the virus and bring order to the chaos in Japan.

But what people are not aware that people who are in districts who may or may not have the virus are treated inhumanely, slaughtered like cattle by the GHQ Anti-bodies, meanwhile to fight for the rights of the people is a terrorist group known as Funeral Parlor.  A resistance group who wants Japan to have control once again but yet they are being branded as the people responsible for the problems in Japan.

And now, Funeral Parlor has one person that may be able to help the people….the once weak teenager Shu Ouma.

For the first half, we see Shu go through a lot of emotional states.  He is unsure of himself, but he knows that he loves Inori.  He knows he wants to protect her and follow her while the Funeral Parlor and GHQ are at each other’s throats.

You feel as you want to root for Shu and hope that he matures quickly and becomes the hero to the people.  Help Gai and the Funeral Parlor take on the cruel GHQ.

But as the first half is filled with action and even has its time of drama, after watching the complete series, it’s a storyline that serves to build up a second half that you literally don’t see coming.  And that, I will save for my review of part two.

What I will say is that “Guilty Crown” is a series that caught my attention thanks to the beautiful visuals by Production I.G. and it’s cast of characters.  I enjoyed the whole concept of Shu being able to use human’s that carry a void and each human’s void is different and reflects their personality.

Fortunately, the character is not too whiny but you do want to see Shu take some steps to redemption and show that he can be a strong individual.  And this is where the latter end of part 1 and season two comes in.  You’ll be surprise by the twist and turns that take place throughout the series.

The Blu-ray features stunning visuals thanks to the quality that Production I.G. has always given their animated properties.  Highly detailed backgrounds and environments, impressive character designs and for the most part, creating a series that has a good amount of science fiction, mecha robots and plenty of action, but most importantly, drama with constant twists and turns that will surprise viewers  (moreso in part 2).  Both soundtracks are well-acted but the English soundtrack gets the better end of the deal with an immersive 5.1 lossless soundtrack, while the Japanese version is crystal clear but primarily a front-channel driven soundtrack.

There is also a good balance of special features included from two audio commentary tracks, interviews with the Japanese creators and more.

As for the limited edition, it’s great to have a booklet with the concept art, sketches and character information.  The Blu-ray slip case is designed to hold the second Blu-ray volume as well.

Overall, “Guilty Crown” has turned out to be a fascinating anime series with cool characters, a captivating storyline, stunning visuals and pulse-pounding action!  But if you thought the first half was exciting, be prepared for a major turn in the series storyline in the second half of the season in part 2.  An exciting action anime series from Production I.G., “Guilty Crown – Part 1: Limited Edition” is recommended!






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