Guilty Crown (Blu-ray), Early Review
By Marc | August 17th, 2013
Fuji TV’s noitaminA block has been very good to us animation fans in recent years, having provided us with more than a few interesting shows (including Eden of the East, a personal favorite of mine.)
With Funimation’s upcoming release of Guilty Crown, a recent noitaminA series, do we have another interesting series from the respected and venerable animation block worth your time and money?
First, the packaging for Guilty Crown is top notch. If you get the Limited Edition version of Volume 1, you get a nice sturdy box to hold the series, and it has an awesome image of Shu and Inori that wraps around the entire box. Both volumes come in slightly thicker than normal Blu-ray cases and the artwork sticks to the high standard that the art box sets. The only oddity with them is that Volume 2 doesn’t match the style of cover that Volume 1 has (no doubt a concession made to the fact that Volume 2 doesn’t come inside the art box. I can’t say for sure, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the non-limited edition of Volume 1 matches Volume 2.) Luckily, both covers can be flipped over, and if you flip over Volume 2, it will now match Volume 1. Volume 2 came with a slipcover that matches its normal cover. All the art and text is crisp and clean, if perhaps a smidge small. It’s a top notch package that probably won’t get many complaints, even among the pickier of us.
Yep, years later and I still can’t get a proper snapshot of the menu, so I’m still resorting to taking a photo! Guilty Crown has a nice clean menu that is very readable. The strip in the middle plays video clips. Only other thing worth mentioning about the menus is that every time you change the selection you are on it plays a rather loud noise that can get very annoying very fast. It does its job well, but a mute option would have been nice.
Guilty Crown is about a boy named Shu who is sort of drifting through life, and then, as often happens in stories…. he meets a girl. And this girl has stolen a device that will give someone the power to reach into anyone, and pull out a physical manifestation of their heart as a weapon. Of course, due to various events, the device ends up being used on Shu, which changes his life and ends up changing the life of everyone around him eventually. Shu, with his new power, has to be the savior of all. A short explanation of the series, leaving out many key details, but some things are better left discovered while watching…
Guilty Crown as a series has me torn about how to feel about it. The first half feels like a slightly elevated version of a cliched heroes journey. We see all the normal signs: the character doubts himself and his place in the world, he gains power, he tries to be better because of the girl, lessons learned, betrayal, etc. It comes off very well done, maybe even special, but it doesn’t necessarily feel like it has that extra ‘thing’ that almost is expected with a series from the noitaminA block. It’s still a very exciting first half of a series, even if many of the characters could have been outright pulled from any number of series (although I found most of them interesting, even if the vast majority of characters aren’t likeable.) A touch over halfway through though is when things become interesting…
Unfortunately I can’t say much about what happens because it’d be cruel to spoil the half dozen interesting twists the story pulls out in the second half. The show ends up going in a wildly different direction with multiple changes in tone and even with the characters we end up following. Suffice it to say, before the end comes, we end up in an interesting position where no one is quite innocent, but we know who we are rooting for (and of course, a few more twists show up.)
At the end of the day there are many flaws with the series. A good chunk of the characters never really feel likeable, which is always a problem, but it’s an easily ignorable problem this time, at least for me. Despite their flaws most of them feel like they have a core I can understand, of people not quite sure what the right thing to do is, and more than once we have characters taking the wrong path for a solution that seems like the right one, at least to them. I highly recommend the series, even if it’s far from perfect.
I’ve embedded the first episode dubbed towards the top of the review.
The video quality is good, but not great. Guilty Crown is encoded at 1080p using the AVC codec at 30993 kbps (average bitrate for the first episode.) The series doesn’t appear to have been animated at 1080p, but likely somewhere around 700 and scaled up the rest of the way. It was scaled up properly so we don’t get any weird visual effects, but it gives the show a slight fuzziness that never really goes away. Colors look good, and the animation itself is very smooth, but I just wish it was a bit more crisp.
The audio for Guilty Crown comes across as pristine in either English or Japanese. For English we get a lossless 5.1 track and we get lossless 2.0 for the Japanese audio. The only thing even worth mentioning here is that in an odd reverse of what has generally been normal for Funimation disks, the Japanese audio seems to be louder than the English. Both are relatively rich sounding and will sound great coming out of whatever your audio setup is.
English Track- Dolby TrueHD Audio (lossless), 5.1, 16-bit, 48 kHz, 2336 kbps (AC3 Core: 5.1, 48 kHz, 448 kbps)
The dub will likely become a favorite of anyone who watches their anime with English audio. The whole cast turns in a great performance, although special attention does have to be paid to Austin Tindle and Alexis Tipton as Shu and Inori. Being the two primary characters of the series they tend to be the characters you’ll expect the most from, and both sound great.
Although to be honest, they aren’t my favorite in the dub. My favorite would have to be Monica Rial as Tsugumi. The energy that gets thrown at you every time Tsugumi speaks just lifts up any scene where she appears.
It’s a great dub overall. It is worth mentioning that the songs sung by Inori are not dubbed (there is a notice about this at the beginning of each disk that the songs being left in Japanese during the English track is at the request of the licensor.) It doesn’t negatively affect the show, although it can be a touch jarring to have the switch happen if you aren’t aware of it.
As for extras, well to be honest, the series is jammed with extras over both volumes.
Beginning with Volume 1 you get commentaries from the English actors on episodes 2 and 4. You then get the next episode previews from episode 1 through 11 (a bit odd these are in extras rather than at the end of the episodes themselves.) There are also a selection of videos called ‘Guilty Crown 4 Panel Theater.’ These are shorts with all the characters drawn in a super-deformed art style that tend to run around a minute or so each and throw some jokes at you. To be honest, I didn’t find them that funny, although they were kind of cute. You then get the normal selection of Japanese promotional videos and TV ads, along with textless versions of two openings and a closing. The interesting extra from Volume 1 would be a nearly ten minute Q and A with Koji Yamamoto (a Fuji TV producer), George Wada (one of the series producers), and Ryo Ohyama (another of the series producers.)
Volume 2 has even more extras, including something that’s a bit of a surprise. We start off with extras very similar to Volume 1. We get commentaries for episodes 15 and 19, the episode previews from episodes 12 through 21, another textless opening and two more textless closings, along with the US trailer for the series. We also get the rest of ‘Guilty Crown 4 Panel Theater.’ The big surprise though is Guilty Crown “reassortment.” Reassortment is a 47 minute digest version of the first half of the series (for those unfamiliar with this from other series, they edited the first half of the series into a film.) Reassortment ends right where Volume 1 ends off, so it’s kind of interesting that they would include it with Volume 2. I only spot checked it, so I can’t say if they make any changes that are noticeable (as has been done with Gundam digest films among others.) The movie is provided Japanese only with subtitles, but it’s a great extra, especially when you consider that normally when we get these digest films for a series, they are sold separately (and for those curious, as far as I can tell they didn’t do a ‘sequel’ for the second half of the series.)
The last extras are exclusive to the limited edition version of Volume 1. You get two 100 page artbooks. The first is called ‘Animation Artworks’ and it comes with artwork of the characters, scenery, weapons, and so forth, along with detailed descriptive text. The second is called “Redjuice’s Artwork: Original Character Concept Collection.” This book shows the various sketches and drawing concepts Redjuice did to design the various elements of the series. Both books are a great extra. I especially appreciate all the text details explaining various things. Both books are printed on good quality paper, and the covers are a softcover that feels almost rubbery or vinylish. Depending on where you buy it, the limited edition version of Volume 1 can cost an extra $20 to $25, but between the nice artbox to keep both volumes in, along with these artbooks, it’s definitely one of those times where you should track down the limited edition before it’s out of print.
Fantastic selection of extras between both volumes and the limited edition extras just add a nice cherry on top.
Guilty Crown is a great series that I’m guessing will be a good selling catalog title for Funimation for many years. Despite more than a few character issues, and an ending that I’m guessing a lot of people will see as a bit of a downer, I can’t help but really enjoy this series and recommend it highly. It throws cliches out constantly, but there is something endearing and exciting about the whole thing. I wouldn’t say it’s a must buy, but it’s definitely one you should check out and decide for yourself, especially if you love your shows to get the full-on press as far as fancy releases go.
Show: B+ (At times it feels like it’s fantastic, at other times you will sigh after it throws cliches at you, but regardless, it’s a great ride.)
Overall (not an average): A (It’s a very good show, although not without issues. The total package lifts the show up a bit higher, but I can honestly say I enjoyed it a lot, and plan on recommending it quite a bit.)
Gallery and copyright information under ad. All caps are lossless PNGs, feel free to request more. (Caps are 1920×1080 matching the resolution they are stored on disk, and meant to be viewed at.)
The volumes also include the series on DVD. The DVDs were not reviewed, but content-wise are identical to their Blu-ray counterparts. The Blu-rays are listed as Region A and the DVDs are listed as Region 1.
This series was reviewed using screeners that came in full retail packaging.
Guilty Crown- © GUILTY CROWN committee. Licensed by Funimation Productions. All Rights Reserved.