In defense of Guilty Crown

Let’s get one thing straight: this anime is hilarious. I know, I know — I, too, lambasted the show in the past, but I was wrong. I simply hadn’t given the show enough of a chance.

Throughout much of the first half of Guilty Crown, Shu is a colossal wimp. Every time he needs to man up, he pulls a gigantic phallus symbol from Inori’s chest — the same action that often carries rape overtones throughout the series. In the tenth episode, however, at Shu’s lowest point, Inori simply walks away from him. He’s no longer able to essentially fuck a hot babe to establish his manhood. Instead of the main character jerking off to an unconscious anime girl, all he can do is eat her (rice)balls and cry pathetically: “It’s too salty, Inori.” That is goddamn hilarious.

I’ve taken a look around the Internet for negative reactions of Guilty Crown. The lamentations are always the same: the show makes no sense, the writers aren’t even trying, Guilty Crown is aggressively stupid, blah blah blah. The silliest criticism of all goes a little something like this: “If I wanted to watch Neon Genesis Evangelion, I’d watch Neon Genesis Evangelion.” Well, yeah, of course Guilty Crown is derivative… just like every damn action/mecha/whatever anime out there. Guilty Crown is a loving ode to badness.

But it’s not quite as simple as “It’s so bad, it’s good!” The brilliance of Guilty Crown is that it doesn’t care about plot or characterization. The anime’s calling card is in demonstrating just how “not real” it is. It is a massively-budgeted, postmodern action/mecha comedy. The characters are stupid because anime characters are stupid. You don’t even have to bother with the characterization, because you can simply reach into someone’s heart and pull out an item that might as well have the word “SYMBOLISM” emblazoned on the side. They’re all just toys to fulfill the main character’s needs. In most shows, the main character is simply bland and interesting. Here, he literally reduces everyone’s personalities to an object then takes them for himself. Shu is a personality-vampire.

Likewise, the complaints regarding the lack of realism are irrelevant. In distilling action/mecha anime to their most theatrical components, of course realistic physics would go out the window. And of course it doesn’t matter how Shu escapes the collapsing tower at the end of the series. If you set out to make something exhilarating, why would you worry about the realism of deep sea diving for supplies? In an anime about the ostentatious excess of the action/mecha genre, it would be self-defeating to include a step-by-step demonstration of how Shu can realistically jump out of a car and still beat it to the destination. Ayase’s boobs jiggle too much? Well, of course they do. Like every other female character in the anime, she’s a walking, talking example of female objectification. She’s traded in the function of her legs for extra breast mobility in order to maximize her function within a bad genre series. Again, Guilty Crown isn’t merely a derivative; it seeks to be the most exemplary derivative! — so much that one of its female characters can’t even walk. The lack of realism doesn’t mean the plot is bad. It means you’re putting too much emphasis on the plot over the story.

But the one thing the anime is not, however, is lazy. The anime is trying. How can it not be trying? The event that will bring about human evolution is called the Fourth Apocalypse, a deliberate callback to NGE‘s Third Impact. Inori looks like Shu’s sister; Rei is made from parts of Shinji’s mother. There’s even a mysterious organization trying to pull the strings in the background. Characters in lab coats repeatedly parrot a bunch of pseudo-science nonsense regarding the human genome and evolution. How can any of this be an accident? At the same time, Guilty Crown isn’t simply aping NGE. Guilty Crown elevates the act of being a derivative to an artform. Daath pulling out an apple at the 11th hour is more than just half-assed symbolism; it’s just fucking comical. In another way, Guilty Crown is pure camp:

American writer Susan Sontag’s essay Notes on “Camp” (1964) emphasised its key elements as: artifice, frivolity, naïve middle-class pretentiousness, and ‘shocking’ excess.

What exemplifies middlebrow art pretentiousness anymore than anime symbolism?

Another important scene: Haruka is surrounded by no less than four computer screens as she pounds away at her keyboard. The screen beeps and beeps; a loading bar is filling up. “Almost there,” she cries. “Almost there! It’s open!” The anime cuts back to a red DNA strand turning green. Wow, how impressive! In the very next scene, Inori simply sings one of her terrible JPOP ballads, which somehow manages to heal everyone. The science is thus self-admittedly dumb and meaningless. You can’t understand it and you’re not supposed to try. You won’t be filling up pages and pages of some Wikia with theories and analysis here. Well, I suppose you could try, but good luck.

Not only is the science stupid, the Christian imagery is stupid. Even the politics are stupid. Everything’s stupid. For instance, the whole “everyone against Japan” storyline goes absolutely nowhere, and thereby epitomizes the sort of polarized fantasy you might find in countless other shows (e.g. Code Geass). The plot takes a backseat to outrageous set pieces (see: the first half’s finale). The action is elaborate and expressive, but only for its own sake and nothing more. Guilty Crown just doesn’t give a damn, and that’s because we’ve reached the limits of the sort of anime that the show is brilliantly trying to replicate.

Ever since NGE, these stories pretty much always boil down to the same basic archetypal conflicts: reckless scientific experimentation, pretentious struggles against some nefarious religious establishment, man led astray by horribly incorrect theories regarding human evolution, etc. Enough, says Guilty Crown. But the show isn’t simply cynical. Guilty Crown unabashedly loves bad action/mecha anime. At the same time, however, to create, you must destroy. And here we are, destroying these archetypes we’ve come to know and mindlessly accept by taking them seriously.

Another hilarious moment: Gai’s about to use a tracking pen to direct a plummeting satellite away from Tokyo. He is strong in his self-sacrifice; the pen is literally mightier than the swo-… nope. Shu mans up again and pulls a comically big weapon out of Inori for the umpteenth time. Fuck your pen — look how big my penis is! And hell yeah, I just saved the day. What does this mean? The anime immediately cuts to a broken TV signal coming back to life. Everyone give a round of applause to our heroes. Your dick-measuring contest managed to save TV. You mean to tell me that this dry sense of humor was a mistake?

Shu should offend you. Guilty Crown demonstrates just how exploitative these stories can be. Shu is just your typical anime nipponjin taken to the extreme. He’s your wimpy, affected, effeminate crybaby who’s nevertheless selfless and magnanimous to a fault. Yahiro, the one friend he fights so hard to spare from Gai’s wrath, ends up betraying Shu shortly after an ostentatious, slo-mo, “Let’s crack open some brewskis and bond like real bros” scene. And what happens next? Bam, Shu gets stabbed in the back like the loser that he is. As he toasts his friend, Shu even gives that lameass half-smile that we’ve come to expect from the pure-hearted scamps populating 99% of our anime series.

Even so, people whine, and boy, do they whine: “Oh my God, this guy is so unlikeable.” Even Gai, at the halfway point of the series, tells Shu to quit being a beta and become an alpha just like him. This is where the show flips Shu’s character on its head: a cute girl dies, and as a result, Shu transforms into this fascist dictator without once winking at the audience. Shu basically becomes Gai, the alpha dog. Like Gai, you’re either with him or against him. Naturally, Shu rules with an ironfist, employing his cold masculine logic, and still, the audience hates him.

Shu simply adopts the mantle of tactical realism — the same tactical realism that might call for, say, eugenics for the sake of humanity — and that’s what makes it so funny. C’mon, people, if we want to save lives, we’re going to have to prioritize the strongest among us! The anime then literally pulls a Dragon Ball Z-esque scouter from out of nowhere, and starts measuring everyone’s power level. “We have to be stronger,” says Yahiro, “and discard these wussy, feminine emotions and concerns for other people’s feelings!” Tactical realism! Fuck yeah, it’s not discrimination, it’s distinguishin’~! Oops, we just became Hitler; the anime just Godwin’d the audience. If that’s not subversive, I don’t know what is. All Shu did was use the same cold logic that the badass Gai employed throughout the first half of the series. Is this not what everyone wanted? Are you not entertained? Back when Shu was simply a wimp, he didn’t hurt anybody either, but boy, did everyone act as though he was the worst anime character ever.

I mean, it’s just funny to read the same criticism over and over: “D-did the student body just turn into a police state? That’s just ridiculous!” And here’s Guilty Crown‘s response: “Yeah, isn’t it?” Well, duh, of course it’s ridiculous. How many countless anime do the same exact thing? I seem to even recall a show where the students are holed up in the school as a result of some geopolitical drama.

Moving on, Inori is branded as this obligatory emotion-less, sexy Rei-type character. Critics cry that she has no personality, but since when did Rei-types ever have a personality? Did Rei herself have a personality? In any case, like all of the other female characters in Guilty Crown, you’re supposed to recognize how bad action/mecha anime tend to reduce the female archetype to these meek, doll-like characters in need of male attention. The anime exaggerates to comical effect the anti-feminist notion that Woman is simply a symptom of Man. As a result, Inori has no personality; to Shu, she readily proclaims, “I’m yours.” Within her metaphysical cavity, he reclaims his phallus symbol, i.e. Adam’s rib. It’s offensive because it’s supposed to be. After all, how many damn stories are out there where the female is forever linked to the male protagonist just because the stars somehow magically aligned and farted out a prophecy?

Guilty Crown‘s unrepentant misogyny reflects the state of female protagonists across anime. If anything, the anime doesn’t patronize by hiding behind the guise of female empowerment that you might find in something like, say, Mardock Scramble. Guilty Crown doesn’t try fabricate a solution born from the male fantasy; it simply offends, and in doing so, it has more potential to galvanize the audience over a more self-righteous, moralizing anime. This is demonstrated again and again with Inori’s character. What does Inori want to eat? She wants onigiri — y’know, like every damn anime about a precocious little girl, e.g. Aishiteruze Baby, Usagi Drop, etc. But this time, the “little girl” is showing more skin than clothing. At 17, Inori is just a couple years away from becoming a young woman, but she nevertheless has the mental and emotional capacity that would make Usagi Drop‘s Rin seem like a candidate for Mensa. Inori’s supposed to make you uncomfortable. She can’t even convey a single emotion without belting a plaintive ballad.

The anime is chock full of callbacks to the shows that have come before it. Characters engage in meaningless chess matches for no apparent reason. Everyone ends up being a childhood friend of everyone. Kallen… er, I mean, Ayase puts herself in a shiny red suit just to flop her tits around in the cockpit of her mecha. Oh, let’s put her in a wheel chair too for good measure. Guilty Crown is simply a pastiche, and not necessarily of just mecha/action anime. Gai, who simultaneously served as a friend but also a father figure at the start of the show, resurrects out of nowhere like the flimsy Jesus character that he is, and chops off Shu’s hand like Darth fucking Vader. Dan Eagleman isn’t just another American stereotype — he’s THE American stereotype. Shu doesn’t walk in on Ayase; she walks in on him. Don’t people find any of these examples weirdly specific?

I think I’ve said as much as I can say about Guilty Crown. It’s simply the best anime I’ve seen in years. Without a doubt, if I could ever make an anime, I would’ve wanted it to have been Guilty Crown.

Addendum:

“Why would they pose like this?! It’s so unrealistic! Do they think they’re cool or something? It’s almost as if they know they’re in an action/mecha anime!”

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93 thoughts on “In defense of Guilty Crown

  1. cyth

    That still doesn’t make it a good anime. I mean, anime is in an age of self-referentialty, where it’s near impossible to find something that takes itself seriously. I’d rather watch something that’s well grounded in cliches but still takes itself seriously (see: Sword Art Online). I’m just getting tired of meta in general. It was novel maybe back when Haruhi S1 was airing, but it’s been a while since then. I don’t find the extent to which you believe Guilty Crown has gone to brilliant or good, since it stems from the same stuck-in-the-rut mentality that anime has been for a while now.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      What makes you think Guilty Crown doesn’t take itself seriously? At what point does it ever wink at the audience?

      Reply
      1. cyth

        Does it? Sounds to me like the SYMBOLISM was there exactly so that we wouldn’t take it seriously. Maybe the show itself does, at least it’s on a mission, but a misguided one, where the end result still warrants a meta discussion over character or story.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          The lack of symbolism itself should be taken seriously and not merely dismissed as lazy storytelling. The anime totally wants you to take these tropes seriously too. For instance, you wouldn’t see how offensive the female characters are portrayed if you didn’t take it seriously.

          I disagree that the story is poorly developed. If the story is that action/mecha anime are ridiculous, the story is fully fleshed out. You may not like that meta-narrative, but it’s a valid form of storytelling. As for the flimsy characters, they are all part and parcel of the storytelling.

          Finally, I don’t understand why a meta discussion is necessarily bad or worse.

  2. Andmeuths

    I dearly hoped that Gulty Crown would have signified the final and total discrediting of these overused cliches by tanking in sales. Sadly, it’s strong sales would mean that such lazy story telling conventions would persist for a long time yet.

    Reply
    1. Naota

      If Guilty Crown finds refuge in being postmodern by slinging together exaggerated scenes from its genre without any plan or understanding of why, dare I ask what this makes Fractale?

      (Sorry Scamp – I couldn’t help but draw the comparison :P.)

      Reply
      1. Scamp

        …I was using sarcasm…

        Of course Guilty Crown isn’t being post-modern, that’s a really stupid argument. Seriously E-Minor, your point is strained to the point of being delusional. If it’s supposed to be a post-modernist commentary on bad anime, then it falls under Poe’s Law of being completely indistinguishable from real bad anime that actually does these things. There is never once a hint of irony to GC, so without any signs telling us that this is supposed to be post-modern, I think a more rational explanation is that it’s not.

        Basically what Kadian said below me, which I only just read now.

        Or to out it even more succinctly

        It’s not stupid, it’s post modern!

        Reply
        1. Naota

          So was I. What I meant was that I don’t see what makes a post-modernist commentary of Guilty Crown (with or without authoral intent) but not of series like Fractale or Horizon for their respective genres or anime as a whole. All three are towering exemplars of the very worst modern anime has to offer – I’m not seeing what sets Guilty Crown apart.

          If you don’t consider the intent of the authors, I feel as if you could pick any high-profile trainwreck and make the same argument as this article does for Guilty Crown. So far as I can tell, with these criteria anything sufficiently wretched and derivative created at the right time would become post-modernist commentary by virtue of being so singularly awful.

        2. E Minor Post author

          What I meant was that I don’t see what makes a post-modernist commentary of Guilty Crown (with or without authoral intent) but not of series like Fractale or Horizon for their respective genres or anime as a whole.

          See my reply to Kadian.

          If you don’t consider the intent of the authors,

          And you have any better idea of the author’s intent than I do? Like I’ve said elsewhere, “That’s not to say that we should discard it entirely, because authorial intent is only bad when it’s abused or fetishized. Usually, people will assume that the creators are idiots, and then analyze the body of text after the fact.”

        3. E Minor Post author

          And since you basically said the same thing as Kadian, I refer you to my reply to him.

      2. E Minor Post author

        Who said there wasn’t any plan? Another mistake people often try to make with postmodernism is that “Well, anyone could do it.”

        Reply
  3. podboq

    I love this interpretation of this anime, and if it’s what the creators intended, then it’s brilliant. But I just don’t don’t know if they’re genii or vapid otaku.
    It’s like the ME3 ending. If you consider indoctrination theory, it’s a fucking amazing ending. Bioware literally indoctrinated me, not just commander shepard. It’s a brilliant metagame, a level of immersion beyond any game I’ve played for a long time.
    What is more likely however, is that bioware actually thought the ending was good at face value. It’s a sad reflection on how badly EA twisted bioware.

    I’d like to feel good rather than dissapointed though, so I’ll believe in guilty crown being being high camp, and I’ll believe in indoctrination theory, even if these were just accidents.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Well, there’s the school of thought that authorial intent isn’t the end all, be all of the discussion. That’s not to say that we should discard it entirely, because authorial intent is only bad when it’s abused or fetishized. Usually, people will assume that the creators are idiots, and then analyze the body of text after the fact. In any case, we can often only guess as to what the writers originally intended. Even then, it’s more important to examine what’s being said in the actual body of text.

      Reply
      1. podboq

        I agree with that. I just like to think that the creators of these things are awesome people. People who actually strive to make awesome things, not just appeal to the masses. The amount of bs in this anime, the way the female characters are portrayed, the phallic fantasy crap, I just would like to think that the creators are parodying it. The way nearly all anime is would lead me to believe otherwise though.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          Well, there’s no reason to think the creators are stupid. There’s no reason to think that a bunch of adults got together and never realized they were making such an excessively stupid anime.

      1. alsozara

        OK, I actually still have a bit of time before Uni, and I haven’t got a whole heap to say, so here goes.

        Firstly, I actually really like this post. I like this interpretation of the show, I think it’s pretty cool. I’m actually considering prioritising watching this despite how much I hated the first episode, but here’s the thing. I think most of the people who could have actually enjoyed the show in this sense were put off early on. Judging by your twitter posts you were finding the first, maybe, half pretty hard to get through. It’s the same criticism I’d give School Days, you can be as clever and subversive as you like, but if you drive away your potential audience before they can get to the pay-off, then it’s all for naught.

        I also think that any piece of entertainment which relies heavily on its viewers being deeply immersed in the surrounding culture for enjoyment is fundamentally flawed. I know it doesn’t change your personal enjoyment, but imagine how this show would seem to someone who knows very little about anime? I doubt they’d get the dry humour and such.

        Anyway, it’s certainly an interesting take an I’ll continue to mull it over.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          Judging by your twitter posts you were finding the first, maybe, half pretty hard to get through.

          I actually started enjoying the show around… hm, the fourth or fifth episode. Tweeting about the ridiculous things I encounter as I watch the series isn’t really the same as finding it “hard to get through.” Nevertheless, you can’t hope to win everyone over.

          I also think that any piece of entertainment which relies heavily on its viewers being deeply immersed in the surrounding culture for enjoyment is fundamentally flawed.

          Sure, I get that. But this is why tastes are subjective. I’m not saying that this anime is objectively good. I would never make that claim. Based upon my knowledge of the anime subculture, I find GC exhilarating in its meticulous baseness. At the same time, however, if another person doesn’t have that same background, I would not begrudge them for disliking the anime. For this very same reason, I do not enjoy the comic Watchmen, because I have very little knowledge of comic books in general (though I do think the movie gets an unfair treatment from comic book fans).

        2. alsozara

          I actually wasn’t talking about your tweeting the ridiculous moments. In the context of this post I assumed that was enjoyment, I meant things like “Either dubs or a video player that can keep up the subs when I play the anime at 2x speed.” And your other comment about dubs so you can do other stuff while watching. Clearly I misjudged how far into the series this mentality lasted.

          Still, 4-5 episodes, if Kokoro Connect suddenly becomes a brilliant deconstruction on anime rom/com/harem, it won’t change the fact that the first 4 episodes were mediocre. Similarly, probably most of the people who would have appreciated Guilty Crown don’t have the patience to sit through that many episodes of awful. Obviously this post is about your enjoyment of the series, so this argument really doesn’t change that, I just think it’s a pretty big failing for any piece of entertainment to alienate its intended, or probable audience.

          I also kind of feel that the best way to deal with shitty genres is not to subvert them, it’s to totally ignore them. I can’t really applaud a show for cleverly subverting action/mecha, it’s like applauding a guy for wittily insulting someone with a mental handicap.

        3. E Minor Post author

          “Either dubs or a video player that can keep up the subs when I play the anime at 2x speed.”

          I meant to say that in general.

          Still, 4-5 episodes, if Kokoro Connect suddenly becomes a brilliant deconstruction on anime rom/com/harem, it won’t change the fact that the first 4 episodes were mediocre.

          Sure, but I’d go back and rewatch the first four episodes to double-check.

          I just think it’s a pretty big failing for any piece of entertainment to alienate its intended, or probable audience.

          Art can be challenging and alienating. Art can be very offensive. Am I elevating GC to the same level as, say, Dali? Of course not, but alienating the audience is not exactly a mark of failure. Art should invite interpretations, discussions, debates, reactions, etc. If this requires the art itself to be polemical, so be it. And seeing as how GC has generated more discussion than any other post I’ve ever written, I’m not sure that the show has failed in this regard even if the majority of my readers end up disagreeing with me. Well, unless you’re the sort to instantly deride my arguments as delusional or ludicrous.

          I can’t really applaud a show for cleverly subverting action/mecha, it’s like applauding a guy for wittily insulting someone with a mental handicap.

          I wouldn’t say it’s that simple. If the offensive content galvanizes people who wouldn’t normally raise a finger for a lesser offense, who’s to say that this isn’t the better course of action? Obviously, we have to draw the line somewhere, but think of it as… vaccination.

    1. A Day Without Me

      Haven’t seen it past the first episode, so really don’t feel I can comment. I only watch quality shows like DRAGONAUT and G GUNDAM. UGH anime just isn’t the same any more, it all sucks. I miss the quality of gems like CLUSTER EDGE. The last good anime ever made was Hanasakeru Seishounen. CLASSICS, BROS – CLASSICS.

      Reply
  4. E Minor Post author

    To all the people who think I’m being sarcastic,

    In any case, we can often only guess as to what the writers originally intended. Even then, it’s more important to examine what’s being said in the actual body of text.

    …this is exactly what I’m talking about. Instead of actually addressing what I’m saying, you’re trying to first determine my intent.

    Reply
    1. alsozara

      Come on, E Minor, that’s a little silly. It’s all very well and good to say that, but obviously no-one wants to write up an essay in response to a joke post. Also, blog readers have a slightly more personal relationship with the blogger than most anime fans do with the the writers of the shows they watch. Of course we’d be be interested to know how serious this is.

      Reply
      1. E Minor Post author

        I’m not sure I have ever written anything that was a deliberate attempt to troll my readers. I even had my Ore no Imouto post authored under a different name, and I still don’t think that post was sarcastic.

        Reply
        1. alsozara

          I never said anything about trolling. I just thought it might be jokey or satirical. I thought this post was most probably serious, like, 70%-80% confidence, but saying things like “It’s simply the best anime I’ve seen in years. Without a doubt, if I could ever make an anime, I would’ve wanted it to have been Guilty Crown” made me significantly less sure.

        2. E Minor Post author

          It’s a subjective statement. I like GC more than I like other recent anime series. You don’t have to agree with me, but I hardly think that’s grounds for sarcasm.

        3. alsozara

          I know it’s subjective, I still think it comes across as a little outrageous. You’re going to raise eyebrows with statements like that, and I don’t think that should be a surprise to you. Anyway, I’ll be back later with an actual response to the entry.

        4. E Minor Post author

          You’re right in that I’m not really surprised by people’s reaction to the post. I wouldn’t have called the post a “defense” if I hadn’t expected an outcry of disagreements. I suppose the only person to surprise me is Ryan R since he and I have tended to butt heads in the past.

          Even so, I would have hoped that the preceding context of my final statement would’ve hinted more at the idea that I’m not being sarcastic.

    1. E Minor Post author

      Because it looked cool. The anime is a celebration of all things exhilarating and, at the same time, meaningless. The mistake people make with regards to postmodernism is that they think it has to be intellectual. Guilty Crown is simultaneously anti-intellectual, snubbing its nose at “deeper” anime series and the people who love them, and clever.

      Reply
      1. flawfinder

        I’d like to see someone use that as a defense when I ask why Parallax in the Green Lantern movie looked like a giant piece of poo. Or why the eighth diary user in Future Diary looks like the Pillsbury Dough Boy’s mother.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          Like I’ve said elsewhere, please refer to my reply to Kadian for my take on the fine line between camp and the just-plain-bad.

  5. Shinmaru

    lol, all the people questioning E Minor’s seriousness obviously haven’t read the blog before.

    Taking this interpretation into account, I’d say the true ending to Guilty Crown is its ultimately decent sales record (at least, from the few figures I’ve seen). It’s the ultimate commentary on anime fans — we’ll buy fuckin’ ANYTHING, even if it’s blatantly and unironically showing just how dumb nearly every anime storytelling device and character type is. Not that I myself am totally above enjoying some of these dumb, dumb storytelling devices, so, hey, Guilty Crown is goofing on me, too …

    To me, the great thing about Guilty Crown is that everything makes logical sense from the point of view of Shu as viewer avatar. Everything and everyone feeds into the fantasy; hell, anything BUT the student council as police state would make zero sense in this context, since the story is catering to folks stuck in that teenage fantasy mindset. Power levels? Well, obviously we need a way to quantify how inherently awesome I truly am (because the world can’t see it)! And so on.

    Also, Dan Eagleman: best American stereotype or BEST American stereotype? I can only wish I were as American as he.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      The storytelling isn’t dumb though. The plot makes no literal sense, but who ever said that it had to? Just because we all expect realism from our storytelling hardly makes it dumb. And why shouldn’t fans buy the series? If they were honestly entertained by it, why not?

      Reply
  6. kadian1364

    The question boils down to, do you think Guilty Crown can be blatantly derivative, buffoonish, and cynically produced with innumerable elements targeting the otaku market, and still be a meta-commentary on the genre it parasitically grounds its success on? To go further, should we assume all derivative, buffoonish, etc. etc. type productions are “post-modern” meta-commentaries of their genre? What separates a post-modern work from simply a colossally stupid, misguided effort? You said it yourself, Guilty Crown doesn’t wink at the audience or in any other way indicate it understands its own follies. Being hyper-derivative of Evangelion and Code Geass is much more likely a result of the production committee making design and story decisions to ensure commercial success rather than to put forth any artistic statement.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      Of course, there’s a fine line between camp and something that is plain simply bad. How do I know that this is camp? By the “ostentatious, exaggerated, affected, theatrical, and effeminate behaviour” of the main character. By the “banality, artifice, mediocrity, and ostentation so extreme as to have perversely sophisticated appeal” of the main cast. By the “frivolity, naïve middle-class pretentiousness, and ‘shocking’ excess” of the overall story. Most of all, the numerous bits of dry humor littered throughout the show. These are all definitions of camp that you can find on Wikipedia. My post above is an attempt to illustrate how Guilty Crown meets these standards. A lot of other anime series are bad, but can we say that they fulfill most or all of these requirements of camp? Maybe, but someone else will have to make that rigorous analysis.

      Being hyper-derivative of Evangelion and Code Geass is much more likely a result of the production committee making design and story decisions to ensure commercial success rather than to put forth any artistic statement.

      And you know this how?

      Reply
      1. kadian1364

        I don’t think we’re debating your or my understanding of the definition of camp. We’re questioning whether Guilty Crown truly has “perversely sophisticated appeal” and “dry humor” to categorize it as such. I and others see no evidence for these things which you attribute it to have.

        As for the motivation behind certain creative decisions, of course I don’t know beyond the shadow of a doubt it to be the case that GC was designed by a corporate production committee intent to sell as many blurays as possible, but the behavior surrounding the project, starting with the interview here: http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/interview/2011-11-28/interview-koji-yamamoto-ryo-ohyama-and-george-wada-on-guilty-crown
        … from the political commentary it attempts to make, to the type of merchandise it sells, to the spin-off visual novel game, and the popular reception among fans all indicates to me GC is no different from all the other commercially-popular-but-critical-flops we’ve seen in anime past, like Code Geass (which the producers are quite comically in adamant denial GC being similar to). This debate is Poe’s Law in full effect.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          I’ve pointed to evidences of dry humor. I’ve pointed to evidences of how the anime makes a ridiculous attempt at “perversely sophisticated appeal.”

          all indicates to me GC is no different from all the other commercially-popular-but-critical-flops we’ve seen in anime past,

          And at the same time, you seem to be implying that there can only be one interpretation of any artform. Yes, Guilty Crown is designed to be commercial, but that doesn’t negate every other analysis you can make about the anime. Its commercial appeal — its theatricality — also plays into the idea that the anime is subversively ridiculous: “People like bad anime. Let’s take all of the qualities of bad anime and shove them all into one show. Look at how exhilaratingly ridiculous this is. And yet, some people still like it for the wrong reasons.”

          Poe’s Law in full effect

          A lot of conservatives seem to think that The Colbert Report isn’t a parody. That doesn’t make them right. Likewise, a person’s inability to see GC as camp isn’t the end all, be all of the debate.

        2. inboxhurtado@gmail.com

          If anything, I can at least like some of those other commercially popular but critical flops more than Guilty Crown, such as Code Geass itself, because at one point or another I found myself enjoying a few interesting or unusual developments, despite all their remaining flaws, while Guilty Crown was ultimately far more transparent and meaningless to the point of boring me. That’s the worst thing entertainment can do.

  7. Taka

    Saying Guilty Crown is post-modern (or a meta commentary) doesn’t necessarily entail a value judgement. Obviously your statement at the end of your post does make a value judgement but I come from the school that authorial intent is not meaningless. Generally I consider it the jumping off point for making a final judgement call on the quality of a work. The impression of the authorial intent in making Guilty Crown gives no indication that they knew they were creating something that could be interpreted as meta commentary. There’s no indication that this was their intent at all so I can’t realistically come to the conclusion that Guilty Crown is a meta commentary.

    The reason people are asking if you are being sarcastic or not is because if you aren’t the argument is as scamp says “strained to the point of being delusional. There’s where authorial intent becomes a factor.

    But then I tend to think of post-modernism as a whole lot of intellectual masturbation so there’s that.

    Reply
    1. thoughtcannon

      Also one problem I’m seeing here is a clear delineation between post-modern, meta commentary, and camp.

      I don’t think camp is necessarily post modern or meta. Nor is meta commentary necessarily post-modern and camp.

      Reply
      1. E Minor Post author

        So you want to argue semantics when I’ve put together a 2000+ word post that draws from the body of the “text?”

        Reply
        1. thoughtcannon

          I was referring to the comments that are being made after the fact. I see the underlying assumption being made that camp=post-modernism and I don’t believe it.

          I believe Evil Dead is camp. I don’t believe it is post modernism. I believe that Sam Raimi intended it to be campy. I think it is good because intent and result lined up.

          I could reasonably believe Guilty Crown is campy. I don’t believe it is meta commentary. I don’t believe it was intended to be campy. I think it is bad because intent and result did not line up.

          I don’t even know if post-modernism is the same as meta commentary. I guess maybe meta commentary falls underneath the umbrella of post-modernism.

          And in answer to the bottom bit. Yes, I read the comments. I wasn’t trying to put words into your mouth but I don’t understand how “[assuming] the creators are idiots” isn’t a dismissal of authorial intent. I’m sorry my own aggrievances about post modernism are coming out when you want to have a discussion about the post but if we can’t agree about the underlying assumptions it’s going to be awfully difficult to address the actual body of the text.

        2. E Minor Post author

          I believe that Sam Raimi intended it to be campy. I think it is good because intent and result lined up.

          The disconnect is where we seem to make that leap to determining the author’s intent. I analyze the components of the show, and that helps me to discern the author’s intent. “Everything is so stupid!” >> “Everything seems to be meticulously stupid!” >> “What does that mean?” >> “Perhaps what it means is the author’s true intent.”

          It seems to me, however, that you’ve separated the author’s intent from the process. You seem to analyze the work, but then hold it up to the author’s intent as if it is some sort of objective litmus test separate from the anime itself. I don’t believe in analyzing fiction in that fashion. I don’t think an author’s intent can be separate from the content, and thus, it must be contingent upon the result of the content. Because, honestly, how many times in our lives have we intended something only to arrive at a result wholly different than what we originally set out to accomplish.

          I don’t really care if you respect postmodernism or not. You can simply ignore that I ever said anything about postmodernism. What I have a problem with is this:

          we can’t agree about the underlying assumptions it’s going to be awfully difficult to address the actual body of the text.

          The underlying assumptions should not precede the analysis of the text.

        3. E Minor Post author

          I should add that I’ve never said anywhere that camp and postmodern were one and the same. I simply implied that the anime was both, which is why I find your contention here rather puzzling.

          Me: “GC is a postmodernist attempt to deconstruct anime tropes and cliches in a ‘not real’ fashion.”
          Others: “How can you tell that it’s not just bad?”
          Me: “Because it is campy and here are a list of reasons of why I believe this.”

        4. thoughtcannon

          Perhaps I misunderstood your response to Kadian’s comment but it looked like Kadian was asking if all campy things can be considered post modern and you responded that some things that appear campy are just plain bad but that doesn’t really address whether it’s meta commentary or not.

          I also don’t really understand how assumptions shouldn’t precede analysis, but I’ll leave that for another day.

          In address to the actual text the one point I do agree on is that the creators were trying hard. I don’t think they were being lazy either. I believe that they were earnestly trying to make a blockbuster anime. Just like I believe Michael Bay intends to make commercially viable explosion fests in the Transformer movies. However, Sontag distinguishes between naive and deliberate camp; naive camp being unaware of it’s banality. Like the Transformers movies I believe Guilty Crown is naive of its campiness and therefore cannot be considered meta commentary. Whether it’s good or enjoyable is debatable.

        5. E Minor Post author

          but it looked like Kadian was asking if all campy things can be considered post modern

          To me, he seemed to be asking how I could tell that the anime wasn’t just simply bad. I addressed him by bring up the idea of camp.

          Just like I believe Michael Bay intends to make commercially viable explosion fests in the Transformer movies.

          Unlike other internet commentators, I don’t automatically assume that Michael Bay is stupid. Yes, of course he sets out to make blockbuster films, but that doesn’t automatically invalidate any other reading of his films that transcends “cheap commercialized garbage.”

          Like the Transformers movies I believe Guilty Crown is naive of its campiness and therefore cannot be considered meta commentary.

          Why must meta commentary be intended?

        6. thoughtcannon

          Does the word commentary not imply that someone is doing the commenting? Or understood just what was meta about the whole affair. I don’t know how meta-commentary can be anything but intentional, otherwise it’s just a happy accident.

          I don’t believe Michael Bay is stupid either but, while his movies are kitsch and camp they are not meta commentary in regards to action thrillers. What commentary their is in his films can generally be interpreted as being politically or ideologically motivated. There might be some commentary in Guilty Crown about fascism, blind loyalty or sacrifice but, just as I don’t think there is commentary on the action genre in Bay’s films, I don’t think there is commentary on anime itself within Guilty Crown.

        7. E Minor Post author

          I don’t know how meta-commentary can be anything but intentional, otherwise it’s just a happy accident.

          There is no accident. The commentary is within the text. The author may not have intended that commentary to be his, but it is nevertheless there. As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. What you wanted to say isn’t nearly as important as what you end up doing. Likewise, what the creators ended up creating is more important than what they originally tried to say, but don’t mistake that as though the unintended meta-commentary in GC, if it is indeed unintentional, isn’t a reflection of the creators themselves.

          I don’t believe Michael Bay is stupid either but, while his movies are kitsch and camp they are not meta commentary in regards to action thrillers

          Well, I disagree wholeheartedly regarding Bay, but this isn’t the place to discuss Hollywood movies.

        8. thoughtcannon

          I appreciate you writing this post and I appreciate you having an interesting opinion.

          But if it’s cool with you I’m just going to think your argument is ludicrous and sound like an overzealous post-modern Yoda in that last comment. You commented about not fetishizing the author but it feels like you’re fetishizing the not-author.

        9. E Minor Post author

          I’m fetishizing the text, but thanks for the judgement values all the same.

        10. Ryan R

          @thoughtcannon – What makes you so sure that Guilty Crown wasn’t aiming to be campy? I mean, just look at that GC image that E Minor included under his addendum. No anime fan, let alone professional anime writer, could possibly miss the utter cheesiness there. And not long after that image, we have Shu and Ayase hilariously “smiling for the camera”, coming just short of ‘winking at the viewer’.

          GC doesn’t literally wink at the viewer because it’s actually funnier this way, imo. It’s funnier because it combines a sense of sincerity with hilariously over-the-top cheese.

      2. thoughtcannon

        @Ryan The Wink has to be there or else it’s not intentional camp. If, as Susan Sontag says intentional camp is a way of consuming or performing culture “in quotation marks” (according to wiki I don’t have access to her essay), then what is it if the quotation marks don’t appear to be there?

        In Twilight Princess after defeating the King Boblin (or w/e his name is) by knocking him off a bridge while on horseback, as Epona rears up Link thrusts his sword towards the sky in victory. Is it cool? Hell yeah. Is it cheesy? Maybe some could see it that way. Was it intentionally cheesy? I highly doubt it. Posturing like that is not something strictly limited to anime. Sometimes it comes off cheesy in that moment and sometimes it comes off cheesy in retrospect. Pretty much any cop drama is an exercise in unintentional camp. Maybe I don’t understand the not-real portion of the argument but I think it’s perfectly logical for them to pose like that because I don’t think the anime is supposed to be viewed as a 1:1 correlation with real life. They pose that way because someone somewhere decided that posing was cool. Not because they were aware that most people thought posing that way was cool so they were gonna go ahead and pose that way ironically. Which is strange to say in light of E-Minor’s reply to you but that seems to be the argument behind why posing that way signifies that this is camp. He’s claiming that’s the wink, that’s the part in quotation marks and I just don’t buy it.

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          Maybe I don’t understand the not-real portion of the argument but I think it’s perfectly logical for them to pose like that because I don’t think the anime is supposed to be viewed as a 1:1 correlation with real life.

          And yet others have constantly made the argument that the pose was stupid because it wasn’t realistic.

          They pose that way because someone somewhere decided that posing was cool.

          You’re right though. When did I say that posing that way wasn’t cool? It’s also simultaneously cheesy. GC finds anime cliches to be cool and simultaneously lame. These moments are cool-in-themselves, but when densely assembled together in the way that GC does, these moments are also rendered cheesy, which in turn becomes a commentary on the way we as fans enjoy and consume anime tropes and cliches. It’s what I find so clever about the show.

        2. Ryan R

          I honestly don’t recall Adam West Batman ever winking at the audience. And if Adam West Batman is as camp as it gets – I can’t even begin to fathom Adam West Batman being unintentionally camp, lol.

          I think E Minor has completely figured out Guilty Crown, something I’ve seen hardly anybody else do.

          I think that the people behind Guilty Crown love anime cliches, but also realize just how incredibly silly (if not offensive) some of them are when you really stop to think about it. So they present these cliches (Shu’s very character being the principal one) completely straight-up, without anything to round them out or take the edge off them, and it shines a bright light on just how silly and “not real” they are.

          Perhaps my Adam West Batman comparison is a bit too dated for people to get.

          Ok, try this then – Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. This also has a “Not Real” aspect to it that gives it much of its comedy value. Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is a love-letter to nerds/geeks who grew up in the 80s and/or 90s, but it also playfully lampoons many of the things that those nerds/geeks loved by showing just how silly they are if you try to incorporate them seriously into reality… just like Guilty Crown playfully lampoons many of the things that anime nerds/geeks love by showing just how silly they are if you try to incorporate it seriously into reality.

          I really don’t think that Guilty Crown is not self-aware of that silliness. How can you possibly create a character like Dan Eagleman, and not be self-aware of the silliness of him? Like E Minor said, he’s not merely an American stereotype, he’s THE American stereotype.

          Suppose you had an American show with a Frenchman in it that loves eating cheese and wine, is a total casanova with all the ladies, speaks with a thick French accent, and literally throws up white flags whenever somebody gets very upset with him. The national stereotype is too extreme and obvious for it to be a sincere take on another country’s people, even on the part of a total xenophobe. It’s a self-aware joke. And so is Dan Eagleman.

        3. thoughtcannon

          So how bout the black dude in Oretachi Tsubasa wa Nai whom every time he is onscreen music kicks on and he clumsily raps his lines at the characters. I think they are aware of the silliness of such a character, does that automatically mean it’s self-aware joke? It could just be a racist depiction.

          Scott Pilgrim is lost on me. Never saw the movie.

          As for Batman uhh what. I wasn’t implying he had to literally wink at the audience. It doesn’t even have to be the main character. However having giant POW signs pop up when you punch someone and having goddamn shark repellant spray on your utility belt might as well be giant faces screaming “DON’T TAKE THIS SERIOUSLY”.

          Dan Eagleman could reasonably be considered a self-aware stereotype taken to the extreme in the name of camp, but in absence of other indications of self-aware camp it comes off as a humorous, racist, stereotype.

          I personally agree with Kadian’s assessment that this is essentially Poe’s law in action. Nor do I agree with E Minor’s retort about Colbert to Scamp. If Colbert was animated there would still be plenty of winking. He wouldn’t take it out because it has to be there. Moreover it’s present in the dialogue and the choice of shots and cuts, it’s the graphics for the “Cheating Death with Stephen Colbert” segments that go on just a tad bit too long. South Park is animated, it’s got plenty of artifice but it still aware of the irony of its own statements and shows its awareness to the audience. Perhaps it is the intention of Guilty Crown staff to be a farcical commentary on the modern trope-filled action anime but I just don’t see it. E Minor and you obviously do but most of us can’t get past the apparent juvenile and sophomoric execution (minus the self-awareness) to come to the same conclusion. Possibly because the tropes and extremes in GC appear no more exaggerated and prevalent than the ones in Fractale or Sacred Seven.

        4. E Minor Post author

          I personally agree with Kadian’s assessment that this is essentially Poe’s law in action. Nor do I agree with E Minor’s retort about Colbert to Scamp. If Colbert was animated there would still be plenty of winking.

          That’s not the point. The point is that there are people who can’t tell the difference between Colbert and conservative nonsense. Why is it that we can’t simply scream Poe’s Law at Colbert? Because you see him out of character? Because you can read interviews of him where he expresses liberal viewpoints? None of this argues compellingly that GC isn’t satire, because you can tell that Colbert is farcical just from the content of his show alone. You said it yourself that you can spot cues within the show to show that Colbert isn’t a conservative blowhard.

          Likewise, you should be able to do the same with GC. The fact that relatively less people can identify GC as satire is hardly compelling evidence that the show isn’t satire. It just means that some people can’t see it. Try making the same argument to the people who think Colbert is serious: “Well, I don’t see it. The people I hang out with don’t see it. This is just Poe’s Law!”

          You have yet to use evidence from the show itself to show that it isn’t being farcical. You are simply asserting, “Well, some of us don’t see it.”

          Possibly because the tropes and extremes in GC appear no more exaggerated and prevalent than the ones in Fractale or Sacred Seven.

          Sacred Seven is also campy. It’s just not as well executed nor does it seem to provide a coherent level of meta-commentary. But if someone can compellingly argue for its case, I would change my mind.

        5. thoughtcannon

          I don’t know where I argued that GC wasn’t farcical. I however am not convinced it is meta commentary nor that the campiness was intentional. You don’t think intention is all that important but it is part of my system for making value judgements on a work. I can’t agree with the conclusion that GC is good because I see it as an utter mess. I wouldn’t like Colbert half as much if he wasn’t intentionally lampooning conservatives. Glenn Beck is an outrageous exaggeration of conservative values to the extent some might find it comical but I don’t.

          I need that evidence of intent. I don’t see it in Guilty Crown.

          Off the top of my head: the music. It’s the one good thing about GC. The OST is excellent. It’s earnest and bombastic in a way that completely does not mesh utter disgust the audience feels for Shu and his actions. Is this a commentary on shows with awesome soundtracks that don’t match their actual content? Is this even a common trope in anime?

          Did they let Redjuice in on the joke? Because his character designs were pretty awesome. He even claims that Tsugumi’s cat-like ears are a result of his own preference and that the staff didn’t mind him inserting them into the work. Did they pick him precisely because they knew his designs were outrageous otaku-bait? Why didn’t he pick Buriki the character designer of Denpa Onna and Haganai? His illustrations are even more otaku baiting. Shaft picked Aoki Ume to do the character designs for Madoka to create a juxtaposition between the cute faces and the dark content of the show. I see no such juxtaposition with Redjuice. They picked awesome looking character designs because they were awesome looking and possibly because his involvement with Supercell. Whom we might add was currently the next big thing at the time of Guilty Crown’s airing. They chose supercell because it was popular at the time and would therefore draw in a crowd just from the attachment of the name. If they wanted to lampoon action shows they should have gotten it an ALI Pro OP.

        6. E Minor Post author

          The OST is excellent. It’s earnest and bombastic in a way that completely does not mesh utter disgust the audience feels for Shu and his actions

          If they wanted to lampoon action shows they should have gotten it an ALI Pro OP.

          Why on earth would you want the satire to be more overt? How is that remotely clever and/or interesting? Big giant sign: HEY GUYS THIS IS A FARCE. Wow, bravo, brilliant satire. Gold star. But somehow, making a ridiculously cheesy pose at the end of a fight isn’t a big enough clue.

          I wouldn’t like Colbert half as much if he wasn’t intentionally lampooning conservatives

          Of course he’s intending it, and you can figure this out by examining the content of his show. Likewise, you can draw similar conclusions by examining the content of GC. Oh, but you don’t see it? Just like how some conservatives don’t see the farce in Colbert? Surely, he’s not winking hard enough for them. If I hadn’t known Swift’s intent beforehand, I seriously would’ve thought A Modest Proposal wanted us to eat babies!

          You don’t think intention is all that important but it is part of my system for making value judgements on a work.

          I never said that intention isn’t important. I said that it isn’t the end all, be all of the discussion. Furthermore, intention is not solely determined by what escapes the creators’ lips. You can discern the creators’ intent from the work itself, and I’d argue that this is more convincing than some interview. What’s so hard about understanding that what you do is far more important than what you say?

          “I won’t cheat on you! I swear!”

          *cheats*

          “See, I didn’t intend to cheat because I’ve said otherwise.”

          Y’know what? You choose to find the author’s intent from outside the text. I don’t. I’ve lost my patience with this discussion.

        7. thoughtcannon

          What happens if a person gets drunk and cheats. They didn’t intend to cheat so do you forgive them or not? Some people will be more forgiving than others.

          I don’t want satire to be overt I want it to give some indication that it is satire. I don’t believe GC does this. I gave two examples from the creative process that indicate why I don’t believe this and you didn’t address why they are considered satire. Making a big cheesy pose is not necessarily an indication of satire. It’s present in many other art works that aren’t considered satire. It could reasonably be considered campy but I don’t think that makes it meta commentary. The examples given for meta commentary within the post are the same arguments one would make that the show is just plain bad. Shu pulling out a giant sword and blowing apart a satellite to prevent Gai’s sacrifice was a standard shounen hero trope. That doesn’t make it commentary. Inconsistent characterization doesn’t make it commentary. Nonsensical plot doesn’t make it commentary. Summation of those parts does not make it commentary. There is no apparent subversion of tropes just a bunch of them tossed in a blender, ground up, and smeared across the page. Hell Blood-C was more subversive than GC is.

          For the record I was also done with this conversation. I was responding to Ryan R’s comments.

        8. E Minor Post author

          What happens if a person gets drunk and cheats. They didn’t intend to cheat so do you forgive them or not? Some people will be more forgiving than others.

          But dude, he said he didn’t mean to cheat! I buy his word. His word determines everything.

          I gave two examples from the creative process that indicate why I don’t believe this and you didn’t address why they are considered satire.

          The creative process is outside of the text.

          Making a big cheesy pose is not necessarily an indication of satire. It’s present in many other art works that aren’t considered satire.

          “Stephen Colbert isn’t being satirical. He’s just parroting what Glenn Beck says in a more embellished, ridiculous way.”

          Shu pulling out a giant sword and blowing apart a satellite to prevent Gai’s sacrifice was a standard shounen hero trope. That doesn’t make it commentary.

          You’re omitting details from my argument.

          Inconsistent characterization doesn’t make it commentary. Nonsensical plot doesn’t make it commentary.

          You’re not connecting the dots with the dry humor and middle-brow pretentiousness of the anime’s symbolism.

          There is no apparent subversion of tropes

          Objectifying women to the point that they disgust most of the audience isn’t subversive at all in a medium full of female objectification. Oh okay.

          Hell Blood-C was more subversive than GC is.

          Haha, wow.

          If I later found out he was a baby-eating sociopath my impression of the work would change dramatically.

          This makes no sense. Even if he was a baby-eating sociopath, as long as the text stays the same, it would still be satirical. If you’re a writer, you know it’s inadequate to say “Well, that’s not what I meant.” You can point out textual evidence that supports your view of your own work, but saying “Nuh uh, you’re wrong because it’s different in my head” is a sign that you don’t really have a clear perception of your own work.

          For the record I was also done with this conversation. I was responding to Ryan R’s comments.

          You brought up my arguments in a reply to Ryan R so I’m going to naturally defend myself.

        9. thoughtcannon

          Also it’s rather clear that Swift is being satirical. If I read Swift without knowing who he was I would still think it’s satirical. If I later found out he was a baby-eating sociopath my impression of the work would change dramatically.

        10. thoughtcannon

          I’m just telling the truth. There are some people that will forgive a cheater. It happens all the time. Maybe you think these people are misguided but I don’t necessarily.

          >Middle brow pretentiousness
          You are arguing camp again. I’m not arguing camp, I’m arguing meta commentary, subversion and satire. I thought we agreed way back that meta commentary=/=camp.

          Why is music and character designs considered “outside the text” we are talking about an anime here not a book. If Swift decided to accompany A Modest Proposal with a piece of music you bet we’d be asking what the choice of music meant in relation to the work.

          All the “fight until your clothes come off” shows generally objectify women to the point of disgust. Are they being subversive?

          Also ( somewhat non-sequitur) but the onigiri thing is present in all anime characters not just female. This is one of the points in the post where it became difficult to tell if you were being serious or not. Course that’s not important but if you were still wondering that’s one of the points I couldn’t tell whether you were being serious.

          Pokemon are literally objectified like the characters in GC. They are even broken down into various power levels of one type being better against another type and so on. I don’t think anyone would seriously argue that pokemon is being subversive in its decision to squeeze rats into tiny balls. Hell some people would criticize pokemon for appearing to promote animal abuse.

          If I read a work about a person meticulously dismembering and eating another human being and I interpreted it as a being a commentary on the collapse of the housing market and then later found out it was written by a guy who killed and ate his wife…I’d have reason to doubt my interpretation. In fact I’d probably feel a little sick to my stomach.

        11. E Minor Post author

          . I thought we agreed way back that meta commentary=/=camp.

          No, I agreed that meta-commentary wasn’t necessarily camp, and vice versa. I never said they couldn’t overlap, or that their qualities couldn’t overlap. In this case, the middle-brow pretentiousness is a deliberate reference to previous shows, but played up for ridiculous effect. If pulling out an apple at the last moment doesn’t imply to you that the symbolism isn’t supposed to mean anything, I don’t know what to say.

          Why is music and character designs considered “outside the text” we are talking about an anime here not a book.

          You’re talking about the process of picking music and character design that preceded the text, therefore it is outside of the text. If you talk about the music and character design with regards to how it relates to everything else in the anime, I’d consider the point. I don’t give a damn, however, which silly artist they should’ve picked.

          If Swift decided to accompany A Modest Proposal with a piece of music you bet we’d be asking what the choice of music meant in relation to the work.

          This is not what you did. You pointed to an artist’s comments regarding one of the characters as if it should decide anything about how we interpret the character.

          All the “fight until your clothes come off” shows generally objectify women to the point of disgust. Are they being subversive?

          And this is where we examine the rest of the anime to help us gain insight. My points in the post above do not exist in a vacuum detached from the rest of the argument.

          Also ( somewhat non-sequitur) but the onigiri thing is present in all anime characters not just female. This is one of the points in the post where it became difficult to tell if you were being serious or not.

          A child-like character asks the male lead specifically for onigiri instead of making it herself. This is similar to anime shows (of which I named two examples) where a young man or adult will assume responsibility of a female child in grade school who needs lunch to eat. What could this mean? I dunno, man, I dunno.

          Pokemon are literally objectified like the characters in GC. They are even broken down into various power levels of one type being better against another type and so on

          You’re removing all the nuance from my argument. They started measuring the characters’ “power levels” in a push for tactical realism, subverting the idea that tactical realism is necessary in anime. This is made even funnier when critics of the anime point out how unrealistic the anime is being despite the fact that the anime is directly flouting the importance of realism by making the ridiculous argument that it leads to fascism. Point me to a single Pokemon episode that does this.

          Hell some people would criticize pokemon for appearing to promote animal abuse.

          Those people would also be fucking idiots.

          If I read a work about a person meticulously dismembering and eating another human being and I interpreted it as a being a commentary on the collapse of the housing market and then later found out it was written by a guy who killed and ate his wife…I’d have reason to doubt my interpretation. In fact I’d probably feel a little sick to my stomach.

          In this paragraph, you haven’t said a single thing about the text. Does the text support your conclusion that the message is about the collapse of the housing market? If yes, then what’s the problem? Oh right, the author… he or she decides everything. Why bother to read anything then? Let’s just go ask the author.

    2. E Minor Post author

      I come from the school that authorial intent is not meaningless. Generally I consider it the jumping off point for making a final judgement call on the quality of a work.

      “Well, there’s the school of thought that authorial intent isn’t the end all, be all of the discussion. That’s not to say that we should discard it entirely, because authorial intent is only bad when it’s abused or fetishized. Usually, people will assume that the creators are idiots, and then analyze the body of text after the fact. In any case, we can often only guess as to what the writers originally intended. Even then, it’s more important to examine what’s being said in the actual body of text.”

      Basically, people aren’t even addressing the specific points I make in the post. You guys have already decided upon the author’s intent, which automatically renders any other argument meaningless. You put an inordinate amount of faith in something that you can only ever guess at.

      De-emphasizing authorial intent isn’t dooming us to solipsism, no matter how hard you guys think it would. My reading of the anime is based on what I see in the anime. I simply examine the text before me. When someone else comes by with a more compelling interpretation of the actual anime, then I’ll change my stance. All you guys have done, however, is scream at me about authorial intent, and often with the assumption that the authors are dumb or simply trying to be commercial.

      Reply
      1. Scamp

        Because the entire point of your post seems to be “they can’t possibly be this stupid intentionally”, but the text in question gives no hint that they meant this intentionally. If there is no way to distinguish the two from the text, being bad intentionally and ironically still result in something being bad. If you can seriously point to any example in the text that they had the knowledge what they were doing is the hallmark of bad storytelling, then show me. Your post only mentions things it does stupidly with the assumption that clearly it can’t be this bad

        Reply
        1. E Minor Post author

          Your assumption is that a bunch of adults got into a room and decided to make an outrageously bad clone of NGE. Then they repeatedly and unintentionally inserted moments of dry humor into scenes dripping with utter seriousness and this went unnoticed. Okay, you can make that reading if you want, but I don’t find it very compelling. I mean, what do you want them to do? Have the characters look at the camera and wink right before doing a ridiculous pose? It’s just not underlined for the audience in a boneheadedly literal, hand-holdy way.

        2. Scamp

          “Your assumption is that a bunch of adults got into a room and decided to make an outrageously bad clone of NGE”

          No, they intend to. They just did. Happens all the time

          As for the dry humour, what dry humour? Doing bad stuff does not count as ‘dry humour’. If it’s intended as satire, it’s failed miserably because the only sign it is satire is if you take the assumption that they never intended to be this bad. And if you take that route, then you must take the same route with every piece of entertainment that is shockingly bad, and nothing is meant to be taken on face value

        3. E Minor Post author

          No, they intend to. They just did. Happens all the time

          Sure, but it’s not a compelling argument to say that they did so simply because they wanted to. The simplest answer isn’t automatically the correct one.

          As for the dry humour, what dry humour?

          I guess we don’t have the same sense of humor. I just find it funny that you think satire has to be explicitly satirical.

          And if you take that route, then you must take the same route with every piece of entertainment that is shockingly bad, and nothing is meant to be taken on face value

          The only difference between something like GC and Stephen Colbert is that he doesn’t have the artifice of animation to conceal his laughter.

  8. Ryan R

    Excellent post.

    Guilty Crown is totally, 100% camp. It’s to anime what the old Adam West Batman show is to comic books. It’s *intentionally* cheesy, derivative, and filled to the brim with anime cliches, shoutouts, and tropes.

    It honestly amazes me that more people don’t get this. Guilty Crown was not aiming to be a super-serious show with a realistic plot trying to convey a thoughtful theme that transcends anime itself. It was just aiming to be “ostentatious anime coolness” in its purest and most extreme form, as it sees it.

    I honestly think Guilty Crown was hurt by airing on noitaminA. That alone caused it’s viewers to have expectations for it that its makers likely never had.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      As the internet generation, we come with our own unique set of prejudices. The underlying assumption is that everything is stupid unless proven otherwise. Postmodernism is meaningless intellectual masturbation unless proven otherwise. “Being trolled” seems to be the act of utmost humiliation for our generation, so we have this detached sense of analysis to everything: “Yeah, I enjoyed it, but… I did so ~ironically~.”

      Reply
  9. Kay

    That’s an intriguing take on an anime critics are only too happy to bash. Perhaps it half-explains why I watch it every week despite thinking how inconsistent and convoluted the plot was. (Okay, the aesthetics helped too. Or maybe I was a masochist.) However, I cannot concur that it is “the best anime… in years”. Then again that is simply be a matter of personal preference. One who regards character development and plot consistency as vital benchmarks for a good anime, is unlikely to appreciate the “brilliance of Guilty Crown… that… doesn’t care about plot or characterization”, which in my opinion gave it one too many wtf moments.

    Above all, I applaud you for this post. In fact, I applaud you for all your posts, which have always been ever so insightful and a joy to read.

    Reply
  10. Marcomax

    Wow, great article. I’ve been waiting for someone to write an article like this since the second half of the show. Once we got into the school council stuff, that’s when the Idea of Guilty Crown as an Ode to Badness actually clicked.

    Part of the fun of watching Guilty Crown for me was watching it off Niconico. It’s like having two people beside you, one trying to poke holes into the show’s logic while the other tries to make as many stupid jokes as possible.

    Reply
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  12. alsozara

    At some point I am going to have to force myself to watch this to see if I agree.

    On the topic of parodies that oft go misinterpreted, have you seen Sucker Punch? Would be interested to hear your thoughts.

    Reply
    1. E Minor Post author

      I haven’t seen Sucker Punch, but I do think Zack Snyder is misunderstood. Watchmen is a great movie and not because I liked the source material (I don’t). But that doesn’t say much because I think a lot of people misunderstand cinema. Battleship, for instance, is not the brainless action movie that most people seem to think.

      Reply
      1. alsozara

        It got panned for being misogynist, pretending to be feminist by making its scantily dressed female protagonists strong, but in actual fact it was a parody of this. It was a vicious attack on nerd culture, basically saying “call those “empowered” stripperific female action heroes what you want, but a striptease is a striptease”, comparing the audience to the men in the dark at a burlesque house. Hence “Suckerpunch”, inviting people in on the premise of sexy action, and out of nowhere mounting a vicious attack on these very people. Pity few people seemed to get it :(

        Whether or not the execution meets the ambition is highly debatable, but it is interesting, and I’d very much recommend it if you have the time at some point.

        Reply
  13. Pingback: Weekly Round-up – Dismemberment, Transvestites and Valvrave | Under the Bridge

  14. Buck Wade

    Guilty crown definetely has a sh*tload of plot holes, but I wouldn’t say it’s, “confusing”. There were a lot of parts where I was confused but I was smart enough to continue watching and PAY attention (unlike most other viewers), and the show cleared up my confusion.

    Reply
  15. KingOfMecha

    I know I’m a little late replying to this but, WHAT THE FUCK!? People are always saying Guilty Crown is shit. Guilty Crown was an amazing anime, it wasn’t as good as Code Geass Or Evangelion but it was still brilliant.

    Reply

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