Saturday, February 11, 2012

Guilty Crown eps 15-16: Shu, the Idiot Tyrant

When I was little, my parents taught me to be careful with my language. "Stupid" was the "S word." And I suppose "Idiot" would have been the "I word," but that one wasn't a problem for me anyway. So I choose the words in the following sentence very carefully:

Shu is a royal idiot. 

Last Thursday, I visited Niconico on the family computer and happily clicked on episode fifteen of Guilty Crown. This anime had become a favorite of mine, even though it took a few episodes for the show to achieve excellence. So I anticipated such excellence when I started to watch the fifteenth episode, and I wasn't disappointed. Unfortunately, the degree of excellence to which they took the social conflict was nearly too much for me, and it promised to worsen. I avoid drama shows for a reason - I can't handle it! Give me guns, explosions, blood, edge-of-your seat fights - just don't make me watch people tear each other's hearts apart! Unless, of course, they're literally tearing apart their hearts. I can handle that.

Still, like I said, the episode was good. In fact, I determined to watch it a second time. Sure, I barely made it through the first time. Sure, it left me dreading the next episode. Sure, I wanted to shake Shu silly by the end. But it was still well done. Now, eight days later, I'm finally going to re-watch it. And then I'll hurry to view the sixteenth episode before I lose my nerve.

Warning: Major Spoilers Ahead. 

Okay, so at the very end of the fourteenth episode, Shu's friend, Samukama Yahiro, suggests a "Void ranking system." Shu, of course, would be at the top of the hierarchy. Everyone else would be ranked according to the strength of their Void. The higher the ranking, the more important the person. Which means priority access to the vaccine, priority protection, etc. 

Shu continues to think on Yahiro's proposal. On the one hand, it horrifies him. He knows that it's wrong to value one person less than another just because of their Void's strength. On the other hand, there are the practicalities to consider: they need a system to get things done more efficiently. 

"The important thing isn't how strong your Void is," Shu tells one girl at the beginning of episode fifteen, "It's how you work for other people. So keep up the good work!" Shu cares about people, and he seems to have the right idea when he reassures that girl. So we have nothing to worry about, right? Right?!

Shu also says, "I just don't think supervising everyone in a way that make them feel bad can possibly go well." So he rejects Yahiro's idea. Still, he knows that there are life-threatening problems to be addressed, and no other system has been proposed.

"It's not discrimination," Yahiro tells Shu regarding the ranking system, "It's distinction." Some of his other friends agree, but it smells a whole lot like discrimination to me. And, as Shu says, "If they feel like it's discrimination, then isn't it the same thing?" Don't give in, Shu! You can find another way!

Another of Shu's friends, the earnest Tamadate Souta, responds quite negatively when he hears about the idea: "Distinction my butt! It's plain old discrimination!" He makes no qualms about expressing his thoughts multiple times throughout the episode, and for good reason: Souta's Void is comparatively weak, and he would be considered Rank F, the lowest rank.
Souta and Shu letting out "howls" into the world in the spirit of friendship

Shu assures Sota that he won't use the void ranking system. But minutes later, he's informed that there aren't enough vaccines to go around, and that those with the stronger - more useful - voids should be prioritized. Shu is thrown into turmoil once again as his fellow students pressure him to make a decision. 

Shu learns about the vaccines and Souta's rank
When some of the students with weaker Voids, including Souta, discover papers outlining the ranking system in the student council room, they make a rash decision: They trick Shu into drawing out their Voids so they can "practice." Instead, they head off to get the vaccine, a very dangerous endeavor. They want to prove their worth despite being Rank F.

Shu rushes off to save them, along with a few of his other strong friends. Which brings me to another important element of episode 15: Menjou Hare. Hare is a very sweet, girl-next-door/childhood-friend type of character. She has a crush on Shu. He doesn't return her feelings. However, he still cares very much for her. How could he not? Even her Void is an extension of her caring personality: it's bandages. It can heal people and fix just about anything.

Anyway, things go wrong and they're attacked, as Shu expected. Thankfully, he and the others, including Hare, are there to help. Unfortunately, things still don't go well.

Souta, dear, enthusiastic Souta, sees a chance to escape: have Hare fix a car with her Void so they can pile in and retreat. His plan doesn't work. Instead, it brings her out into the open, makes her vulnerable, and hurts her badly. Shu runs just in time to save her, but is fatally injured in the process. In the touching scene that follows, we learn how much Hare believes in Shu, and what she's willing to sacrifice for him. 
Look closely at the bandage.
She compares him to a storybook king, a king who lost out because of his kindness, because he cared so much for everyone. "You know what?" she says without speaking, as she extends her bandages to him, "I think you're going to be a great king."

But he doesn't hear her heart. He lays unconscious as she reaches out to heal him in faith that he'll treat everyone kindly and fairly. In the process, her Void is broken.  

And when he rouses to find her dead, her life poured out for him and others, he snaps. 

He forcefully takes Inori's void without any of the feelings of mutuality or care that were previously present. She protests; he doesn't care. It's wrong and terribly twisted, yet he uses her. He's cold and detached as he dispatches of the mecha around him.

Battle over, Souta apologizes profusely, saying it's his fault for telling Hare to fix the car. The old Shu would have responded with compassion. But the new Shu? "That's right. It's your fault Hare died," he says, in his new cold tone, "Because you took Hare out there for your own stupid vanity." 

Then he says he was too kind. He concludes, "We have to separate the good from the trash."

No, Shu! I exclaim, Think of what Hare would want! Don't do this! Don't turn against Souta! Don't turn into this monster! Please! Please! 

But he can't hear my protests. So I shake my head and move to the desktop computer, since Niconico doesn't work on my Mac. I prepare myself for the worst as I begin episode sixteen. This episode is entitled "Tyrant." Gulp.

At the beginning of the newest episode, we find two strong students taking vaccines from weaker students. I recognize one of them as being a bit of a bully in earlier episodes. "We're working on a new project," the stronger ones inform them, "If you swear allegiance to president Ouma..." (Ouma is Shu's surname).

A Funeral Parlor member, Arugo, walks in on the situation and stands up for her. He's naturally surprised to find out that Shu is the leader.

Oh my word, Ouma Shu has a secret service. A secret service, for heaven's sakes!

They drag the girl Arugo stood up for into the main building and use the Resonance Gauge to assess the power of her Void. Yahiro asks for the reading, then, to my increasing distaste, looks up and says, "This one might be a good find, Shu."

Shu walks down the stairs to grace them with his presence, an awfully detached look on his face. Arugo's shocked expression almost mirrors mine.  

And then - and here's where my eyes bulged and I slapped a hand to my mouth - Shu states, "I can't draw out her void like that. Make her look at me."

Then he does it. He just draws her void from her chest without a care. Such an invading, personal action - all done without any consideration whatsoever for the girl. That done, he says, "Congratulations. You're Rank A. I want you to work hard for this school." I hear a phantom of his former warmth in his tone. 

Arrogance permeates the new structure of things. I don't like it. I don't like it one bit. 

Eemph! Now they're clearing the way and sort of bowing as Shu and his entourage pass through the halls. 

Again, Arugo's expression mirrors mine. And, like me, he protests when he see the next thing: teens who are already showing symptoms of the Apocolypse Virus are working to salvage vaccines and such from an old ship. Apparently, Arugo shouldn't concern himself. After all, a smiling, perfectly healthy girl informs him, "If they do their work, they can get injections before they hit Stage II."

It gets worse. 

Man, I see why Zeroe4 warned me not to throw my computer or try to punch Shu. ARGH! I'll explain in a moment. For now, allow me to pause the episode, clench my fists very tightly, punch the air, and throw a general fit.


Still throwing a tantrum. 


If my family weren't trying to sleep, I'd be rather loud right now.


Okay, deep breaths. I think I'm ready now. Anyway, the oxygen tank for one of the divers, Tamadate Souta, is failing. I repeat, Tamadate Souta. Shu's friend. The very-eager Souta. The one who played such an important role in the last episode. The one who is Rank F. This tank is different from the kind you think of in connection to scuba divers; it's above ground, at the mercy of others, with a long tube connecting to Souta's suit.

Some of the others suggest using the medical oxygen tank they salvaged before. "Get that," they say. And then... and then... Shu interrupts in his strong leader voice. "Wait... His diving suit should have a small emergency tank, am I right? ... He has to figure it out for himself. So don't interfere."

Aaaand that's where I freaked out. 

Then he says, "We can't go around wasting resources on a Rank F."

Apparently I freaked out prematurely. There's so much more for me to throw a fit over! kl;;;;;;;djz fL'ORqwpru cpeiohdfg djkekhngghc!!!!!

Arugo ignores Shu's orders and goes to set up the oxygen tank. "You're just Shu, so don't order me around like some big-shot!" Well said, Arugo!

Then, agh! Then Shu comes forward with a big scythe Void to threaten Arugo. "Please listen to my orders," he says, "We're currently planning an escape form Tokyo. To do that, we need everyone to work together toward the goal. There are no exceptions."

Arugo says, "What about these guys, then? Why are you discriminating against them?"

"We're distinguishing," Shu clarifies. Hmph. It occurs to me that the English word distinguishing looks a lot like disgusting

"In these circumstances," Shu continues, "we can't treat everyone equally regardless of ability." He goes on to explain how he can't let the former president, Kuhouin Arisa, go with Arugo. Her Void is too useful, apparently. "Not to mention, there's no way we'll let one person escape on her own."

Oh-ho, and he goes even further! "Please swear obedience to me. Or else..."

Then Arugo says something that confirms that I'm going to "love" him on Anime-Planet. He tells Shu to do what he wants, because, "The way you are now, I'll happily die of the cancer before I obey you."

Shu's response? "Restrain him. Because I'm a big mean tyrant now and refuse to let my friends appeal to my better nature." Okay, so maybe he only actually said "Restrain him." The rest was implied.

When Ayase (the one in the wheelchair, if you're as bad with names as I am), hears that Arugo was imprisoned on Shu's orders, she confronts the tyrant president. Why? she asks. He answers that it's the response dictated by the rules, and "If I make an exception because he used to be one of my own, it sets a bad example."

Ayase tells him that she gets that he's hurting after Hare's death, but he's gone to far. And then Shu response with a rather scary attitude.

"Oh?" he basically says (I'm paraphrasing this time), "So you understand people's hearts, now?"

And then, and then Ayase earns a pink Anime-Planet heart, too. She slaps him. 

Unfortunately, the phrase "slap some sense into him" doesn't work here. Instead, Shu just says all cold-like that he's glad no one else was around. "If anyone had seen that, I would've had to punish you, Rank S or not." Bah!

And, of course, the bad guys are pulling the strings behind the scenes. Oh, and it's revealed that jerkiness appears to run in Ouma Shu's family. 

Anyway, back to the school. 

There's a nice cozy scene with Shu talking to Inori. Apparently, he thinks that if he's not ruthless in the best manner he knows to get everyone out of Tokyo, then Hare will "have died for nothing." He acts all selfless - he's not doing this for himself, and certainly not for popularity. 

Then he says, "All I need is you, Inori. As long as you're here with me..." Some girls might find that romantic. I find it selfish and disgusting. 

A couple minutes go by without me needing to pause and throw a fit.

Arugo has escaped and is trying to get to Kuhouin Arisa. When Shu finds him, he calls, "You're a cornered rat. Give up and surrender."

They exchange words, and then they exchange blows. Arugo ends up on top. "What happened to you? We really liked that pale-faed weakling strugglin' for all he's got thing you had going, you know!" Once again, Arugo and I are the the same page. I liked that pale-faced struggling guy, too. He may have been weak, but at least he actively cared for others. 

"You try doing this then," Shu retorts. "If you think there's some other way to keep everyone safe in this situation, then please, tell me!" His words turn to shouts at the end. And it occurs to me that he is very young. So are those who have been advising him. Could we really expect him to do any better?

I almost think Arugo will break through to Shu... and then Yahiro walks in. He's not as soft as Shu, and he instructs Arugo to surrender. 

An accident happens during these proceedings. A girl's Void is destroyed, and she dies. Just like with Hare when her bandages Void was broken while she healed Shu. In the same crystalizing manner. Shu figures it out, though Yahiro, who knew it ever since Hare died, tries to deny it. 

Shu confronts Yahiro. "You lied to me. You told me a genomic weapon killed Hare. What now? A kingdom centered around Voids lives cheek by jowl with death!"

And Yahiro, who is quickly on his way to earning the "hate" heart on Anime-Planet, responds: "There's no going back  now. I knew you'd hesitate to use Voids if you found this out. But if our current system collapses, all of us will end up dead. We have to keep going. We'll keep the truth from everyone until until we begin our operation. Got it?"

Left to right: Yahiro, Arugo, Ouma Shu

 Arugo, still present, vehemently protests. "If you start a war like this, you have no idea how many will die!"

"Don't listen to him, he's crazy!" says Yahiro.

"Come on, open your eyes!"

"You're right..." Shu says. Who? Who's right? Come on, Shu, pick Arugo, please!

"Shu!" Arugo says happily. 

And then, and then...

Shu pulls out Arugo's Void. "If I break this, Arugo will die." Cue manic laughter.

No, really, cue the manic laughter. Shu laughs manically, and I'm about ready to shoot him to put him and everyone else out of their misery. 

The scene changes, leaving us in suspense. We see Kuhouin Arisa going through her drawers, murmuring that she has to tell everyone the truth (she'd been there when the Void broke and the girl died). And, and Inori... well, this screenshot kind of says it all:

Then the very last scene... Gai!


Anyway, I suppose the point of this post is that Ouma Shu has gone crazy. I miss the Shu that said, "The important thing isn't how strong your void is. It's how you work for other people. So keep up the good work!" 

Will he ever come back?


  1. Royal Idiot fits Shu for sure. He is trying to become a king in order to save everyone, but he is sacrificing those he wishes to save. (Irony?)

    It also seems ironic that Inori is acting like Shu's crazy sister and "Gai?" shows up in the same episode after both should be destroyed.

    I really like this show, but these last few episodes have been quite frustrating.

    (Warning: Do Not Try To Slap Shu Through Your Computer Screen!!! Also, Try Not To Shoot Him Through Your Computer Screen!!! It may stop Shu, but you will regret it later.)

    1. I'm thinking that the Inori is at least a little bit Mana right now, and not herself. That, or she's nuts, too. I'm really curious about Gai.

      I agree, recent episodes have been frustrating. They just developed the conflict too well. I can't wait to see things get better again. At the same time, I almost want to re-watch from the beginning, just to get a clearer picture of everything.

      What about getting a spray bottle and spraying Shu like a naughty cat? Would that work? No? Okay... I guess I'll just imagine myself doing it. It makes me feel better.

  2. I found that the best temporary method for stopping Shu's madness is the pause button. Unfortunately, my excitement and curiosity force me to give in every time.

  3. I prefer the tyrant shu than the goody-goody soft shu

  4. Will it every return back to the way it was. It is painful to continue watching. I must find out though, am I right? Though, they say, "curiosity killed the cat". I hope I do not die from these painful episodes.

    1. The pain doesn't last forever. There's no way for everything and and everyone to return to they way they were at the beginning, but I think I was pretty satisfied with the ending. I'm sure you'll survive, Paul. :)

  5. souta is a stupid asshole that caused lovely Hare death, I HATE HIM

  6. lol please stop, Fuhrer Shoe was the most glorious thing about that show


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