New York Comic-Con 2011 Guilty Crown Panel
by Todd Ciolek,
Guilty Crown was perhaps the biggest new anime series at the New York Comic-Con. FUNimation used it as a flagship title for their new Funico venture with NicoNico, the show's currently streaming at FUNimation's site just after it airs in Japan, and the first two episodes of the series were screened at the convention not once but twice. The second showing included a panel discussion with three of the show's producers: George Wada from Production I.G, Koji Yamamoto from Fuji TV, and Ryo Ohyama from Aniplex.
The first two episodes of Guilty Crown introduce its world. In 2029, Japan is overrun by a deadly virus, and an international consortium called the GHQ takes over the country to prevent the disease's further spread. Their methods are brutal: anyone can be declared infected and executed on the spot, and Japan's essentially powerless. This sense of helplessness extends down to Shu, a high-schooler who's never done much of anything. While moping around, he encounters Inori, who's both a popular online singer and a member of a resistance cell known as Funeral Parlor. Shu helps her transport an experimental vial called Void Genom to the rebels, and he's accidentally imbued with its power—the power to pull weapons out of humans.
The producers remarked on several pieces of key art, starting with one of Shu and Inori.
“Our basic concept of the characters was a really natural 17-year-old boy and girl,” Wada said. “It's the usual boy-meets girl, or rather boy meets unusual girl.”
Yamamoto elaborated on Inori's background, stating that she's “a diva from an Internet society, like YouTube or Nico Nico, she's drawn many fans—teenagers, especially.”
Wada also contrasted Shu with the rebel leader Gai: “The main story is based on these two male characters. They're the candidates for who will have the power of Guilty Crown. To spice up the action, we envisioned them as opposites. Gai is the leader of Funeral Parlor, talented and charismatic. On the other hand, Shu is a quite ordinary high school boy. In the first two episodes, there many clues to events in later episodes, so please enjoy the rest of the series.”
Oyama introduced Ayako, who virtually pilots an Enlave robot for the rebellion. Oyama expects her design to be recognizable among anime fans.
“You're familiar with the evangelion suits, and we asked [character designer] redjuice to have the same kind of sexy body-hugging tights.”
Another piece of key art showed Funnel, a small, scuttling robot that aids Inori and resembles a cross between Gundam's Haro and the Tachikomas from Ghost in the Shell.
“Funnel might be the most important character and the hero of this show,” Wada said, clarifying that Funnel is also technically male.
Wada also clarified the role of Egoist, the musical outfit that backs Inori in the world of Guilty Crown. “Egoist is a popular band among teenagers. On the other hand, Funeral Parlor is...well, not a terrorist group, but they're against the GHQ government, and Egoist puts forward Funeral Parlor's statements.”
Oyama remarked on the show's setting, which has may familiar sights from modern Tokyo.
“The first two episodes take place in this area, around Roppongi,” Oyama said. “I actually live around this area, and I think my house was caught up in the attacks.”
The producers also fielded questions from audience members. One asked why the show was only 22 episodes, shorter than the typical anime broadcast.
“The reason why it's shorter is because of Fuji TV's broadcasting timeslot issues,” Yamamoto said. “But we'd like to have a sequel series, a movie, or an OVA. So please support the series.”
When asked about influences on the show, Wada stated that “The creators who participated in the show saw Ghost in the Shell and Eden of the East and asked production I.G to make this their Eden of the East or Ghost in the Shell.”
Oyama mentioned some of his other works, including Fullmetal Alchemist and Darker than Black.
“In Fullmetal Alchemist, there are non-humans called homunculus. That made me want to create a story that focused on homunculi. Like in American titles such as X-Men, I was inspired that conflict between those who have special abilities and those who don't, and that's what I brought to Guilty Crown.”
Wada added that Guilty Crown director Tetsuro Araki also helmed Death Note, and that this influence Inori's music video.
“Araki rings more of a dark tone to science fiction,” Wada observed.
Another audience members asked about the name of Guilty Crown.
“One of the central themes of this show is 'who will become the next generation's king?'” Oyama stated. “It's also about the growth of the Genom. And using the Genom induces guilty feelings, so that's where the title comes from. In order to create the weapon, Shu has to create a relationship with the person who creates the weapon. So that's one more reason Shu feels guilty—he's using his friends and other people as a weapon.”
Oyama also clarified the Void weapon's nature: “When Shu brings out the Void, he has to make eye contact with the person. That's the one requirement. So Shu can pull out a weapon. But by having a strong relationship, the weapon will get stronger.”
When asked how Shu knew what sort of weapon he'd draw from a stranger in the second episode, Oyama responded “Another good question. That'll be explained in episode three.”
According to the producers, Guilty Crown was in development for about two years, and the show's planned to expand beyond a tale of a kid with superhero-like powers.
“It's a shonen show on the surface, but it has more in-depth factors,” Wada said. “You'll see more seinen factors in the next few episodes.”
One question concerned the influence of Sunrise's recent hit Code Geass, which shares a similar setting and themes with Guilty Crown.
“The setting of Code Geass is way different from current Japan, it's another world,” Yamamoto said. “On the other hand, Guilty Crown has a more modern setting. There are similarities, as some of the main staff worked on Code Geass, but we think it's different. Titles like Ghost in the Shell and Eden of the East have more similar settings than Code Geass.”
One of the final questions focused on a plot point from the first episode, concerning just how Shu acquired the Void Genom.
“Future episodes will reveal it,” Wada explained. “There are many questions to be answered later on.”
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