It is terribly difficult not to compare this anime to Code Geass and Neon Gensis Evangelion, so in an effort to make this review completely neutral, I will only mention the above two animes right here, before I actually start breaking down my review scores: If Code Geass and Neon Genesis Evangelion had a love child, it would essentially be Guilty Crown. Now that I've said that I will attempt to act as though I haven't seen those anime, and will keep this review strictly focused on Guilty Crown as it's own anime. Also, this review has a few very minor spoilers, but large plot details will not be revealed.
Story: The basic plot for Guilty Crown wasn't very unique, in some ways, as it starts the same as a very high percentage of other anime: a high school boy who leads a very uneventful life. The only difference is that there was a past incident- "Lost Christmas"- which had ravaged the world several years prior to the beginning of the anime. The first thirteen episdes pass rather uneventfully, mostly focused on Shu learning how to use his powers and the "rules" governing them, if you will, and in my mind this was a huge mistake- they put so little plot development into more than half of the episodes, and this means that when the action does happen, it is crammed in. The last episode, in particular, is awful for trying to stuff in way more than it should. I am highly disappointed by the lack of pacing in this show, which is depressing because this show had potential- even two more episodes could have made a huge difference. Also, there were quite a few cop-out plot holes, I found, such as Inori's "special talent".
Animation: The animation is top quality, same as most of the new anime coming out recently. The show has a very dark palette most of the time, which really suits the mood for the events of the story (once those events actually start to happen), and the only reason it doesn't get a perfect score is because the shading in some areas, such as hair, seems almost lazy in some situations. Still, overall, the animation is definitely top notch, and the visuals are engaging, though there can also be a lot going on at once and it can also be hard to notice specific things in the overall picture.
Sound: The soundtrack for this anime is absolutely fantastic. I, personally, loved both opening and ending themes, and I think Egotist & Supercell did amazing work. The insert songs, including Inori's iconic "Eutrupe", are all fantastic too. The music always fits the mood. As for the voice acting, I also don't have any complaints- even the most minor characters have great actors who really show their personalities. I especially think that Ai Kayano did an awesome job voicing the emotionless Inori, injecting just enough emotion where necessary to show that Inori is growing, a little. More on that next section. But seriously, the OST is something I will probably be listening to for a long time to come.
Characters: ... And this is where Guilty Crown loses massive points for me. Inori is indeed emotionless, and while that's for a reason, it does make it a lot harder to like her. I actually started off hating her, but by the end of the series, I feel almost completely neutral about her. Shu is... less than inspiring. Honestly, if he were trying to rally me to do something I would probably tell him to man up or shut up. There is some character development in Shu by the end, thankfully. There were characters I liked, of course... They just got way less screentime. Gai is an amazing character, and fits the leadership role quite perfectly. Tsugumi is the adorable-moe type, only she's actually not useless, and that makes her one of my favourite characters, alongside Ayase, a girl in a wheelchair who doesn't let that hinder her at all. It seems like all of the amazing characters got basically shoved aside for Inori and Shu, and that really bugs me, because Shu is a wimp with very few redeeming qualities and Inori is emotionless and bland. Even by the end of the show, Inori only "grows" as a character a little, to me. If the story had focused more on some of the other characters, I think it would have fared much better. There's also a question which Shu raises that never gets answered, and this is a very minor spoiler I guess? But we never learn why Voids take the shape they do, particularly in Inori's case. Honestly, if there hadn't been character development from very early on, I'm not sure I could have watched this entire series because the characters would have driven me up the wall.
Overall, I actually did like this series, despite how harsh my review seems. It just sort of felt like they were trying to wow us with visuals and amazing soundtrack, and this makes the plot spacing suffer massively. Still, the story was at least interesting enough to keep me watching, and the animation and music made me much less reluctant to keep watching, even when the characters were frustratingly boring. I'd recommend this anime to anyone who can tolerate emotionless/spineless characters for a little bit, because thankfully they do grow, and then the story actually does become interesting, even if the last few episodes are way too crammed.