Let me just preface this review by saying that when I first watched this anime nearly 8 years ago, it had a profound impact on me. I was moved and heartbroken by the story, animation, characters, and the music was unlike anything I had experienced from an anime before. However the ending left something to be desired. To start, it felt a bit rushed and as if not all plot points were fully hashed out. It was also incredibly real and sad, though not necessarily all bad. But I had always felt like either I was missing something, or the anime was.
After 8 long years, I finally rewatched the show and have since noticed a few important things, as well as gained some new perspective. Which leads me to believe the ending to this anime is very widely misunderstood. It seems pretty unanimous that Guilty Crown has impeccable animation for its time with a moving soundtrack to match. You can also read a plot synopsis or other reviews for more info on the story and characters. So my review will only focus on the divided feelings surrounding the ending of the anime.
WARNING!! SPOILERS AHEAD!!!
[SPOILER] Many people who have finished this show are torn in their opinions of it mostly due to the ending. Our MC Shu fights in a war and takes on power and responsibility he wanted nothing to do with, then ultimately ended up losing his powers, his sight, an arm, 2 best friends, and the love of his life. Seems like a pretty non-rewarding, bitter reality pill to swallow for a show that had such an epic and fantastic build up. But why wouldn’t Shu have completely snapped after everything he lost and everything he went through? Especially being the deeply sensitive and emotional person he was. He appears to be smiling and happy in the end despite everything that happened, but why? He couldn’t have gotten over Inori so easily. After all, what would even be the point of living and going on without her? [/SPOILER]
[SPOILER] Well there’s a pretty solid fan theory that Inori didn’t really die that day, but instead lives on within Shu; that both of their souls coexist within Shu’s body. At the end of the battle when inori and Shu were conversing in her spiritual lobby, she gave Shu her “red strings of life” which represent her whole essence, her soul, her “everything” as hinted in the song lyrics of the opening (“So everything that makes me whole, I’ll now give to you. I’m yours”). [/SPOILER] The theory is a bit too much detail to go into here and has a bit more to it than just hashing out the ending, so I’ll link it here.
Needless to say, this information that I never noticed before completely changed my perspective of this anime and its ending. It filled in the things I was “missing” the first time I watched the show, and everything makes so much more sense now. If you haven’t seen or read this fan theory, I strongly urge you to go read it. See if it might enlighten you and fill in some holes or plot points surrounding the essence of a soul, the “strings of life”, the voids, and the subtle symbolism found within the soundtrack lyrics and ending scenes of the show. There’s a lot of information that can be easily overlooked on the first watch. If the information in the fan theory makes you question your original thoughts and feelings on the conclusion, then rewatch the anime. That’s what I did, and I personally did not regret it.
Having all these subtle nuances, hidden messages, & foreshadowing may seem like too much just to understand the ending, and could be a deal breaker for some. But to me it just shows how much thought and detail the writers poured into this anime, making for a more clever and complex ending. Having a better understanding of the ending made all the feelings and emotions I had the first time watching so much deeper and more profound. Knowing that the ending isn’t as bleak and sad as I once thought completely changes the overall tone of the anime, and once again redeems it as one of my favorites in the genre.
Anyway, that concludes my long winded ending review nearly 10 years after the anime’s original finale. If you’ve read this far, I applaud you and thank you for enduring my ramblings. Hopefully this information and the fan theory was helpful and enlightening to you. I’ll just be happy if I can help change a few people’s opinions about the ending of this beautiful anime. ^_^