Many of my problems with Guilty Crown stemmed from the existence of Gai. While Funeral Parlor was supposed to be a group of freedom fighters working to cast off the yoke of their foreign oppressors, they came off as Gai’s cult of personality who were trying to get rid of foreign medical aid. Sure, two or three of the antagonists were actually evil, but oftentimes the supposedly sympathetic terrorists really did seem to be the real villains. I was fervently wishing that they would truly turn out to be evil, and that Shu would switch sides to fight against his former comrades. But then the entire city was almost crystallized, so that hope was dashed. Nevertheless, episode 12 did the next best thing by getting rid of Gai.
When he was still around, Gai’s main effect on the series was to let the writers be lazy. Instead of actual motivations and goals, most of the members of Funeral Parlor were just going along with whatever their leader wanted. Never mind the fact he was demonstrably inept at tactics (you don’t make every mook memorize every contingency plan, that’s what officers are for!) and, if Shu is any indication, lacks the most crucial skill for any terrorist leader: being able to convince new members that your cause is worth fighting and dying for. None of Gai’s failings mattered at all, since anyone in his army, if questioned about their reasons for fighting, would respond with “Because Gai…” and continue on about how he was the second coming of Jesus, Zeus in human form, and Norio Wakamoto rolled into one.
Even the antagonists weren’t immune to Gai’s presence. For the first half of the show, the government forces came off as pretty good guys, but they turned inexplicably evil and ruthless whenever Gai showed up. But now, even though everyone in the employ of the government seems to have been hired from the all-sociopath cast of Deadman Wonderland, they’re forced to become something other than an easy mark for Gai’s absurdly successful attacks. The one guy who wants to destroy the world is inexplicably in power now, but it’s a net improvement considering that he’s the only member of the entire cast who has advanced the plot in any way. And now that Gai can’t miraculously lead everyone to victory (he’d better be dead, since not even he should be able to survive two heroic sacrifices in one episode), all the other characters have to work things out for themselves. Suddenly, with all the characters requiring own motivations and characterization, along with the plot changing from “blow up all the bad guys” to the much more interesting “survive the destruction of the city”, the show has actually become good. With all the unexplained and inconsistent aspects of the setting put on hold for now, I find myself wishing that the entire series was just this arc, expanded into eleven episodes. I’d hold out hope for Guilty Crown ending on a high note, except that I can’t imagine that the writers could resist the allure of a final showdown with the Big Bad. But at least, with Gai dead, the show can actually progress towards its conclusion, rather than wallowing in the mire of stagnation that was the first eleven episodes