Two things define Guilty Crown as an anime. The first is the very good production values, which becomes harder and harder to find in the years we are going through. The artwork is very detailed and coloured beautifully, and the animation is quite smooth (when it wants to be). The second is the story, which is nothing but a patchwork of stereotypes from all over the place. People saw the first episode and where screaming CODE GEASS RIP OFF or whatever other show it reminded them. And it’s not like we were overreacting; it is an obvious Code Geass rip-off since it has some of the same writers in it (plus their initials are an anagram of one another). As the name implies, it is “guilty” for trying to steal the “crown” from other major works. Later on you can easily see they take ideas from Gundam (that little robot Inori has is an obvious Haro rip-off) as well as Neon Genesis (the villains’ plan regarding Mana). I am pretty sure this feeling of deza vu will be absent for all those who haven’t watched those shows. It is the repetition that mostly ruins it, as well as a veeeery bad roster of sci-fi titles; so I personally can’t shake off my mind how bad it is since the first minute.
Although this should normally make it feel like a rehash and an easily forgettable title, the fandom made such big fun of all the scenes it plagiarized from elsewhere that it became famous. Nothing is original anymore but Guilty Crown is making a name out of being a thieving cheesefest. It is even more of a joke when you see the creators of the show making official claims that it is completely original and even better than all the ones the fandom is comparing it to. They are just begging us to boo them, especially when they made nothing but a big blunder with whatever they tried to plagiarize. And it’s not like they didn’t try at all since in strict directing terms there are no fillers and something new happens or is revealed in each episode, adding something to the setting. Also, the production values are as I said great and the premise sounds interesting despite being unoriginal. They could have easily made something amazing out of this, there was clearly potential for greatness if directing and presentation were good.
… Which weren’t. Not in the least. And let me tell you why in simple terms.
1. The overall presentation was very basic. And I don’t refer to the production values which are amazing; I am talking about the main idea. It was a cheesefest. It couldn’t get more generic than that *deep breath* with a meek normal high school boy, with amnesia, getting suddenly involved in a very dangerous situation, receiving a superpower by some pretty chick, who transfers to his school the next day, and then moves to his house, and offers excuses for ecchi. *inhale* I have already seen this stuff a thousand times so no matter how cool it looks, it is still less thrilling than a b-grade silly show from 20 years ago. I always appreciate something that doesn’t feel like a rehash and I definitely don’t find it in here. No matter how well made a steak is grilled, if you eat it after ten less tasty grilled steaks the flavour won’t be the same. As much as you may want to publish a story, you must also wait for the proper moment to do so or it won’t have half the excitement you expected. Sorry to say this but the stereotypes are WAY too apparent in this one. At the same time, stereotypes and rehashes are not a negative thing, since most people never get bored of them. And if you don’t believe me look at what Hollywood is doing. But that is not enough, in order for the re-warmed food to still be edible the presentation needs to be elaborate. And in this case, it wasn’t at all. Why? Keep reading.
2. The setting is not captivating, despite its very detailed depiction of a military dystopia. The basic story has to do with Japan being turned into an oppressive state TM with security mechas TM running around, and with the normal teenage boy TM of our story receiving a power from a supernatural girl TM. We have lots of those in recent years and they all petty much look the same. They also trash whatever serious feeling it was trying to have by making fun of the whole thing and turning it into a stereotypical ecchi comedy with magic later on. I understand how most high selling anime always go light with their otherwise heavy themes, since most viewers watch them as means of spending their time in a funny way. In this case though they went so light to the point everything was just drifting aimlessly in the vacuum of space. You couldn’t get a foothold at something and have fun with it. Unless of course you wanted to make fun of how stupid it is at trying to look serious. What do I mean by that? Keep reading.
3. The action is stupid. I am not referring to the actual choreography, which is by far amongst the most elaborate I have encountered in the past years. The robot action is very exciting with its brawling, missile launchers, huge machineguns, and trashing of the whole scenery. At the same time, it is plain fake and has a hundred directing, plausibility, and storyboard problems. Because of space limitations I couldn't post them here, but examples of this sort are mentioned at the end of the same review I made over at Anidb. The link to there is: http://anidb.net/perl-bin/animedb.pl?show=animeatt&aid=8480&attid=8285
It is optional reading and obviously contains lots of spoilers.
4. There is no excitement. No matter how dangerous a situation is, all it takes is for the hero to pull out some superweapon out of a random person next to him and the problem is magically solved in seconds. He can make enemy units to self-destruct, missiles to turn to harmless fireworks, and top security doors to open in an instant. It is very cheap, anti-climactic, and ruins the gravity of the setting. So what if it didn’t happened in a totalitarian Japan and instead the setting was some fairy land made of cotton candy? It would still make no difference… Skip that, it would make a lot of difference since it would fit a lot better. What is the point of having a sci-fi setting when everything is done with magic? It’s like trying to light a fire on the bottom of the sea. Yes, it was funny when Spongebob Squarepants was doing it but this show is NOT a goofball comedy. It just feels like one because of the ridiculous use of its setting. This can easily apply even in the few rare chances someone gets killed. It is not dramatic at all since you are just thinking “Why didn’t they use their powers to save him?” Seriously, every single death in the show could have been prevented very easily but didn’t just because the scriptwriters conveniently made the heroes forget how to use their powers at that moment. So it is a lose-lose situation no matter what happens.
5. The hero. Why exactly is Shuu risking his life out of the blue? Because he cares that much for others? If yes, it is impossible to feel his passion in caring about anything; he looks and acts like a wuss, like the million stereotypical leads of most shounens and harems. He is more dragged into trouble because he has the hots for Inori rather than actively taking part in a quest to help others. I can’t possibly cheer for him; HE IS BLUNT AND BOOORING! Hearing him scream like a girl and running around scared ten times per episode is just pathetic and the only time he actually does something is only because Inori demands it. Hell man, he even betrays his own friends just because she said so and he doesn’t even blink twice about it. And look at that; all the girls in the show are madly in love with him for acting like A COMPLETE ASSHOLE. HE IS A HAREM LEAD OF THE WORST KIND! What is even worse is when he is supposed to mature later on because some of his friends died. It’s not as if it was the first time it happened or he couldn’t easily have saved them if he wasn’t an apathetic asshole. He just gets emo and decides to become Lelouch without any justification at all. The scriptwriters clearly have no idea what the devil they are doing.
6. Fan service. It is stupid and makes a joke out of everything dramatic in the show. One moment a girl is crying over something terrible in her past, the next moment Shuu trips and falls on her boobs. That is not funny and it is definitely not something we can’t get in an average ecchi show out there. The show didn’t even need it with the interesting themes it had, but just like any shallow work out there, the producers didn’t try to offer quality material in any other aspect besides the production values. And no, I don’t consider boob jokes to be quality no matter how well they are drawn.
7. The heroine. First of all, what the hell is this outfit she wears? A half naked clown fish? Fetishes anyone? And she is supposed to be a pop idol? Macross meets Code Geass? And seriously, the last scene of episode 2 regarding the “mysterious transfer student, oh who could it be?” made me facepalm. Yes, it’s her, exactly as the kitsch stereotype dictates. And guess what, she even moves in his house soon afterwards JUST BECAUSE. And later on she now has ultra powerful superpowers JUST BECAUSE. First she is a frail pop idol, then a ghost ninja, then a cocky sharpshooter, then a healing singer, then some sort of clone of an incestuous bitch, then a horny demon. In one episode she has no qualms to shoot to death soldiers, in another she does her best to disarm and knock them unconscious WITH A PISTOL. And let it be noted that NOBODY told her to appreciate life. SHE IS CONSTANTLY OUT OF CHARACTER! Consistency anyone? Aside from that, her only purpose in the show is to motivate Shuu into doing things he otherwise has no balls to even dream of thinking. Other than that she is just an apathetic sex doll for the otaku audience. She is impossible to be liked as a person; she is nothing but a poorly written cosplay whore that behaves in any way its pimps order her to act.
8. The villains. They are so stupid even a kid could do better. It would fit if they were some pitiful gang of hooligans but no, they are supposed to be an elite military organization which has the entire nation in its hands and plans to take over the universe with an elaborate masterplan. Unless the average I.Q. of a citizen in this show is around 60, then there is no possible way for them to be making so many ridiculous mistakes all the time and yet be world leaders. And even if they really were stupid, that still doesn’t explain how they control all this high-teck equipment. Thus, instead of feeling threatening and intelligent (as they should), they instead pass as a bunch of pitiful retards. There is no way for the viewer to care about seeing them losing. There is no way to despise them for any evil acts they are doing. They are not feeling dangerous at all, so why would he care about them?
9. The producers. It is a collaboration of Studio I.G. and noitaminA. I am fully aware of the wonderful work they have done in the past but their recent works are PLAIN SHIT! Fractale, C, and No.6 are the worst disappointments of 2011 and now they are once more trying to make ANOTHER similar show? NoitaminA seems to not understand that its shows are great only when they deal with slice of life. SO WHY DOES IT KEEP TRYING TO MAKE SCI-FI WHEN IT FAILS MISERABLY?
So how can someone enjoy this show you may be wondering? It is quite simple actually, all he has to do is just stare at the pretty visuals, listen to that porn doll called Inori sing, eat pop corn while things blow up and above all he needs to NOT BE THINKING! Seriously, don’t think at all. The slightest thought that will pass from your mind is enough to make you see plot holes and stupid things happening. You can of course filter all that out and see the whole thing as a parody of Code Geass (which was itself a parody of Legend of Galactic Heroes) and just have fun with how dumb everything plays out. It is by far not a mature or well written show. It is just dumb fun and guilty pleasure (exactly what the name implies) for viewers with really low expectations. And sure, many are bound to love it, in the same way so many loved Twilight. Does that make it a good show? Hell no; it just proves how most people are tasteless casuals. So take the word of a snob like myself and don’t watch this show for any other reason than to point your finger at it and laugh with how bad it is. Thank you for your understanding and in case you actually liked the show for any other reason then I pity you.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 8/10
General Artwork 2/2 (eye-candy)
Character Figures 1/2 (generic stock material)
Backgrounds 2/2 (detailed and with good CGI)
Animation 1/2 (good but random in follow up scenes)
Visual Effects 2/2 (fancy Voids all over the place)
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (good but stupid in context)
Music Themes 3/4 (nice but not memorable)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 2/10
Premise 2/2 (an interesting Code Geass rip-off)
Pacing 0/2 (terribad random)
Complexity 0/2 (there is some but it all plays out so random and conveniently, I might as well say it doesn’t exist at all)
Plausibility 0/2 (nobody in the whole anime even knows this word)
Conclusion 0/2 (rushed and a cop-out)
CHARACTER SECTION: 2/10
Presence 0/2 (terribad generic)
Personality 1/2 (generic)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 0/2 (terribad random)
Catharsis 0/2 (rushed and a cop-out)
VALUE SECTION: 1/10
Historical Value 1/3 (it will be known as the most famous Code Geass rip-off)
Rewatchability 0/3 (none, unless you want to find more mistakes and to laugh with how bad is)
Memorability 0/4 (not only it has nothing original in it, it is also so bad you must force your brain to delete it if you don’t want to lose faith in anime)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 1/10
I enjoyed making fun of it but the show itself is a complete train-wreck.