Guilty Crown 02 — I Wish this was Code Geass

I won’t mince words: this was painful.

The Power of Kings

Everyone and their second cousin has been comparing Guilty Crown to Code Geass, as have I. So let me clarify: I don’t object to the fact that Guilty Crown resembles Code Geass. I object to the fact that Guilty Crown doesn’t resemble Code Geass enough! (Thanks to animekritik for leading me to realize this.)

“What?” you ask. “Why would you want to see something that’s already been done? Just go watch Code Geass!”

“Ok,” I answer. I go rewatch Code Geass. And it is @#(&#^ awesome! (note: This is not a figure of speech. I literally did rewatch it this past week.) Since Code Geass is so great, why wouldn’t I want more of it?!

What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
— Ecclesiastes 1:9

Every work is built on other works. Sure, there are “original” ideas which set things apart. But nothing is created in a vacuum. Just go read tvtropes for five minutes.

The thing is, a story isn’t just a result of putting building blocks together to construct a narrative with. It’s about how you tell the story.

Let’s take an example from anime. Rahxephon is heavily influenced (to put it mildly) by Evangelion. Plenty of people dismiss Rahxephon as a mere “copy” of Evangelion. But I greatly prefer Rahxephon. It took the same components, and told a better story. I expect to hear a ton of objections that Evangelion is better, but if you think so, please try to tell me with a straight face that the ending of the Evangelion TV series was good storytelling.

Let’s look at another example, this time from the realm of literature: the Belgariad. If you haven’t read it (you should!) it tells the story of a farm boy who meets a princess, learns he is a king, and becomes a sorceror. It is as strait-laced as fantasy stories come. The same story has been told thousands of times before. But David Eddings tells it better than anyone else ever has.

So back to Code Geass. Throughout each episode of Code Geass (on my sixth rewatch!), I was jumping up and down screaming with a big grin plastered on my face. After the second episode of Guilty Crown, I was left pondering what I should whine about first on my blog. Guilty Crown has all the trappings of Code Geass: a boy from an oppressed Japan who gains magic powers, a revolution led by a mastermind, school life segments, and much much more. The more interesting question is: what does Code Geass have that Guilty Crown lacks?

  1. Lelouch. We could compare him with Gai, but…
  2. The sense of excitement. Code Geass never fails to leave you jumping up and down waiting for what will happen next. And when Lelouch’s plans work, it’s bloody awesome. On the other hand, here’s how Guilty Crown reveals that Gai is a military genius: our lead couple declares, “Right on schedule. Wow, it’s all going according to his plan!” Needless to say, this does not pack the same punch as unexpected, massive destruction coupled with a flourish of Zero’s cape and Lelouch’s maniacal laughter.
  3. Moral ambiguity. Is what Lelouch is doing right? Is what Britannia does wrong? Sometimes, but often not. Guilty Crown has none of this subtlety. Let me quote fatty: “We will never give in to terrorism! If you don’t show yourselves, we will blow up the whole city!” How subtle. After Guilty Crown’s battle, cue the somber music and a survey of the destruction. Right, like anyone cares.

  4. Interesting villains. I have never hated a fictional character as much as Suzaku. The villains from Guilty Crown are a spoiled teenager and a bald “fatty”.
  5. Side characters. Code Geass has Lloyd, C.C. and Diethard. Guilty Crown has a pilot who orgasms to robots, a cat-eared DDR player and a girl who gets a sword pulled out of her chest. ‘Nuff said.

Code Geass and Guilty Crown may tell a similar story, but while Code Geass makes it exciting, Guilty Crown makes it boring, silly and pandering. See below.

P.S. I am only talking about Code Geass R1.

Keepin’ it Classy

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16 thoughts on “Guilty Crown 02 — I Wish this was Code Geass

  1. I’m not a big fan of rehashes, so I don’t mind that it doesn’t resemble Code Geass even a little bit (which I am in in the process of re-watching, and it as fun as I remembered it. I should have put it in my top 10 favorite anime list). Instead, I pretend that Code Geass never existed when I watch this series ever since people wouldn’t stop comparing Baccano to Durarara. Unfortunately, I’m seeing James Cameron’s Avatar mixed with Eureka Seven in this anime, and I only have a one anime/film limit when it comes to pretending that a work never exists.

    1. Oops. I meant to say that I stop comparing similar series ever since the Durarara v. Baccano fiasco back when Durarara started airing. That’s why I wipe Code Geass from my mind while watching Guilty Crown. Not that I need to, because this series barely has anything similar to Code Geass besides superficial stuff.

    2. I should have put Code Geass in my top anime as well, somehow I completely left it out.

      And yeah, the similarities are mostly superficial. It is a lot like Eureka Seven though, now that you mention it.

  2. Code Geass is so awesome!!

    Alright, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, this plot almost seems like a deliberate mix of a number of very successful shows: Geass, Utena, Eva etc. But I don’t think it’s a plot driven show. I think it’s a character design driven show (notice I didn’t say character driven, but character design driven). I envision the animators sitting around a table coming up with various characters’ looks and personalities. This was the main meeting. Then in the second meeting someone was stuck with the job of creating a plot pastiche of former shows to showcase these characters.

    I can’t say it was a good episode, but I was fascinated by it as a phenomenon. You could write a good paper on anime tropes, their place and meaning just by analyzing this show.

    As for excitement, the show definitely wants us to feel excited. I suspect some viewers will be and some won’t. I went with the flow in ep 01 but this episode I didn’t really get into it. Next episode will be crucial.

    1. I would not be surprised if that’s the case. They definitely have some interesting character designs. Now if only they had interesting characters to go along with them…

      It would make a good paper, but I’d rather watch a good show than write a good paper. :/

  3. Wow this show took a nosedive from last episode. It looked nice! The fighting was okay! That said, if next episode a meteor hit and killed the whole cast I wouldn’t care at all. Every character is pretty damn flat, the female lead doesn’t have enough of a personality to like or dislike and the whole thing really piled on too many cliches to be engaging at all. It doesn’t help that everything is so srs biz except the gratuitous fanservice, which kills the mood outright.

    I think I might just drop this after 3 and watch Code Geass instead. Why watch a derpy copy when I can see the real McCoy instead?

    1. That cat girl really kills the mood. People are dying in an epic battle. “Oh, let’s push buttons with my butt!”

      I second your Code Geass plan.

        1. Unfortunately, I watched the last four episodes. And also the seven before that. Although to be fair, the first few episodes were pretty good.

  4. WTF!!! I AM SO SICK OF HEARING CRITICISMS ABOUT GUILTY CROWN. I liked it waaay better than code geass, the characters grew stronger through the anime, more realistic ya kno??

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