Guilty Crown vs Sword Art Online

Guilty Crown and Sword Art Online are two anime that cater to the same demographic (male teens) and feature roughly equal amounts of action and flirting. Both have a young male protagonist who is thrust into battle and becomes the most powerful character. They also both have a strong female character that later ends up in the role of damsel-in-distress. The animation quality and popularity of each series’ musical artists have similar levels of popularity. Why then is Sword Art Online generally better reviewed than Guilty Crown? (Note: spoilers below.)

One could argue that people just like anime about virtual realities more than ones about special powers, but I think it has to do more with the plot, execution, and character development. Unless you read about the series beforehand, Guilty Crown’s plot is filled with surprises that literally come out of nowhere. Take for example, when Shu’s school was about to be turned into a dictatorship. Tsugumi basically said something along the lines of “hey, look what I have” and out came a device that can read everyone’s levels that she had just found on the ground. Such a device had never been used during the series before and there were no hints to its existence, yet it drastically changed the direction that the series was going. On the other hand, Sword Art Online took the time to lay down the rules of its world with plenty of monologues and a few revealing discussions. It may have made for a boring introduction, but it paid off later by not bringing in seemingly random twists in the plot.

Somewhat related to the plot is how some of the action scenes are executed. One of the more unbelievable moments in Guilty Crown was when Gai took down a giant robot with a few shots from his pistol. How was that even possible? The series treated it as if it were normal to be able to do that while RPGs and machine gun fire had little effect. Even more unbelievable is how every time Shu ends up in a bind, he is able to extract a weapon from someone that is exactly what he needs without first knowing what would come out. Sword Art Online took a completely different approach to having its protagonists win against overwhelming odds. During the boss fight where Asuna tried to save the army squadron, Kirito jumps in and reveals his dual-wielding technique. Yes, it was a surprise, but there was at least some hints to it like Kirito getting a second sword and mentioning something he wanted to keep secret. His battle with the Salamanders that were chasing him and Leafa when they were heading to the World Tree also seemed tipped in the enemy’s favour, but Leafa had previously talked about how Kirito’s specialty is illusion magic, which was what he used to win. This more structured approach to battles didn’t leave me scratching my head wondering what happened after every scene.

One other area where I think Sword Art Online did better than Guilty Crown was with character development. For the longest time, Shu was a scared boy that lacked any conviction. He magically turned into a cool hero that comes to save the day in a matter of minutes near the end of the series. At the start of Sword Art Online, Kirito was closed-off and didn’t open up to anyone. Over time (though some might say the wait was too long), he started to open up to Asuna and they eventually became a couple. I think the peak of Kirito’s character development was when he cried in front of Suguha. Here was a guy that had steeled himself for everything and never shed a tear, but he had grown to love Asuna so much he broke down in tears at the thought of losing her. While Kirito’s growth was in the opposite direction of most protagonists in these types of anime, at least it was gradual rather than sudden.

These are just my thoughts on Guilty Crown and Sword Art Online. Both have some good aspects, but I just focused on the ones that stood out to me that I think gave Sword Art Online the edge. Some people may agree with me, some may not; maybe you like Guilty Crown more than Sword Art Online. Feel free to add your own thoughts about either series below.


  1. Mindy says

    I disagree with you. Guilty Crown was WAY better than SAO, to me. The plot of SAO was pretty stupid to me. They get trapped in a game, fall in love, and then eventually get out. Then, they enter another stupid game, save Asuna, and get out. They do the same thing for two more games, in the manga. On the other hand, to me, Guilty Crown was great. About the device, it fell out of he car of the enemies. It clearly has a close-up view and someone says it out loud after saying, “hey, look what I have.” Also, the plot for Guilty Crown was actually very fun and interesting. I loved the way things twisted and bad things happened. It’s like real life. People backstab you. You get hurt. Stuff happens. As for the character development, how Shu progressed is also realistic. It is likely to happen. He was frail in the beginning because he had no love. Later, he notices that he IS loved, and he receives a lot of attention. Therefore, he feels more confident and gets stronger. That’s why when Hare died, Shu went crazy. He knew it was one of the little people who he knew believed in him. Sorry, I just love Guilty Crown WAY better than SAO…

    • says

      i agree with you i guess this guy voted sao because HE IS NEW TO THE ANIME WORLD…yeah SAO is one of my favorite anime and kirito is my favorite character of all anime but if you’re going to compare SAO to GC and choose sao all i can say is you haven’t understand or watch guilty crown baka!

    • SoMeOnE says

      I totaly agree with you, Guilty Crown is of my fravorite anime. I loved the story so much, and the ending was really good because I know that Inori will always be with Shu even if she died. When i first finished the anime I kinda hated the ending, and I also cried so many times as well. But I learned to accept it because when shu was fighting with Gai he suddenly saw i flower and saw Inori too, so he grabbed it and eventually Inori was helping Shu win the battle against Gai. Eventually in the end Shu sees Inori and hugging him. That’s my theory:). I also watched Sword Art Online I really enjoyed, but I sure know that sao is not better than GC. GC FTW!

      • Mindy says

        You see, tha’ts why I love Guilty Crown so much. (Btw, this is Mindy. I forgot which email i used.)

        Guilty crown has a better setting, characters and plot. That’s pretty much the full package. I still don’t understand why people love SAO more than Guilty Crown. It frustrates me, but people are people. Gotta deal with them. They probably think about it like that about me, too.

        • says

          The main reason why SAO seems to be getting so much praise is that people find the plot and setting all magical. It probably would’ve been a great anime if it weren’t for the horrible fillers and lack of characters. I don’t see that many flaws with guilty crown, but based on all the criticism towards it, I’m suspecting that I’m just too blind to see them.

          • Mindy says

            I was fine with the first season. And then the second season came. And the episodes after they were married was so stupid in my opinion. FILLERS. EVERYWHERE.

      • says

        I agree with you there. Even though guilty crown probably sucked, it was still sticking to the storyline, showing that the creators were putting effort into it. The worst part about SAO was the horrible fillers. I mean, come on, this is anime, anime is supposed to focus on the storyline and not sidetreck to fillers that have no purpose at all. What guilty crown did that was so cool was that the first season focuses on one organization taking down the other organization, and then the organization bassically takes over Japan and focuses on a different storyline. I think Shu’s character development was way better than Kirito’s. Why? Because Shu starts off kind of wimpy, then turns into a dictator, but then realizes all his mistakes and decides to be a hero. Okay, that sort of character development doesn’t really sound magical. Plus, throughout guilty crown, the heroine started off as this mysterious girl who could only use guns, but was still cool, and then had all these powers, but sadly gets kidnapped near the end of the story. There were moments where I had to stop think/look on the internet when watching Guilty Crown. Something happened and my reaction was, “What the hell just happened”? Also, in SAO, the side characters have no purpose, whereas Guilty crown’s characters had served a purpose. Sadly, guilty crown started somewhat slow and then had a rushed ending.

        • Mindy says

          Guilty Crown isn’t sucky like the haters say. Not sure why people are hating about them. The only reasons I’ve heard about are plot holes. Well, there aren’t any plot holes. Just freaking THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU JUST HEARD AND SAW. then, you have no plot holes. ;P

          I LOVE GUILTY CROWN. <3

    • says

      whether the plot of anything is bad or not depends ENTIRELY on personnel opinion, but I completely see what you’re saying. The thing that I realized about guilty crown, is that when the side characters were introduced, they were typical, but then the show gave them a purpose, and all the characters had a degree of value of them that made them seemingly equally as valuable as the other characters.

  2. Rdcastillo says

    Well, what I can say to you is that you better try to understand Guilty Crown more. The plot’s complicated and full of symbols. It is not one of those straight to the point animes. It is one of those symbollic animes which a person should think and believe. Shu is one of the coolest guys I knew in Anime world and he is real. Shu Ouma showcased the real heart of a kind man. You know why? Heroes who are praised like Gandhi and Rizal fought their hearts out. Shu’s a lonely man and like any

  3. says

    Why guilty crown is better than SAO:

    1. Characters have a way bigger role and a lot of them get to have some spotlight
    2. Story never side-treckted to fillers
    3. Romance wasn’t rushed
    4. Story’s WAY deeper

    • Mindy says

      Oh my… It seems like you don’t know how SAO is…

      1. Characters have a big role? They have some episodes… But that doesn’t mean they have a big role ;P In Guilty Crown, every character has so much meaning. It all connects.
      2. Guilty Crown didn’t have fillers. And SAO did. The episodes for the separate characters are considered fillers. And the episode when Asuna and Kirito was in peace was a filler. And the fishing one…
      3. THIS IS YOUR BIGGEST MISTAKE. Romance was NOT rushed? ahah no. It was rushed. Like really rushed. They got married faster than they should have. (Kirito wanted Sandwitch-san. no, jk jk.)
      4. Guilty Crown’s story is deeper. Way deeper. It’s about Lost Christmas. It’s saddening. It’s a freaking apocalypse. Things may sound confusing in the anime, but you just gotta think for a second. THINK. IT’S NOT HARD. SAO is about a virtual game world where you die if you… die. No resurrections, either. Not that deep. It’s like .hack. Also, in SAO, the things that happened are pretty predictable.

      Have you even watched Guilty Crown? :P

  4. says

    I didn’t finished the 2nd arc of SAO, so I’ll just go with what I know.
    Yes, guilty crown has a sh*tload of plotholes, but it always focused on the story progressing. People complain about how the 1st arc of SAO was focusing too much on romance, but there isn’t really anything wrong with combining romance and action. But the problem is that SAO (1st arc) had side stories that introduced characters that had no depth, purpose, development, whatsover. In guilty crown most of the characters have depth and development, and a purpose. The problem with Shu’s development, was that it was kinda (or not) rushed, but let’s see here: normal kid gets involved with terrorists, becomes a coward for 1 season, turns into dictator later on, realizes his mistakes, apologizies, becomes brave and fights. Okay definetely a little rushed, but Shu has more FLAWS than Kirito, giving him MORE development. Some of the characters’ reasons for their actions aren’t really explain in guilty crown, but let’s see whats worse (I’m comparing the 1st arc of SAO): a character cast where only 2 have an actual purpose (good guys, I mean), while one of them is the only one who has depth and development, or a character cast where where ALL the characters have depth and development, but do some stuff that makes no sense. I’m not completely sure if Guilty Crown’s story is better than SAO’s overrall, but here’s how I see it: Guilty crown is a lot more character driven with unpredictable plot twists, while SAO is more story driven.

  5. says

    I take back my earlier comment about all the characters in guilty crown being good. Sadly, there are some characters who are given no explanation as to why they’re doing what they’re doing or any background, but it does a better job than SAO. When it comes down to the 1st arcs (or seasons, I can’t tell) of SAO and guilty crown, hands down, guilty crown wins. Because in the 1st arc, only one of all the characters have depth and development (kirito) and an actual purpose. I mean the guy became TRAUMATIZED after the events of the 3rd episode, while in Guilty Crown, it attempted to give good focus to the other characters, where some of them did have depth.

    • Mindy says

      Omg im so sorry i just realized you were on GC’s side when I first argued you :x
      But, again, I disagree with you. SAO’s second arc is what ruined the anime the most, and IMO, 2nd arc of GC made the anime better. You just have to understand whats happening. GC requires a BRAIN that thinks about how these things could have happened. I’m 12. I was 11 when I watched this. I hope you understood the anime, otherwise I’d be worried for you.

  6. ynat says

    SAO was shit… Kirito is the biggest Gary Stu I’ve seen and Asuna is the most generic tsundere ever. Guilty Crown characters were far superior…

  7. Teucros says

    Characters, story, plot even music was better in Guilty Crown. SAO is too simplified in this aspects. As show, Guilty Crown is really superior.
    Still, Guilty Crown setting doesn’t have strong connection with current state of science and technologies. Genetic resonance, voids and all other things are just made up by author and many people are okay with that. But SAO mentions things which I as IT-specialist find pretty believable. There are researches dedicated to recognition of brain activity patterns and next-generation human-computer interfaces. Still SAO have some fails and wins at predicting future technologies. For example, using virtual reality to manipulate people is completely believable – controlling what person perceive in the moment opens many possibilities for good or bad. And Kirito overcoming system by his power of will is obvious fail.
    But Guilty Crown makes even more ridiculous assumptions. How Void based on intron sequences in DNA can have various forms depending on character fears and complexes? This is possible if DNA assumed to store information about person life experience. But DNA is spread across all cells in body and it always have some variation. It isn’t fixed at any moment of time. So how random mutations in DNA affects personality then? How does it affects Void? And that is really Genetic Resonance? Why is it produced in form of acoustic waves with all this flashy effects? Guilty Crown setting isn’t product of analysing modern technological advances and just background for a touching story. Many people is okay with that. But every bit of scientist just screams in me and don’t let me to fully enjoy Guilty Crown. I would die a very happy man if everyone just stopped using science terms without completely understanding them.

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