3 of 13 people found this review helpful
25 of 25 episodes seen
Overall Rating: 10
Opening sequence 1: 9/10
Opening sequence 2: 5/10
Ending sequence 1: 6/10
Ending sequence 2: 8/10
My Age Rating: 8: While the series does contain instances of nudity and violence along with some blood, it is all shown in moderation. Pretty much the same as the first season in this regard.
Code Geass’ second season seems to have gathered some hate from fans of the first season who didn’t like where this latest instalment was going and because the ending didn’t gear towards the direction they had envisioned they prevented themselves from enjoying what it had to offer which is a shame. Before getting to the core of the review I will attempt to address some of the concerns and criticism I’ve read over various forums and reviews in the same manner I handled the second season of Darker Than Black:
-It went the Gundam way: Basically many didn’t like how the victor in battle seems to be the one with the most powerful mecha and how strategy seems to have been replaced by super weapons. To be frank I find this position impossible to support, at this point the story involves full on war with several large scale battles and aerial battles so obviously small guerilla tactics the likes of season 1 disappeared. However, the battles offer now strategies the likes you’d expect in large scale wars and the battle of the minds is still going strong between the opponents who are pitted against each other. This is not to forget that in the beginning we still have some of Lelouch’s trickery at work and at its strongest too and let’s not forget the fact that they managed to introduce some strategy even in their aerial battles. My guess is that what people didn’t like here was more the change in the scale of things rather than the lack of tactics.
-The ending is an incomprehensible mess: No, just no. Anyone whose seen the ending should be able to see for themselves how great it actually is so I won’t go on to detail it which would only serve to spoil it. Let’s just say the ending is the best part of the entire series.
-Major script changes: This I can understand. Apparently Goro wanted the series to go a certain way but changes were made by the studio. While I do agree this is a shame it doesn’t diminish what Goro achieved in this season and if anything the supplementary content only gives good material to any future continuation but I’ll get into that later on.
They are other complaints parsed throughout the internet and vocally spouted by haters though I covered the major ones so I’ll move on to the review now.
The story continues a year after the defeat of the Black Knights and as it starts, Suzaku now appears to be a Knight of the Round (The emperor’s elites) and Lelouch seems to have lost his memories. Not only that but he forgot about Nunnally and now has a younger brother of whom we know nothing. As it unfolds the first episode presents itself in a similar fashion to the first episode of season 1, this is intended of course, and we see what will happen to Lelouch, the remnants of the Black Knights and Suzaku. Of course due to how the story evolves this is the basic setting at its most early stages since revealing more would spoil the first episode to start with. This second season is even more fast paced then the first and deals with it in a gripping way. They do not forget about relevant plot elements or toss aside sub-plots nor do they linger on certain issues for too long thus delivering not only a fast pace but a perfect pace as well. The series manages to pull some very impressive plot twists once again and also brings to a close several issues we still had lingering since season 1. And while it may start at a point some may dislike considering the cliffhanger we were left with we still have a pretty quick layout of what happened after that event and we are not left wandering with questions for the rest of the season thankfully. Overall, the plot makes what appeared like minor events in season 1 really shine as important and critical plot element in this season and offers an exciting and thrilling ride throughout. For its constant cliffhangers that keep you wanting to see more to the drama that keeps you on the edge of your seat, the story is still great.
Since it’s part of the story and really worth the mention I’ll be spending some time writing about the ending so if you haven’t seen the show just jump this section: SPOILER-Code Geass is a series that didn’t do the common mistake of elaborating too much on trivial matters and starting its ending in an anti-climatic fashion 2 – 3 episodes from the end and thus rushing it as a result. They started to rise the climatic tensions at episode 15 and the actual ending really kicks in at episode 19 thus allowing for a smooth transition from the actual show thus far to the ending and giving enough time to make an ending worth remembering. The ending itself involves the Black Knights’ betrayal of Lelouch, the showdown between him and his father and his alliance with Suzaku to take control of the Holy Britannian Empire which leads to a confrontation between him, his brother Schneizel and his former comrades, the Black Knights, in a climactic battle that literally determines the fate of the entire world. In a more spoilerish direction, Lelouch does actually win and he subjugates the entire world. It is only at the end we realize he and Suzaku actually planned this to have Lelouch sacrifice himself, being killed by Zero publicly as the enemy of the world and having already placed the people he believes are fit to rebuild the world in positions of power as well as having restructured the empire during his rule, he takes on the entire hatred of the world onto himself to allow the world to move towards the future while offering his life as sacrifice. Suzaku is now forced to live forever as Zero so he too sacrifices his life in a way. While some might argue the ending is not the most credible out there, as there will most probably be other wars to come eventually, it is symbolic and really strong in its overall relaying message which is where its strength was intended to lie. It is also directed and written with precision and mastery which made it only more enjoyable. To this day it is my second favorite ending in an anime. Also, the ending is credible when properly observed, Lelouch didn’t build a new world, he brought the world into a new era: an era where the governments of the world will rebuild what the ravages of war left behind and go forward with a new and just society which he has ensured by the precise placements of the world’s new leaders. So metaphorically he did destroy the world and thus created a new one but if we are speaking literally he simply brought the world into a new era, which is what the ending was aluding to. It is obvious the world will one day fall into war again since eras come and go but he as ensured peace on Earth for several generations with his sacrifice and built a new future for the people he cares about. So it indeed is a great ending: symbolic, epic, well written, perfectly paced, emotionally powerful and credible.-SPOILER
Also, missing plot points never finalized, again, for those who have seen the series: SPOILER-We never learn C.C.’s real name by the end and the true origin of Geass also remains a mystery. Hopefully this will be rectified in future works but until then you just take it as part of the universe of Code Geass-SPOILER
Before continuing, I would like to discuss the script changes so again, beware the spoilers: SPOILER-It was initially intended to have Lelouch lose control of the Black Knights to Jeremiah’s sister who would be a dead lookalike for Lelouch and Lelouch would have to join the Black Knights as a member to regain what is his. Another notable change was that the series was supposed to deal with Suzaku who apparently was intended to have a connection to Geass which explains his supernatural strength. This coupled with the fact that Schneizel’s Geass command may worn out tells me there is more than enough material for another full sequel even if Lelouch doesn’t feature in it.-SPOILER
Now the characters, I’ll add on some of the ones previously covered in the first review and write on those who are new or rose to importance within this season:
-Lelouch Vi Britannia: Since at this point it’s no longer a spoiler I called him by his true name. In this season he gets to resolve his most stressful issues and gets some much needed answers. But his character development really hit its peak when he finally those learn the truth. He is still as ingenious as ever and this pack of 25 episodes sees him at his strongest for his resolves and determination but when it comes to his emotional state, he also sunk to his weakest as events turn out to be worst for him than ever before.
-Suzaku Kururugi: His character development really hits the spot. First of all his resolve leads him to betray Lelouch and become the Knight of Seven of the Knights of the Round in the Britannian Empire. He stays true to his allegiance during most of the season and does whatever needs be to rise in rank and finally have a position that allows him to help Japan. SPOILER-In the last episodes, certain actions he took managed to shatter his childishness and certain truths managed to make him see that Lelouch was right all along. I liked this about Suzaku, he starts as an idealistic hero, as all mecha seem to have, but unlike most of these mecha heroes he actually those grow to realize that following orders and obeying the system doesn’t guarantee victory for justice. He realizes how childish it is to expect to protect people while still obeying orders and remaining true to the system so he actually betrays the empire to join Lelouch and do what needs to be done, realizing that for a brighter future sacrifices must be made no matter how hard a fact that may be to accept.-SPOILER In the end Suzaku is a deconstruction of the mecha hero.
-C.C.: She doesn’t get as much screen time this season but her role is more crucial and her clothes are 10 times cooler even if not sexier. C.C. fans may be let down by her in this season though.
-Kallen Kouzuki: She’s still as badass as ever, even more so if you count the fact that she manages to remain badass even during her captivity later on in the series. Though it appears she replaces C.C. when it comes to fanservice. This season sees her relationship with Lelouch develops greatly, especially since she learned of his identity as Zero.
-Cornelia li Britannia: Unlike her previous performance, she no longer fights for Britannia. She is determined to find and destroy Geass’ origin to clean Euphemia’s name and take revenge on those who caused her beloved sister’s death. She is still strong willed, fierce, merciless and fear inspiring to her enemies but her obsession as led her to abandon her country, duties and most likely changed her beyond anything she previously was.
-Jeremiah Gottwald: In the first season simply a racist nobleman who falls from grace. Then a deranged experimental subject. In this season he is much more. Now fully operational, his cyborg body allows him superior strength and his completed experimental weapon gives him the ability to cancel Geass. With his sanity now restored he is more badass than Kallen, stronger than Suzaku and the most loyal character in all of anime.
-Rolo Lamperouge: Lelouch’s false brother. Possessing a Geass and being a trained assassin he is difficult to deal with but his personality and his character develop greatly as the series and his relationship with Lelouch progress. Most of the time he remains a detestable character but near the end SPOILER-He pulls a repentance scene that puts Darth Vader’s redemption scene to shame and really manages to make us feel sorry he dies, even if we ironically only feel this way because of his death.-SPOILER
-Li Xingke: A brilliant Chinese strategist as a well as a fierce warrior. He is Lelouch’s equal when it comes to strategy and his decisively loyal to the empress of the Chinese Federation who he also loves.
-Sayoko Shinozaki: The maid from season 1 that appeared to be more than a simple maid. Well appearances weren’t deceiving since she certainly is more. She turns out to be a ninja maid highly skilled in martial arts and truly loyal to Lelouch. While that may seem ridiculous or even corny, it really is cool if nothing else.
-Kaguya Sumeragi: Lelouch’s, or should I say Zero’s, bride. A 14 year old influential member of the Japanese people who admires Zero and is truly devoted to him. Funny thing is, despite the fact that her age difference with Lelouch is already an eyebrow raiser, she actually tries to start a harem for Lelouch with Kallen and C.C. Overall a fun and also, later on, important character.
-Schneizel el Britannia: A manipulative prince who wishes to assume his father’s position as emperor. His ambitions overshadow his reason and lead him to be able to make the most horrendous of choices if it suites his plans. He establishes himself as Lelouch’s main foe besides Charles and while he does truly believe his plans will result in humanity’s salvation, his vision is warped beyond belief.
-Charles zi Britannia: He those an excellent job at being the villain: evil and merciless yet not one dimensional. He as his own true agenda besides being a horrible father and merciless conqueror and he really manages to introduce some more awesome into the show.
-Knights of the Round: A group of knights serving directly under the emperor of Britannia. They are the most fierce and experienced soldiers of Britannia and each of them as an aura of Nobility and strength if not for Sir Bradley, whose just a maniac. They pilot personalized mecha of the latest generation and are a force to be reckoned with. Suzaku now counts amongst their members.
Useless to say, the characters are just as believable, well written and awesome as in season 1. Many may like the focus they gave to formerly less important characters, thus allowing for everyone’s favorites to have their moment in the sun no matter who they are, and others may dislike the lack of focus on certain characters that were more prominently featured in the first season too.
The action hits the high marks with large scale aerial assaults and a multitude of personalized stylish mecha going at it with each other. The fanservice also seems to have bumped 50% higher in quality and quantity from the previous season. More episodes are dedicated to the plot and serious events than the school festival and/or school life episodes that were more present in the first season.
My final thoughts, Code Geass’ second season is just as amazing as the first season but for different reasons. I think that together they stand as anime’s strongest series and are a shining example of great directorship, impeccable writing and stellar animation. I highly recommend it to all anime fans and hope you enjoy it.