Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion Review:
Firstly I would like to say that this review is for the entire series as a whole, NOT just for season 2. Now then....
I am not a fan of mecha. There, I said it. This was the main reason why I ignored all of the suggestions and decided to put off this show for so long. However, this decision of mine to put off this show was just plain stupid and I now realize why everyone likes this show. Code Geass has become one of my favorite shows of all time and has joined Clannad and Steins;Gate on the list of shows that I believe are truly on a different level from the rest.
Politics. The primary focus of the plot is politics. This is true with most shows in the mecha genre. However, Code Geass does not limit itself to just this focus. Code Geass dives into the morals of humans and the true nature of people. This is primarily seen with the main character Lelouch who is granted the ability to control other people that he makes eye contact with. With this power (and Lelouch's extremely high intelligence), Lelouch forms a rebel group known as the Black Knights to fight against the tyranny of Britannia. To add on to this, there are school life, and other non-war related plotlines that are well placed throughout the show to give you a break from the action. Now, before I watched this show I had already read about this, I thought I knew what the story was going to be like. I was wrong. The story isn't your typical rag tag group of kids trying to fight against an empire story. The story is about Lelouch. It's about Lelouch and his successes, struggles, mistakes, and changes. Although he basically IS the storyline, I will refrain from diving in further and go into more detail in the character section later. The story is one that is packed with plot twists and unexpected events (some admittedly can feel forced or leave plotholes, especially towards the end of season 2). This is more so in the first season, where the second season changes it up a bit and focuses more on the emotional aspect than the suspenseful one. Although the dynamic of the show changes between seasons, this change was necessary and really makes this show multidimensional. The writers tend to use the "because I said so" and "oh it all happened in the past and we just never told you guys" plot devices to explain a lot of events but for me this wasn't a big deal. However, I know that others absolutely hate this kind of writing so it does have to go into account in my review, dropping the story from a 10 to a 9. For all you fans of closure, the first season provides none, but the second season provides one of the greatest endings I have seen in a long time that is a lot more complex than one might first assume. The story was nothing short of brilliant, and the show's ending only justifies this, however the plot holes and poor explaining that went with some events prevent this story from being a perfect 10.
Another reason why I hesitated in watching this show was the art. I just didn't like the way all the characters looked. After watching it however, I have changed my mind. The art direction was very good, providing a wide array of characters, settings, and action. At times the action could suffer from the animation, but this was uncommon and for the most part the art was very good.
Lelouch's voice actor was nothing short of brilliant. Without him, I'm not sure if Lelouch would have been as interesting of a character as he was. The rest of the voice acting was solid for the most part as well. The music for the most part did nothing to stand out in any particular way. It wasn't bad. But it wasn't anything special. It served its purpose effectively and that's all that matters. The exceptions were the vocal tracks in this anime such as "Stories" "Continued Story" and "Innocent Days" as well as "Madder Sky" due to it being used during a crucial part of the last episode. Overall the sound was very good due to the voice acting however the soundtrack was hit or miss, at times it was average or not good, while a few other tracks were actually fantastic. The inconsistency prevented the sound from getting a 9 but it was great none the less.
Everybody seems to want to compare Lelouch to Light from Death Note. I can see where they're coming from (extremely smart, granted amazing power, seemingly very selfish at times). However, Lelouch has a trait that Light seems to completely lack, Lelouch actually has morals. Sometimes it is hard to see, but Lelouch fully intends to make the world a better place. He makes countless mistakes that harm others throughout his journey, and when these kind of things happen, you can clearly see Lelouch being effected by these mistakes. He may put on a face as if it is all fine, but by paying attention to his initial reactions, and the final decisions that he makes towards the end, you can tell that he fully accepts his mistakes as sins that will most likely never be forgiven. But moving on from Lelouch there are plenty of other characters. Most notably there is Suzaku. Suzaku was a character that I had strong opinions towards. What was weird however was that the writers somehow made me like him one minute, hate his ass the next, sympathize with him another, and then love him again. This of course was intentional and very well done. Suzaku is similar to Lelouch in that he has good intentions but goes about the wrong way of trying to achieve them. It's hard talking about these two without any spoilers, but realize that they are without a doubt the two most important characters, and following them both was definitely a treat. Other important characters were C.C. (aka little miss plot hole maker) and Kallen (aka fanservice). Beyond these four characters the others weren't too developed due to the sheer fact that there were so many of them. However, none of the characters were really "bad" besides maybe Nina. Ok yeah, Nina was awful. The fact that Lelouch was so brilliant and that, for the most part, his supporting cast was relatively strong, I really can't give the character section anything less than a 9.
This may be because practically every episode ended in a cliffhanger, but I could not stop watching this show. From the first episode to the last I could not stop myself from watching. I wanted to know what happened next. I wanted to know the consequences of Lelouch's actions, and how he would respond. I wanted to see in what unique way he would tactically take down all of his opponents the next time. I wanted to see how Lelouch and Suzaku's friendship would pan out. The show provides you with countless small and large desires that can get fulfilled within minutes, or not be answered until the last episode. This recipe of teasing and rewarding made this show addicting as hell and was beautifully crafted. The intriguing plot, interesting politics, and fantastic characters were melded beautifully by the writers to create a show perfectly executed to entertain the viewer. The two seasons differ in their approach, but the basic tease and deliver equation was still in place throughout it all. The first season contained a stable goal for the characters filled with shocking surprises and twists. The second season was far more inconsistent with its objective, but really delivers massive emotional punches, and eventually steers itself up for the grande finale. Code Geass was filled with practically everything you could ask for in an entertaining anime, and all these tools were utilized perfectly with fantastic execution. If there's one thing Code Geass did right, it was that it kept me entertained.
The plot, pacing, characters, emotions, and most importantly the execution of it all are what pull Code Geass out of the crowd and make it truly something else. The plot can push towards over the top at times and trip over itself, but the overall story and the characters within it make Code Geass one hell of a ride. This show has joined Clannad (10/10) and Steins;Gate (9.5/10) as the three lone anime series that I have given a 9 or higher rating to, and is a must watch for everyone.
More addicting than crack, and without the deadly side effects! Ranging from action packed, to funny, to convoluted, to tear jerking this show is something else. Truly a joy to watch and a must watch for all.
+ Main character is a legend
+ One of the greatest endings ever
+ Extremely addicting
+ Story is fantastic
- Plot holes/Writers' tendency to use the "because i said so" explaination
- There may have been too many different characters, resulting in some unnecessary or just plain weak/annoying characters (Nina)
If you liked Code Geass, watch...
The shows are extremely similar in almost every aspect and both are very entertaining. However, try to keep your brain shut down a bit while watching this show because there are plenty of plotholes.
The most obvious choice mainly because of the Light/Lelouch comparison. They are both extremely intelligent and enjoyable to watch, and the shows are both intense.
9.2/10 - Brilliant