Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion

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VivisQueen's avatar By VivisQueen on Oct 31, 2007

Story

This review was revised on 12th January 2010. Although the wording has changed, my thoughts and sentiments on the show remain exactly the same. Please take note, however, that the Overall rating changed from 8.7 to 8.5 to take into account the relative ranking of another series.

Opening with a chess game where a high-school student, Lelouch Lamperouge, defeats an aristocrat in record time, Code Geass is a show clearly low in logic and high in cheese. When said student acquires mind-control powers, an all-black superhero costume, and starts playing political games with people as pawns, events get really dumbfounding. In spite of this, Code Geass brims with the kind of high-octane antics that make getting swept away in its story hard to resist.

At the start, terrible things happen to Japanese civilians in rapid, manipulative scenarios to grab attention and sympathy. From then on, it's a rollercoaster ride in which Lelouch (under the pseudonym 'Zero') outmanoeuvres the oppressive Britannian Empire between bouts of maniacal laughter and sweeping hand gestures. The show is an exercise in theatrics, a high-budget pantomime where every chorus of 'He's behind you!' at the Britannians feels as exciting as the first. Indeed, this series embraces melodrama with such joyous frenzy, that its liberal application becomes an endearing trait rather than a handicap.

While any political venture is bound to be fraught with controversies, Code Geass settles only for the juciest. Who can forget the Emperor announcing his warped form of moral darwinism to the world? 'People are not equal!' he asserts. 'We must fight! Compete, take, control, possess! Beyond that lies the future.' Or the show's use of that classic 'buddies at war' plot device a la Gundam SEED, where  Lelouch and Suzaku Kururugi stand in opposing camps despite being childhood friends. My personal award, however, goes to Princess Euphemia's stunning revelation on war, which sums up the shallow waters of intellectualism in which Code Geass wades: 'Suzaku, I finally understand. It's not about ideal countries, justice, or other such complicated things. I just want to see smiles.' Tell that to the Iraqis, sweetie.

Moreover, although strictly classifiable as a mecha show, Code Geass is not at all defined by this feature; while the political manoeuvres drive the story, the mecha serve the same function as spoilers on an already monstrous sports car. At some point the writers thought: 'They're tacky and superfluous, but what the heck, they'll make things go faster!' Indeed, as accessories, they are extremely good fun, delivering the kind of pyrotechnics and en masse casualties an action show needs these days to keep the kids slavering.

With all its excesses and crude pseudo-philosophies, nobody could mistake Code Geass for a subtle, intelligent show. On the other hand, I can't deny the slick way it appeals to sentiment and intuition to deliver a jaw-dropping political adventure. It verges on madness and, once or twice, even flirts with genius, but always with a keen eye for spectacle.


Animation

Nobody does 'cute' like the ladies at CLAMP. Only they could be responsible for the adorably anorexic character designs reminiscent of their previous works like Tsubasa Chronicle. The unique concept is bright, cartoonish, and full of kawai details - from princesses with flowing pink hair to the quaint upward curve of the girls' miniskirts. Even Lelouch, despite his tortured personality, is on cel nothing more than a bug-eyed bishie. Yet the animation as a whole stops short of looking as childish as Tsubasa Chronicle thanks to the generous application of gory blood splatters and smoothly-animated mecha battles.


Sound

On the other hand, the show offers an awkward set of main themes. While they don't suit the tone of the narrative, I'm not certain their schizophrenic application is wholly inappropriate either. The banal first opening theme says nothing of what’s to come in the story, but will likely appeal to avid J-pop lovers. Later, the opening theme switches to the bizarre ‘Kaidoku Funou’ by Jinn; with a funky riff and discordant vocals, this one is more of a controversial choice. I have come to appreciate its unique sound over time and rank it as one of my favourite themes, although this is unlikely to be the case with most other viewers. The rest of the soundtrack consists of choral and instrumental pieces designed to work with the show's grandness - the chorals, in particular, help produce some rousing tragic scenes.


Characters

Code Geass is an excellent example of polishing a narrative by using the characters like a dishrag; it manipulates its cast with such ruthless disregard for their development, that most remain unmemorable at best. A handful of main characters deliver entertaining performances and serve their purpose within the narrative well, although they sometimes evince glaring contradictions or convenient mindlessness.

Take Suzaku, for instance, who seems a typical hero - he wants to make the world a better place by changing Britannia from within. Unfortunately, beyond appearances his character falls apart. I'm unsure what the writers were aiming for when they scripted him, but they certainly succeeded in creating a textbook hypcrite. Even as the Britannians massacre his fellow Japanese nationals at every given opportunity, he chooses to fight Zero as part of the Britannian army in the name of justice. With that kind of mindless loyalty to the wrong side, his interventions against Zero appear not so much heroic as idiotic. The show's saving grace is that it makes no pretense of being philosophically consistent - Suzaku, like all the others, is but a convenient cog to facilitate the manipulation of my emotions.

Only Lelouch resembles anything like a fully-fleshed human being. He is to Code Geass what Light Yagami is to Death Note. Armed with a similar arsenal of histrionic speeches ('Either live with me, or die with me!'), he nonetheless comes across more charming. Unlike Light, falling in love with Lelouch is unavoidable for the simple fact that he fights on behalf of the victims whilst having little regard for his own status. In fact, his greatest point of fascination is that, beneath his hatred for Britannia, he loathes himself even more. Delivering a performance that's theatrical but also full of acute anguish, he epitomises everything that's brilliant about Code Geass.


Overall

Still reeling from the conclusion of Death Note? Make Code Geass the antidote. While it contains melodrama and cheese to saturation levels, it delivers them in a heady narrative that few could resist. With a bounty of twists and cliff-hangers on the menu, Code Geass is the perfect way for mainstream fans hungry for action to burn away several hours.

8.5/10 story
7.5/10 animation
7/10 sound
6.5/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
vivafruit's avatar By vivafruit on Aug 7, 2007

Story

In many ways, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion is uncannily similar to Sunrise’s own My-Hime. Both have extremely large ensemble casts, superb production values and a surprisingly engaging narrative. Unfortunately, both also suffer from inert character development, nigh unforgivable pacing and a largely disappointing ending.

Code Geass is almost certainly at its best when the protagonist must use his intelligence and questionable morals to overcome a seemingly overwhelming task. These parts are satisfyingly clever, surprisingly engaging and difficult to predict. There is also a good deal of promise in the general premise, which works to set up a Mobile Suit Gundam Seed-styled epic war with sympathetic heroes on both sides.

However, the series’ good points are mixed in with problems so egregious that it’s difficult to recommend the project as a whole. For one, the pacing is terrible; while My-Hime was unbearably slow for the first half, Code Geass feels permanently stuck on fast forward. While each episode has powerful moments, the impact they leave is inevitably dampened by the schizophrenic cutting. The moment you begin to follow one plotline, the series has immediately cut to a different one happening simultaneously. There are simply too many characters doing too many things at once, and the result is a discombobulated mess. There is also a fair deal of unnecessary and generally unimpressive mecha action injected into the show (for the sole reason, some cynics might say, of selling toys). This only exacerbates the lack of narrative focus. Ultimately, Code Geass' story is always more about having clever things happen than making me care about what will happen next.

Finally, the series fails to reach any sort of satisfying conclusion and instead opts for a cliffhanger, assumably to be resolved in the second season.


Animation

This is a nice-looking show. The character designs have the same glossy, colorful and memorable feel of Mobile Suit Gundam Seed and My-Hime, which is extremely important when there are so many different characters to keep track of. Also, while uninteresting and unnecessary, the mecha action scenes are at least pretty to look at.

One complaint is that, in spite of fact that a huge number of people die, there is a noticeable lack of gore. The show seems a little self-censored to be able to air at prime-time, which takes away some of the punch of the more violent scenes.

Also, PIZZA HUT there's a ridiculous amount PIZZA HUT of product PIZZA HUT placement for a PIZZA HUT certain company. The logo for this company is PIZZA HUT used so pervasively that PIZZA HUT it actively serves to disrupt PIZZA HUT the flow of the series, not to mention PIZZA HUT ruining the audience's suspension of PIZZA HUT disbelief.

All joking aside, the animation for Code Geass is solid, and I have no major complaints.


Sound

The pacing of the series requires the seiyuu to talk extremely quickly, but otherwise they do a fine job. When combined with the character designs, the diverse voice-acting makes for some surprisingly memorable characters, in spite of the gigantic cast.

I didn’t enjoy the OP/ED, but the intense, dramatic, background music works well with the frenetic mood of the series.


Characters

While the characters are fairly easy to tell apart, their sheer number prevents any one of them from being developed well. Still, most of them are somewhat likeable at face value, which prevents the show from ever becoming tedious. However, because of the shallow characters, it’s difficult to become emotionally involved in what is going on. When the show is at its very best, Code Geass is still more passively interesting than genuinely suspenseful.

Sadly, even the protagonist fails to be a sympathetic character. He's drawn up to be a high-minded character whose lust for revenge ultimately causes him to use his followers as pawns. The problem is that this tragic flaw is poorly realized and inconsistent with the rest of his character, making him difficult to believe as a real person. One moment he's regretting the waste of life he's accidentally caused, and the next he's using his EVIL MWUHAHAHA laugh as the enemy slips into his carefully planned Machiavellian trap. He's... pardon the phrase, a cartoon character. A caricature. His “ends-justify-the-means” philosophy dominates his personality to the point where he  ultimately feels like a giant walking plot device.


Overall

Code Geass’s hyperactive pacing and shallow characters sink the show from possibly good to marginal at best. Add in the “watch the sequel” ending, and at this stage there’s little incentive to watch this.

The show certainly isn’t terrible. Despite what I’ve said, some parts are clever enough to be entertaining, and no one can deny the excellent animation and sound. That said, this loud, messy, and uneven series still feels a lot like "Death Note Lite."

5.5/10 story
7.5/10 animation
7.5/10 sound
4.5/10 characters
6/10 overall
AironNeil's avatar By AironNeil on Jul 30, 2011

When I first started watching this show I always wondered why it was called Code Geass. Basically because I pronounced Geass like Ge-ass sounding like I said “The ass” but beyond that, code the ass is one of my favorite animes of all time.

Story

You don’t need me to write the basic plot that’s what the site summery is for, so if you haven’t read the summery, I suggest you do so now…done? Okay let’s start this then. So basically this show is somewhat like Death Note, but with a different power, different setting, and different main character (though somewhat the same). When *spoiler tag* happens Lelouch becomes Zero and has the whole Britannian Empire against him—Also Britania is the U.S.A. combined with the U.K….I don‘t know, I just feel somewhat hurt that America is the bad guy in this—But personal feelings aside, I guess you’re probably wondering what I think about the story, huh? And that you’re assuming that I love it since I can see the “fanboy” labels coming up already.

Well, I do like the story, but the way it’s brought out kind of pisses me off. Some of the most biggest tension from the story comes from the fact that Lelouch (warning spoiler, but it needs to be said) can only use his mind control on a person once (Not too big of a spoiler, but it removes the half-surprise you‘ll get at that moment). This is very important to the plot of the show, because when *spoiler tag* happens it really screws him over. Now you might be thinking to yourself “so what, it adds suspense” Which I agree to completely, but there’s a hole to this, after all, he could just say “follow my every order” and the fact that it only works once no longer applies (and yes it works he does it in R2), and so code the ass has one big hole that bothers me; though, it wouldn’t have been as good if he did that at first, so what the writers should have done is remove the part when he does it in R2.

Okay, I’m worried that I told a little much in that last paragraph (I‘m pretty much a spoiler nazi) so I’ll make sure to keep that at a minimum for now on. So why does code the ass have so much fandom? It’s because it has a lot of different story elements. For example, like mecha? It has that, and a lot of that quite frankly; it also has action, yuri, drama, comedy, magic, super powers, ecchi, fantasy, incest, love triangles, martial arts, secret identities, a military, anti-heros, political intrigue, psychological plots, harem, sci-fi, shonen, yaoi, suspense, thrillers, and war. Indeed, it seems that the writers put a little of everything into this show, even Pizza Hut product placement which probably won’t work on me, since  my nearest Pizza Hut is 100 miles away, but it did somewhat make me giggle whenever I saw the obviously apparent Pizza Hut logo in the background.

So, do you like how I keep going on and on about nothing much? Well if you don’t then code the ass will make you happy, because it’s plot is rather fast, though I wouldn’t like to use the term “rushed” since I still know everything about the show, and there’s no unanswered questions, just an open ending which is open because there’s a second season of code the ass so that you can feed all of your code the ass cravings when you’re done with R1.

Animation

The show’s animation is pretty good, I have literally nothing bad to say about it…wait for it…EXCEPT Ougi, a character that doesn’t matter much, but every time I see him I feel like he just doesn’t belong, he looks like a character from an older anime—unless this is just me, otherwise I apologize, but my opinion doesn’t fit yours; other than that though, there’s nothing to complain about when it comes to code the ass.

And the show even shows some boobies for anyone who isn’t pretending to be a pervert (and girls).

Sound

The only song I can really remember right now is the opening theme, though now that I think about it, all the music seems to fit really well with every scene…besides the opening. Though it’s not really that weird to hear it just doesn’t seem to fit very well, somewhat, but not all that well.

The voices in code the ass are superb, I hate to sound like a fan boy, but I really like the voice of Johnny Yong Bosch, every anime that he’s in is a must watch for me, though I‘m not going to like it no matter what, his voice is just a big plus for me. I just love his voice in a non-homosexual way.

So music is a 6 and voices are a 10 average that out and sound gets an 8

Characters

Code the ass has a large number of characters and because of the show’s short running time hardly any of them get developed, by the end of R1 you basically get the personality of everyone, but no real reason for them existing (Which sounds kind of evil now that I repeat that in my head). So let’s look the main character Le-douche—or I mean Lelouch—he starts out as a man that wants to get revenge on Bitania and make the world a better place, he ends as a man that wants to get revenge on Bitania, and make the world a better place…for his sister. One of the official reviews of this say that Lelouch is not a real character, but I believe that he is. Lelouch’s revenge defines his character, now why is this real? Well this is because he’s been planning revenge his whole life.

Though he seems to be sad at the sea of corpses that he’s made, he still comes to battle with an evil look and laugh to go along with that. Now how is this real? That just seems to by very inconstant with his character; well, have you ever seen a war veteran, yes, oh yeah, well have you actually listened to what he was saying?! Most veterans will say that war changes them, and that when combat is happening you become a totally different person, this explains Lelouch apparent personality changes, it’s reasonable, and not fake.

But beyond Lelouch, there are few others worth mentioning, such as Suzaku, who seems to be a great rival to Lelouch. C.C., who has a saucy personality but her back story isn’t reviled till R2. There’s a few more, but because of the low number of worthwhile characters I’m going to give this a score of 7.

Overall

Now why do I like this show? It’s because it’s a show that makes me feel smart and most shows can’t say that about themselves. I recommend this anime to anyone who likes Death Note which seems to be the high and mighty king of all anime (Don‘t believe me? Look at any best anime vote, Death Note is almost always at the top). But I wouldn’t dare oversell this show, it’s haters are fucking annoying! (and yes, I‘m talking to you Mr. Hater).

However I won’t recommend this show to people who want to watch a show for a relaxing time, or comedy (though it does have some funny parts). This show is serious to the core you won’t be relaxed watching this no to mention the ending that does nothing but make you watch the next series.

Alrighty, and to end my joke my R2 Review will not have code the ass in it since that joke is probably not funny anymore (if ever).

8/10 story
9/10 animation
8/10 sound
7/10 characters
8.6/10 overall
spawn1270's avatar By spawn1270 on Jul 25, 2011

It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit.It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's alright. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit. It's shit.It's shit.It's shit.It's shit. It's shit.It's shit.It's shit.It's shit.It's shit.It's shit.It's shit.It's shit.It's shit.It's shit.It's shit.It's shit.It's shit.

1/10 story
1/10 animation
1/10 sound
1/10 characters
10/10 overall
Baxter's avatar By Baxter on Oct 21, 2010

When watching a show like Code Geass I'm reminded of a conversation I one time had with a friend of mine about the insufferably of the public and how easy it is manipulating them. he said, and I quote:

"the masses of a country are roughly stupid and gullible once you introduce the idea of patriotism into the mix. you tell them their opponent represents everything you do not, they look different then you do, and say once in a while that they want to have your women and you've just created a mass of lunatics willing to blow themselves up for their country."

I'm not about to say that Code Geass is 100% Patriotic brain-washing but it's almost as close as one could get without the silly caricatures of the other group. Britannia, a nicely veiled America if we didn't win the revolution, takes over Japan and renames it area 11, taking away their language (though everyone is speaking Japanese.) their culture (though there are Japanese style buildings all over the place.) and being pretty much the typical Gaijins that you usually see in anime, the japanese people are rightfully pissed off and revolutionary groups start popping up faster the dandelions. Introduce our main hero: the Byronic egocentric little monster Lelouch, who gets a hold of the magic power of the geass, which allows him to command a person to do whatever he wants one time from a nice green haired girl who's name I can't really remember.

Now, given if I were to stumble upon probably one of the greatest powers one could find (screw you superman and your flying! I can make people shove things up their butts.) I would probably end up using it in extremely juvenile and childish ways: have people run screaming down the street with their shirts as pants and pants as shirts, watch two wannabe gangsters make out, and did I hear "but it was consensual?" over in the distance. But I'm not a psychotic asshole nor do I have a Napoleon complex like Lelouch. He decides that since he has one of the ultimate weapons of mass destruction, he will lead a rebellion to topple the Britannia empire by dressing up in a faceless helmet and going by the name of Zero. (of, if you couldn't tell, he's supposed to be a zorro-type.)

As you can probably already tell I didn't care much for Lelouch. While, yes, I understand that he IS the actual heir to the throne of Britannia and his mother was shot to death and his sisters a cripple and yadda yadda yadda, I can see why he is a prick, in the beginning. Honestly though, I was kind of looking forward to seeing Lelouch as the main hero. After so many mecha shows dealing with the main hero as either the hot-blood energetic Kabuto Koji knock-offs or the emotional depressed Amuro Ray knock-offs, it was so interesting to see a show where the main character is more akin to Char Azanble then any Shinji Ikari or Ryoma Nagare.

This falls straight on it's face halfway into the show when they are constantly trying to tell me that Lelouch is a good guy, which no amount of drugs could honestly make me think so. The guy is a sick individual who cares almost nothing about the lives he takes or uses to get to his goals but then you're going to tell me he's misunderstood and he's doing it for his sister? Oh come on!!

The shows second banana, Suzaku Kururugi, is introduced as the typical Main mecha guy for the show; he's kind, generous, helpful, and fighting for what he believes to 'stop the war', your basic outline of the character could fit into any number of other real robot main heroes but here comes the nice twist: he's the Japanese guy who's a high ranking officer!! *Gasp!!* How do you think the Britannians take that?

What could have been a great exercise in twisting the archetypical viewpointss of the genre by switching the two primary roles ends up getting lost in the shuffle and becomes your typical mecha show where the main villainss end up with even less humanity then is usually shown, since they are, ya know, white folk.

Okay, now since this is coming from a Gringo, I'm probably going to be called racist for it but when you see the elephant in the room you kind of have to address it. when I first saw Lawrence of Arabia, I loved it! it's a marvelous movie and deftly made, but after the fifteenth incarnation of "white people are evil and savage, not like these gentle kind people. man I wish I wasn't white." get's kind of irritating and moronic. Not only does it shove into younger children mentality that their character of person is labeled by their skin, not only does it teach people a sophomoric stilted and simplified version of history that fits the public's viewpoint, the worst part of these type of stories are 95% of them aren't any good. Not since Lawrence of Arabia have they made a good movie based on this basic premise and it's gotten so freaking bad that other countries are copying it. COPYING IT!!! Thank you Kevin Costner. (of course Code Geass did it wrong, they're supposed to be the disgusting belligerent monsters here, not the foreigners.)

Yet that could have easily been overlooked if this show was good. Hell, if they did half the stuff I was thinking they were going to do I would have loved this show and not given a damn about any national subtext or anything, but the characters never broaden in the way they needed to, the enemies have no redeeming qualities which makes it hard for me to care about the conflict, the story rushes forward without a care for continuation or sanity, secondary characters pop up with little use to the overall narrative, Pizza hut logos are everywhere, there will pop up a "light-heated" episode where everyone becomes stupid and do stupid things for stupid reasons, Zeros going around in a school uniform and NO ONE thinks to try and find where the uniform comes from, and the overall conclusion just feels..........hollow. I can't describe it in better terms, the show just ends the exact way you imagine it would and any emotion or feeling they could have been trying to evoke upon you is lost by how the show basically points to that as the conclusion.

Sadly I was looking forward to this show, after hearing so much praise for it and seeing screen shots I went in with an open mind. The art is beautiful, the music overall is well-done, the animation, though rushed at point, moves smoothly and soundly, the mecha designs are interesting and the action scenes are intense and nicely done. Everything was there to make a good Anime, but something fell through and they decided to take the easy way out, which is sad to say the least. For what it did right it was decent but for what it did wrong I can't sit by and give it a good review. a 6.

Whew boy is this long! well, either way that's all I'm saying. I know it's opinions and everyone has opinions, but I'm smart, smarter then you, so I'm right :-D

5/10 story
8/10 animation
7.5/10 sound
5/10 characters
6/10 overall