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Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion Review

August 7, 2007

story 5.5/10

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion screenshot

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 7.5/10

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 7.5/10

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 4.5/10

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 6/10

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."

Anime Info

In 2010, the Britannian Empire enslaved Japan using powerful mecha known as Knightmares; in the aftermath Japan was renamed Area 11, and its people began a hard and terrible existence. Lelouch, a Britannian student living in Area 11, has grown up hating the Empire and everything it stands for. One day, in the middle of a terrorist attack, Lelouch meets a mysterious girl who grants him the ability to control minds. Can he use his new power to fight for freedom, or will his hatred twist his good intentions into mindless acts of vengeance?


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comments

HERPDERPHURR avatar HERPDERPHURR
Nov 18, 2012

meh, having a large assortment of characters was one of the good qualities

I recommend Code Geass greatly

default avatar AgnesCastro
Sep 20, 2012

I disagree with your review, Code Geass is one of the most amazing anime I ever saw. Yes, the characters are not "sympathetic characters", the anime is not funny and the story is a little confusing, because of political and mind things and not because "The moment you begin to follow one plotline, the series has immediately cut to a different one happening simultaneously". Another things is that the the of the secondary character have not been developt, but the main story (plot) of Lelouch is very good and very well developed, but to fully understand the whole story is advisable to watch the second season.

NicoNicoDesu avatar NicoNicoDesu
Aug 3, 2012

I can never understand why everyone seems to LUUUUUUUUV "Code Geass." It strikes me as not achieving it's intention--where "Death Note" showed that "absolute power corrupts absolutely," "Code Geass" didn't have the guts, so they ended up proving that "absolute power corrupts... kind of?"

coolyfooly avatar coolyfooly
May 12, 2012

I agree with the review from what ive seen so far. Don't get me wrong it started out fine, the whole lone resistance guy and all that.  And though a lil odd in his super suit lol, it worked.  But then it just started to damn well DRAG.

I am so inexplicably sick and tired of the battle of freindships. It's a war, im sorry but the enemy has to die, you can't just withdrawl again and again and again. And the whole we may be enemys on the battlefield but we're just kids at school? You you screwn with me?  Not only that their isn't even any drive for his idiotic freind.  Zero has his reason. He's pissed and rightfully so.  His freind sounds like a god damn politician in the US senete trying to tripple talk to me his views. Grow a god damn spine.  So as you can see the characters for what backround they do have, piss me off alot.

Then theirs the story itself. I shit you not I feel as though the last 10 episodes have been 1 singular run on episode. Ok I get it, I get your views, I get your goal, now how about you take ur ass and advance of that goal. Quit pussyfootn around with it.  I'm nearly done with it, but I find it's really hard to bring myself to actually go back and start watching the next episode.   

I started watching because all I kept hearing was this show was in the ranks of epic. Alongside the original fma, fmp, e7, all them.  Well I don't know the hell glue those people were huffing cause this is a 3.5/5 at best.  And I don't play the it gets better game. When 23 episodes in you feel like the anime failed, it failed.

Kokabiel avatar Kokabiel
Mar 18, 2012

Unlike most people who don't concur with your review, I completely see where you are coming from with most of your points. The cast IS too big. I don't particularly agree with your concerns vis a vis the plot, but understand why you would have them. I would actually lower the animation score a bit, simply because I found the character designs a bit too generic. They didn't look bad, but they didn't grab me either. 

However, it does feel like you are ignoring some important points. First of all, you fail to comment at all on the worldbuilding the show does, which is one of its strongest aspects. The ability of a show to both have a coherent storyline and be able to create a detailed alternate universe is the sign of competent writing. 

Regarding character development, I will give you your point, to a certain extent. I do feel that Lelouch, Kallen, and to a lesser degree Cornelia and Suzaku developed over the series. I do feel that the four above were fleshed out (even if they couldn't figure out what to do with Suzaku's character), and that although most of the others were base characters, they were FUN base characters. Why does every single character in a cast HAVE to be fully 3D in order to be an enjoyable character? Sure, you could have done more with C.C. for example, but they did do a little, and honestly I liked her regardless.

I think you might have liked it if the character development was overt- that it was something obvious to the viewer. And most people do prefer that kind of character development. But I do feel that if you look at Lelouch from the beginning of the series to the end, he has gone through an arc. If most of the characters have not gone through a complete arc, it's because Code Geass isn't a complete story.

And it just feels like you can't complain about the fact that not everybody is fleshed out AND complain about the plot "jumping around" (Which I feel you do exaggerate). It's unfair to the show, and it's you wanting to have your cake and eat it too. 

That's everything that comes to mind that I don't concur with. There might be more in there, but it doesn't come to me at the moment. 

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