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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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?