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