Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion

Alt title: Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch

TV (25 eps)
2006 - 2007
Fall 2006
4.366 out of 5 from 73,057 votes
Rank #80

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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Story 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.


StoryIn 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.AnimationThis 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.SoundThe 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.CharactersWhile 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.OverallCode 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."


Wanna hear a joke?  What do you get when you combine all of the currently existing anime fandoms with bipolar characters, frenetic pacing, and a Pizza Hut commercial?  That's right!  You get Code Geass, the most evil show ever created by man.Now, it may come off as disingenuous to give an incredibly popular show such as this such a low rating.  How could this show do so well if it was this horrible?  My reasoning is that most people are gullible morons who will absolutely eat up the cliches, fanwank, and rushed pacing.  Er... except you, of course.  Let's explore:-STORY-The plot of Code Geass revolves around Lelouch, an oddly named adolescent who appears to have a sever case of multiple personality disorder.  Within the first two episodes, Lelouch gains a superpower, saves a mysterious girl, gets into a mech battle, kills the president, and becomes leader of an underground resistance movement, and starts wearing a cape and a giant magic eight ball on his head.  I hope that gives you some idea of the freakishly fast pacing of this show.  The plot does not have any room to breath, simply jumping from one major plot point to another.Code Geass feels like it was designed by a committee.  No, it actually feels like it was designed by several committees composed of basement-dwelling otakus, each working on separate unrelated shows, who realized at the last minute that they could only create one, and thusly combined all of the ideas into the trainwreck that is Code Geass.  It seems scientifically formulated to appeal to as wide an audience as physically possible.  Do you like mecha shows?  Well Code Geass has plenty of giant fighting robots!  Do you like school comedies?  Yes, it has that too!  Action, yuri, drama, comedy, magic, super powers, ecchi, fantasy, incest, love triangles, martial arts, secret identities, military, anti-heros, political intrigue, psychological, harem, sci-fi, shonen, yaoi, suspense, thrillers, or war shows?  Well Gode Geass has all of those and more, and crammed together to make the most cliche-saturated piece of garbage ever created.-ANIMATION-As much as I hate to say anything good about Code Geass, the animation genuinely is better than average.  It is crisp, colorful, and has a unique look to it, especially when it comes to the character design.  Admittedly, all of the characters are tall and look bizarrely thin, and all the women have massive chests.  And the animation doesn't exactly fit the mood of the story.  But still, the animation gets the job done, and is pretty pleasant to look at.-CHARACTERS-Okay, now most of the characters in this are pretty bad cliches, but none of them are genuinely terrible.  None, except Lelouch himself.  Lelouch is very clearly the most inconsistant character I have ever seen in any story.  His personality changes from scene to scene, depending on what genre he is working in at the moment.  In one episode he may flit between hardened leader, loving older brother, clever trickster, diabolical mastermind, and distant angsty hero.  Or maybe this is all just a clever act on his part.  But then which one is the real Lelouch?  Is he a tortured soul who cannot act like himself around anyone?  Because if that's the case, the audience is never given any indication that this is all a chore for him.  He seems to just naturally fall into whatever role the script calls for now.  No, I think the more likely explanation is severe brian damage.-OVERALL-No one should ever watch this show ever.  This show represents everything that is wrong with anime.  No!  It represents everything that is wrong with storytelling in general.  It has no original ideas of it's own, and only exists to appeal to people who are fanatics about anime and genuinely enjoy watching these cliches pan out.  And if you are one of those people, at least watch a show that focuses on whatever your specific anime kink is.  Don't jump to this schizophrenic show that combines all of the anime cliches into one package.  For fuck's sake people!  You know that there are some genuinely entertaining shows out there that aren't simply soulless Frankenstein monsters, combining the severed body parts of dozens of other genres.  You do realize that don't you?Now go watch something that's actually good.

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