Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 [2008-2009] Season 2. 25 Episodes

code_geass_zero_01

Code Geass returns for a second season with a twist -actually with too many twists.  Those of season one were balanced out by moments of release.  A roller coaster’s twists are fun because there are contrasted by sections of straight track.  Constant twists would be little more than nauseating.  In Code Geass R2 the constant twists served to detract form the overall experience encouraging less investment and eventually mild apathy for most of the characters.

Does she really like him?  Or is her secret wish from season 1 a desire to be likked by LeLouch.

Does she really like him? Will they smooch?  Or is her secret wish a desire to be killed by LeLouch?  Sadly it is a the latter, and the kind of downer twists you will get all season long. (You need counseling girl.)

Now a challenging one-sentence synopsis:  In a world dominated by the empire of Britainia a young prince of that empire fights against it for revenge and the hope of a better world for his sister with the aid a mysterious power that bends people’s will but along the way his rebellion will cause millions of deaths and the destruction of nearly all he holds dear as the price for freedom.

Just another day striving for world peace.

Technically Code Geass R2 is high quality.  The mecha are reasonably consistent, evolve and engage in action usually fun and interesting especially earlier on when supported by plot you could get behind.  The battles often made strategic sense for that was one of the selling points of the series and its lead character’s abilities.

More infrequent that season 1. the episodes still occasionally excelled at compelling strategic battles.

Less frequent than season 1, Code Geass R2 still occasionally excelled at compelling strategic battles.

While you may have been a strategic genius LeLouch, you really need to hit the cardio harder.

While you may be a strategic genius LeLouch, you really need to hit the cardio harder.

Artistically the character design is top notch.  The female characters were a pleasure to behold and the male characters varied and interesting.  The outfits were flattering and sometimes quite detailed.

Kallen seen here in one of the only shots not depicting her brows knit together in anger or intensity - or both.

Kallen seen here in one of the only shots the entire season not depicting her brows knit together in anger, intensity – or both.  (If the latter sounds like one of your dates, it is time to break up.)

Check out the detailed braid in Cornelia's hair.

Check out the detailed braid in Cornelia’s hair.  (Those hair twist products you see advertised on daytime TV really work!)

The animation quality is superb for a show of this kind.  Non-mecha action scenes were smooth and the characters moved with a well planned grace.  High kicking knights and fast moving ninja were all handled with equal aplomb.

Your secret is finally out Sayoko.  You are not just a maid, you are a - ninja!?

Your secret is finally out Sayoko. You are not just a maid, you are a – ninja!?

However those good qualities could not staunch eventual frustration as one character after another was twisted, killed or both.  Some were brought back amazingly -and killed again, yet sometimes still not dead.  Others died unexpectedly, quickly or ingloriously (sometimes all of the above) which left you wondering whether to cheer or mourn.  Some of us eventually did neither, but rather grumbled at the constant “gotcha” moments.

We liked Diethard.  He was different.  A savvy media thinker.  The fall and inglorious death of this character was uncalled for.

We liked Diethard. He was different. A savvy media thinker. The fall and inglorious death of this character was uncalled for.  (Even for a network executive.)

Toudou was the stoic no-nonsense character you could get behind.  Not only did he have the squintiest eyes in the series, but he died twice and still lived to have a happy ending.

Toudou was the stoic no-nonsense character you could get behind. Not only did he have the squintiest eyes in the series, but he died twice and still lived to have a happy ending.

Good characters you got behind turned bad and bad characters good.  However they were at least understood.  Many others went back and forth so many times that we just did not care anymore.  Characters that were sympathetic became less so until so unlikeable that you actually wanted them to “get it”.

While the emperor was always a baddie, we believe they actually wanted us to feel sympathy for LeLouch's mother Marianne at first.  Before they turned her unsympathetic.

The emperor was bad, but even Lelouch’s mother turned out to be an unsympathetic disappointment. At least the two were atomized from the bottom up, insuring a contrived but dramatic exit.

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The episodes started fun and went downhill from there.  Nearly every episode’s victory was stepped on by an undermining twist.  The formula of establishment, tension and then release was interrupted too many times and eventually we grew weary of the manipulation.

Zero gets the award for most dramatic pose since Ash Ketchum won his first Pokemon gym badge.

Zero gets the award for most dramatic pose since Ash Ketchum won his first Pokemon gym badge.

ash badge

The additional evolutions and additions to the mechs kept them fresh and exciting.

The additional evolutions and additions to the mechs kept them fresh and exciting.  (And knowing how to strike a pose in one’s mech is key to being an ace pilot.)

However we were invested in many of the supporting cast, so could not help but still care as they were forced into contrived alliances which pitted them against others you also were once behind. When determining who to root for requires a guidebook, calculator or star chart a drama is too muddled for its own good.

Fetching Villetta wonders which side she is on.

Fetching Villetta wonders which side she is on.

Enigmatic Zero actually wonders which side HE is on.

Enigmatic Zero actually wonders which side HE is on.

When you take the desire to root for one side out of a otherwise great action scene you rob it of the key ingredient that makes it memorable and exciting,  Without it the scene just becomes a technical exercise.

When they wanted they could sure build up the enjoyable tension in a mech battle.  This one from season two episode 6 is well worth watching.

On occasion they built up the enjoyable tension in a mech battle scene like the days of old. This one from season two episode 6 is well worth watching.  (Ace pilot Kallen doing what ace pilots do – striking a dramatic pose in her mech Guren.)

Sometimes the plot bogged down in pretentious philosophical nonsense, other times strange occurrences were poorly explained.  Many people ( perhaps too many) now had different versions of geass powers, and there was a geass realm -neither of which were explained to clarity.

They did spend a lot of time with Milly.  It was one of the few characters that got treated consistently and consistently well.

They did spend a lot of time with Milly. It was one of the few characters that got treated consistently and consistently well.  (Being a class president in Japan is akin to ULTIMATE POWER!)

Code Geass often still manages to entertain despite many characters taking turns annihilating huge numbers of people.  It mattered little if they were “bad guys” or “good guys”.  Those who enjoyed season one view season two with caution.

Ocean one; Battleship zero.

The score?  Ocean one; Battleship zero.

Check out our take on Code Geass R1 (season one).

See more Kallen in Top Ten Animated Pics Vol 01.