Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (Code Geass) is a well paced, high-quality endeavor. It does well in the action and design categories, and okay in the the emotional content and plot categories.
Code Geass is a serious show dealing with serious political issues and war. We did not get too many warm fuzzies. Characters will die, especially in and around the season finale. The producers also took their own show a little too seriously. Each episode’s recap/intro is accompanied by narration which is obtuse, self-important and liberally throws around deep sounding phrases like “atoning for sin”.
That aside the show beings a lot to the table. The action has been tactically thought out and that is communicated clearly to the viewer. The mechs are fun to watch and engage in interesting ways. Part of the technology of Code Geass involves offense grappling hooks. They seem strange for a moment but you get used to them fast enough. Diversity in the mech category usually comes in the “prototype” variety. Yup, another super-mech trashing the regular ones.
We thought a key strength of this series was the long lanky character design. (You will be hard pressed to find a single overweight person in the entire series.) You get used to it quickly, and before you know it you like it. Then you start to relish each obviously crafted shot of good looking characters in fitted outfits. They actually got better at this as the season progressed.
Where Code Geass did not fare as well was in the area of story and plot. The half hour episodes held up well enough. However the overall progression of interconnected characters, factions, government entities and desires often wove a web over such a wide area that it was too thin to walk upon. “Okay, this one is a duke; this one a half-sister related to that mother who was killed by… who?”
Okay, here is our patented one sentence synopsis for Code Geass – and if you have watched this show you know how hard this is: In a future world dominated by a new British empire a wronged young royal takes the guise of a mysterious rebel leader and using a special new power to control minds unites the freedom fighters in Japan against their imperial oppressors so that he may eventually destroy the empire and avenge his mother. Whew.
Unfortunately the show splits your viewer allegiance on many fronts. This may be the its biggest deficit. Who you root for gets very muddy. You want to root for the wronged royal “Zero” who is the star, but he skirts along the dark side too much. You could root for the earnest true hearted friend – but he is fighting against the rebels for the bad empire.
They also cause this splitting in regards to the romances. They set up many potential couples that you may indeed want to see unite, but in the end only a few of the many possibilities will make it, and that leads to disappointment. Some characters are set up with misplaced emotions. Some are enmeshed in love triangles… ah squares… I mean pentagons actually. The emotional quandaries for viewers detract from the whole.
Despite the complex plot and multiple characters which take extra concentration to follow, and the questions you think could have been answered in 25 episodes but are not, Code Geass is definitely worth watching. We would have preferred more of a season ending – because it leaves you in a unhappy place. However they knew they were coming back for season 2.