This show is odd for me. On one hand, it has the nostalgia factor of being one of the first anime I ever watched. On the other, I can’t say that the nostalgia factor does any good things for it.
Because I hated this show even when I first watched it.
Code Geass: LeLouch of the Rebellion may be one of the worst sci-fi anime I have ever watched. The plot is far too long and nonsensical, the characters too numerous and all of them are underwritten, and the action is terribly choreographed and forgettable. If not for the decent character designs, nice animation and fantastic opening, then I’d have dropped the show after the first few episodes.
Sorry to shit on a classic. But I’m not being a contrarian just for the sake of it, I swear!
Plot: I’ll Take Over the World, I Guess
Talking about the plot of Code Geass is pretty challenging. Mostly because, as it goes on, it quickly becomes worse and worse!
LeLouch is your totally average high school student: highly intelligent, extremely popular, and rich as hell. But his life is about to spiral out of control when he gets caught up in a battle between the government and a terrorist organization. Here, he meets a mysterious girl who gives him the power of Geass, which allows him to force anyone to do as he wants. With this power, he wages war against the government of Britannia to make a better world for his paralyzed sister.
Conceptually, this isn’t a bad story. Sure, our main character isn’t the most deep or interesting. But in terms of a sci-fi civil war story? It could be really cool! But the plot starts to fall apart almost immediately!
And it only gets worse as time goes on!
As the story gets going, they start piling on the plot twists to the point that it completely falls apart. LeLouch and his sister are actually royalty! Her disabilities were caused by a Geass power! LeLouch flip-flops between being a hero and a villain so often that it hurts your head! New characters with crucial hands in the backstory of the world and characters are introduced on the fly, making the story a complete disaster from past to present.
But that isn’t nearly as bad a problem as the characters. None of the cast are exceptionally interesting or memorable! Some have one-note personalities, such as: the pretty girl who loves LeLouch, the girl with a hot streak that secretly loves LeLouch, the younger boy who admires and secretly loves LeLouch and, the most memorable of all: the best friend who secretly loves LeLouch!
What about those who don’t love LeLouch, you ask? Simple! They get so little screen time that you’ll be forgiven for forgetting that they exist! They’re so unimportant that they may as well not even be there! But the show will still expect you to shed a tear when they get the axe!
Worst of all is LeLouch himself. As mentioned earlier, he is never consistent. Some episodes, he’s a really nice guy who works tirelessly to make the world a better place, even if he has to do some bad things along the way. Other times, he’s a horrible monster man who unnecessarily does the most horrible shit imaginable to get the job done. Then, at the end of the series, it’s revealed that it was all part of the plan and that he was secretly a martyr the entire time!
Was this setup in any way? Nope. But you can shut your brain off and just accept it, right? You clearly have already, if you survived all the way to the end of the series without suffering a brain aneurysm!
Presentation: Smooth Like Colorful Butter
To be fair, this show does look pretty good.
The animation is actually really nice. It’s smooth and colorful, especially when the action picks up (even if the fights themselves are super forgettable). There are some cut corners, as you’d expect from an anime. But at no point is the show visually unappealing.
Well… except maybe here.
The character designs are also pretty nice. Each one is simple but memorable, even if the character attached to the drawing is boring or forgettable. They have the classic 90’s anime aesthetic and I can’t bring myself to hate it!
The music is also on the stronger side. The first opening song, ‘Colors’, would boost the OST to god tier status on its own. But all the other tracks are really nice, complimenting the emotion of each scene far better than the characters do.
The visuals of this show are great in almost every respect. It is a nice looking show from episode one to the finale. Now imagine if these visuals were attached to a story and characters that I actually cared about!
Why are dreams so much more painful than nightmares?
Frankly, I don’t know why I watched this show all those years ago. I could tell that something was wrong, even back then. Sure, it looks nice and it has great music. But great visuals can’t make up for a lackluster plot.
If you haven’t watched Code Geass, then I can’t say you’re missing out. I’d recommend against ever watching this show. If you’re looking for a good sci-fi anime, then you’d be better off looking for something else.
But I am a fair man. I do need to point out that this series did give us the most magical thing in the history of the universe.