The 2nd Dimension

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Viewing Journal: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion & R2 (complete)

Series Overview
TV Broadcast Info
DVD Info

Overall= F-
Story = F-
Video = F+
Audio = F

The Empire of Britannia has invaded Japan using giant robot weapons called Knightmare Frames. Japan is now referred to as Area 11, and its people the 11's. A Britannian who was living in Japan at the time, Lelouch, vowed to his Japanese friend Suzaku that he'd destroy Britannia. Years later, Lelouch is in high school, but regularly skips out of school to go play chess and gamble on himself. One day, he stumbles on terrorists 11's who've stolen a military secret and is caught by a member of the Britannian task force sent after them, who is Suzaku. As the rest of the squad arrives, Suzaku is shot for disobeying orders, while the military secret, a young girl, gives Lelouch the power of Geass, which makes anyone obey any order. While Suzaku is secretly made the pilot of Britannia's brand new prototype Knightmare, Lancelot, Lelouch becomes the masked Zero to lead the rebellion to destroy Britannia once and for all. (Source: ANN)
This is the worst show I have ever seen. It is absolute crap. There is nothing good about this show, and in fact it gets worse as you go on.

Now for those of you who have never seen it, go watch the show for yourself -- despite my hatred for it (like you listen to me anyway) -- and DO NOT READ THE REST OF THIS REVIEW. You have been warned.

Okay, for the rest of you, forget all that. (See the end of the review if you're confused.) This show is awesome. In fact, it is one of the most entertaining and unpredictable shows I have seen in... probably ever.

Although, for the first few episodes I was not sure what to think of it. First of all, the whole story revolves around an empire called Britania taking over the world, which essentially seems to be a commentary on how Western civilization is overtaking all other cultures. So right off the bat, I was put off by what essentially seemed to be a criticism of the US. Then you are introduced to all of the characters who all seem like typical anime stereotypes in both design and personality, complete with cheesy dialogue and melodramatic relationships. Of course, you also have the giant robots -- another typical anime staple. So given all this, it's not surprising that the show did relatively poorly in the ratings when it aired on Adult Swim in the US.

But if you can get past all of that and watch more than the first couple episodes, you are in for a wild ride with twists and turns and where each episode is more epic than the last. This is one of the few shows where I genuinely did not know what was going to happen next. And I don't mean unpredictable as in "random chaos". Each twist is actually a reasonable extension of the characters' personalities and is consistent with past events within the story. I don't think I've seen a story filled with so much strategic play between characters, where each character is trying to out-think and/or out-maneuver each other and ends up bringing out a surprise trump card to eliminate the other guy's trump card in a way that makes you jump out of your seat and scream "Yeah, take that bitch!" (which I think I literally did on a number of occasions), since Death Note. But where Death Note's unpredictability ended up causing it to loose focus (although it still kicked ass), with Code Geass, what made it great at the beginning is what makes it great at the end.

Of course, saying that the story stays consistent within it's plot twists does not necessarily mean that it's realistic. In fact, this is a show that is as much about over-the-top grandiose melodrama and action as anything else. Before watching this show, I always thought that the only way to pull off melodrama to this degree was for it to be a sort of self-aware type that is a sort of parody of itself or to balance itself off with subtle genuine drama. But this show pulls the over-the-top version off with to such an uncompromising and unforgiving extreme that it's blown my theory right out of the water. I think the reason that it can pull it off is because it's the type of melodrama that never slows down the story, but in fact spurs the characters on to act and pushes the story forward. Characters' emotions are extreme, leading them to take extreme actions. They know exactly what they want to do and they don't hold back in their effort to achieve what they want regardless of trail of bodies they leave behind them.

And there are stacks of bodies left in the wake of this show. No character is safe. The violence is not horribly graphic, but there is blood a-plenty and there is little build up to when a character dies. People get shot (or whatever) when you least expect it, adding all the more to the unpredictability of the show.

And speaking of consistency, the quality of the art and animation never wavers throughout this show's two seasons -- something that just blew me away. The character designs are as dramatic as the characters themselves. And everything from the lines to the colors are crystal clear and clean. I have not seen a series look this good for this many episodes -- well, probably ever. It's certainly not ground-breaking artistry, but it's not meant to be. It's the kind of visuals that support the story perfectly.

The same with the music. I'm not going to rush out to buy the soundtrack individually, but it does it's job of supporting the emotion and action of the show itself perfectly.

So with all this perfection, does the ending of the story hold up. I say, hell yes. There were so many times where I THOUGHT the show was going to end disappointingly (because I thought there would be less episodes then there actually were) but it just kept on going until it reached its final appropriate and altogether satisfying conclusion.

And honestly, I could go on and on about the different elements in Code Geass -- like the mecha and their increasingly more powerful weaponry, or the origin of the power of Geass or the key relationship between LeLouche and Suzaku and whatever else I'm forgetting. But this show is just so chalk-full of awesomeness that I could not believe that it went on for as long as it did. Although I'm sure I'm building it up way too much for anyone that has not seen it yet. Obviously I had low expectations when I watched it so I'm sure that contributed to the level of surprise that I experienced throughout it's run. So I suppose I may have just ruined the experience for anyone who has not seen it yet. So forget everything I said, this show sucks. In fact, maybe I should put a disclaimer at the beginning as a warning to those who haven't seen it yet. And I should change my "grades" up there too. And speaking of which, here's my real ratings:

Overall= A
Story = A
Video = B+
Audio = B


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