Code Geass R2 Midseason Retrospective (The Good, The Bad And The ????)

Let Me Just Put On My Judge’s Wig….There We Go

Since we are roughly at the mid point of Code Geass R2 as far as we know I thought I’d take a moment to step back and look at where we are in the series by going over the points I feel have been well done as well as those I think have not been handled very well.  Normally I shy away from this type of thing, but lately I’m feeling pressured to stand up and make my less positive views (things I would normally keep to myself until the end of it’s run) on the series known with taunts of fanboy greeting me far more often then I would imagine seeing for a person just arguing a neutral standpoint.  I hope by the end of this people who think I’m a fanatic might see what I am really about.

First the good:

– Lots of progress in the overall quest that is Lelouch’s war with Britannia.  Yes while nothing has gone down in the area of him actually carrying out his final struggle, Lelouch in a mere 11 episodes has gone from being absolutely powerless, to regaining control of the organization he has helped build and seen it grow to include over a million supporters and a strong ally in Tian Zi and Li’s Chinese Federation.  He’s poised to launch his attack now, but whether that happens soon or not remains to be seen.

– Interesting character growth for Lelouch.  When we started this series he was like a single-minded introverted genius boy with a major “I hate daddy” and siscon complex.  As his organization has grown, so has his stable of personal beliefs to include notions of justice, equality, trust and even dare I say it love.  In other words he is changing a lot, adding new ideas on how to deal with people and not making the same mistakes he used to make.  Gone is the person that liked to dominate and control everything and he is replaced with a person who at least has a semblance of trying to see eye to eye with other people and treat them as equals.

– Interesting character development for Suzaku.  Gone is the idealist who tries to make everyone happy and he is replaced with a man obsessed with duty and servitude to the Emperor above all else.   Essentially he seems to have taken on the negative character traits that Lelouch has shed and doesn’t seem to care who gets in his way in his race to become the Knight of One.  Now that quest seems a little empty given Nunally’s governorship so it seems he’s more interested in capturing Zero and finding out if it’s Lelouch still.  His fall from grace has been one of the more interesting character stories this season.  It’s rare you see a character actually start of squeaky clean and borderline flawless and start to take on flaws start to make mistakes and lose himself in his own goals.

–  Interesting symbolism.  Chess is still used frequently as a tool to convey the measure of the men in the series, but there are also things like the tower of babel’s fall heralding the reverse result on the hero of the story compared to Nimrod’s fate in the actually biblical tale, the locket, Lelouch as a moses type figure leading an exodus, and in many cases the mecha reflecting the personality of the pilots themselves.  There are loads more symbolic touchs in the series, but it would take to much time to list them all.  I just like them is all.

– Some good new characters (key word being some).  My personal favourite new character has been Li Xing-Ke who shares a similar fate with Lelouch and functions as a sort Chinese counterpart to him.  So far he’s also been the most developed new character in that he’s actually been given a back story, lots of screentime and has had the most effect on the series so far.  Rolo has also been interesting as a character, given a backstory and has been of use a few time as well.  He’s also kind of a tragic character in that he spent most of his life as an assassin while really just looking for a place where he can settle down.  He pretty much seems to have accepted his new life with Lelouch and the academy as well.  A very unusal if interesting character.

– Finally the outside world.  Yes we have finally left Japan for at least an arc and really it’s interesting to see that the rest of the world isn’t necessarily any better off then they are.  From what we see of China it seems that the citizenry is treated just as badly by the corrupt governing body as Area 11 is by Britannia.  In fact it’s arguable that they are even worse off then Area 11 because the Eunuch’s care nothing for the common people and treat them as nothing more than ants….and these are their own people.  On the other hand Britannia has people like Schneizel who while a conqueror seems to at least consider the common people and whether they support him and are happy or not.  Likewise we saw a contrast with Japan where while they are treated like second class citizens in their own country, there is at least a limited chance at social mobility in the honorary Britannian system and some governor generals like Nunally and Euphemia have even tried to grant them their own territory.  It just puts an interesting new perspective on the Geass world and gives Britannia a less evil empire look to it.

And Now The Bad:

– Lame Knight of Rounds.  The inclusion of Anya Earlstraim and Gino Weinberg has been something of a tough sell for me.  Anya so far up to episode 10 has basically been in the story to function as loli bait for the lolicon crowd and while she is showing signs of having more to her then meets the eye in episode 11, for the majority of the series she’s just sort of been there.  Gino is even worse and I honestly challenge anybody to justify how the story would be any different with or without him.  I don’t see the point of him at all.

– Rather one dimensional new antagonists.  So far we’ve seen some rather one dimensional villains that Lelouch has squared off against this season.  Carares was just a complete brute with no talents as a leader, and the Eunuch’s were just a greedy and corrupt group of fools and cowards who were nothing without the support of Schneizel and Li.  Schneizel so far has been the only compelling antagonist, but Lelouch hasn’t really faced him head to head in anything other then a chess match for exhibition.  I would really like to see a villain that is more than just a stepping stone for Lelouch of the calibre of Cornelia who gave him 15+ episodes worth of trouble and had more depth and character development then any villain fought in Season 2 so far.

– Knight of Rounds being used as comic relief.  I don’t know, I’ve just found that Lelouch’s Knight of Rounds crew has had a serious drop in….well seriousness.  Karen is still a strong character who has had a lot of impact on Lelouch’s growth, but Diethard has basically done little but get humiliated by Kaguya and Laksharta, Laksharta has delievered new Knightmare frames and then proceeded to pose playboy style on a couch, Tamaki is just annoying and loud with no other character trait but that,  Asahina is a bit of a non-entity really and C.C has almost been reduced to a bit of a symbol more than anything who makes sarcastic remarks and hugs her Cheese Kun doll.  Other then episode 1 and part of episode 11 she’s basically had no real impact on the plot.  Toudou is the only Black Knight character other than Karen I’ve found who has had a significant contribution to the series in rallying support behind Zero, questioning his motives, dispensing sound advice, fighting the good fight in battle and basically maintainng all around discipline.  So yeah I’d hope to see a little less Kaguya-centric silliness (It almost seems like she’s running the show now and not Lelouch, Ougi and Toudou) from the Black Knight crew and more duty, focus and action.

– Pizza Hut product placement.  This has always been an issue for me and this seasons no different.  Really and truly I lament this sponsorship tie in because I don’t really give a rats ass about Cheese-Kun or who can make the worlds Pizza.  Sure it’s opened the door for the pretty amusing episode 05, but really I’m sick of looking at Cheese-Kun plastered everywhere and C.C using at as beanbag/cuddle toy.  I don’t want it okay Sunrise/Bandai/Pizza Hut Ltd.  I don’t want you Cheese-Kun doll.

– A few too many open plot points.  The series has scenes that essentially look out of place that are put in episodes and then brought up several episodes later to no real resolution again that make us wonder at their importance.  Things like the Sword of Akasha sequences and V.V and Jeremiah in the desert.  Many have come and gone and their significance has been confirmed, but just as many not so much.  There’s also still a lot left to do in a short time.  We need to deal with the Geass cult, Introduce the rest of the Knight of Rounds, find out the mystery of Anya, rescue Karen, find some closure at Ashford and deal with Britannia.  And those are just off the top of my head.  I can see several being done in the next episode, but the Geass cult and Britannia proper should take at least 3-5 episodes each if they are the sole focus of their respective episodes.  It can be done, but I imagine something has to give at some point that is going to be upsetting to some specific group of fans.  My hope is that if something gets shortchanged it’s the Knight of Rounds.  The only really important ones seem to be Suzaku and Anya so just leave it at that.  11 episodes of Gino to nothing makes me not really worry if it’s the same for the other 9.

So In Conclusion:

Code Geass R2 has been fairly solid to me up this mid-season and maintains it’s above average appeal, but there is lots of room for improvement and things I just don’t really care for at all.  Going into the second half I ask, nigh beg for a little less “comedy” and more serious business (the actual serious business and not the stupid internet put down) being conducted by Lelouch and crew.  The time for comedy should hopefully end with episode 12.  I guess that translates into the overall series being about a 7.5/10 for me thus far.  And if anybody thinks I believe Code Geass is a masterpiece you can throw that notion right out the window, I just happen to enjoy it a more than the average show.  Thank you and good night.


12 Responses to “Code Geass R2 Midseason Retrospective (The Good, The Bad And The ????)”

  1. 1 Camario June 24, 2008 at 3:54 am

    Normally I wouldn’t expect to read this kind of thing until the inevitable opening and ending song changes and what not, which will happen soon enough so it’s not a huge difference, but this perspective is interesting in its own right.

    Curiously enough, my own overall score for R2’s first half is actually looking like either a low 8 or a high 7, depending on how the next couple of episodes turn out, which is pretty much in the same range as your 7.5 for most purposes.

    It’s true that there has been a fair amount of progress in terms of getting Zero back into becoming a credible threat for Britannia by building his strength, and Lelouch did get some character development, though I’m not too happy about how the last arc was executed, including both the departure from Area 11 and the subsequent return. Some good to decent ideas, not the best implementation,

    Suzaku’s still a little too squeaky clean at times, though we did get so see some rougher edges as well.

    I agree about Gino and Anya. He’s not really necessary plus she’s still loli bait, at least until we got to see she had a mysterious connection to Lelouch and the Geass side of the plot.

    Ironically enough, I’m one of those who think Cornelia, while a good character, outlived her original usefulness for the plot and thus Schneizel could have come in sooner than he did, which would have given him more time to shine as well (also why I wished the last battle in the China arc would give him something more to do than what we got). I really wonder what she’s going to do in R2.

    If the show wants to develop the Black Knights somewhat, as an organization, an interesting scenario would be to give them some screen time while Lelouch’s back in Ashford, instead of just leaving them waiting for his return. Kallen’s fate is also somewhat undecided.

    I’ve never really been bothered by the Pizza stuff.

    The too many plot points things is sadly still true. I’m fairly sure most of them will be resolved, but I’d question the quality of those solutions, given the sheer number of things we need to go over.

    I’d take your the Knight of Rounds and add in Ashford, as far as shortchanging things goes. That side of the plot should begin to finally fade into the background after the next few episodes, with some luck, in time for the last 12 even.

  2. 2 sadakups June 24, 2008 at 4:10 am

    “And if anybody thinks I believe Code Geass is a masterpiece you can throw that notion right out the window, I just happen to enjoy it a more than the average show. Thank you and good night.”

    I, for one, never considered Code Geass to be an anime masterpiece. If anything, it satiates my hunger for good mecha battles and some intriguing plot. Anything else between that is nothing to me. 😛

    As for R2’s first half, I admit I got bored with it. Each episode wasn’t on a consistent high. My only wish is everything gets resolved and ends in Episode 25.

  3. 3 masterkeyes2 June 24, 2008 at 6:02 am

    Code Geass an anime masterpiece? For me I would say yes, but then again this series just happens to land on my tastes. My only complaints being the over-used amount of fan-service and Sunrises turn to aerial battles with mecha.

  4. 4 Random Guy June 24, 2008 at 6:31 am

    Around a high 6/low 7 for me, since it’s been mostly a disappointment. The one thing I find lacking is how the plot isn’t really pushing the agenda of what was introduced in the first season. I know you hate Jason, but he does bring up a good point: ‘What is CC doing in R2 these days?’ Nothing really absolutely groundbreaking in the last 11 episodes besides act as otaku bait.

    I guess I was probably disappointed because I was expecting so much from the director himself. Due to this, I guess I expected too much from Code Geass. It’s much more entertaining than Gasaraki, Planetes and Infinite Ryvius but the shadowy plot/character interactions, I think, was done much, much better in those shows than in Code Geass. Instead of a slow and consistent journey, I feel Geass is like a public bus trip where there are constant, abrupt breaks from start to finish.

    I completely agree with most of what you just wrote. Still I can’t find myself to accept Rollo. He seems to be just there acting as the obligatory shota, like Luca in Macross Frontier, and as a potential plot tool to get Zero out of trouble if the writing team runs out of ideas. The Indian counterpart to Lloyd seems to, unfortunately, serve a similar purpose.

  5. 5 Camario June 24, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Gasaraki’s not really a good example, since he was merely assistant director and thus not the main guy calling the shots there. Planetes was a different kind of story -a manga adaptation-, and so was Infinite Ryvius, for that matter.

    One of the differences is that those series were not really commercially successful. Something tells me that if Code Geass had been either just a 25 episode show or had ran for 50 episodes straight through, the pacing and flow would have been much better, without having to create a sequel that more or less had to start back at the beginning and introduce some new elements of uneven value.

    It’s blatantly obvious for anyone, not just Jason, that C.C.’s not doing much so far, but it does look like she may get do something more important after what we saw last episode. She had her Geass-related interaction with Anya, V.V. and Jeremiah appear to be in China and so is she, etc.

  6. 6 Kaioshin Sama June 24, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    Okay the thing with Jason is that he tends to point out the extremely obvious as if it were a brand spanking new discovery. And it’s not that I hate him per se, but rather his writing style which looks like he’s writing it as he’s thinking without bothering to filter it in the process. This creates a series of non sequitir sentences and incoherent/unfinished ideas that is pretty much unreadable to a person like me. It’s kind of offensive in and of itself.

    At times you can indeed see Bandai’s hand reaching into Code Geass a little, like with the rapid deployment of all the new mecha this season. Now that Shinkirou and them are all introduced I think we’re going to see them finally get to do something worthwhile instead of just show up, open fire, run away and then the battle will end with a stroke of genius from Lelouch or Li.

    As for the Public Bus Trip with lots of stops and breaks, I think that’s the result of the cliffhanger endings. It’s not just that they are cliffhanger endings, but that every episode pretty much ties into the next one in a continuing narrative. Code Geass is the kind of series that begs to be watched in a marathon and not as it’s airing because every episode comes to a very abrupt halt due to the unending flow of the story. There’s no “And 3 weeks later” at the beginning of each episode, nor does each episode feature a self-contained story (this was more common in the first season) so it can be very jarring to see things end so quickly.

    This is kind of a Sunrise standard though, because when the last 10 seconds aren’t seguing into the ending cliffhanger style ala Gundam Seed and 00, there’s just some stuff going on and *Snaps fingers* that’s it, out of time for the week, time just suddenly stops and the credits pop up and next week we pick up almost right where we left off. Take this weeks episode for example, “Pleased to meet you senpai”, “Sure thing”, *Click* and boom there’s the ending. To be continued…….

  7. 7 masterkeyes2 June 25, 2008 at 4:20 pm


    “Code Geass is the kind of series that begs to be watched in a marathon and not as it’s airing because every episode comes to a very abrupt halt due to the unending flow of the story.”

    Could it be that was Sunrise is trying to achieve is suspense for the next episode? This is how the entertainment does things, video games, anime, television, movies with sequels; they (the producers) want to build up hype for the next episode, movie, installment ect. Ending with a cliffhanger ensures makes it so the viewer will want to come back next week.

    As for the arguement of Sunrises pacing with the series…well it only has 25 episodes a season and personally I am glad they are skipping some filler to move on to more important plot points.

  8. 8 Myssa Rei June 26, 2008 at 8:43 am

    Code Geass continues to entertain, as I’ve noted in a few other places, but I’d probably enjoy it more with better and tighter pacing, less detours (plot and logical! — a communist China with eunuchs being the power behind the throne of a loli Imperial figurehead!), and more focus on the ‘main’ plotline.

  9. 9 Kaioshin Sama June 26, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Well he does kind of need a large ally and China was the closest super power. And I guess they felt if a massive empire with architecture that looks like something out of an idealized vision of Camelot in the future was acceptable then a China based on the Romance of The Three Kingdoms period was acceptable too.

  10. 10 Myssa Rei June 26, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    We’re headed back to Ashford though for the next few episodes. I really hope they use the return jaunt to resolve something, instead of, y’know, just placing the characters in less serious/wacky situations.

  11. 11 Gsus June 28, 2008 at 5:35 pm


    I’d agree that cliffhangers are a good way to keep viewers tuned untill the next episode, but Code Geass’ cliff hangers have been rather… anti-climactic.

    Suzaku: I’ve got a call for you Lelouch.
    Lelouch: Nunally!
    *cliff hanger*
    Next Episode:
    Rolo: Surprise! ZA WARUDO!

    Rolo: I’ve come to kill Zero.
    Geass lighting up…
    *cliff hanger*
    Next Episode:
    Lelouch: Surprise! I’m not there.

    A good cliffhanger and it’s resolution should move the plot forward, not stall it. A better example would be Euphie’s declaration of the SER in the first season or the Mexican standoff between Lelouch and Rolo.

    Code Geass: Good mecha action, fairly welldone characters, but the constant teasing and deus ex machinas will leave your head spinning.

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