Here is the continuation of my Code Geass review. I will score this season individually as well as combine both scores at the end. Having said that, let’s get it on! Let’s do it!
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2
Director: Goro Taniguchi
Genre: Alternate history, Drama, Mecha, Sci-fi, Supernatural
Before I delve into Code Geass R2, I have to do what I promised in my review of R1– I haven’t yet explained the Geass, and what it really is.
Well, to summarize without spoiling too much, it is the power of the “Kings.” In R1, episode one, C.C. (an immortal witch) makes a contract with Lelouch and dons him a geass. This power allows Lelouch to brainwash any individual after making eye contact with him using the symbol engraved on his cornea. The origin of Geass, it’s effect on Lelouch, how C.C. came to harness its power, and C.C.’s origins are all explained as the story goes along.
C.C. vows to become Lelouch’s ally and aids him in overthrowing The Holy Empire of Britannia. This in turn makes Lelouch’s quest much simpler as he uses Geass to work his way into Britannia, thus establishing The Black Knights.
I suppose at this point it’s inevitable to discuss Code Geass R2 without mentioning spoilers, thus read at your own discretion.
After that nail-biting confrontation between Lelouch and Suzaku was a cliffhanger in R1, episode 25: Zero, that left everyone feverish enough for a heatstroke; Lelouch is leading a “normal” life once more with his new-found “brother” Rolo Lamperouge. After the defeat of the Black Rebellion, Area 11 faces the “correct educational” status which submits the Japanese to even more oppression from the Britannians. Having forgotten his identity and purpose, Lelouch now leads an uneventfully quotidian life, but notices the inhumane treatment of the “numbers.” He is eventually brought to light by C.C.– remembering his alter ego, Zero, Lelouch goes on to finish what he started.
I can safely admit that I found Code Geass R2 more satisfying than R1 for certain reasons I’ll be mentioning throughout this review.
The ideals presented by the characters in Code Geass R2 are strong. It could be said that each character embodies his own ideals. It’s one side against the other. The Black Knights vs Britannia, Lelouch vs Suzaku, justice vs tyranny. And neither side is essentially correct by the way. Both sides fight despite having uncertainty in their actions. They fight for what they believe will make a true “future.”
These ideals were initially brought up in R1, but they weren’t really pushed forward and made prominent. For what I thought was initially self-indulgent, one-sided nihilistic patriotism by director Taniguchi and screenwriter Okochi, turned out to be something much more complex, layered in many different ideas. The show wasn’t supposed to be self-indulgent patriotism for the Japanese (maybe at the beginning….) I mean, since it’s always been the “victims,” the “Elevens” fighting for their rights against the xenophobic Britannians, it’s clear who we are “supposed” to root for in the beginning. But later that line between the good guys and the bad guys is erased to the point of nonexistence. The self-indulgence is replaced by uncertainty, and the nihilism by hope.
Even though Lelouch makes many different decisions on his Black Knights and Zero, he is still able to carry out his ordeals with help from Suzaku and become one of the most excellent protagonists cooked up by Sunrise. After many failed attempts on a volatile, genius, and conflicted protagonist, the people at Sunrise can finally feel free to take a bow and be proud of their bona fide result. There is a good reason as to why they call him “the man of miracles.”
Nunally becomes an important character, by the way. It’s good to see that her ideals are in match with her brother’s. Watch her blossom into a sympathetic character.
Goro Taniguchi and his Midas touch can’t be left behind. Without him, this visionary achievement couldn’t have come to pass. His direction this time around is even more unpredictable than in R1, so it’s only natural that a lot more plot twists and superior storytelling are to be expected. In a handful of episodes, there are some cruel, nail-biting twist endings that will keep you coming back for more and more. Taniguchi crafts his characters with more care and consideration this time around, but having said that, I still found it hard to relate to most of them, yet the end result is satisfying all the same.
In the last few scenes of Code Geass R2, one can really appreciate the damn music. Oh, wow, I shouldn’t say that, because the music is really a blessing in disguise. It really surprised me the way it synced completely well with the situation at hand, and elevated the emotional punch while injecting an extra dose of pathos to an already brilliant conclusion. Hitomi Kuroishi’s and Kotaro Nakagawa’s superlative score comes alive and Taniguchi uses it more effectively here and throughout all of R2. It may have been squandered in R1, but no complaints about Taniguchi’s command of those two very talented composers. And extra praise belongs respectively to Hitomi herself. Her enchanting and gentle vocals are those of angels singing praise to a martyr being born (in the ending that is). Her song “Continued Story” reminded me of the song “Aozora”played in the climax of Air, and just how effectively music can be used to enhance, validate, and make a series so powerful and memorable to the point that certain moments from it are burned forever into our retinas, so that they can be always recalled vividly.
Clamp’s character design always remains excellent, but Clamp’s role in Code Geass R2 is even more unclear. It is true that they are the character designers and their designs are magnificent, as they can be appreciated in both ending sequences. But the roles of some characters (particularly Rolo’s) are very questionable. Also, some new characters introduced in R2 seem a bit unimportant and their actions just completely unnecessary– merely there just for the fanservice (maybe). And unfortunately, I only noticed this in the guys. There is one scene that really made me question their involvement in the series….. It involves Lelouch and Rolo and what seems to be a very “close encounter” between the two. In fact, so close that it looks like nearly a kiss… which brings back my original point.
Does Clamp have another role in the show? Does their role go as far as just designing beautiful characters? Does it also extend to meddling with the script and the finalized product? Also, Lelouch and Suzaku’s relationship remains “odd” throughout. It’s funny to see them separated, then together, then separated again, only to be reunited again.
Whether they’re right or wrong (you decide), new ideas are brought forth by the excellent dialogue that not only regurgitate Lelouch’s original objective, but also change his self-righteous attitude into a good-hearted deed; finally redeeming himself for good. And even though to some R2 may be worse than R1, one can’t really deny the impact it has caused, and just how wholly memorable that ending really is. One that can be compared to the near flawless finale of The Dark Knight film and make Code Geass R2 a true white knight. A heavily political, albeit thoroughly engrossing drama that will definitely pull the heartstrings while giving plenty of food for thought, and certainly one of the best animes of 2008. It surpasses R1 in almost absolutely everything.
It’s supposed to be based on our cruel reality…. Go figure that one out yourself. I can’t help you there. Hint: There is a character named Nina Einstein in the show. Even though I wasn’t very fond of her, it’s pretty damn blatant who she is supposed to symbolize and represent in the show. Use similar clues to figure it out.