Unpopular Opinion: Code Geass

Warning this will be full of spoilers for Code Geass, if you haven’t watched it yet you may not want to read this post.  Ok much like my Death Note review, let me start by saying that Code Geass is a good show and I enjoyed it.  Now I’ll proceed to delve into all the ways I thought it screwed up and why I like it way less than the anime community at large.

Once again like Death Note, one of the issues I had was that Lelouch was a character I had a hard time getting behind.  In the early episodes I liked Lelouch and I thought all his desires and goals were reasonable.  My problem is that as the series goes on he gets more and more extreme, both in his manipulation of people and the violence of his plans.  He gets to the point where he more closely resembles a villain than an anti-hero.  This is especially true once Euphemia arrives.  She takes bold steps forward to improving the tyrannical and unjust Britannian rule.  And Lelouch undoes her work in single careless line.  Yes I know it was an accident, but anyone with a power that can command anyone to do anything should be very careful with their words regardless of whether they intend to use their power or not.  Also the fact that commanding Euphemia to kill the Japanese even crosses his mind is pretty disgusting.  To me the fact he ever, even hypothetically considered that as an option shows how twisted he has become over the course of the conflict.  Sorry I can’t root for people like that, not if they are the intended hero or anti-hero of the story.  Lelouch’s problem in my eyes is the same one as Light’s, the extremes to which he goes to achieve his goals undo any righteousness his cause might have had.

On a related note my thinking is much more in line with Suzaku’s and I think his character arc and overall story are generally more interesting than Lelouch’s.  I think Suzaku’s solution is not only the more admirable one, it’s also the more realistic one.  Even if Lelouch is able to drive the Britannians out, I doubt he could stop a full invasion.  Lelouch relies on being an anonymous and largely untargetable enemy.  He does the most damage to his enemies when is surrounded by them and has the opportunity to sow the seeds of confusion amongst their ranks from within.  He may be a genius but he’s not a military leader in the true sense of the word.  His tactics are all about diversion, manipulation and guerilla warfare.  If he ever had to defend Japan’s shores from an invasion force my guess is that he would fail because it does not play to his strengths to fight in such a situation.  In that case all Lelouch can do is get Japan wrecked by Britannian forces several times over and encourage further oppression and discrimination.  So Suzaku was in the right and the arrival of Euphemia basically proves it, until Lelouch uses the Geass to fuck things up.  And while I’m on the subject of the Geass.

I have a hard time believing no one ever figured out that Zero aka Lelouch was capable of manipulating peoples’ minds.  When key people in military positions repeatedly claim loss of memory during major disasters, I have a hard time believing no one would get suspicious.  It shouldn’t have been discovered early on but he uses it so often and its effects are so consistent that I just don’t buy into no one even thinking that Zero may have a method of brainwashing people.  Keep in mind we are talking about a futuristic scifi Earth.  Is it truly inconceivable that a machine which can brainwash people, or maybe a special type of stun weapon that also erases the memory of the person shot can be made?  I mean they invent energy shields, thruster-less flight and a new type of nuclear weapon over the course of season one, so why can’t anyone consider the possibility of a more stealthy and insidious device being made and used?  I don’t think people should have figured out that Zero had a Geass, only that he had something that was capable of similar effects.  And while I’m talking about the technology, I should say that it advances too fast.  The early parts of the series, with the Lancelot and the Guren Mark II are good, I don’t mind some experimental tech being introduced to shift the balance of power on the battlefield.  In fact it was a great addition to the show.  But in the late first season and throughout the second season, the tech evolves way too fast.  A lot of later episodes are dominated by the arrival of some new device that drastically alters the field of battle in some way. That is to say both sides are introducing new groundbreaking advances on roughly a weekly basis at various points in the later end of season one and a couple spots in season two… this is fucking absurd.  When your action starts to get repetitive, the solution should be a shift in tactics or something similarly creative, not to just spam new technology to dictate the way new battles are fought.  That kind of rapid advancement is unrealistic and strains the viewers suspense of disbelief.  Moving on.

Another thing that gets a little hard to believe as the show goes on is that Zero’s actions are even necessary most of the time.  Lelouch is paranoid that his protectors may eventually turn him over to the royal family.  That’s an understandable fear, but I don’t see how becoming the leader of a major terrorist group and trying to overthrow the Britannian government in Japan helps.  All Lelouch has to do is not attract attention from the wrong people.  Lelouch could easily have given his protector an incentive not to reveal him while he was Zero.  He could have made a deal, say ensuring that the Ashfords, the family protecting him, didn’t get attacked or maybe even could use the terrorists to dispose of rivals or other undesirable persons so long as they abided by certain conditions.  Instead he draws far more attention to himself by becoming the leader of the rebellion, and look where that got him, captured by his best friend, Nunally abducted and his father finding him while the rebellion fell apart.  Lelouch ya done fucked up buddy.  Speaking of Lelouch’s dad…

I can think of no logical reason for his dad to spare Lelouch, at least not in the way he does.  He’s a major liability and if he can be brainwashed to a non-hostile state then he can be brainwashed back into a hostile one.  And then there’s the fucking weird Sword of Akasha bullshit.  I’ll get into how bad this plot point is for the story in a second.  But assuming the Sword of Akasha works as described and the dead and living are reunited, can’t Lelouch’s dad just kill Lelouch and then meet him after activating the Sword’s power, Ragnarok, and explain the plan he and Lelouch’s mother had concocted.  That plan leaves a lot less risk involved and still ends with Lelouch alive, so why doesn’t he just go that route?  Or if he doesn’t want to go through the hassle of killing and then reviving Lelouch, why doesn’t he just imprison him in some max security prison and keep his eyes covered until the Ragnarok goes off?  That would work too.  But he doesn’t and surprise surprise, Lelouch fucks up his plan and stops Ragnarok.  Now let’s get onto that bullshit.

The reason I really hold Code Geass in much lower esteem than the anime community is season two.  I still believe in all the problems listed thus far and they contribute to my opinion.  But none of them do anywhere near the amount of damage that season two does.  I already mentioned that technology levels up way too fast in season two.  But in addition we also get more Geass powers and the introduction of the Sword of Akasha and the Geass cult for lack of a better term.  In Code Geass almost everything is grounded in science, the only potential exceptions are the Geass and the witches C2 and V2.  But it’s not really explained why the witches are immortal or what powers the Geass.  So in a baffling turn of events the creators make it straight magic shit.  Look I don’t encourage plagiarism but wouldn’t it have been easier to crib some ideas from something like Warhammer 40k and replace the magic with psychic powers and explain the witches’ immortality as some kind of biological fluke?  That way the series could have remained firmly in the realm of scifi.  But instead they went with magic and then had this ridiculous plot where it was revealed that Lelouch’s dad was only conquering the world so he could access the Sword of Akasha and initiate Ragnarok, killing the gods that separate the living from the dead, so he could be with Lelouch’s mom again.  Does anyone else think that plot sounds one, stupid as fuck, and two, severely out of place with the rest of the series?  Code Geass has been about human and political issues but now it’s about gods and bringing back the dead?  Who the hell even makes logic jumps like that?  Anyway if this was still what Lelouch’s daddy wanted to do, it would have made more sense if he had been conquering the world to recover resources to power some kind of technology that would allow him to reanimate Lelouch’s mom.  I mean if Frankenstein could do it with old school tech why can’t Lelouch’s dad bust out some revolutionary new tech and get the job done?   They already introduce revolutionary new technological advances all the time, what’s one more at this point?  Fuck, this part of the story is just so stupid.  Anyway if I kept going I could probably find more to gripe about, but I hit all the big gripes and that’s good enough for me.  Hopefully you all enjoyed it and I’ll see you in the next one.

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One thought on “Unpopular Opinion: Code Geass

  1. I think the point of Lelouch and Light’s characters are to be a fall from grace, to establish a utopia where this is no war or crime, but the power they receive corrupts them and makes them into villains. They’re not supposed to be likable, but pitied. Pitied for the fact that they might have noble intentions, but they developed god complexes and such. But that’s my take on the character type.

    As for the fact about the magic you pointed out…yeah, the way they added it was kinda dumb. Now, if they had established that it was magic in the first place, then it would be acceptable. I’ve seen sci-fi anime with some supernatural elements, like “Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon” and “To Aru Majutsu no Index”. They made it work, but they established that magic existed in that world in the first couple episodes.

    I can accept the cult for the Geass, though. I mean, it’s a power that has the ability to rule all mortals. Why wouldn’t there be followers to worship it?

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