Review: Code Geass: Rise of Britannia!

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​Seven years ago in 2010, the Holy Britannian Empire invaded Japan. With the
superior technology that is the Knightmare Frame (a five meter tall mech with a
variety of weapon customization and able to quickly move on the field of battle),
Britannia beat Japan easily. Japan’s been renamed “Area 11” with all Japanese
simply being called “11s” with no rights. Even if they tried to become honorary
Britannians, that’s only on paper. A Britannian kid named Lelouch Lamperouge, who
may be more than he seems, gets a power called “Geass” from a mystery girl named
C.C. Wanting to change the world, especially for his frail sister, Lelouch puts on a
cool costume and calls himself Zero. A super genius and tactician, Lelouch recruits
Japanese “terrorists” (including classmate Kallen) to take Japan back from Britannia.
But it isn’t going to be easy, and Lelouch’s resolve and ideals are put to the test in
Code Geass.

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Presentation:

The presentation is a very awkward mix for me. The music, especially
the opening and closing themes, are amazing. I particularly like the first opening. The
music played during the actual show fits the mood very well for the most part, so
that’s good.

​The art itself is one of the more awkward parts for me. I love the designs of
the mechs, some of the outfits especially Suzaku’s “piloting outfit,”and some of the
backgrounds are drawn very well. But at the same time I can’t stand how CLAMP
tends to draw some of it’s younger men with little to no muscle tone, especially in
the arms, which sometimes just look like rectangles. But the team of artists CLAMP
drew this series generally well otherwise. It’s just the people’s hair and clothes look
great to me, generally not so much the faces. But the Knightmare Frames are drawn
great, and just like the outfits they have some intricate little details that you have to
pause to see, but they make the outfit that much more flamboyant. Flamboyant in a
good way, especially with people like Cornelia and Britannian outfits in general. I like
that sort of thing, where outfits have little interesting details. Although some of the
bodies in that wedding photo at the end are a mess. Come on, CLAMP.

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​The voice acting for the original and the dub I find to be very good. Personally
I don’t have a total preference of dub versus sub, it’s more certain scenes where I feel
certain actors are more emotionally invested compared to their dub/sub counterpart.
But for the most part I do enjoy the acting although Lelouch’s voice acting at first
gets on my nerves. It’s just very pretentious, annoying, and comes across to me as,
fake. He might as well hold up a skull and audition for his high school’s version of
Hamlet. The voice improves over time, thankfully. To me the main concern with voice
acting is if the actor has emotion when giving out dialogue. In both the original and
dub, every actor does a good job in that aspect. The main character’s voice actors
deliver their lines especially well. They get across how the character feels very well.
​The animation is pretty good, save for maybe near the end where it seems to
down grade but I think that was more budget concerns rather than some kind of
laziness. Overall, the presentation evens itself out to a 8 out of ten.

Story:

I do appreciate the story’s war setting and how throughout the first season
they stay consistent with that. Especially how almost all the Britannians have no
issue with calling the Japanese “Elevens” and how disturbing that is to see.
Although not as disturbing as seeing Britannians casually kill innocent Japanese
civillians with apparently no remorse. The best thing about the writing is how
they incorporate this uncomfortable feeling into even the “school episodes.”
​The story’s pacing in season 1 is pretty good, maybe a bit too slow in
some episodes. Season 2’s pacing was just a mess to me. While the series
seems to have a villain in our lead Lelouch, Lelouch’s dad is supposed to be
the villain we, the viewer, want to see beaten. The pacing with Lelouch’s
dad is something awful, turning him into a stoic old man with a goofy hairstyle
villain stereotype into a very bizarre motivation old man who I am still not
sure what they wanted to happen. Did he want everyone to get along or
everyone to be controlled or…? They don’t hint his true motivations at all,
so when it comes at you it’s just a very stupid “DUN DUN DUN!” plot twist. Was
I supposed to feel sympathy for the dad, or was that supposed to be a final nail in the
coffin for me to hate him? It doesn’t help that in season 2 the writers seem to not
know what they want Lelouch to think and make his views have about as much
sense as Deadpool’s.

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​When the show first starts it’s not like the lead is super powerful and
accomplishes everything easily. He actually struggles and fails, and I do appreciate
that. It helps him grow, too. Although after a while that is apparently forgotten and
things seem to be a little too easy for Lelouch. I feel like, with a series like this, you
want the threat to be consistent. I think this issue stems from the fact I feel this
series protects too many of it’s characters. I mean, when someone with a name dies,
you feel it and it actually matters to the characters. I do appreciate that, but when
someone with no name dies (aka just some random Japanese person), after awhile
the dramatic effect is just kind of lost. A good example of not protecting a character
occurs when the “Massacre Princess” dies. People grow from it, things happen
both politically and emotionally for people. I feel more main character deaths should
occur, not for shock value but for development. I can’t name specifically who should
die, but with the show’s apparent love of plot twists I feel anyone should have been
fair game.

​Because of season 2 dragging whatever season 1 accomplished through the mud, the lack of development of new characters and old characters after a certain
point, and after a while my annoyance with the show’s obsession with twists, I have
to give the story a generous 7.

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Characters:

One of the things I appreciate about Code Geass is it’s colorful cast. Even the annoying school kids have something to contribute plot-wise. Although again the pacing really hurts that because after a while the development is kind of forgotten. Especially for Lelouch, who went from someone that had very interesting motivations, into just a confusing villain. Was that the point? I still don’t understand. What helps balance that is Suzaku’s growth, which is pretty much him using an “ends justify the means” attitude. Personally I’m not a big fan of a lot of the characters after awhile because they have nothing interesting to do growth-wise. Then when new people are introduced they just take a step back for crazy Lelouch. Honestly when the Viletta and Ohgi’s relationship was introduced, I was much more interested in that compared to say, Todoh and his amazing friends. The biggestproblem with the characters is that, although they are colorful and entertaining to watch, they all just get pushed aside after awhile. One of the problems within that problem is the people that get the limelight when everyone else is pushed aside are just kind of a drag to see after awhile because they’ve been turned into cardboard cutouts of their past selves. Then when they give some of those pushed aside characters some weight there are so many they have to consider it turns into a jumbled mess of forgotten people trying to make sure they’re remembered. These forgotten people aren’t useless or unneeded either, which really hurts the story when they’re forgotten. While a lot of the lead characters already have some depth to them when they’re introduced due to their life cultivating them into the person they are today, I am disappointed with how little chances the series gave some of them to grow. When people do get a chance to grow they don’t stray too far from their main personality. When people do “evolve” and learn more about what they want, it’s done well. The problem is I feel they had more chances to develop. The story just seems to forget doing that for them. I don’t like Lelouch that much as a character but I do enjoy seeing him grow and his reactions but there are much more interesting characters they don’t give the chance to grow in favor of giving people what the fans want which brings the score to a very generous 6.

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