Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 [Anime]: Its many flaws are close to being completely redeemed by the ending

I hope everyone had an awesome Easter! Mine involved beaches, fishing, four-wheel-driving and making paper flowers. Without further ado, here is my review of Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 (2008), which concludes the story-line from the first Code Geass anime. This series, like the one before it, is 25 episodes long. 

R2

What’s it about?

Continuing one year after the events of the first series, Lelouch has had his memory replaced and is living life as an ordinary student with his younger brother Rolo. However, being watched closely by both the remnants of the Black Knights and the Empire of Britannia, Lelouch is again forced into a double-life when C.C. restores his memories. Is Lelouch able to recreate the Black Knights whilst keeping the fact he has his memories a secret? Can he overthrow the Empire successfully this time? And where is Nunnally in all of this? Lelouch is launched back into the world of politics and tactics to answer these questions…

The Positives

We’ll first look at the things that continue from the first series. The action and overall epicness is maintained in some of the second series, particularly from about episode 17 onwards. Action scenes are still visually great and a lot of fun to watch. Secondly, the soundtrack is still pretty awesome, but the openings and endings remaining dull (again, I have to hold up Ali Project’s “My Beautifully Elegant Flower of Evil” as an exception) (Although, I do like the style of art in both of the endings).

Now, the aspects where the second series excels compared to the first. There is a deeper look at ideology in the second series, focusing on the importance of the past, present, and future, and their relations with each other. In many ways it reminded me of the ideas that [C] posed. Not only is there more ideology in the second series, there are some more interesting ideas and political manoeuvres that the first series lacked. R2 also builds on the different interests of the political groups from the first series, in particular expanding the Chinese Federation. Finally, the second series continues the complex relationship between Suzaku and Lelouch, and further expands on Lelouch’s character.

However, the second series’ best asset is… its ending. The second series is more emotional overall, but it is nothing compared to the final episode. There’s not too much I can say without spoiling it, but this ending is so far my most favourite ending to an anime ever. Nothing else has been able to compare to it so far. It makes peace with the story to keep you happy, but is also open-ended so that you are left to imagine what happens next. The song that plays in the background of the final scenes, Hitomi Kuroishi’s “Continued Story“, captures this perfectly.

Ending (spoiler free!)

One of the only spoiler-free images I could find involving the ending…

The Negatives

The art… I’ve addressed what I don’t like about this elsewhere, and it hasn’t changed since the first series. One thing to note is the fan service… it was bad enough in the first series, but I was still able to easily ignore it. In the second series, it’s pretty terrible.

Secondly, characters. The criticism of bland characters in the first series only gets worse when taking a look at the second. A whole bunch of new characters are introduced and then… nothing happens with them. A few had the potential to be great characters (particularly Rolo), but there was a severe lack of character development coupled with little meaningful screen time. Whilst a number are easily likeable (for me it was Gino and Anya- first half only), they are still boring. Many of the characters that carried over from the first series retain their blandness, or otherwise manage to create an indescribable amount of hate inside me, wishing they were dead already (yes, that’s you, Nina). The winning duo of Lelouch and Suzaku both suffer as well, although not as badly as the others. Their main problem is consistency; particularly Lelouch with his attitude towards Rolo and Suzaku with his moral values. I also feel that Suzaku’s character fell apart, although this may just be me turning from “I support everything this character stands for” to “why isn’t he dead yet”.

Knights of the Round

Oh hello pointless characters…

Now, where the second series really starts to lose its edge… the plot. R2 loses in terms of tactical aspects (particularly battles- reduced to who has the latest upgrade) and unpredictability. I also found it slow to warm up compared to the explosive beginning of the fist series. It manages to hold up okay for a few episodes, but gets really messy in the middle when it comes to Lelouch’s mother and psychological (?) worlds. The ideas that are thrown around are very interesting, but are too confusing to be any merit to the series. There are a few other times where the plot gets shot to pieces, but from about episode 17 onwards, it gets back into the swing of it, and leads to the awesome ending I have already mentioned.

Conclusion

Art:  6/10: Remains the same as the first series; pointy chins and not enough food, but excellent action scenes.

Story: 7/10: Loses itself half-way through, but has an ending that is beyond amazing.

Characters: 5/10: Meaningless additions and consistency problems.

Although there is a problem with characters and a loss of tactics and explosive unpredictability, R2 is still enjoyable to watch and serves well enough as a second series. If you can get through the mess of the middle episodes, you will be rewarded with what should be considered one of the best endings to an anime. If you’ve watched the first series, I strongly advice continuing onto the second and sticking to it until the very end, no matter how many times you want to turn back. Overall, I give it a 7/10.

-S

Lelouch makes a tough call

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