Note: This is only reviewing season 1. I will write a separate review for season 2 soon. This review does contain spoilers.
If there’s ever been a more divisive anime out there, it’s more than likely going to be Code Geass. It makes a lot of sense in hindsight: the more popular an anime is, the more people are going to criticize/bash it (rightfully or wrongfully is personal opinion). It was about a year or so after i started watching anime when the buzz about Code Geass started to grow.
As a curious average anime viewer, i wanted to see what exactly drew so many people to love this show and i can see why. Code Geass grabbed me from the start with the brilliant portrayal of Lelouch Lamperouge, seemingly normal but an heir to the royal Britannian throne currently held by his father, Charles. Little did any of us viewers would soon realize the massive strategic expertise Lelouch possessed combined with a vow to make the world a better place for his sister Nunally would divide viewers for many years to come as to what kind of person Lelouch is and how his ideals conflicted with others.
When i saw on MAL (MyAnimeList) that Death Note was by far the most recommended series to Code Geass watchers, it really didn’t surprise me at all. Sure, DN has no mechs, pales in comparison to Sunrise in terms of animation quality and fanservice isn’t shoved down your throat as much as CG does, but they share one very important trait: strategic anti-heroes. Both Light and Lelouch acquire a power unlike any other and from there they seek to change the world, to rid it of its evils. Where these shows diverge is the decisions/actions our main characters take. (anymore and i’ll spoil DN to those who haven’t seeen it).
But regardless, i enjoyed every second of CG and i’m glad i saw it when the hype was growing fast for it. It has driven intense opinions on both sides from the purists who claim it to be impeccable and those who slam it as pretentious and one-sided melodrama. I firmly place myself in the middle of both of those claims.
Animation: 9/10 – Very solid from Sunrise, and it’s better than some currently airing series so far, and it’s been almost 5 years since Code Geass first aired. I really loved the knightmare frame designs the most and they blended in very well with the art.
Story: 9/10 – From the first episode, CG knew exactly what it set out to do with strong character development, intense back and forth strategic planning from the Black Knights and Britannia and a bit of slow but worthwhile episodes. I honestly can’t believe the last two episodes happened the way they did.
Music: 9/10 – It’s very hard to believe the composer for Code Geass (and R2) also composed the soundtrack for Hayate no Gotoku! Regardless, i really loved the music and in my opinion, it brought more emotion, depth and suspense to the series and for that i have to commend it.
Characters: 9/10 – Before talking about Lelouch, i think the rest of the cast really shined on their own merits. Yes, i hate Suzaku for all he’s done in the series but the staff does a wonderful job portraying both sides of the war with sharp commentary and insight from the good guys and the bad guys. A bit more attention should have been diverted to Ashford Academy’s students and Mao wasn’t a very likeable character at all.
Enjoyment: 10/10 – Looking back when i first finished season 1, i really thought of it as a mindblowing, engaging and outstanding series rivaled by none, being my #1 series of all time. Now, 5 years later struggling to stay in the top 5 is more of a testament to how much my viewing tastes have changed. If it weren’t for Code Geass, i wouldn’t have had any interest in any anime shows. Flawed it may be, but it was one hell of a ride and Sunrise knew exactly what to give to the viewers.