Since this is a review for the sequel of Code Geass, I will assume that people are already familiar, or have watched the first season. I gotta say, I do enjoy the second season a lot, but I honestly have mixed thoughts on Code Geass overall. It’s hard to describe why if I don’t write something, so I might as well get this review for those who wants to know my opinion on Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch R2 and the series overall. *WARNING, I will rant and spoil the series, SORRY!*
The second season of Code Geass took a surprising departure from the first season in several ways. On one hand, it’s more chaotic and over the top than its predecessor, while on the other being dramatic, coupled with emotional moments that is not seen in the first season. With this in mind, I do feel that the second season is more of a reboot/re-imagining of the Code Geass series rather than a straight continuation of the storyline. There are many classic Geass moments of the first season that is shown in its sequel, however things are very different such that R2 is better than the original, even if it can’t land quite a punch that its predecessor has done. Still, R2 may or may not be as good as the first, but it does stand strong on its own and lives up to the Code Geass series.
R2 continues the story of Lelouch Lamperouge and the Black Knights as they continue their conflict against the Holy Britannian Empire. As the season progresses, the overall feel of the story intensifies, with plot twists throughout. These twists are well executed, with each episode ending in a cliffhanger. Though R2 started off slow, the plot that was already established in the first season eventually moves forward very quickly. However, this pacing makes the story take a lot of steps in a very short amount of time and it certainly stumbles at times. It spends very less time on some of the major events where I thought it would create more depth in the story if it was longer. Fortunately, it manages to pull off a rather surprising resolution, so that it can nicely close the series on a positive note.
The characters this time around has real emotional depth. This is not R2’s primary focus, but the actions and motivations of the characters seems to have greater meaning and purpose. You can definitely feel their emotions, ranging from desperation, anger and joyfulness. Lelouch is a far more interesting character in the sequel, with the double-edge personality of a regular student and a leader that challenges an empire. The ever changing relationship with his comrades, friends and enemies are complex and interesting, which flows along with the story very nicely.
The intense actions now revolves around the Knightmare Frames, which I gotta say its impressive that an anime can incorporate mecha fights and political war. Sure, it’s not competing against the likes of the Gundam series, but it holds up pretty well.
*A RANT ABOUT THE SERIES AND SPOILERS FOR THE ENDING*
So far, Code Geass is great, but I just can’t shake off the things that affects my enjoyment and it’s weird. For a quick reference, the series started off in late 2006 and the first season finished airing mid 2007. Meanwhile, the sequel aired in April 2008 and ended on September of the same year. Because I was watching both seasons in 2016, I got so used to watching animes that are able to close out a great story in less than 25 episodes, which makes it a lot difficult to think of Code Geass as ONE season, since it picks up VERY QUICKLY. ALSO, this reminds me of Guilty Crown, which I thought was okay, but turns out it was down right an awful imitation to Code Geass. The GODDAMN CLICHE where a female character goes BYE BYE to further the male character’s development is frustrating to see. Sure, it add context to the story and character, but it never ends well at the end… AAAAND the people that fights alongside Zero, either dies or flee from war for no GODDAMN REASON/MOTIVATION, which adds NOTHING to the story.
While R2 manages to reach a happy ending where Zero reappears and kill Emperor Lelouch, the lead up to that moment flies by really quickly. I mean, he took control of the world, which many people thought it was over, but the plot twist happened and the ending changes from evil ending to happy ending like THAT. This sparked my memories of MASS EFFECT 3, where the ending was downright evil and awful, and then the developers said, “SORRY, WE SCREWED UP THE ENDING, SO WE’LL GIVE YOU SOME HAPPY ENDINGS IN A LATER PATCH FOR FREE!!!”. The sudden shift from evil to good ending is also apparent in Guilty Crown, and overall this form of cliche is GODDAMN ANNOYING !!
* RANT AND SPOILERS OVER *
*Phew* I haven’t ranted like this for quite some time, but that’s my opinion. Overall, Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch R2 is a definite watch for Code Geass fans, but for newer fans like myself, you have to watch the first season to get the full picture of the story. It may be divergent and more flashy than its predecessor, its dangerously complex story and lore makes the series a very entertaining one than most other shows out there. Watch both seasons and see for yourself. Constant plot twists may sway your views back and forth many times and while I personally enjoy Code Geass, it’s weird that I get a bitter sweet feeling at the end.