- Titles: Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch 2nd Season, Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch Second Season
- Genre: Psychological thriller, action, drama, mecha
- Episodes: 25
- Studio: Sunrise
Lelouch may have lost the battle, but he has not yet lost the war. Even though he seems to have lost everything: the black knights, his connections, the element of surprise and even his own memories, well you just can’t keep a man like Lelouch Lamprouge down. After all, he managed to build his empire from the ground up once, he can do it again. And having all his enemies think he’s been reduced to a clueless innocent may be his biggest advantage yet. But Lelouch doesn’t simply want to hurt those who have hurt him. For a revenge as grand as his, nothing short of destroying the entire world as we know it will do. And great achievements demand great sacrifice. Just how far is Lelouch willing to go?
I’m writing this on the day that my review for season 1 of Code Geass published. It’s a complete coincidence that I just happened to finish the second season now. As such, I was able to remember how I felt at the end of the last season and what I was expecting. And I gotta say…huh…
As far as production goes, it’s steady. Basically the same as for season 1. The character designs are marvellous and everything else is meh. Although there is a lot more variety in the settings of season 2 and that’s interesting. They also have a few rain-soaked scenes that I thought looked very pretty.
The one notable production change is the voice acting. In season 2, it sort of ramps up. OK, I might as well just let you know now, the narrative gets more dramatic and the stakes intensify exponentially, so the voice acting does so as well. Performances start getting very theatrical, I would even say operatic. Normally that is not my thing but I sort of liked it here. Let me explain by going into the story and characters.
Story & Characters
As I mentioned in my season 1 review, Code Geass R2 starts off very strong. Lelouch has had his memories replaced. He has forgotten all about his rebellion and Zero and he has a brother now for some reason. The first few episodes slowly piece together what happened in the months following the end of season one. The narrative and conflict are brought way down to a personal level and an air of mystery permeates. This much more focused and smaller stakes narrative is in my opinion a much better fit and these were some of my favourite episodes in the entire series.
I was getting ready for this personal drama that would explore how a man deals with his conscience and morality when he discovers he was not who he thought he was. Then Code Geass R2 jumps the shark, proceeds to jump a series of other sharks before leaping over a whale. By the end of it, I quite liked this season but for a completely unexpected reason.
Season 1 had already established some serious consequences for the cast as well as a slew of complicated relationships. Season 2 seems dedicated to upping those stakes every few episodes and adding in as many characters with nebulous and improbable relations to the main cast as possible. heck, we even brought relatives back from the dead for this little adventure. And let me tell you, it was glorious.
If your brain can make the switch from: I’m watching a serious political drama to I’m watching a ridiculous sci-fi soap opera quickly enough, then let me tell you, Code Geass R2 is a pure joyride! I don’t want to say that the people who enjoyed Code Geass R2 as a serious drama are wrong in any way. I do think they missed out a bit because it’s an amazing comedy. But the fact is, taken at face value, it’s not for me. Taken at telenovela value, I really liked it. Seriously. I would have watched a lot more!
And to be clear, it’s not just the plot that goes off the rails. The characters also get slowly flanderized into parodies of themselves that work perfectly with my headcanon that Code Geass is in fact a misunderstood parody. And I mean that both respectfully and very lovingly. And what is it with all the obvious Pizza Hut product placement?
I’m trying to tread lightly. Because I can’t deny I enjoyed the second part of Code Geass more than the first but on paper, it’s worse in a lot of ways. I kept reading that Lelouch was this anti-hero or villain even, but the moral divide is still the same. Everyone not Lelouch is kind of awful so it makes everything he does look better by comparison and he very often acts like a selfless hero beaten down by circumstance more than anything else. His motivations get pretty shaky as the story gets to some impressive dramatic heights but I was still there for it, mostly because I was having a blast.
As such, Code Geass R2 does not add the subtlety and complexity that season 1 was missing. Not by a long shot. Although I will say, the brilliant plans do in fact get a bit more brilliant. Not sure if they got a new writer or just got used to it, but there are a few desperate but genuinely good moments of cat and mouse in this season. Everything else though feels a bit like a caricature of the first season and guys, it’s awesome!
If I was just to go from my personal experience, I really wouldn’t have compared Code Geass to Death Note, I would have compared it to Black Butler. And that’s not a bad thing!
You might like this anime if:
You either have a lot of patience and love for melodrama or a somewhat odd sense of humour!
My favourite character:
I liked everyone a lot more this time around but Lloyd still has my heart!
- Every time we see a new type of nightmare – take a sip
- Every time Lelouch worries about his sister – take a sip
- Every time we see a cat – yay!
- Every time someone other than Lelouch uses Geass – take a sip
- Every time we see V2 – boooh!
- Every time Lloyd is happy – be suspicious
- Every time Lelouch makes a girl cry – think about throwing your drink at him, but don’t do it
- Every time Villeta is reminded of Ohgi – take a sip
- Every time anyone mentions “the massacre” – drink to forget
- Every time we see pizza – get a snack
- Every time anyone talks about the “United States…” – take a sip
- Every time there’s an ambush – careful, don’t spill
- Every time Lelouch doubts himself – take a sip
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.