The first series of Sunrise’s Code Geass was really good. In the first series our protagonist, Lelouch Lamperouge, gained the power to give anyone a command that they had no choice but to obey. He decided to use this power to overthrow the Britannian empire. Japan, now called Area 11 and under Britannian control, became a battleground as he used their resistance as his army. Just when it looked like they might succeed, Lelouch learned that his sister, Nunnally, had been taken prisoner and left the battlefield. This quickly led to things going badly for the rebellion. Meanwhile, his best friend, Suzaku, found out that he was the terrorist Zero. The previous series ended on a cliffhanger with Suzaku & Lelouch holding guns to one another’s heads. What happened to Nunnally, the resistance, Lelouch & Suzaku? Let’s find out with Code Geass Hangyaku no Lelouch R2.
We open a year after the black knight rebellion. Lelouch thinks about Zero’s reported execution and the foolishness of trying to oppose Britannia like he did. Restless, he escapes from school with his younger brother and makes his way to a gambling establishment. While there, some knightmares piloted by remnants of the black knights break in. Lelouch is grabbed by Kallen but manages to escape, eventually becoming separated from his brother. He’s found by C.C who restores his true memories, which were altered by the emperor using his own geass. Thanks to C.C’s actions, Zero is reborn and ready to regain his army and rekindle the battle against Britannia, but it won’t be so easy. The emperor still has Nunnally and there are several people keeping surveillance of him, including his supposed brother. Can Lelouch get past these obstacles and pose a credible threat against the single most powerful nation in the world?
The biggest narrative issue with this series is that it does retread some of the same material as the first series. The initial uses of Lelouch’s power and his first command of troops in particular are very similar. However, we can largely forgive that because it does need to, once again, establish what his geass can do and demonstrate his tactical prowess. The series is also a bit heavy-handed in foreshadowing the big ending moment once it reaches the last four episodes. They might as well have it spelled out in large neon lettering.
With that out of the way, there are a lot of strong elements to the story. Most of the twists work really well and stem naturally from the events of the narrative instead of coming across as forced and contrived. I also like that the reason they left Lelouch alive actually makes a lot of sense. The ending is strong, even though they make it obvious. The stratagems that Lelouch employs are legitimately clever and I like that his major opponents react intelligently and try to anticipate him, sometimes even derailing his plans. Which is much better than something like, say, Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu where the strategies are so basic that they should be easy to see through, but where that almost never happens because everyone, except the main strategist characters, is an idiot. Then we have the tragic moments. There are some really strong, well done, tragic moments in this series.
Overall, the characters we get are really well done. The previously established characters get more development that builds off of where they were in the prior series. Most of the new characters are nicely complex as well, at least the major ones. There are some minor supporting characters who just kind of exist without really having anything to them. The biggest issue is that Villetta’s character arc doesn’t make much sense, given her previously established characterisation. But that’s also only one supporting character.
The artwork looks the same as the first series, as it should. As such, my biggest complaint is still with the emaciated looking character designs. However, the action sequences, mecha designs and visual effects are all really good.
The performances, as a whole, are really good. Fukuyama Jun, Sakurai Takahiro, Yukana & Koshimizu Ami remain the stand out performances from all the other strong performances. Nazuka Kaori, Mizushima Takahiro & Midorikawa Hikaru are also really good in this series. The series still suffers a bit from actors who use odd tonal qualities that sound more like an exaggerated cartoon than anyone’s natural speaking voice. Shiratori Tetsu & Sekine Nobuaki being the most memorable examples.
Nina is still motivated by her strong feelings for Euphemia. We also get to see Sayoko kiss a girl, but she’s disguised as a guy at the time so it doesn’t really count.
Code Geass is a great series. Both the first and second series. It has a lot of strong moments, strong characters, great action and superb acting. It’s not a flawless series and there are some better ones out there, but if you’re into mecha or the idea of a rebellion involving cunning strategies and supernatural powers appeals to you, check it out by all means. My final rating for Code Geass Hangyaku no Lelouch R2, is a solid 8/10. Next week it’s another sequel with Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?, series 2.