Sunday, 28 September 2008

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 - Episode 25 (Completed)

Well, I can only breathe a sigh of relief that my synopsis for episode twenty-four of Code Geass R2 labelled the possibility of an R3 as "surely not?", as you really couldn't have asked for a more final ending to this series. Code Geass R2 has all but delighted in showing us that Sunrise has no qualms with killing off major characters, but even by those standards the ending to this series was a mightily brave one.

With Nunnally's sight returned, but her continued unwillingness to hand over the 'key' for Damocles (I get a chuckle out of the idea it has an ignition somewhere), Lelouch is faced with the prospect of using Geass on his own sister. This perhaps goes to show how much Lelouch has changed (I hesitate to say matured) since the beginning of Code Geass - That earlier Lelouch would never have dreamed of using Geass, but the Lelouch we see here hardly hesitates before doing so. Thus, despite the massive battles going on outside (in particular between Kallen and Suzaku), Lelouch wins the day, and the ownership of the free world.

From here, all that is left is to explain the "Zero Requiem" - I'd somewhat guessed that it would be a way of turning things around along these lines, but I wasn't expecting quite such a drastic course of action. In short, Lelouch allows the hatred of the entire world to pile upon him, and once he holds all that hatred... He allows himself to be killed, by 'Zero' (aka Suzaku, who feigned his own death to prepare for this moment) no less, meaning that all that hatred can dissipate and a new era of peace and reconciliation can begin. Like I say, no room for Code Geass R3 here. It's hard to really put how this ending struck me into words, as I was actually surprised how sad and almost disappointed I was to see Lelouch die - I was constantly expecting him to have one last cunning trick up his sleeve, but nothing... Here was a man truly willing to die for his convictions, whether you agree with them all not.

As a series, Code Geass R2 was always going to suffer by association to its older brother, which was not far short of a revelation upon its original broadcast. While R2 did occasionally managed to scale the dizzy heights of its predecessor with some fantastic episodes and set pieces, it largely struggled to live up to expectations. In part, I blame this on the wider scope of R2 - Code Geass thrived on its almost claustrophopic air, with a small band of terrorists fighting a massive empire over a single territory every loss and setback was more keenly felt, and every victory seemed more massive. This time around, the scale of conflict was global and with many more sides involved, which led to far more complex politics while the claustrophobic air was gone as there was always some place to run or hide, and the numbers game no longer matter thanks to a handful of uber-strong Knightmares ruling the boost in each and every major battle. Add to that the storylines surrounding the origins of Geass (which were needed, but didn't really do a lot for me), and you have yourself a series that occasionally got tangled up in its own self-importance.

This isn't to say that Code Geass R2 is a poor series - Anything but. The twists and turns that made Code Geass what it was largely remained, and while sometimes contrived at others the old genius was still there, and on many an occasion an episode finished with my mouth agape or a big grin on my face from what I'd just seen. It was also hard not to welcome a return of the likes of C.C. and Kallen, great characters (depite the neuroses of the latter) second to only Lelouch himself, who was largely masterful in both his plots and his ability to loathe both himself and others.

In short, I'd be lying if I said that I didn't enjoy almost every minute of Code Geass R2 - I just didn't enjoy it quite as much as the first series. In the grand scheme of things though, that's a bit like saying you didn't enjoy winning a lottery jackpot because you had a sore throat... It maybe takes the sheen off things a little, but it doesn't make it any less brilliant.

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