Code Geass sucks

I made you click, didn’t I? This post is not a hate-filled invective, however.

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I have actually written three drafts of this post, but I still couldn’t properly organize it. For that, I’m sorry. I’ll try my best (this is my fourth attempt) to cohere the post into something fluid. Here goes.

Code Geass R2 is quite the polarizing series. A lot of people have disliked the series because of its purported ‘plothax,’ or the presence of quite a number of plot holes. People who could suspend their disbelief, however, have more or less a favorable opinion as regards the series. Anyway, everyone is entitled to an opinion.

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Reposting, but it is one of the best films I have ever seen

I love R2. It took me a long time to admit it, but I do. Daniel noted, however (and I’m just reiterating this), that ‘I love it’ and ‘it is good’ are two different ideas. I am endeared to R2 because it has excellently evoked emotions from me. In fact, it is one of the few anime that has made me cry. It is also just very entertaining.

I love heist films. Ever since I saw Ocean’s Eleven (the newer rendition), I’ve been fond of watching people attempt to steal well-guarded valuables and pulling off the theft successfully only to crumble from internal deceit. While Ocean’s Eleven has a team that trusted its members, other heist films like The Killing and Rififi have a crew pull off a very difficult theft successfully only to be disbanded and ultimately defeated by their own beguilement with one another. I particularly loved The Killing because it featured a brilliant director’s (it was directed by Stanley Kubrick) entry into the heist genre. And what a movie it was: it was an avant-garde film in the sense that it was one of the first forays into non-chronological narration; it also had one of the most taut and well-written scripts I’ve seen applied in film: the movie only runs for an hour and 20 minutes.

I love watching the ingenious doublecrosses and the wily twists in plot in those movies. I see those in R2, but there is something fundamentally different between those examples and R2: R2 uses them in excess. While a very enjoyable sight, R2 is a failure from a critical perspective, because to be successful in cinema, or in any medium, there must be moderation. Artistic license may be given to some virtuosos (such as Joyce and Faulkner for literature), but for the most part moderation is a virtue that must be practiced. That was what made The Killing a wonderful film: it wasted little. This can be contrasted to the eclat of Geass: there is debauchery from Lelouch’s hand gestures to the abundance of bathos.

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A cute picture, just because

I cried at the death of Rolo. I think of my tears that time, however, as inferior compared to my tears after the sixth episode of Honey and Clover. Rolo’s death, I believe, was simply to tug at my heartstrings; it was another instrument of excess in contrast to the sincere emotion (that only made me more melancholic) with regard to the futility of Yamada’s confession to Mayama. It felt for me as if the circumstance in that episode of R2 was made only to create pity for Rolo; this was in contrast to a culmination of an unrequited love that was established earlier in H&C.

It is pathos most people desire. It is pathos which creates classics in any medium: simply because a series evinces strong emotions from the viewer does not make that anime series excellent in any way. This is a non sequitur. This was the difference between the bombastic passing of Rolo and Yamada’s subtle, punchdrunk and inebriated confession. Yet Yamada’s confession was infinitely more haunting: in those moments one could recognize the beauty and sadness of unrequited love. In addition to that, Mayama’s reply made the scene all the more beautiful: his unsaid ‘no,’ yet his recognition of her feelings for him was a beautiful, perfect reply. It is better to be enlightened to the painful truth than it is to wallow in limbo just being unsure. The ability of H&C to subtilize and evoke emotions truthfully and unaffectedly is what makes it tower above the rest of the series I have seen. R2 must learn to follow its example, but I guess it’s too late.

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21 Responses to “Code Geass sucks”

  1. Kaioshin Sama Says:

    Tongue in cheek title, moderate, fair and unique opinion, productive…..this is how you do proper criticism and something I wish (in vain mind you) that the blogosphere as whole would take an example from. I totally agree that the series could take a lesson in moderation of it’s plot twists and settle for a standalone episode where things move in a more linear fashion. Do I think that makes it poorly written, no and I’m glad to see someone who agrees with me, but I won’t deny that the writers indulge in it far too much that it frustrates the viewers who like everything nice and neat and easy to piece together by the end of an episode instead of a whole lot of work.

    I wish Code Geass could have used moderation in the amount of ups and downs, ins and outs and loop-de-loops of it’s overall structure, but then if it had then it probably wouldn’t have been Code Geass. Or maybe it would have, but who knows.

    Anyway moderation, it’s something I wish I could see more in my night time occupation as a blogger, both in terms of the anime that are coming out recently and the people I share the message boards and blogs with. I’ve had a coming out recently that I find it really hard to read most blog articles on the series without coming away from them slightly turned off and with a lingering hollow melancholic feeling for that very reason that most of them are so steeped in pure opinion and cheap derivative jokes versus thoughtful content based on the events of the episodes and a desire to make the most of each article. I realize not everybody’s perfect, just like Code Geass, but when all I usually get to hear is either how much an episode blew or how much it rocked, rarely do I come away with something to think about nor feeling that I’ve learned something like I did with this article. And that’s all I ever ask for when it comes to anything in life that requires reading.

    Code Geass is indeed polarizing in a way that I find self-created by the fans themselves and it saddens and even angers me at times to see it, but everytime I read an article like this on Code Geass it makes my day because I know it will be another month or so before I find one that isn’t about lols and memes. Keep up the good work, it’s people like you that make it worth all the time I’ve vested in following the series and the discussion on it.

  2. IKnight Says:

    Hmm. I don’t think moderation is a sine qua non for excellence in every age/place/genre: subtle, restrained drama in Honey and Clover is all very well, but there isn’t much moderation in a good super robot show (not that Geass is a super robot show, Karen-based references aside). Of course, there are other reasons to criticise the show apart from its habit of taking refuge in audacity.

  3. issa-sa Says:

    Damn, I knew I should have used that same title for my post!
    Code Geass wouldn’t be Code Geass had they even considered to practice the restraint and moderation that would allow someone weak-minded like myself to see past the over-the-top-theatrics and obvious fan fodder shoved to us on screen every week. For now, I’m just content with labeling it as “It is also just very entertaining.” and leave it at that.

  4. lolikitsune Says:

    I must admit: I clicked because it said “anime|otaku” in my RSS reader; not because of the words “Code Geass sucks.”

  5. Baka-Raptor Says:

    So, basically, you want Code Geass to be more like Honey & Clover. I think that Code Geass would lose its edge if the lead character did absolutely nothing until the final 6 episodes of the first season.

  6. Camario Says:

    An interesting read but I’m not expecting Code Geass to be Honey & Clover, so I find that comparison a little unnecessary from my personal point of view.

    Sometimes it’s not necessary for a show to be critically acclaimed for its moderation in order to be worth watching. Variety is a good thing.

    If I just watched H&C over and over again (not as in re-watching the same show, but if every other anime series was just like it), even the emotions it summons would end up being repetitive.

    I think Code Geass is fun enough as it is, even without having to laugh at those elements that are clearly there for that purpose (you don’t honestly think that the staff doesn’t know those emo facial distortions, gestures abd cliffhangers aren’t way over the top? I think that’s intentional) or excessively nitpicking.

    So the show doesn’t “suck” for me, but I still see your point.

  7. Michael Says:

    Baka-Raptor and Canario:

    Let me just clarify that I don’t want Code Geass to become Honey and Clover. CG is CG, and H&C is H&C. I would, however, like it more if CG focused on creating a mood of pathos instead of bathos: I wish that the deaths evoked deep thought as well as emotion. Melodrama is fun and all, but not if it’s used excessively.

    I mentioned Honey and Clover because I believe it to be an example of a great presentation of pathos in contrast to Code Geass’s bathos.

    lolikitsune:

    I totally believe you, man. Because you’re my friend and all, and like, friends don’t lie to each other, right?

    issa-sa:

    It is, indeed, very, very entertaining.

    IKnight:

    Of course it isn’t. But it is a great guidelines. Virtue, after all, is the golden mean between two extremes. I could criticize or bash the show more, but that wasn’t my point.

    Kaioshin:

    Thanks for the positive remarks! I appreciate it. 😀

  8. lelangir Says:

    I like Geass because of that very unrestriction- it’s a raw, visceral experience. Coburn said that thematic elements in Geass (nationalism, etc.) were inserted for rhetorical or ‘pretentious’ purposes only. I think that’s what the authors intended, not that they wanted to produce a ‘trainwreck’ (as the sphere likes to call it), but because Geass is supposed to be primarily emotional, potentially ‘intellectual’, albeit in an imature, Yagami Lightian way perhaps. [Though I guess everything can be latently thought provoking.]

  9. IKnight Says:

    Virtue, after all, is the golden mean between two extremes.

    No it isn’t. Aristotle was wrong.

  10. Michael Says:

    IKnight:

    Are you angry!? ;__;

    lelangir:

    It’s entertaining. Yeah. 😀

  11. Ryan A Says:

    I did not feel one bit for Rolo, he was a canine with rabies, and long overdue… it wasn’t simply because he was “dangerous” but Lelouch was never clear with him, and in fact, he was not truly loyal to Lelouch… so what if he sacrificed his life, he was merely protecting Lulu and not his “essence.” No matter how the characters view Lelouch alone, he was hardly that way, he had things worth living and dying for, to protect; his life was not soley his own either… there was Nunnally, Shirley, Kaguya, Kallen, and C.C. who were all bonded to him in some way. For Rolo to believe that his existence, singularly bonded to Lelouch’s, was more satisfying [for Lelouch] is just plain naive, immature, misguided, confused, and nearly the exact opposite of love, it was selfish.

    Moderation would have been nice, and I feel it could have maintained something extraordinary in a good way. It could have greatly keyed higher on emotion if it had slowed down a bit, and grasped slightly more of “our reality,” not Geass-crazy-world (H+C did it perfectly) .

    Also on moderation. It would have been nice if the characters were moderately realistic in their persona and decisions. Seriously, who’s going to let some mass-destructive weaponry fight over a flourishing metropolis, maybe, just maybe, Stalin’s Union. That’s just a random one that comes to mind, but there are others.

    Geass does evoke emotion, but it’s a humanistic response, and whether innate or socially aquired, it is the Prozac to my jaded so-called life (purposely targeted).

    Now look how big I smile ^____^ © PROZAC

    Awesome evocative post Mike, you win

  12. Camario Says:

    Michael: Okay, I understand that a little better now, but in my opinion Code Geass has both bathos and pathos, and I still manage to enjoy it. Not going to say it’s perfect or anything remotely close to it. R2, in particular, would barely get a 7 from me right now, though it could go up a little bit if the ending is somehow good enough to compensate. I think the first season was much better, but still no masterpiece (nor should it need to be).

    Ryan: You could say that the first season of Code Geass was more “moderate” than R2 (even if still no H+C, which I still don’t think it needs to be) , but then again it now seems clear that planning for R2 was hindered by the time slot move and that has resulted in certain problems. I trust anyone remotely interested in knowing that has already looked it up or read it somewhere else.

    In other words, without that little wrench, with a slightly simpler plot or with more episodes, perhaps it could have “slowed down” just enough to suit your tastes. Or with a better staff that could better adapt to those limitations, whatever floats your boat.

    Still, I had no problems with the whole Freya thing, and if anything it fits the show just fine. These people (Schneizel in this case, since he and Nina are being its deployment) are supposed to be arbitrary, over the top and prone to theatrics and militarism, which isn’t necessarily completely realistic. Not that I can’t appreciate realism, but I don’t require it all the time to have some entertainment.

  13. RyanA Says:

    @Camario, I don’t hate it, or think its bad by any means. Though, I wish it was a bit different than its been; so I don’t love it. Actually, if I were to rate it out of 10, I’d agree with your ~7. I do find it highly entertaining, has high production vals, super attractive character designs, and A+ service.

  14. IKnight Says:

    Not angry, no – I suppose I think that when there’s a fundamental discrepancy between two critics’ ways to assess what is good, it has to be stated as simply as possible.

  15. Michael Says:

    So how do you assess Code Geass, Daniel? Just asking – is it good for you, or? 🙂

    RyanA: I’ll rank R2 somewhat lower, at 6. It is still above average, but it’s not awesome. In terms of interest, however, I’ll rank it a 10.

  16. Kaioshin Sama Says:

    An 8 for me personally.

  17. Crusader Says:

    I’ll reserve my serious judgment for the end of the series once everything is said and done, but right now R2 is delivering in some areas and not in others. Nevertheless I agree with your sentiment that some things have been taken well into excess.

    I am surprised that Rolo’s death was comparable to Yamada’s confession, for you or anyone for that matter. Rolo claimed to have no family but the geass kids obviously looked up to him as a brother figure, and Rolo was not the most upstanding bloke in the series. Though perhaps you are a far more forgiving person than most, for me Rolo’s death was too clean for the things he did. Then again I am more dwarf than human, I am slow to forgive and even slower to forget.

  18. IKnight Says:

    I don’t know how I assess CG to be honest – though at the moment on MAL I have the first season at 7 and the second alternating between 6 and 7. (Of course I love it to bits, but you know that already.) I know I don’t look for moderation in it, though.

  19. Code Geass broke my feeble little brain : Behind The Nihon Review Says:

    […] from anime|otaku wrote a very good article (aptly entitled “Code Geass Sucks“) on Code Geass’s excessiveness and lack of subtlety and moderation with regard to the […]

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  21. a name Says:

    code gaess sucks ballz, get dat shit off of TV and put yu yu hakasho back on or somethin

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