Code Geass 1.25: Zero

Three, two, one, Zero.

The final chapter! Cornelia is mortally wounded, a crazed Jeremiah chases down Zero, and Nina emerges with a bomb that could destroy all of Tokyo. Meanwhile, Lelouch is informed that Nunnally has been kidnapped and immediately abandons The Black Knights to save her. Lelouch, Suzaku, and Kallen all meet on Kamine Island, and the episode ends with the two boys holding each other at gunpoint.

I’ll admit it right now: this was not the satisfying conclusion I was expecting. This wasn’t a conclusion at all, really, just a series of cliffhangers and preparation for the next season. I don’t know enough about anime to understand how their seasons differ from Western television, but I’d at least expect them to have actual endings in their finales.

Even if it wasn’t an ending, it was still a strong episode. We finally learn a little about C.C.’s origins: she’s an immortal witch who’s spent her life going from war to war, trying to find someone worthy of her gift, but constantly having to die in the process. It seems like a terrible existence, but one that’s thankfully coming to an end. Lelouch has many flaws, but I share C.C.’s confidence in his ability to fulfil the contract.

We also get to see what happens to The Black Knights once Zero is out of the picture, and it’s not pretty. Dietfried and Tohdoh are good at their specific jobs, but they lack the people skills and the big-picture brain Lelouch has. Without Zero, everyone is just scrambling to defend themselves, causing the entire hierarchy to fall apart. It’s clear to me now that The Black Knights are nothing but pawns for Lelouch; the organisation isn’t designed to stand on its own.

If I had to describe Code Geass in a sentence to someone who’d never seen it, I’d say it was a flawed masterpiece. It’s such a grand and generous show, with excellent structure and fine detail, but there are rare moments of narrative cheapness that take you out of it and remind you that the show is written by fallible humans on a finite budget. (Search my archives for “cheap” and you’ll see what I mean.)

It has the highest highs and the finest complexities I’ve ever seen in an anime, but also some of the strangest waffling and bumbling I’ve seen yet. I still can’t believe that a show capable of giving us characters like Lelouch and Suzaku would also screw up the way it did. V.V. is shoehorned nonsense, Villetta took way to long to do anything meaningful, Shirley still hasn’t done anything of value, and let’s not even talk about Nina’s little moment.

But even with those faults, it was an amazing ride. The battles were always thrilling, the politics were always fascinating, and despite some missteps most of the characters feel true to the world and to themselves. I feel like I could write a play about these people, or at least a sizeable Wikipedia page. Not even Violet Evergarden had characters this understandable, this relatable, this well-realised.

Some final notes before we conclude this season:

  • I almost forgot that Lelouch’s mother was murdered. I love it when a character’s story comes back to haunt us.
  • I’m going to miss all these proper nouns. Eleven, Britannian, Gawain, Knightmare. This show had a real way with words.
  • Finally Cecile gets something to do, other than smile and complain. She’s a good pilot!
  • Oh Nina, you idiot. Bomb or not, there’s no way this ends well for you.
  • I’d love to see an episode “Past Geass” with C.C. fighting in a World War.
  • For all that bluster, Jeremiah didn’t really amount to much, did he?
  • Kallen loses her mind when she finds out Lelouch is Zero; way more than Suzaku did.

Now, I know this show has a Season Two, and I fully intend to watch it… eventually. My attention span won’t tolerate another month of the same show (it’s already straining as it is), so I’m going to put Code Geass on the shelf for a little while and watch some other anime in the meantime. Don’t worry, I absolutely need to know what the hell happened to these kids, and I’ll come back for them in due time.

Thank you so much for reading this review of Code Geass! If you haven’t already, please consider joining the Patreon and voting on the next anime to watch. Tomorrow I’ll post an introduction to the show you vote on, and then we’ll start it on Monday. See you guys then!

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