Finally wrapping up Code Geass R2 after a long, up-and-down journey. It does finally get somewhere with about a half-dozen episodes left. It also continues to go out of its way to shoot itself in the foot in every way possible—one I didn’t see coming, but probably should have, was a blatant Eva-esque metaphysical nosedive. Yet, Lelouch keeps doing awesome things that keep me mostly enjoying it, and wishing it would’ve quit while it was ahead. (If nothing else, he gets credit for the big “tempted-by-the-bad-guy” moment—one which unlike most actually had decent reason to sway his resolve. It took him about a second and a half to get to “You’re nuts, this is stupid, die.” If only every other hero had that kind of spine.)
More substantially, it’s now abundantly clear that the series was just churning out filler for the entire season and a half of the R2 run up to that point. Not that some of it wasn’t interesting—it had some fun with Lelouch absolutely owning his fake brother Rolo through artificial kindness—but with a minimum of adjustment everything between episodes 1 and 18 of R2 could have been cut out and it would have flowed perfectly well from the first 26 episodes. In fact, there was enough extra stuff in those first two seasons that the whole series probably could have been fit into 26 episodes without losing anything substantial. 36 episodes would have been more than enough (an ironic reversal of Escaflowne’s abortive 3rd season end—that’s the only series that comes to mind that really needed 4 seasons, which of course it didn’t get).
It was, for the most part, just re-enacting stuff that had already been done, with minor adjustments. Even more disappointingly, several things it did seem to be setting up as new and interesting got ditched in favor, largely, of more mecha fighting. There’s a big Ougi/Villetta scene that appears to have been entirely edited out, the ultra-badass Chinese dude more or less vanishes after his big, somewhat arbitrary moment, and there’s some stuff with C.C. that seemed to peter out before it got anywhere.
And don’t even get me started about the epic levels of super-mecha overload (no, sorry, I meant stuper-mecha) by the time the big showdown rolls around. I had completely lost count, but among other things we had an entire team of girls in there somewhere who were explicitly piloting “Valkyries,” as if the cheesy-looking transforming mech that was a complete visual ripoff of a Valkyrie wasn’t enough. Pretty much everything can fly now, of course, which was an area that it had been SO good about for most of the first series. Plus a mech that Lelouch can actually pilot because it involves lots of typing or calculations or something.
Oh, and there’s actually a rocket punch in the big melee. Once you put that in, you might as well just have Ichirou Mizuki do the theme song and call it a day.
Oh well, at least there’s some real potential for the last few episodes to do an interesting final twist if it’s going where I think it is (the big moment the whole thing has been building toward, interestingly, is not the end—there’s a surprising amount of extra stuff after, and from the looks of it something substantial). This is assuming that they did, from the beginning, know this is where it was headed and just padded for marketing reasons. There’s also the chance that they didn’t know where it was going and just started flailing for ideas. Which the big, rather abrupt, reveal about what was up with C.C. talking to dead people and the Emperor’s whole big plan made me suspicious of (and if it was planned like that from the beginning, it wasn’t planned very well).