Tier 3.5: Kinda the best thing, except for the part where it’s terrible
The real cheating begins! Half-tiers? What is this bullshit? Boo! Unsubscribe! I’ll get into it in a bit, but I think this show stands clearly above the Tier 3 shows, but I can’t place it among the Tier 2 shows either. Borderline entries are no stranger to Tier lists so I made the call. Anyways… Code Geass is a chimera: Part grand political mech show, part silly high school comedy, part superhero story, and part Death Note.
Why it’s on the list
It’s great at all of them! Nails them all. One episode our hero, Lelouch, is making a grand public show, outwitting everyone, and impressing with a clever use of his powers; and then we get an episode about his class using a mech to make a giant pizza. It’s fantastic. But my primary affection for the show comes from its ability to be a Death Note anime better than the actual Death Note anime. While Death Note is one of my favorite comics, I don’t actually like the television product it turned into. Everything about that show felt the need to try and make things look dynamic and exciting, even if it was just Light writing or eating potato chips, the pacing was all wrong.
The actual events of Death Note are pretty mundane, but the show plays them out to such a ridiculous extreme. Light and L’s Tennis match is a prime example of this. Code Geass solves this problem by providing the ridiculous action, which serves as a better counter balance. The first season of Code Geass is fucking perfect. That is some Tier 2 quality shit there.
The show does a great job at constructing interesting scenarios for Lelouch to think his way out of. It keeps upping the ante and stays surprising and dynamic. it’s versatile nature means that you never know what to expect next. The ending string of episodes is fucking amazing, and one of my favorite things in fiction. As the show goes on, it goes all in on characters fighting with world views as much as with giant robots. The philosophy dork inside me goes nuts over it.
Why it’s not higher
That being said, the beginning of season 2 is not great, and it goes downhill from there; to the point where I actually gave up on the show for a while. Coming back to it only after it had all finished airing. And while the ending string of episodes totally redeemed the show in my eyes, I can’t look past that bad half a season either. That’s why it gets a borderline ranking.