In terms of great anime, Code Geass ranks highly, and that is largely due to how powerfully Lelouch enthralled his audience. Whether he used his geass on not, people were compelled to pay attention. Thanks to Ichiro Okouchi’s mindful approach to the story, it is one that has survived for more than a decade and still maintains a devoted fanbase.
Code Geass aimed to create the story of a young man willing to do whatever it took to make his world better for those he loved, and, just like that young man, the show was steadfast—especially in its final act, Lelouch's death. The newest installment in the franchise, Lelouch of the Re;surrection brings the titular hero back. While resurrecting Lelouch may seem like a great idea, in reality, things aren't so simple, and there are good reasons why it is, in fact, terrible.
Updated by Alexandra Moroca on September 29th, 2021: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection has been the subject of much debate in the fandom. In the release, the hero of the show, Lelouch is given a second chance after his tragic fate at the end of the show. Some fans have been thrilled at finally seeing their hero take up arms against a fierce opponent again. Others have argued that Lelouch's death was the perfect ending and his plan all along. In truth, there are many benefits to this twist, but also many reasons why the new addition to the Code Geass universe should have taken a different approach.
16 Terrible Idea: It Feels Like Fan Service
Fans had theorized for years that Lelouch was alive and based those theories around C.C.'s final line. It was unclear if she was addressing him directly or simply talking to him the same way some people talk to lost loved ones. That dissection of the scene showed the strength that the series had and how it had trained its fans to always expect a clever trick from its protagonist.
But the creator insisted from the outset of the series that Lelouch dying was the endgame, something foretold in many of Lelouch's own words. Bringing him back to life, while satisfying for a long-time fan, feels like it cheapens the high-stakes world that Ichiro Okouchi built. To give the creators credit, the three recap films that preceded Lelouch of the Re;surrection had been building up to it. Fans are finally given their answer and learn that Lelouch did die with no intent to survive--but they do so only for C.C. to destroy it through her plan to resurrect him.
15 Good Idea: Seeing Lelouch In The Trailer Was A Rush
One of the most exciting moments in 2019 for anime was the release of the trailer for the new Code Geass installment, heavily featuring Lelouch on screen. Fans had already gotten a taste of that feeling before when Akito the Exiled premiered. Many viewers tried to decipher where it took place and if this confirmed that Lelouch was alive after the end of the original series.
Getting to see Lelouch using his geass once more in a trailer for a film with resurrection in the title was a moment fans won’t forget. Unfortunately, the footage in the original trailer was never used, which didn't sit well with some viewers.
14 Terrible Idea: Suzaku's Strong Connection With Lelouch Vanishes
Leaving aside Lelouch's desire to take down his father and avenge his mother, the story of Code Geass always rotated around the conflict between Lelouch and his best friend turned enemy, Suzaku Kururugi. The enmity between the two--forged after Lelouch kills Suzaku's main love interest Euphemia--has made many fans unjustly despise Suzaku. He pilots the knightmare frame Lancelot against Lelouch's Black Knights and even kills Lelouch in the end, but his actions are understandable. In any case, whether viewers like him or not, the fact remains that Suzaku is an essential part of Code Geass.
In Lelouch of the Re;surrection, that just doesn't show. He has some good moments, but he's mostly a shadow of what he used to be. His strong connection with Lelouch vanishes, to the detriment of both characters.
13 Good Idea: The Two Friends Do Reunite & Set Past Differences Aside
The movie may have done a lot of damage to Suzaku's character, but it does add a few welcome moments of interaction between Suzaku and Lelouch. Suzaku's reunion with Lelouch packs a bigger punch than most of the scenes in the movie— literally. Suzaku's outburst at seeing his friend alive is far more believable and emotional than the other characters' reaction to Lelouch's resurrection. The two friends reconcile, in their own way, which brings a form of painful closure to their arc.
12 Terrible Idea: It Made Shirley Less Of A Character
Having acknowledged the fact that some people may not be on board with Lelouch's resurrection, the team behind Code Geass released three films that created an alternate universe. Dubbed Initiation, Transgression, and Glorification, the movies changed key events throughout the series without ruining the major plot points. Lelouch still has himself assassinated, but the key to saving Lelouch turns out to be Shirley losing her complex storyline.
In a series that hinged on creating complications for its characters, it’s a shame that the only way they could conceive Lelouch surviving was through simplifying one of their best female characters. To make matters worse, Shirley barely shows up in the sequel movie, which makes her previous involvement seem unnecessary.
11 Good Idea: It Sheds Some Light On What Might Have Happened After Lelouch's Plan Worked
In the finale of Code Geass, Lelouch chooses to draw all the world's hatred upon himself. This way, everyone else can get a second chance, one that will allow them to move forward while leaving behind warmongering. Lelouch of the Re;surrection makes it clear that his idea did work, but only for a little while. There were other interests in play, and not everyone was happy with his decision.
The country of Zilkhstan--whose main trade was in providing mercenary services--shatters the peace Lelouch bought with his life. The twin leaders of Zilkhstan, Shamna and Shalio, have additional interests, as Shamna is also a Geass user and intends to use it to twist Lelouch's world into something entirely new.
10 Terrible Idea: It Endangered The Message Lelouch’s Death Stood For
Lelouch’s plan was to unite the world around the destruction of an evil emperor, but with the success of C.C.'s plan, the demon has been brought back. Throughout their time abroad, C.C. and Lelouch manage to stay underneath the radar, but even so, his simple existence places the Zero Requiem in danger. If someone were to find out he was alive and reveal the truth to the world, it could become a real problem.
9 Terrible Idea: It Aborts Nunnally's Arc Turning Her Into A Plot Device Again
One of the most endearing and important parts of Lelouch's character has always been his relationship with his sister Nunnally. After the Zero Requiem, Nunnally was left behind after Lelouch sacrificed himself as the sacrificial lamb he believed his world needed. It was clear that she possessed the quality of a benevolent ruler, but the question remained if the rest of the world would be able to accept her or see her as someone weak to be deposed.
In Re;surrection, fans get to see that her being a true leader was never even considered. She is only an Honorary Consultant for the UFN. To give her credit, she has successfully been handling peacekeeping missions, with Suzaku's loyal support. Unfortunately, this doesn't last. She is taken captive and used as a tool in Shamna's plan to channel the power of Charles's Geass. In the bigger picture, she is once again turned into a plot device and someone Lelouch has to save, which does nothing for her character arc.
8 Good Idea: Without Lelouch Surviving, Nunnally Would Have Probably Been Killed
Lelouch surviving doesn’t seem to have anything to do with Nunnally being captured and Suzaku being unable to save her, but, without him, the chances of her escaping were low. Because this isn’t a direct sequel to the series, it is impossible to say that Nunnally would have been kidnapped on that goodwill mission, but it seems likely. Since they were going up against someone who had the ability to travel back in time, without Lelouch’s unmatched strategic prowess, Nunnally may have even died in the main reality.
7 Terrible Idea: Lelouch's Emotional Involvement In His Sister's Presence And Rescue Seems Lackluster
Despite the close, almost obsessive bond Lelouch had with Nunnally in previous installments of the series, the newly resurrected Lelouch doesn't seem to show the same investment in her well-being. He does want to save her, but compared to his previous intensity, he seems aloof and almost uncaring. His fire has completely burned out. It's understandable, considering that there must be some side effects to dying and being brought back. Even so, it's a fundamental change to the character that doesn't really suit him. It felt as if his resurrection did damage to who he truly was.
6 Good Idea: It Gives C.C. More Agency
C.C. wasn’t the most active character in the plot of the main series. For the most part, she was satisfied to see what Lelouch would do with a power that had caused her so much hurt and loneliness. In a way, that’s a large part of her story arc, being shown that the curse she thought she bore wasn’t exactly as it seemed.
However, if C.C. was meant to be in love with Lelouch all along, it is hard to accept that she wouldn’t try to stop him from enacting his plan, or at least come up with one of her own so that they could both get what they want. Creating this alternate universe where C.C. is the one responsible for his resurrection gives her an agency that she didn’t entirely have before.
5 Terrible Idea: The Focus On Lelouch & C.C. Leaves Very Little Room For Kallen
Kallen Kozuki appears in Code Geass as Zero's most trusted Black Knight and protector. Her rivalry with Suzaku and her prowess in the Knightmare frame Guren are both legendary. It's therefore quite outrageous that in Lelouch of the Re;surrection, she is also reduced to a handful of scenes that don't really illustrate the depth of her character. She and Suzaku both have intense battle scenes, but it seems like the two are only there to make big explosions.
4 Good Idea: Kallen's Interactions With Lelouch Are Few But Truly Heartfelt
Kallen may not get a lot of time to shine, but she does manage to interact with Lelouch when he is still a shell of his former self. Her reaction to seeing him is truly endearing, and the way she holds his mindless form and cries is a touching moment that remains in the hearts of her fans.
3 Terrible Idea: Lelouch's Return Makes The Zero Requiem Obsolete & Unbalanced In Suzaku's Disfavor
The ending of the film implies that Lelouch is going to continue being “dead.” He gives up his name and starts going by the initials L.L. to suggest that while he may have returned, he’s not going back to his old ways. With Nunnally saved and Suzaku returning to being Zero, things are back on track for the peace Lelouch wanted.
But all things considered, this reiterates the fact that the Zero Requiem truly wasn't a good idea. Lelouch is a master strategist who is able to deduce that someone has the power to travel into the past when she dies after she is able to predict all of his moves. He must have known his death wasn't truly necessary. It was never really just about peace, but rather, about Lelouch's desire to die and Suzaku's desire to be punished. And with Lelouch's return, only one of these elements has been preserved. Suzaku lives on carrying the burden of Lelouch's command, but Lelouch is free of the responsibility of what he has done. It is unjust and it unbalances the original ending.
2 Good Idea: It Gave A Satisfying End To The Love Story
Romance was never at the heart of Code Geass, so it's no surprise that the ending of the original anime didn't exactly wrap up their story in a way that made shippers happy. Instead, it gave us a forlorn C.C. who seemed to have found happiness thanks to Lelouch but didn't need to be with him.
This universe's C.C. is less satisfied with letting Lelouch call the shots. He didn't consider her in terms of killing himself, and so she doesn't see any need to take his feelings into account when resurrecting him. Lelouch comes back to her, and after the battle ends, the two leave together. Lelouch's pledge to change his name for her is a clear acknowledgment of his love and dedication to her.
1 Terrible Idea: It Made C.C.'s Character Almost Impossible To Recognize
Lelouch and C.C.'s romance may have been endearing, but it also made C.C.'s character impossible to recognize. She seems far more outspoken and open than the emotionally remote witch loyal fans know from the series. Her emotional outburst in the cockpit of the Mahoroba is completely out of character. Her new pilot suit doesn't help, as it's hard to take someone seriously when they're being so blatantly objectified. She could have easily grown as a character and even taken steps to resurrect Lelouch without turning into an entirely different person.