By Danae Stahlnecker,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Alternate history sci-fi has violence, nudity, heavy themes.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Themes include class disparity, warfare, genocide, imperialism, assimilation, loyalty, betrayal, and rebellion. Characters clash over what a better future looks like and how to achieve it -- through violent resistance or through changing the system from within.
Positive Role Models
Lelouch is motivated by protecting the weak and innocent but also by personal revenge. Many characters seek an end to the oppression and destruction caused by war, but they try to obtain peace and justice through violence, manipulation, and deceit.
Systemic injustice caused by colonization is a central theme. Both male and female characters hold positions of power and influence. A disabled character plays an important role, but she's also seen as child-like and helpless. One minor character is lesbian, but her attraction to another woman is portrayed as obsessive and a sign of the character's mental distress.
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Violence & Scariness
Set during an ongoing war, the show has both fantasy and real-world violence (mecha battles, guns, chemical warfare). Lelouch uses special powers to control other people, often making them commit deadly violence toward themselves or others. Combat is intense and graphic. Children and innocent citizens are killed off-screen; you can hear crying, followed by gunshots and silence.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Partial nudity includes exposed breasts, censored shots of people bathing, and characters wearing only underwear or covered by sheets. In one brief scene, a character secretly masturbates at school to the picture of another character; only her face and completely clothed backside are shown, but the scene ends with an image of bodily fluids on a table.
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Characters use slurs to enforce prejudiced stereotypes (e.g., "simpleminded Eleven," "stench of these monkeys," "Brittania dog"). There's some profanity ("badass," "bastard," "damn").
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Characters fight drug cartels and deal with the fallout of a psychotropic drug being imported by Brittanians to decimate the Japanese population through addiction. A high school student brings a bottle of champagne to a student council meeting, but the students don't drink the alcohol.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Code Geass is an alternate history sci-fi anime about the violence of imperial wars and resistance to colonization. Lelouch (voiced in English dub by Johnny Yong Bosch) and his classmates, friends, and family live under the oppressive rule of Britannia forces who overtook Japan. The show details the challenges of choosing survival through assimilation or revolution. Violence is rampant as both sides fight to gain power. Prejudice is highlighted through slurs, character relationships, and plot points. Lelouch's power allows him to control other people, and he often makes them harm themselves or others. There's partial nudity and a suggestive scene where a character masturbates. Language includes words like "badass," "bastard," "damn."
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What's the Story?
CODE GEASS is set in an alternate universe where the Americas are known as the Holy Britannia Empire, and they have used giant mecha suits to conquer other nations -- including Japan. When high school student Lelouch (voiced in English by Johnny Yong Bosch) gets caught up unexpectedly in a terrorist attack, he gains special geass powers from the mysterious C.C. (voiced by Kate Higgins) that allow him to control other people. He decides to use his power to fulfill his childhood vow to take down the Empire and create a peaceful world where his younger sister can live happily.
Is It Any Good?
This tense war drama serves as a useful allegory for ongoing real-world issues of prejudice, violence, and war. Code Geass features a morally gray protagonist and a large ensemble cast of characters, all of whom offer different perspectives of the Empire and how to effectively bring it down. What's good is that there are no easy answers, and even Lelouch, with all his power, isn't always right. The series sparks a lot of reflection and discussion around our lives in a complicated, violent world and what we would do to achieve the future we want.
But though characters may have different motivations, they still fall back on using violence to solve problems. Also, even though the show successfully challenges peoples' prejudices based on nationality or ethnicity, it fails to offer the same treatment to its disabled and queer characters.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about violence and war. What perspectives do different characters have about the violence they both experience and perpetuate? Why do they have these perspectives? How do you feel about their ideas?
Families can talk about peace. What would it take for communities to achieve peace? How do the characters find peace for themselves and their communities?
Families can talk about historical fiction. What parts of the story are inspired by real-world history? How does the history help us understand the characters' motivations and personal journeys?
- Premiere date: October 6, 2006
- Cast: Johnny Yong Bosch, Kate Higgins, Yuri Lowenthal
- Networks: Crunchyroll, Netflix, Hulu
- Genre: Action
- Topics: Activism, Magic and Fantasy, Robots
- TV rating: TV-14
- Last updated: April 22, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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