Code Geass did a lot of things right for a mecha shounen anime. It had excellent battles, well-developed characters, and character conflicts. But, most of all, I enjoyed this anime because it brazenly presented philosophical questions. What is justice? What is national identity? How does nationalism turn into racism? Should the powerful rule over the weak? Is it possible to end world conflict? Do the ends justify the means?
It isn’t even necessary to read too deep into the plot to pull out these themes because the characters flat out discuss these things. The opening commonly asks us to ponder these more philosophical questions about time, consequences, etc.
There is a lot to be said about the show. However, I felt like the development of the “F.L.E.I.J.A” super weapon is the most interesting. This isn’t the only technological advancement made during the show. The mechas are constantly getting new upgrades. This could be a cleaver plot device to level their power system, or it could be a illustration of how war typically speeds up technical advancements. This, leading to one of my favorite quotes in the show:
Well, you know what they say… war is the mother of invention.– Lloyd Asplund
The introduction of the super-weapon changed the dichotomy of war drastically. No longer was it just people who were willing to fight that died in the war, but, millions of people as entire cities got erased. Both the power of the FLEIJA, and of the power of Geass could bend people into absolute submission. Which of these weapons is more unethical to use? Who shoulders the burden of responsibility for using such a weapon? The story later sabotaged the importance of the FLEIJA, by then creating a anti-FLEIJA weapon. But, the devastating effects of the weapon were already felt by that part of the story with two cities being destroyed– reminiscent of Japan during WWII.
If this type of plot development with the FLEIJA sounds familiar, it is because it is all over the place in anime. Think about how Netero Killed Meruem with the Miniature Rose [nuclear] bomb in Hunter X Hunter. Or, consider the Colossal titan in Attack on Titan. Or the N2 mine in Neon Genesis Evangelion.