I could easily just say that the show let me down about halfway through, by morphing into something else. Done in a manner that caused what it was to be undermined and what it became to be poorly structured. But I write two pages minimum, so I’ll just get to the actual review.
Studio: Kinema Citrus
Length: 13 episodes
Availability: Subtitled at Hulu and Funimation
Code:Breaker is a show about teens and young adults with super powers. Who work for the government and kill Yakuza members along with other people with superpowers. It is also about government control. The suppression of said powerful individuals. A parody of the dark character archetype. A parody of a decent chunk of school life animes. And seeing how much of a 23 volume manga series you can cram into a thirteen episode series without things getting messy.
Let me explain. Code:Breaker starts off by centering around a high schooler named Sakura Sakurakouji. A kind girl who stumbles into the life of a mysterious transfer student named Rei Ogami, a deliciously evil teen with the ability to conjure blue flames from his palms. And the seedy underbelly of the world they both live in, as Sakura tries to stop him from setting gang members on fire. Also, there’s a puppy in there sometimes.
This leads to roughly five episodes of silly enough Shonen fun under the notion that it involves cops willing to shoot intruders while they make deals with gang members. Interspersed with autistic guys who are really into a cat character. And a school subplot involving an entire class trying to ship Sakura and Ogami together.
For about the first five or six episodes, Code:Breaker is a parody of whatever subgenre it is taking on, with the underlying pretense of trying to appeal to the cynical asshole demographic. Through things like using children as power sources for muscular men that throw them on the floor as they beg for redemption with their dying breath. From little things like dogs having a very sketchbook-like face, and the main characters being either wholly optimistic, or the kind of character who admits to being an evil in the world. Along with being a bit of a brat, but one who sets things on fire rather than whine about them.
It begins as a very fun show, not lighthearted in the slightest, but far from mean spirited as it goes through cliches like the main character, Sakura actually being a “rarebreed” whatever that means. Yet, something happened, as the story’s focus more or less shifted into something that could have been an entire other season, or actual show. As they decide to shove in five more super powered individuals, all of whom have surprisingly interesting powers with being the master of magnetism as the most lame of the bunch. The show more or less loses its parodic charm, with the largest example being how the team of super powered people that become the main characters. With Sakura being an accessory, despite being the one who the show focused on for the great majority of the earlier episodes
In a move that creates more questions than anything, when individuals with superpowers use their powers too much, they are “Lost” meaning they are unconscious, turn into children, or become cats for 24 hours. With no real sense of irony in place, except one likes cats and becomes one. Which is more odd than humorous, because a person turned into a cat!
All centered around the idea of a team coming together and taking down one of their members who wishes to destroy the world, or 50,000 people, or the government, or the show kinda forgot why he was evil. With no real emotional weight, due to how little we actually see of this team that worked together for years, actually working together. Instead having people with ice powers to provide racial diversity, or hint an an unfinished subplot. But that was foreshadowing for season two, having a guy just be helping the antagonist.
It devolves into an unfocused sludge meandering about from one story that lacks proper backstory, from one that was clearly building up to something, but was cut off halfway. With very odd narrative decisions being made all the while, like shoving in random action girls who you kill off, but not really, since you did not see a body. Or having Sakura’s parents, a long haired man with shut eyes and a woman wearing a school uniform top, being heads of a gang for the downtrodden.
The show just feels very sloppy, making narrative mistakes like assuming we care about someone because she is an assistant to a character we like. Especially when she does not do anything in the grand scheme of things. As stated before, Sakura is an accessory near the end, with the show remembering she was framed to be the actual main character of this show, when the second half has her act as a tagalong, not curious about her “rarebreed” powers after she uses them!
But seeing as it is customary, I actually do find the show to be visually appealing. With not too stellar designs, I mean, the main character is a guy with longish hair and blue eyes. But it makes the fight scenes all the more impressive, with very neat looking effects in place. Even if that does allocate the budget to have some humorously bad background bits when it thinks it is a school life anime. And other than that, is average at worst. With it’s biggest non story telling prowess being a voice cast that I appreciated beyond the language barrier.
Code:Breakers has the makings for two well done single season shows. However, combining them just leaves us with two incomplete drafts of what the show could have been. Resulting in something neither solid or liquid, with the texture of snail slime. I am at the point where I am growing to accept this, even though I believe it to be remarkably poor story telling. I understand that it is tempting to make characters, and that a constant character in a sea of more interesting ones can be hard to maintain. But because of it, I pretty much have no interest in revisiting this series, because I don’t know what it even is trying to be near the end.
There are a few high point, yet the entire experience is hampered by issues that outnumber the good. Not the worst, but not all that good.