I had high hopes after watching the beginning of the show but it never really felt like it turned into what I expected it to be. There’s obviously more to the manga than the anime and, based on the subject matter, I think I’d actually enjoy the manga. However, I don’t review the anime with the manga in mind so that doesn’t really help my opinion of the show as a whole.
Warning: contains spoilers
Code: Breaker centers around Rei Ogami and Sakura Sakurakouji (I’m still not sure if that name is a joke or not). Rei is a member of a government sanctioned group of assassins. Each of these assassins possess special abilities, called “Code: Breakers”. Sakura discovers him by accident and sees him burning people alive. Instead of staying far, far away from Rei; Sakura is determined to stay by his side in order to stop him from killing (a task that she proves to be pretty bad at). The main story arc of the anime revolves around Sakura being drawn into Rei’s world and meeting the other Code: Breakers and the group fighting against them. That group is led by Hitomi, a former Code: Breaker who’s determined to change the world for people with special abilities.
Hitomi began working as a Code: Breaker with the lofty goal of making the world a better place. As time went on he became disenchanted with the life of a Code: Breaker as he watched more and more of his comrades die in the shadows, with no chance that anyone would know them or what they had done for the world. Eventually, Hitomi became the highest ranking Code: Breaker and tried to create a system that would not only allow Code: Breakers to do their job, but would also protect their lives. Just as things seemed to be going well, Hitomi discovered that the government had been keeping an important fact from them. The fact was that eventually people with special abilities (if their abilities were over used) would reach a point called “Code: End” where their powers would go out of control and kill them. Realizing that that meant the Code: Breakers he was trying to protect would still eventually meet an untimely demise, Hitomi went rouge. He implemented a plan to cause mass death, terror and chaos across Japan that could only be stopped by the other Code: Breakers which would ultimately force their lives, and sacrifices, to be recognized by the public.
The first half of the story deals mostly with Sakura and Rei getting to know each other and Sakura being drawn into his world. The second half is mostly dealing with the Code: Breakers fighting against Hitomi. This thing played out so predictably that it almost wasn’t worth watching. There are seven super powered characters in the show and conveniently, they all end up getting paired up for one on one fights. The fights end without anyone actually being killed (or really even badly injured) and then everyone convenes for the big final fight with Hitomi. Of course, the group doesn’t really fight so much as Rei and Hitomi fight. The fight resolves and the show ends with most of the characters left in a state of happy stasis.
I actually enjoyed the first part of that main story line. Watching Sakura follow Rei around and struggle with the reality he lives in was actually compelling to watch. I expected it to be a more traditional story where the heroine tries to change the hero from an uncaring bad guy into an altruistic hero. Instead this almost works the other way around. Rei shows Sakura that he completely understands what it means for him to be an assassin. He doesn’t pretend that he’s anything but evil and he also doesn’t pretend that he doesn’t feel the effect of being evil. Instead, he pushes forward because he understands the necessity of the service he performs. As the show progresses, Sakura seems to start to understand that as well. She also sees that while Rei is a killer, he does have his own way of trying to do good where he can.
The one thing that kind of bothered me about this aspect of the show was the role that Sakura ended up playing. In the first episode she manages to hold her own against a whole gang of thugs (at least for a little while). Based on that, I was kind of hoping that she would become more a partner for Rei. Instead she falls into the familiar role of the female hanger-on who serves little purpose outside of exposition and attempting to be the moral compass for another character. At one point we do also discover that she has some mysterious powers, but those are never really expounded upon and only really come into play a couple of times during the show. What a disappointment.
Then, there’s the 2nd part of this story that deals with Hitomi. The worst thing about this part of the story is that it accomplishes pretty much nothing. After all of Hitomi’s planning and killing, in the end, things pretty much go right back to the way they were. The Code: Breakers continue to work in secret and even leave Sakura alone back at her school. The end of the show makes it pretty obvious that this is just the first step in a larger story line, but I doubt that story will ever be told as an anime.
Without that next piece of the story, this show just doesn’t stand up to well on it’s own. Which is unfortunate, because I think this show could’ve actually been pretty good if it had been focused on really telling one piece of the story as if it were the entire story. But, as it is, it’s just too obvious that the story is incomplete to ignore it. The other aspects of the show are decent. The animation is a little more reminiscent of something from the 90’s but it’s still done well enough. The music isn’t particularly notable, but it doesn’t get in the way of the show. Overall though, even though there weren’t a lot of really obvious negatives about this show, there’s not enough positive for me to think of a good reason to recommend watching it.
Because I can’t really find a good reason to watch it, I can’t give this show a very strong recommendation. That being said, I do think it’s actually better than some shows that I’ve given slightly higher ratings. If you’re interested, read the manga instead.