One of the criticisms of Code Lyoko in season 1 was that the concept was complicated and it was hard to figure out what was going on. There was no true pilot episode. In reality, this was to improve syndication. Personally, I thought it enhanced the show for several reasons. Prior to the end of season 2, even the characters didn't completely know what was going on in the show, so there was no reason for the viewer to know either. Additionally, part of the mystery of the show was the viewer figuring the show out on their own. Finally, by not making a pilot, the writers were assuming that the viewers were smart enough to figure the show out on their own; and they unintentionally started Code Lyoko's long-standing belief of assuming that even the kids that the show was made for were intelligent people who liked high-quality entertainment.
Due to many viewer opinions on the topic, as well as some animation goofs; X.A.N.A. Awakens is still a controversial episode for the fandom. Some people think it was a cinematographic mistake that was only made to pad out the season. Others love it as a character piece and as a piece of continuity porn. While I believe that both camps have a point, I am going to put my prior opinions aside, and review this merely as an episode. Because the plots are so heavily interconnected, I will be reviewing both parts as one episode. My scoring system is simple: 10 - 0 with 10 being amazing, and 0 being Melanie Tran's acting. My review is, as usual, based on the English dub.
Part 1 starts off with the season 2-3 opening title sequence. Personally, I think this was a little tacky. Given the nature of this episode, it should have had a special title sequence. The problem was made worse by using a season 2-style titlecard. COME ON! AT LEAST USE A SEASON 1 TITLECARD! MINUS ONE POINT FOR HALFASSERY!
We see Jeremie working on his diary starting on October 9th. His room is a pigsty. We find out that he was looking for parts for his robotics hobby. Kadic didn't really have much to work with, and as a sign of desperation, he goes to the renault auto factory. I guess that since it never worked, nobody will notice it missing. For some reason, he took the sewers to get there. No reason is given for why he took the sewers, but I'll let it slide, since this is a nation where Odd is allowed to pilot a car later in the series. The sewers are probably safer.
We find out that Jeremie found the supercomputer and reactivated it. He then goes to the lab, finding a mysterious pink-haired girl. Since there are no naughty tentacles visible, he concludes that this is not anime, but rather, a video game. The mysterious pink-haired girl asks where she is and who the blonde guy is.
Cut to the Science Building, via recycled footage, because even though it's the first episode, Code Lyoko must be at least 10% recycled footage. Odd meets Ulrich, saying that the principal assigned him to Ulrich's roommate. Okay, at this point, if I was in Ulrich's place, I would see that Mr. Delmas was hanging from the gym's rafters, never mind that he's Sissi's dad. Odd's hair is down in this scene, as a non-subtle reminder of what is to come. Both of the two have good lines in this scene.
Sissi comes in, nose raised at arrogent-french-person levels, oh wait. She flirts with Ulrich. We find out that most of the male cast has a crush on her, she has a crush on him, and he thinks that she is brain-dead.
Cut back to the lab, where we get the scene where the mysterious anime girl is named Maya by Jeremie.
- Jeremie: "Artificial Intelligence, can you hear me?"
- Artificial Intelligence: "Yes, but can you call me something else?"
- Jeremie: "How about Artificially modified bodyparts?"
- Artificially modified bodyparts: "JEREMIE!"
- Jeremie: "What? That's clearly not your real hair color."
- Artificially modified bodyparts: "Oh. But could you still call me something else?"
- Jeremie: "how about Maya?"
Maya ends up asking where she is, and how to get out. All Jeremie knows is that she's in a virtual world named Lyoko, and recommends that she try to find a door. She takes a few moments to figure out how to work the walls of the towers. The season 2 vehicle music is used, even though it shouldn't be. Continuing the continuity fandisservice, she arrives in the Forest Sector, with season 2 lighting.
I like that she was in the Forest Sector, given her memories from "The Key." But I think they should have used the season 1 lighting engine. Based on the appearance of a map, they figure out that there are 4 sectors, with different motifs. They then encounter a couple of Kankrelats, which immediately start shooting at her. She runs back to the tower, and upon entering it, she collapses, and her lifepoints regenerate. Okay, the shot of zooming out on her passed out body, while spinning, is just cheesy.
We see Yumi get a drink and walk off, while Ulrich looks at her boobs. I'm not exaggerating, he actually does. Odd contemplates dating Sissi, but XANA does not approve of oddsy, and shocks Jeremie as a warning. This causes Ulrich to act concerned for him. Ulrich takes Jeremie to the infirmary, telling Odd to tell their teacher what's going on. Throughout this scene, Ulrich calls Jeremie by his last name, indicating that they really don't know eachother.
Some people ask why XANA immediately tried to Kill Jeremie in this episode, given that Jeremie really isn't a threat. I think I figured out why XANA tries to exterminate humanity. When XANA was first created, the very first person he met was Franz Hopper, a man so crazy that even Aelita pointed it out at one point. The next person he met was Aelita. Since XANA has at least a peripheral understanding of the outside world, he can sense what's going on in the factory. That means that he can sense the horrors of french engineering. He can also sense the school, which means that he can sense the amazing incompetence of a school that hired Jim, hired a man as crazy as Franz Hopper, keeps open containers of toxic waste near children, and is run by a man so spineless that Sissi can manipulate him. He can also sense the hospital, and the horrors of the french mental healthcare system. Based on all these things at once, my guess is that XANA encountered all of these horrors of humanity, and it's first reaction to a species that consistently produced such horrible things was, "AHH! KILL IT! KILL IT WITH FIRE! actually, SCREW FIRE, KILL IT WITH FIRE, ORBITAL BOMBARDMENT, DEATH LASERS, CAPTAIN JANEWAY'S CYBERNETIC SPIDERS, ARMIES OF ROBOTS, THE POWER OF STEPHEN KING NOVELS, WEATHER, ELECTRIC TAR, AND ANYTHING ELSE THAT COMES TO MIND!" XANA is not evil. It's just trying to save itself and all other species from the horrors of humanity. Given that the main and secondary cast includes Yumi, an implied domestic abuser; Ulrich, a disturbed stalker; Jim, a person who smiles at the thought of rubbing himself with poop; Jeremie, a necrophile; Aelita, a pedophile; Odd, a manwhore moron; and other horrors, I kind of have to side with XANA on this one.
With a bad pun about electricity, Jeremie thanks Ulrich for helping him. Cut to the next scene, which is Jim treating the martial arts class as a group, even though Ulrich is the only one. Bonus point for using neo-kafka humor in a kid's show. Yumi shows up, using the show's first case of Yumi being Japanese, not Chinese. Jim tells a story that shows that even when he was a forest ranger in quebec, he was still a buffoon. Ulrich points out that he would be better off not talking about it. Continuing the neo-kafka humor, they break into groups of two, which there is one of.
I like that the Gym has a grainier season 1 look in this scene. It shows that even though the 3d animation and audio departments are half-assing this, the chinese sweatshop employees who make the 2d animation are keeping with the theme of the episode. To the delight of the shippers and feminists, Yumi kicks Ulrich to the ground, and they're on eachother and blushing. Since ruining fanservice is one of the 5 billion jobs jim has on that campus, he promptly ruins the fanservice.
Ulrich returns to his room, finding that Kiwi has trashed the place. Ulrich goes to tell the principal about kiwi, while Odd doesn't care.
In Jeremie's room, Jeremie's screen dies, and the robots attack him. Ulrich comes to help, and the robots are defeated. Ulrich is genre savy enough to know that something is up. Jeremie figures out that he's in over his head, and explains the situation to Ulrich. They go to the factory, with Jeremie explaining that they used the sewers to bypass curfew. We get a brief scene of Ulrich's fear of heights being an issue. Jeremie introduces Ulrich and Maya, explaining the situation. Jeremie explains that he wants to get Maya off of Lyoko. Cut to Sissi going through outfits. Cut to the Scanner Room, with even more infodump. Ulrich and Jeremie need a guinea pig. Ulrich decides to solve multiple problems at the same time, and start a war with PETA.
Since Ulrich is 10 minutes late for their date, Sissi goes to check on him. She walks in on Odd chasing Ulrich, who is kidnapping Kiwi. Odd collides with sissi, resulting in a deleted scene of him touching her breasts. I'm serious. The writers initially intended to make that joke, but it was decided that it was inappropriate. The animation for it was even done. So, just so we're clear, pedophilia, necrophilia, child murder, fondeling your ex while they sleep, stalking, and domestic violence are all okay, but a little bit of accidental boob touching is not. What the hell france?
Sissi and Odd chase Ulrich to the boiler room and the secret passage. This is where the prequel got funny. This isn't parody dialog:
- Sissi: "I bet there's another girl behind this!"
- Odd: "There isn't. It's my dog, Kiwi!"
- Sissi passes out
- Odd: "What's he taking him to this factory for?"
- Sissi: "Who knows? Maybe he wants to use him for some horrible science experiment"
- Odd: "You watch too many horror movies"
- Sissi: "Yeah, you're right, that was pretty dumb, it's probably more of some ritual sacrifice or voodoo or something"
So Kiwi is in the scanner, and while Ulrich and Jeremie are ready to go, Odd and Sissi find Kiwi, to even more comedy. Odd switches places with Kiwi, and gets virtualized. Sissi calls for help. Odd ends up in the Forest Sector, and Jeremie fills him in, while Ulrich fills Sissi in. Odd needs help, and they decide to send Ulrich and Sissi to help. Sissi declines due to being sane. In the name of bad audio production, the season 2 virtualization music is used.
Ulrich and Odd figure out their weapons, while Sissi finds the lab. XANA attempts to attack with electric tentacle wires, causing Jeremie to conclude, it's not just a video game, it's an anime. Ulrich reveals that Jeremie has a thing for Aeltia, while Odd makes fun of it. Since Jeremie is busy with the naughty tentacles, Ulrich and Odd have to find the tower on their own. They find a way tower, and think it's the right one. Since the viewer knows that the towers are color coded for our convenience, they know that it's a way tower. They come out in the Ice Sector, which at least has the decency to have season 1 lighting. They find a red tower, and start to deduce that it's a weird tower. Like anyone who has played pokemon, they know that if something is normally blue, but it's red, then something is up.
The two are attacked by bloks. Odd uses the shield that he's not supposed to have till season 2. The two are then devirtualized. Sissi calls for help. We enter the room of naughty electric tentacle wires. Odd defeats the wires, and they tell Aelita everything is mostly okay. Minus another point for using the season 3 credits sequence! Cue part 2.
Season 2 titlesequence and titlecard that I already deducted points for...
We get a cafeteria scene, with Sissi fawning over Ulrich, and Odd unveiling his new hairstyle, which was the one he had on lyoko. In his room, Jeremie explains to Aelita that she can't be devirtualized and they go over the towers. Jeremie explains to Sissi, Ulrich, and Odd that he wants them to go back to Lyoko to get Aeltia into an activated tower so they can get her out. Ulrich says that they should just turn the supercomputer off, since it's not worth the effort. And Jeremie argues that she's still intelligent, so that would be wrong. Jeremie, we know from season 4 that you don't care about AI rights, so don't lie to us. Just say that you want to get involved with her. IS THAT SO HARD?! They agree to keep Lyoko a secret and that when Aeltia was safe, they would shut the supercomputer down.
We see Sissi getting ready for her cheerleading routine, scenery porn, Aelita discovering the pulsations, and a fight scene between Yumi and Ulrich, complete with season 1 virtualization music! Sissi performs horrible cheerleading. Aeltia, having encountered the pulsations, encounters the Aeltia Options!
- 0. Act suicidal and/or crazy.
- 1. Attack it with a long single note of angry music.
- 2. Have an argument with it.
- 3. Use Energy Fields.
Despite what the horrible audio people think, this technically isn't season 3. The monsters out there aren't sentient, so 2 is out. She doesn't know about her creativity yet, so 1 is out, so she uses 0! and leaves the tower to find the source of the pulsations!
Ulrich and Yumi introduce themselves, with Ulrich accidentally calling her Yuri. I would like to point out that Yuri is both a Russian name for a man, and a Japanese word for lesbian erotic fanfiction. Make what you will of that.
We find Nicholas and Herb following Sissi. Sissi's only problem is that there should be more men blindly following her. She is then attacked by a giant energy field. In the library, we see Jeremie discovering the Return To The Past program, while Odd is a moron. They hear what happened to Sissi. On Lyoko, Aelita is pursued by two kankrelats, and true to the Aeltia options, jumps off a cliff. Against all odds, this works, and the kankrelats are eliminated, only to be replaced by hornets.
In the Gym, Ulrich and Yumi call their fight a tie. Ulrich leaves, and Yumi joins due to having nothing else to do. They are then attacked by the disco ball of doom. THE DISCO BALL OF DOOM COMMANDS THAT THEY WILL NOT SURVIVE! It attacks them, and they run. While Sissi is in the infirmary, Ulrich and Jeremie call eachother, and summarize the plot. Yumi joins Ulrich, because it's probably a good idea to stick with the guy who knows what's going on. They rendezvous in the sewer, and goto the factory. On Lyoko, Aelita escapes the mountains, to get to the ice sector. They arrive at the factory, while the discoball of doom flies through the sewer. Aelita explains her deathwish to Jeremie.
The other 3 get virtualized, with season 2 virtualization music. Odd explains the gist of Lyoko to her. Sissi regains consciousness, and performs an infodump that's actually interesting. On Lyoko, Aeltia is attacked by two kankrelats, but defeats them with their stupidity, and recycled footage. She then gets surrounded by Blocks, and saved by the others. Yumi discovers her fans. Sissi proceeds to take her dad and Jim to the factory. The discoball of doom attacks the factory, starting the grad tradition of XANA stealing his attack ideas from Mrs. Hertz's class. On Lyoko, they encounter Krabs.
Interestingly, in the lab, the discoball of doom displaces the Holomap, resulting in some interesting animation. Odd and Ulrich get devirtualized. Aelita gets cornered by the remaining Krab, and encounters the Aeltia Options!
- 0. Act suicidal and/or crazy.
- 1. Attack it with a long single note of angry music.
- 2. Have an argument with it.
- 3. Use Energy Fields.
Someone else already is doing 3, 0 has been done to death this episode, and 2 is out because the krabs aren't sentient. 1 it is! She then erects an ice wall, and runs to the tower. Yumi is devirtualized. In the tower, aelita discovers an interface, and runs Code Lyoko. The discoball of doom is defeated. Back in the lab, Ulrich is angry at Sissi for revealing the lab, and she is angry about the Chinese girl "JAPANESE!", and Jeremie needs to know where Maya is.
Since their plan didn't work, and Sissi infodumped, they launch the RTTP. Jeremie only sort of remembers the supercomputer afterwards. So the others fill him in. Aelita reveals her name, having seen it in the tower. We find out that Ulrich stood up Sissi for their date, starting the feud between them. The next night, Aelita and Jeremie explain X.A.N.A. Aelita recommends shutting down the supercomputer, but the rest of them decide not to, since they can counter XANA. Jeremie continues working on materializing Aelita. Cue the season 3 credits. There is another issue here. Why did they treat Sissi that way? First, yes she screwed up, but she was trying to help them. Second, she doesn't remember what happened, so why do they treat her poorly over it?
The 3D animation department and the audio Department did a terrible job on this episode. The script was excellent, the 2d animation perfect, and the acting was relatively good. The comedy was better than usual. This episode had other flaws though. Pointless censorship by the animators and the issue of how the characters treated Sissi. Furthermore, there was too much post-season 1 stuff for something that's supposedly a prequel episode.
Overall rating: 7/10. The concept was excellent, including the script. But there were too many art style issues with the Lyoko scenes and the music. The comedy was some of the best of the series. Was this episode a cinematographic mistake that was only made to pad out the season, or a character piece and as a piece of continuity porn? From what I can tell, it was both. And that's one of the best things about Code Lyoko. Even when an episode is blatant padding, it's still high quality entertainment.