Flashback Review: Code Lyoko: Season 1

In 2001, a short animated French film titled, “Garage Kids” produced by now defunct “MoonScoop Group.” The short is about a group of pre-teens names are Ulrich Stern, Yumi Ishiyama, Jeremy Belpolis & Odd Della Robbia, band together using their newfound powers to combat an A.I. hellbent to dominate the real world. The kids enter a virtual world called, “Xanadu” (has nothing to do with Olivia Newton John) by tracking down a tower as the only source to put a stop to the virus’ evil plan.

When Garage Kids was pitched in a meeting, producers did some major tweaks to improve its mythology such as renaming Xanadu as Lyoko, (possibly avoiding a lawsuit from Olivia Newton John) expanding Lyoko’s environment, creating a fifth member named, Aelita, a friendly A.I. who eventually becomes the Main Protagonist and crafting a story arc involving Jeremy trying to find a source to let Aelita enter the real world. Afterwards, Garage Kids was renamed as “Code Lyoko.”

Code Lyoko’s first season aired on Cartoon Network in 2004 as part of former block known as “Miguzi.” (same year The Incredibles came out) It received good reception from critics and viewers alike. Code Lyoko spawned three seasons, three video games, action figures & a negatively received follow up series titled, “Code Lyoko: Evolution,” responsible for imploding the series.

“The Matrix 4” is slated for a 2022 release date. To gear up for the upcoming sequel, The Matrix Trilogy influenced Code Lyoko. “Cyberpunk 2077” will be released on November. Code Lyoko is part of the cyberpunk genre.

Note from October 27, 2020: Cyberpunk 2077’s release date is moved to December 10. Plus, The Matrix 4 is coming out in December 2021.

Today’s review contains SPOILERS. Unlike Seasons 2-4, Season 1 tells the same episode repeatedly. If you haven’t seen the first season or curious about Code Lyoko, watch it right now.

The Entire Season

Pros: Voice Actors all did a great job for their voiceover performances.

Action Sequences were spot on with our heroes battling XANA’s monsters in Lyoko, going on foot overcoming obstacles like a platform video game and stay in the real-world stalling XANA’s wrath to buy Aelita some time to make it to a tower.

Chemistry between Aelita, Ulrich, Yumi, Odd & Jeremy felt balanced. Their personalities are memorable.

I think Code Lyoko might’ve inspired “Stranger Things.” Aelita & Jeremy’s chemistry is similar to Eleven & Mike. Both Odd & Dustin are comical. Ulrich & Yumi’s on-and off-again friendship/relationship are kinda like Lucas & Max. Don’t forget a character named, Jim who’s caught in the action. XANA & The Mind Flayer raise the stakes by summoning their own monster or possess anything they touch in the real world. Gotta give credit where credit is due. Maybe The Duffer Brothers are fans of Code Lyoko.

Aelita is my favorite character on the show. When I was 10, I used to have a crush on her.

Aelita has an earring on one of her ears like Harrison Ford’s pierced ear.

Jim, a bumbling gym teacher is the comic relief. He gets into a messy situation as he mostly factors in whenever he’s suspicious towards The Gang’s secret missions. Although a goofball, he has some awesome moments protecting them from XANA’s schemes.

Season 1’s story arc focuses on Jeremy attempting to develop a source for Aelita to visit him and his friends in the real world. Then defeat XANA by shutting down Lyoko.

Both 2D & 3D Animation still hold up with its anime influence. Maybe “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” computer animation was inspired by Code Lyoko’s unique look.

The show is influenced by “The Matrix Trilogy” “Tron,” “Ghost in the Shell,” “Alita Battle Angel,” (both manga/anime not the live action film) & “ReBoot.”

Whenever a monster fires, they sound like blaster sound effects from “Star Wars.”

Bullet Time is often used during a battle. Courtesy of The The Matrix Trilogy. It was the early 2000’s when The Matrix was either referenced or spoofed.

My favorite episode from Season 1 is the two parter episode “Code: Earth” & “False Start.”

Cons: Each episode feels repetitive doing the same plot threads over and over again without any variation nor subverting a single trope. It’s “Power Rangers” all over again repeating the same thing. For example, Yumi often gets devirtualized. Basically, the Rodney Dangerfield of Lyoko who gets no respect.

Whenever Aelita enters a tower to stop XANA’s wrath, why the heck is she walking so damn slow? If I were Jeremy, I’d shout “Come on Jessica Tandy let’s go while we’re young!”

Some of the animation has some visual errors or reuse scenes from previous episodes. Must’ve been on a tight budget.

A random character factoring in one episode is never seen or heard again after making his/her only appearance. There’s no legitimate explanation where the actual heck Talia (Aelita’s look alike) go?

Episode 1 – TeddyGodzilla

Soft: Episode 1’s title is a play on word for Godzilla. Also, a double reference to a teddy bear turned into a Kaiju sized monster thanks to XANA’s influence. Coincidentally, “Godzilla: Final Wars” came out in 2004.

As I mentioned earlier, XANA takes control of teddy bear belonging to Milly. A pre-teen news reporter at the main characters’ boarding school.

A rolling tank chases Odd & Aelita. An obvious shoutout to the infamous boulder scene from “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” Steven Spielberg’s “The Terminal” also came out in 2004.

Rough: No con found.

Episode 2 – Seeing Is Believing

Clear: The Gang minus Jeremy, open auditions for their rock band. Jim is really good at playing trombone.

XANA attempts to blow up a nuclear power plant.

Near the end of this episode, The Gang perform a song after Aelita.

Blind: Nothing bad happened.

Episode 3 – Holiday In The Fog

Clear: Third episode’s title is a play on word of “Holiday in the Sun.”

I cracked up when Jim shouts at Jeremy. Jim’s expression reminds me of Gary Busey’s crazy default look.

Sissi, the principal’s daughter, becomes suspicious towards Jeremy upon overhearing a conversation about XANA.

Jeremy & Ulrich spray paint a crude depiction of Jim on a building so that the former can get detention for a week in order to work on Aelita’s virtual transfer to reality while the others are on a one-week vacation.

Bruce Willis is mentioned.

Cluttered: Odd shouts “Laser Flash.” He shouts “arrow” not flash.

Episode 4 – Log Book

Fast: Sissi blackmails Ulrich by forcing him to go on a date or else she’ll publish his diary on the local school newspaper. Fearing if anything related to Lyoko on his diary, it’s up to Yumi to find it before time runs out.

XANA takes control of a bus accelerating in hot pursuit. An homage to “Speed.”

Slow: Odd’s voice sounds different.

The episode ends with a freeze frame. Ugh, I hate that trope. I tend to make fun of it pretending to be a narrator on a cheesy soap opera.

Episode 5 – Big Bug

Big: XANA hacks two trains containing toxic chemicals, in an attempt to crash them together.

Small: A continuity error spotted when Yumi mentioned Jim sees Odd’s dog, Kiwi for the first time. He already encountered him from Episode 3.

Episode 6 – Cruel Dilemma

Nice: XANA hacks bulldozers by using them to demolish the factory.

Aelita makes a bold decision letting Jeremy bring back Yumi to the real world after falling from the digital sea. Aelita & Jeremy are not giving up.

Cruel: Jeremy’s voice is muted when his mouth opens “Return to the Past.”

Episode 7 – Image Problem

High: XANA kidnaps Yumi placing her inside a bubble. Creates an evil clone of Yumi assigned to go undercover to prevent Aelita’s materialization from happening.

XANA’s evil clone is a prototype of a shapeshifter with powers used in later seasons.

Ulrich makes a “NOT” joke towards Sissi. I completely forgot Ulrich said “NOT.” Could’ve sworn “Borat” said “This suit is NOT black!” What’s next, Odd saying Ali G’s catchphrase “Booyakasha?”

Low: No issues found.

Episode 8 – End Of Take

Good: A filmmaker begins a scouting location in the factory, putting The Gang’s secrecy in jeopardy.

James Finton’s obviously based on James Cameron. Like fellow filmmakers Christopher Nolan & Quentin Tarantino, Finton shares his no phones policy similar to Mr. Cameron’s onset rule.

Sissi auditions for a role in a movie. To put the icing on the cake, her only line is screaming. Basically, sums up her personality in a nutshell.

XANA takes control of a prop designed after a Xenomorph from the “Alien” franchise. “Alien VS. Predator” came out in 2004. Boy was it a stinker!

Ulrich addressed James Finton blatantly rips off the Alien franchise. To quote Piccolo on “Dragon Ball Z Abridged.” “Ridley Scott’s gonna sue somebody!”

Bad: No con found.

Episode 9 – Satellite

Strong: XANA uses the school’s antenna by taking over a local news station’s antenna, attempting to get closer to a military satellite by shooting a laser beam or as Dr. Evil calls it “A frickin laser beam.”

Speaking of Dr. Evil, XANA’s attack borrows Dr Evil’s grandmaster plan from “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.” Don’t forget the titular satellite from “Goldeneye.”

The Gang’s phones are confiscated by the principal. A protest ensues, so Yumi joins in order to get them.

Weak: No issues discovered.

Episode 10 – The Girl Of His Dreams

Believable: Episode 10’s title is named after Jeremy’s crush Aelita.

Like Episode 7, XANA kidnaps Aelita, placing her inside a bubble.

Aelita’s lookalike Talia, factors in this episode. Unlike Aelita, Taelia’s a traitor. She calls the cops thinking Jeremy’s a terrorist.

Unbelievable: This is the only episode where Aelita’s lookalike Talia makes an appearance. After Episode 10, nobody addressed her absence. Would’ve been cool if Talia was made by XANA to manipulate Jeremy to shut down the factory as some form of assassination attempt on Aelita.

Episode 11 – Plagued

Healthy: XANA uses an army of rats.

Odd mentions “The Rat Pack.” A group of singers/actors led by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin & Sammy Davis Jr.

The Gang pulls a prank on Jim.

To avoid transferring school, Jeremy tries to get a lower grade.

Sick: Nope, no con.

Episode 12 – Swarming Attacks

Neat: XANA gathers an army of hornets. Reminds me of the video game, “The Simpsons: Hit and Run.” Kang & Kodos summon robotic hornets all over Springfield.

Odd spreads a rumor about a student named, Emily having a crush on Jim. Which is played for laughs.

Sissi running away from hornets got me laughing. Imagine if XANA summons bees, I’d crack up witnessing Sissi and her pals screaming “Bees everywhere” from “Tommy Boy.”

Cluttered: Couldn’t find anything bad.

Episode 13 – Just In Time

Bullseye: XANA uses soundwaves to destroy the school.

Jeremy materializes Aelita’s hair sample.

Aelita makes an ultimate sacrifice preventing XANA from succeeding. Luckily, her hair sample resurrects her. Relax y’all, she’s the Main Protagonist.

Miss: At the 9:14 mark, there’s a mistake Yumi sounds like Ulrich.

Episode 14 – The Trap

Safe: XANA possess machines from the factory.

Sissi follows The Gang to confirm her suspicions.

Gotta love Aelita outsmarting a crab monster.

Jeremy & Odd attempt to fix the elevator.

This episode has some “Die Hard” vibes.

Out: Nothing bad happened.

Episode 15 – Laughing Fit

Funny: XANA uses laughing gas by making his victims literally laugh to death. XANA’s been taking Joker’s notes known for his deadly laughing gas.

Ulrich & Yumi partake in a “Romeo & Juliet” play.

Julia Roberts is mentioned. “Closer” & “Ocean’s 12” both came out in 2004.

As Odd prepares to fire laser arrows, a western snippet belongs in something from an Ennio Morricone soundtrack.

Unfunny: No issues discovered.

Episode 16 – Claustrophobia

Open: XANA traps students in the cafeteria attempting to electrocute them.

Aelita makes a smart tactic beating XANA’s monsters.

A student named, Theo factors in this episode.

Closed: Theo only makes one appearance in this episode. I wanted to know what happened to him.

Episode 17 – Amnesia

Smart: Ulrich loses his memory thanks to XANA possessing microscopic nanobots.

Many students and teachers are under XANA’s amnesia.

Ulrich retraces his steps to overcome his memory loss.

Stupid: Couldn’t find any problem.

Episode 18 – Killer Music

Quiet: XANA takes control of music by making his prey go in a coma. Then slowly kill victims until their hearts stop beating.

Loud: Nothing found.

Episode 19 – Frontier

Go: Episode 19 goes in a new route never redoing the same episode. Talk about a breath of fresh air.

The Gang search for Jeremy’s whereabouts as he’s trapped between Lyoko and reality.

Jeremy finally gets to see Aelita in person. They also have a heartwarming moment together.

Ulrich does an unthinkable option. By kissing Sissi on the lips as a bribe so she can let Yumi leave the principal’s office due to her carrying Jeremy’s laptop.

Odd play “Tetris” on his Gameboy like device. It later comes in handy.

After kissing Sissi, hilarity ensues between Ulrich & Yumi.

Halt: This episode wasted a golden opportunity not revealing Jeremy’s Lyoko form. He remains normal.

Episode 20 – The Robots

Plus: XANA takes over a robot. Taking notes from Skynet. Speaking of which, XANA’s robot has a POV shot. An homage to “The Terminator” series when the viewer sees from T-800’s perspective with a red filter Heads Up Display. (HUD for short)

The Gang work on a science project on how to build a homemade robot.

A Sissi’s friends Herb Nicholas build an ugly homemade robot, which looks like Sissi got me cracking up.

Jeremy builds a robot after Odd’s dog Kiwi.

Minus: No con seen.

Episode 21 – Zero Gravity

Up: Episode 21’s title is named after XANA creating a magnetic field by making the environment float. Then try to make his prey fall to their deaths.

Ulrich participates in a soccer game so he can make his parents proud. In later seasons, Ulrich has a complicated family dispute with his father.

Overwhelmed by monsters, Aelita makes a smart tactic creating a decoy of herself. Clever girl.

Down: Nothing happened.

Episode 22 – Routine

Solved: Fed up with XANA’s constant attacks, Ulrich uses the time reverse so he can get his schedule back on track.

Yumi becomes jealous when a girl named, Emily goes out with Ulrich.

After escorting Aelita, Ulrich & Yumi forgive each other.

XANA sets a trap to lure The Gang on Lyoko. He disables the devirtualization process. This time he’s trying to murder them.

Jeremy pulls a cable drop technique from “Mission Impossible.” Tom Cruise’s “Collateral” also came out in 2004.

Unsolved: Couldn’t find any damage.

Episode 23 – Rock Bottom

Soft: Near the end of Episode 23, Odd learns not to steal from his friends.

XANA intends to sink the school.

Odd reunites with an old flame named, Sam.

Hard: When Jim works out, a song sounds awfully suspicious to “Eye of the Tiger.” I hate that song because it’s played in way too many movies or TV shows.

Is it me, or does Sam sounds like a calm version of Sissi?

Episode 24 – Ghost Channel

Powerful: Aelita & Jeremy search for their missing allies.

We finally get to see XANA in the flesh. When I was a kid, that freaked me out.

With her friends powerless, Aelita beats XANA.

XANA creates a false reality trapping Yumi, Odd & Ulrich.

This episode is organic. Lacking a recycled plot. About time they did something unique.

The Gang encountering XANA’s humanoid form, is a reference to The Losers Club’s encounter with Pennywise from Stephen King’s “It.”

Episode 24 along with Episodes 25-26 are my favorites from Season 1.

Nullified: The only part I hate is when the episode abruptly ends with The Gang fighting an army of monsters.

Episode 25-26 – Code: Earth & False Start

Good: Phew! After overcoming previous episodes redoing the recycled plot points, we finally get to see Aelita in the real world. Wait a tic, Aelita makes it to Earth for the first time is a shout-out to Neo leaves The Matrix.

I laughed so hard seeing Odd’s music video, “Break Break Break Dance.”

As a result of Jeremy accidentally falling down, Jim gets fired. He redeems himself carrying Jeremy to the factory.

Aelita & Jeremy go on their first date.

The two-parter isn’t a repeat.

XANA plants a virus on Aelita during her virtualization to Earth.

Although a bittersweet ending, Season 1’s finale sets up Season 2, meaning The Gang won’t back down until they create a cure for Aelita’s condition.

Bad: There’s a ridiculous animation error with Aelita with a cross eyed expression. Whoever made her resemble Igor (pronounced Eye-Gor) from “Young Frankenstein” should get a demotion.

The Final Verdict: B-

As a kid, I thought the first season was awesome. Now that I’m older, I realize it has flaws. Despite several blemishes, Code Lyoko’s first season is an early start for the show. Thank goodness Season 2 made massive improvements. If I were you, watch a couple of episodes from Season 1. If you want to watch all 26 episodes, good luck.

3 thoughts on “Flashback Review: Code Lyoko: Season 1

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