Do you ever remember a television show you watched as a kid and think, “Man, I would love to go back and watch it again...I wonder if it holds up.” My friends and I had that thought, but we didn’t leave as an abstract idea in our minds. We committed and, in turn, went on a crazy adventure. Once a week, we sat on the floor in my apartment and watched every episode of Code Lyoko, a Cartoon Network show from the mid-2000’s. During these Lyoko Nights, we watched three to five episodes a night once a week from September 2019 to February 2020. Let’s do some quick math…yeah, we watched ninety-five episodes in six months. And it was one hell of a ride.
I have fond memories of watching Code Lyoko after school with my siblings in elementary school. We would come home, get changed and rush to do our homework so we could be in front of the TV for Cartoon Network’s 5PM Miguzi block, which included some of our favorite shows like Teen Titans, Xiaolin Showdown and Code Lyoko. I did not realize I had so many vivid childhood memories of the series— I remembered every word to the theme song , major plot points and dialogue, everything about my good friends Aelita, Jeremie, Ulrich, Odd, and Yumi. What an awesome main cast— personable, fun and at times conflicted, at times crazy.
That is one thing that held up for Code Lyoko; the show is still fun. Its premise, characters, and world are engaging and excite the viewer with their potential— you never know where the show is going. However, that potential is one thing that did not live up to expectations, but I’ll get there…
For those who don’t know, a brief summary: Code Lyoko is about four students at an international school in France who, when exploring an abandoned factory, find a supercomputer that stores the world of Lyoko— a digital reality. Within this world, there is a young girl named Aelita who is trapped there in order to quell the threat of XANA, an AI program set on destroying the world. The students work together with Aelita to try to eradicate XANA and retrieve her from her digital prison. For a children’s show, it’s very progressive; it has a very layered plot with a diverse cast (Odd is Italian, Jeremy is French, Ulrich is German, and Yumi is Japanese). I remember being young and so excited to see what happened next; there were so many moving parts, it was thrilling yet still easy for a kid to understand. Code Lyoko respects its demographic and illustrates an exciting, accessible world. But if all I did was sing the show’s praises, I would be lying.
Code Lyoko is not good. It is unbelievable repetitive, the plot loses all sense of pacing and logic, the voice acting performances and writing are inconsistent, etc., etc. The most disappointing thing about it is its potential— it has so much but does nothing with it. We kept watching this crazy, nonsensical ride week after week with hope in its potential, but we were let down every time. In the right hands, Code Lyoko could have been an amazing piece of children’s television. In reality, it fumbles through its plot, giving its audience a fun but senseless story.
I was disappointed in Code Lyoko as a whole, but I do not regret watching the show. It had character moments that made me laugh hysterically or scream at the screen. The Lyoko Warriors are a good group of kids and following their adventure was more than entertaining. As a child, I loved Code Lyoko and as an adult…yeah, I still love Code Lyoko. It’s not good, but it’s still fun; it doesn’t make sense, but its spirit is contagious. I sat with my friends for six months singing and laughing and screaming about French pre-teens trying to make evil go away. Whether or not the show was good or bad doesn’t matter, there will always be a place in my heart for it. I can’t justly recommend it, but if you want a stroll down memory lane, go through the sewer in the park and run to the factory. The scanners will be open and ready for you.