Have you ever wondered what would happen if the fate of the world were determined by an massively multiplayer online role playing game with no depth or non playable characters? What would it be like if you had the power to travel back in time one day at a time at the low, low cost of making a highly intelligent, highly powerful evil sentient computer virus even more powerful? What would life be like as a half-middle school child, half-purple cat on a flying skateboard?

You probably thought I was kidding. I was not kidding.

Welcome to Code Lyoko, the TV show that strives to answer these questions that have plagued philosophers for centuries!

Code Lyoko is what a friend of mine refers to as a “franime” or French anime. Well, technically it’s French-Canadian. I’ll let that sink in for a moment, French-Canadian Anime. I’m not sure why someone thought the world needed a French-Canadian anime about the world’s worst MMORPG, but to be honest I think the world’s a better place for that inexplicable decision.

The basic premise of this series is that four friends in a French-Canadian boarding middle school stumble onto a supercomputer in an abandoned warehouse that contains an entire virtual world known as Lyoko. Living in this virtual world is a mysterious girl known as Aelita and a sentient computer virus known as X.A.N.A (yes, it’s an acronym, no I have no idea what it stands for).

Xana’s goal is…to take over the world….or to leave Lyoko…or something. To be honest I’m going to be watching through the series again as much as a refresher to myself as an instructional tool to you. I’m pretty sure Xana’s goal is both to escape from Lyoko AND to take over the world. His parents told him he could grow up to be whatever he wanted to be.

You may be asking yourself how a malevolent computer virus could cause problems in the real world. Well you clearly don’t know thing one about cartoon supercomputers, my friend. Onviously the virtual world within the Lyoko supercomputer contains a number of towers, which have nebulous ability to affect things in the world outside the computer.

If you’re confused, it’s because you should have gone for that degree in computer sciences instead of philosophy. Especially since Code Lyoko deals with all of the hard-hitting philosophical questions. You would have been much better off.

Also within the virtual world of Lyoko are four environmentally themed sectors: Desert, Forest, Ice and Mountain. Each sector is essentially a collection of islands which float over the digital sea (a fluctuating digital liquid that scatters the data of anything it touches, effectively destroying it).

A nice day for a walk in the um..."forest".

Other than their appearance, and to some extent, the layout of the terrain associated with each sector, there is little difference between the four sectors. The four sectors are isolated from one another, creating something more like four distinct worlds rather than one whole landscape.

And speaking of appearances, whenever someone gets “virtualized” and sent into Lyoko their appearance changes. I don’t recall if they’ve ever explained the origin of the new appearance, whether that person chooses it or it happens subconsciously or something else entirely. To be clear, while the animation style changes from 2D hand-drawn to CGI, the character’s face remains largely the same, but they get a fancy new outfit and some type of weapon with fight Xana’s monsters.

As I’ve sort of hinted at, the series follows the lives of four kids at a boarding school, with occasional appearances from teachers, classmates and a few other ancillary, but recurring characters. The main cast is as follows:

-Ulrich: Ulrich is the resident brooding “bad boy”. I wouldn’t exactly call him a rebel, but he’s slightly more negative than the rest of the team…so I guess that makes him the bad boy by comparison. On Lyoko, Ulrich appears as a Samurai and wields a katana, which he can use to deflect laser shots like a lightsaber.

-Yumi: The daughter of traditional, Asian parents, Yumi’s contribution to the team is largely that she’s a girl. Hey, we can’t very well have a show about a French-Canadian middle school without sexual tension, now can we? Her Lyoko form is some sort of telekinetic kabuki thing. Her weapon of choice? Paper fans which seem to cut like blades and tend to return to her like boomerangs.

-Odd: Odd is…well…let’s just say his name isn’t inappropriate. He’s meant to be something of a class clown, and has alleged success with the ladies, though I’m not really sure how that’s supposed to work. Odd seems strangely weighted with a variety of cliché characteristics that could have been spread out amongst the team to make them seem more like characters, but what do I know about franime? Remember that half-boy half-cat thing I mentioned earlier? Yeah, that’s what Odd looks like on Lyoko, and he shoots metallic arrows out of his wrists. I couldn’t make this stuff up.

-Jeremie: I might go so far as to argue that Jeremie is the most important member of Team Lyoko. While the “warriors” (Ulrich, Yumi and Odd) each have their own strengths and weaknesses in battle, their roles are largely interchangeable. Jeremie, on the other hand, is the only one who really knows how to do what he does: ALL of the tech stuff. He programs their vehicles, guides them to their targets, he’s the one who safely transports them in and out of the computer for God’s sake! And that’s not even touching on the nonsense he devises later in the series. To my knowledge, Jeremie has only been to Lyoko once, and his form wasn’t shown, his job is to watch over everything and support the team from Earth.

Not pictured: Jeremie, because he doesn't have a ridiculous-looking alter-ego.

-Aelita: After Jeremie, Aelita knows the most about computers. This may have something to do with the fact that she lives inside of one. Unlike the other protagonists, Aelita does not exist on Earth, only in Lyoko. She uses her understanding of computers to deactivate towers that Xana uses to manipulate things in the outside world. She’s not expecially capable at dealing with Xana’s monsters, however, which is why the others must travel to Lyoko and help her foil Xana’s plans.

Well there’s certainly more about Lyoko to explore, but I think the rest is best explained as we join Ulrich, Yumi, Odd, Jeremie and Aelita in their quest to defend the world from a generically evil and faceless computer virus.

Join me soon for more Code Lyoko, if you dare.

Scanner: Vasco Da Gamer. Virtualization!

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