This review is the start of many to come from this selective genre: Anime. I am an admirer of anything Japanese and particularly their beautiful manga comics and anime shows. When young, I watched Pokemon and Digimon (c’mon it really wasn’t that bad!) And now as a 21 year old, I still watch anime. Basically, I am a nerd and proud. For the past few months I have been obsessed with a brilliant show called Death Note, and I’m sure there will be a review of it to come. If you are an anime fan and haven’t seen Death Note then- and I hate to break it to you- you aren’t really an anime fan! After watching it twice through in the past two months, I decided to stop with that obsession and try a new anime show… This is where Code Geass comes in.
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, to use it’s full title, is a Japanese anime series set in an alternative timeline. Japan has been conquered by the powerful Empire of Britannia and is renamed “Area 11” and it’s people “Elevens.” The “Elevens” are striped of all rights and forced to live suppressed, poverty stricken lives, whereas Britannians live lavishly and are respected in society. A teenage Britannian boy, Lelouch, obtains a power called Geass, where he has the ability to command people, through direct eye contact, and so uses this power, and his alias Zero, to set up a rebel group called The Black Knights. They fight for justice, to destroy the Empire of Britannia and restore the rights of the Japanese. Along his journey he encounters old friends including Japanese Suzaku who is now a member of the Britannian military, the same military he seeks to destroy.
Code Geass is interesting and really makes you think, as the two main characters- Lelouch and Suzaku- are fighting for the exact opposite side they should be. Lelouch is a Britannian who fights for the Japanese and justice, to build a better world for his sister Nunnally, and for reasons I won’t divulge in case any decide to watch the show. Suzaku is Japanese but who fights honourably for Britannia, again for reasons I won’t fully reveal, but he hopes that by keeping order and rising to a position of power, changes can be made within and the world can become a better place.
Code Geass is not short of action either. The Britannian military pilot Knightmares, giant robot machines and the Black Knights manage to obtain them too. Suzaku himself, being a talented individual, pilots the magnificent Lancelot, and any action sequence involving the Lancelot are phenomenal. For what is an extremely clever concept and a politically driven series, it’s no means boring or dull, and it’s action sequences remind me of the Transformers franchise crossed with film Pacific Rim.
What I quickly learnt with Code Geass, is that it is a brave and bold series; it’s not afraid to divert from the conventional, it’s not afraid to show anime nudity, and it’s not afraid to be brutal and kill off your favourite characters. To begin with Code Geass kept me hooked and it was very up my street: political, action, anime hybrid seemed perfect. However, I stopped half way through for a while, because there was one problem I had with it… I had no-one to root for and I was beginning to dislike both the main characters. Lelouch is fascinating, particularly when you understand his and Nunnally’s background, however becomes power hungry and frustrating. Suzaku, again is incredibly interesting, but once I learned of his background, I found myself confused and slowly hating him. Both are also very self righteous and naive. Of the other characters, the only one I really liked is the mysterious C.C., the one to grant Lelouch his power and who is bound to him by the Geass contract, but the series didn’t seem to allow you to learn more about her.
Weeks later, I went back to Code Geass after my tantrum (I promise you, it was for a good reason), and it turns out, it does get better, all loose ends will tie up eventually, and it is a brilliant anime series that kept me gripped. The second series has the same premise, but new awesome characters are introduced and it gets darker, bolder and even more exhilarating. It does not hold back. It has two extremes making you laugh and cry; it will go from being incredibly dark and evil, then shift to being innocent, laugh-out-loud funny and sweet, particularly the fun events at the school (the scene where they chase Arthur the cat comes to mind.) The animation is stunning, the English dub voice-over artists are spot on and the characters beautifully drawn; they are all fascinating and no-one is who they seem. I found myself eating my words and I take back what I said before- I love this show! It is still frustrating but that is what makes Code Geass; one minute you love a character, the next you hate them, the next there is a massive plot twist that will please you, annoy you or confuse you. But hang on in there, all will be explained in the final episode; it’s the closure you need, yet I’m still unsure whether to call it a satisfactory ending or not.
The action sequences are epic and are the true highlight of Code Geass, my favourites being Suzaku’s Lancelot, Kallen’s Guren and the Knights of the Round, or whenever the Chinese Federation (and Xingke) get involved. The other highlight is the clever concept: war, terrorism, rebels, racism, bureaucracy and extremism are all topics fueling our media right now and these are all themes that run deep in Code Geass. The dramatised story of the Britannians vs. the Japanese vs. the world is a scarily realistic forthcoming prospect and, potentially, what our future could hold for this world in one way or another.