Code Geass

August 23, 2007

I recently, after much ado, got to see the end of “Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch” (Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion). Code Geass had a strange broadcast, given there was a break of four months before the final two episodes aired as a special. Furthermore, the current series ends fairly abruptly, since it’s apparently only the first half of the story that will be finished in a second season.

Code Geass is on the surface one of Sunrise’s traditional long running mecha shows. What makes Code Geass unique is that the focus is much less on the robots (called Knightmares), and much more on the political and social machinations of the main character Lelouch. Lelouch is a prince of the Brittania, a powerful empire with control over much of the world. After the death of his mother, Lelouch seems to have gone into hiding/exile in what was formerly Japan, now simply called Area 11. Lelouch is caught up in a skirmish between the Brittanian army and a resistance cell, and winds up encountering a secret cargo. The “cargo” is a mysterious girl called CC, who grants Lelouch a mysterious power just before appearing to be killed. The power, “Geass,” manifests in his left eye and allows him to give any human one order that they will absolutely obey. Lelouch uses the power on the military unit that finds him, ordering them to commit suicide so he can escape.

Code Geass

Like other conquered territories, Japan and its people have been stripped of their culture and even their name, with the people now simply called “Elevens.” Lelouch senses that the Elevens are the most likely to be able to form a rebellion to help him overthrow the Brittanian Empire against which he harbors a deep grudge. Using the power of his Geass (and his own brilliant intellect), Lelouch assumes the identity of the masked revolutionary Zero, and forms an elite revolutionary force called the Order of the Black Knights to accomplish his goals.

With the concept of a young man using a mysterious power to enact change against the world seems to have the influence of Death Note. This is most apparent early on when Lelouch is conducting experiments to determine the limitations of his Geass, much the same way Light did with the Death Note. Fortunately, the Geass doesn’t become the deus ex machina it could have, and Lelouch has to mostly rely on his wits and strategies to succeed.

On the production side, one very notable aspect of the series is that its character designs were done by the legendary mangaka team CLAMP. Their designs lend themselves extremely well to the beautiful futuristic Baroque setting. Musically, themes were provided by JPop acts like FLOW and Sunset Swish as well as one of my personal favorite anime theme performers Ali Project. The background music is big orchestral stuff, appropriate to the setting but nothing special enough to make me want to listen to it on its own.

Code Geass is a fantastic drama, one of those rare shows that actually gets a jaded old anime fan like me excited. I can’t wait to see the second half of it. The current season has been licensed for US release by Bandai Entertainment. Highly recommended.

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3 Responses to “Code Geass”

  1. gameswag said

    I have to say Code Geass is one of the best animes I’ve seen in a long time. I can’t say enough good things about it.

  2. I just finished watching Code Geass season 1. I agree with you that there is an abundance of political machinations (a great word). I also think the plot gets a little convoluted at times, but it does not bring the series down.

    I got more excited about it than I thought I would as I watched it. A little like you said about your own jaded anime interests.

    Nice write up. Please check out mine just finished (with pics) and let me know what you think.

    http://fortresstakes.wordpress.com/2009/04/12/code-geass-lelouch-of-the-rebellion-2006-2007-season-1-25-episodes/

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