Code Geass: A Masterful Rebellion To Be Remembered

A review of the 2006-2007 anime “Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion” and its 2008 sequel, “R2”

***Beware of slight spoilers, though everyone should have seen this show by now***

Before I start writing, we must travel back in time to December of last year – my amateur Guilty Crown review *shudders*. In it, I accused GC of “stealing something precious from every solid robot/action anime prior to its own existence,” and that it was “just a messy conglomeration of past sci-fi anime.” I actually confess to being the one guilty here, as prior to that review I was honestly just venting others’ thoughts rather than speaking my own. I knew nothing about the mecha genre of anime! So now, I apologize and atone for my sins by witnessing the very chaos where Guilty Crown got its roots – And it all rises with a single rebellious command.

Secondly, my god, how I love smart characters. Enjoy ~

By 2010, the totalitarian Holy Britannian Empire, which already claims a third of the world, captures and strips the honorable Japan down to petty people. Now renamed to Area 11, the “Elevens” no longer enjoy a life of freedom and pride, but slave away while the Britannian aristocracy stands over them with overwhelming wealth and authority, wine glasses in hand.

Lelouch vi Britannia, a banished royal youth has been taking refuge in the prestigious Ashford Academy with his blind and wheelchair-bound little sister Nunnally. Going by the last name Lamperouge to escape execution, the two became members of the spirited student council. All goes fairly well for the two, but Lelouch can hardly even call hiding in secret day by day living! So when a Japanese terrorist operation results in a horrific highway wreck, the witness Lelouch runs to check on their safety, but instead uncovers a classified Britannian “weapon” of sorts. Her name is C.C. (pronounced C2), and she bestows the near-omnipotent power of Geass upon him – the power of absolute control over another, which merely requires direct eye contact and a command to activate.

It’s at this exact moment that the scheming Lelouch ZERO begins his awe-inspiring rebellion to destroy Britannia and recreate the world anew, all for the safety of his crippled sister and to uncover the mysteries surrounding his mother’s death. Zero rallies his Black Knights, the Japanese terrorists, and sets his sights on liberation, but by donning the mask of a criminal mastermind and wielding his King’s Power mercilessly, he shall pave his own path of solitude and shoulder all of the world’s evil.

Code Geass is a complex anime to watch. Half of the show is following Lelouch as he scrambles identities from school boy to the anarchist Zero, while the other half is political mumbo jumbo. Between constant Geass brainwashing, royal court betrayals, and countless bickering, national figureheads, each complete with an ideology of their own, it’s quite easy to get lost. The plot also relies on very meticulously placed characters to show you what you need to see, when you should see it. I don’t think this overly convenient placement is considered plot armor for Lelouch, for he is quite the intelligent badass, it’s just that there is an inhuman amount of info to keep track of, considering that each character’s current knowledge, prior history and point of view is equally important toward the end result. One easy slip-up early on and his whole uprising would have fallen flat -_-

As a viewer, I was very stressed to find no answers to any of my several hundred questions after the first season, but in due time, everything became clear. Often, explanations arrive too late in the series, however, which only adds to the long-standing confusion. My episode one qualms no longer seemed relevant to what was going on.

About the mechs. While the first season valued tactics, ahem errr, strategy on the battlefield, the second season’s combat was structured on “my gun is bigger than your gun,” of which the sexy Rakshata or ridiculously quirky “Earl of Pudding” would steal the other’s ideas to invent a better one. These scientific discoveries were pointless compared to the supernatural Geass, though they were at least entertaining. The second season’s use of flight capabilities also took out the thrill that came from ground combat. All in all, I really enjoyed the solidly strategized Knightmare Frame battles, but I could have gone without the boring aerial stuff.

As for characters, we have the aforementioned Lelouch Lamperouge, the brilliant chess master who is justly one of the BEST anime characters EVER, like do I even need to explain? Always several steps ahead of the game, using whomever he needs like pawns to create a new world. One character who constantly bumps heads with him is childhood friend Suzaku Kururugi, a knight of justice who in contrast to Lelouch believes that the means are more important than the end result. Due to “Spinzaku” being Japanese, his righteousness brings punishment from leaders on the both sides, however, and his stubborn will causes never-ending interference with the Britannian nobles and Lelouch. A fine character nevertheless.

And of course, the rest of the cast is extraordinary! Nobles like Prince Schneizel and Cornelia li Britannia (BEST GIRL) continually throw in spicy curveballs. A rebel like Kallen challenges her very existence because of her being half Britannian and half Japanese. Lovers like Lulu’s sister Nunnally, Rolo, Jeremiah, Shirley, Villetta, and eventually C.C. heighten the levels of drama. There are also the Black Knights, Ashford’s student council, and other royals that play their part exceptionally well! Granted some of the characters are incredibly dumb, and in the second season there are a lot of bipolar decisions, I was pretty damn impressed with what we got. Lastly, Code Geass never forgets about a single character; each one is gradually touched on throughout the entirety of the franchise, and that is not an easy feat to pull off!

Animation was done by Sunrise, and since I have not watched many mecha anime, it was a huge change for me to see robots that were all drawn. Unlike most CG, I was never taken out of the world thanks to the drawn appearance, so that’s a plus! Another nice factor was the character designs done up by Clamp. There’s just something so incredibly sexy about those elongated chests and limbs tagged along with bold, charming, unique faces that made me go mmmm. I especially love the eye and hair designs (Leads, Euphemia, Cornelia), so rich and fierce 😉

Ahh, the OST by Kotaro Nakagawa and Hitomi Kuroishi, much like the animation, a strong point. It’s an epic, classical, string based soundtrack, which are my favorite kinds, but occasionally there are soft, Celtic-esque tracks that play during the most depressing moments, milking all that they can out of a scene. Some of the best songs include “Black Knights,” “Beautiful Emperor,” “Lullaby of M,” “All-out Attack,” and the famous “Madder Sky.” But the one that tops them all, possibly my favorite track from an OST, is the bittersweet “Continued Story” by Hitomi Kuroishi, which played in the final episode. From YouTube, this is the song that got me into the show, and literally tears run down every time . . .

The very first and last ending themes, both Ali Project songs, also added fuel to the fire of the rebellion! Check out “Yuukyou Seishunka” and “Waga Routashi Aku no Hana,” as they are both eerie and insane!

I can now easily understand why Code Geass receives so much conversation and the title of classic. I was always trying to guess what Zero would do next, but little did I know that he had everything in the bag from the start, or so I believe. The show excels in all categories and provides the genre with ONE OF THE BEST (TRAGIC) ENDINGS IN ANIME HISTORY. Code Geass is a battle of wit, a competition for science, a war of mechs, a struggle for royal power, a strife for family, and above all, a rebellion to be remembered. By accepting Geass and becoming the world’s greatest antihero, Lelouch vi Britannia dug his own grave, and once he reaches the pits of hell itself, he shall take all of the world’s hatred with him.

“Suppose there is an evil that justice cannot bring down. What would you do? Would you taint your hands with evil to destroy evil? Or would you carry out your own justice and succumb to that evil?” – Lelouch Lamperouge

+ One of the best main characters to hit anime, supporting cast also brilliant

+ Masterful varying portrayals of justice and other ideological themes

+ Excellent English dub (especially Lelouch, Suzaku, Kallen, Cornelia), strong soundtrack

+ Gripping, curious, and intense story to the finale, one of anime’s greatest endings

– Plotline involving Geass history/Emperor’s grand plan could have used more combing through

– Several moments were a bit too conventional for Lelouch, some bipolar actions made to keep story moving

– 2 seasons; 50 episodes can be very extensive for some

This was definitely a difficult review to write, as I was pretty much just fanboying the entire time 😀 I did have a few complaints, though. But after considering the clever ride from start to finish, it deserves the Caffé Mocha award without a doubt! 9/10 for both seasons to those following my MyAnimeList. Action, romance, drama, great characters and story – EVERY anime fan must watch this show! The varying genres of school, mecha, war, comedy, sci-fi and more also make this show interesting. I feel I have the room to judge anime a little better now that I’ve seen this classic (and that cart scene, I see what you did there). My god, I’ve never been so entertained by one character in such a long time ahaha AHAHAH MUAHAHA – ALL HAIL LELOUCH!! Now, I command you to like, comment and follow my blog, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your emperor

17 thoughts on “Code Geass: A Masterful Rebellion To Be Remembered

  1. This is one of my fave animes of all time. Right now I am watching Cross Ange, which reminds me a bit of Code Geass. It has mechs, betrayed royalty, eye candy and even a sister confined to a wheelchair.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gotta have that sister in a wheelchair ~
      And I was actually considering starting Cross Ange because I heard the opening or ending some time back and I thought it was cool. Also, I’m in the mecha groove, so maybe I’ll hit it up. Thanks for the comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Code Geass is really overwhelming isn’t it? It is -no secret- my favourite show ever hands down, and it got me into serious anime watching as well, simply because it’s such a magical unique concoction that will probably never ever be replicated. Even if there’s too much information, Sunrise still manages to give most of those issues a resolution. Land the characters!! I love Lelouch he’s my fav character ever, and he’s really only truly rivalled by Light Yagami in the world of anime (and maybe Blank from NGNL and Johann from Monster) and he is indeed the most controversial character ever in terms of the morality of his actions, and yet he suffers a lot from the mistakes he makes. And of course the other characters are never neglected.

        I love your choice of OSTs especially Madder Sky and Continued Story, but my favourite is probably Innocent Days 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I can see why it’s your favorite, as it is freakin irreplaceable magic in all elements! Lelouch easily worked his way up to my favorite male characters list, hands down badass, but his method of tackling situations is what always gets me. Unpredictable, yet as you mentioned, makes mistakes – and those mistakes transfer as feels for us audience members. I’m glad you/we have a special connection with this anime! It’s certainly not going away for quite a long time; a classic anyone who calls them self a fan must watch. “Innocent Days,” hmmm, that sounds familiar. . . I’ll have to go listen to it now just to jog my memory 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Indeed, he’s one of the most badass characters ever, and with very good reason too. He actually starts out with good intentions, but fate throws him a turn and we end up with a outcome which is ..complicated at best. I am really glad that you have a social connection with this anime too, it makes me not alone in my love for this 🙂
        Did you listen to it? 😀 it’s the track played when euphie died!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I did go listen, actually! I knew it played when someone died, but I couldn’t remember if it was Euphie or Rolo. After roaming through the emotional comments that some people left, I couldn’t tell. Thanks for reminding me, however, cause it is such an entrancing, delicate song. I can’t believe I forgot about it!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yep it is, it’s also very emotional 🙂 the one playing when Rolo died is called If I Were A Bird, the excerpt sounds like a deceptively simple melody, but it’s also really emotional when you hear the entire song 🙂 and also Stories, you really get the vibe of a story or multiple chapters when you listen to it – basically all of Hitomi’s tracks here are absolutely stellar, you should try and source out a whole collection for a listen! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

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  4. I honestly JUST FINISHED re-watching this and I fell in love all over again. I am planning to cosplay Nunnally (because I’m in a wheelchair and she is a cinnamon roll) and I decided that since I hadn’t seen the show since it first aired in America – why not? I love this show so much. And I LOVE Sunrise. I also love CLAMP so…that helps.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I finished it what, not even a month ago, and I already want to rewatch it! Ooh, cosplay is usually always fun, good for you, but I have to ask: Is the wheelchair temporary or permanent?
      The character designs blew me away, so unique. And thanks for following me, I hope we become great blogger friends 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, I have cerebral palsy. So I normally walk on crutches but at cons I use my wheelchair because its too much walking. And the CP is permanent.
        No problem! I’m actually rewatching it with the friend who is cosplaying Suzaku.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I see. Yeah, I can understand going for a wheel chair over crutches in those crowded con lines and mobs. I hope you have a great time!
        And Suzaku, mah fella mate, a hero to the end. That’s so cool to be able to go with friends as a group cosplay!

        Liked by 1 person

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