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 CaffĂ© 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

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TRINITY SEVEN Review

Harem anime rely on three concepts to succeed, regardless of how stupid the plot might be:

1. A decently likable lead that undergoes some sort of personal growth throughout the show
2. An even more enjoyable and interactive ensemble cast that is attracted to said lead for some odd reason
3. Humorous dialogue and decent amounts of fan service

. . . Or so I thought.

TRINITY SEVEN demonstrates what happens when an anime relies too much on its harem, sidelining any plot explanation, and ultimately pays a heavy price for such unbalanced writing.

Arata Kasuga’s world literally comes crashing down on him when an apocalyptic event known as a “Breakdown Phenomenon” destroys the whole world and throws his cousin Hijiri Kasuga into a different one. Unable to get Hijiri back nor stop the catastrophe, Arata finds himself enrolling in a magic school, Royal Biblia Academy, that houses the great “Trinity Seven,” seven girls who have mastered their own “Thema” and are ace magicians. From here, Arata plans to “learn the magic” of these powerful ladies and control his “demon lord candidate” abilities in order to bring back his beloved cousin, Hijiri.

What caused this untimely “Breakdown Phenomenon?” What did the caster gain from this tragedy? How does one learn the complex system of magic?

These are just a few of the many reasonable questions that get little to no answer. Crucial explanation is tossed out for exploding clothes, bouncing boobies and nude scenes of Arata and the girls. I enjoy my fair share of fan service as much as the next guy, but TRINITY SEVEN has way way too much of it! I grew really tired of it :/

Unnecessarily convoluted plot aside, the show might score a win with its characters.

The lead boy Arata Kasuga appears to be your typical pervert, but he’s surprisingly different. He’s honest about his attractions, never stuttering while apologizing a thousand times; we’ve all seen it, don’t lie, it gets really old. “Thank you for the feast” is one of his quotes to witnessing nudity. Kasuga was a fresh harem lead, and I enjoyed the fact that he doesn’t use the Trinity Seven, but instead fights even stronger alongside them. Plus, his voice actor is Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (Kirito-kun) – you can’t get much better than him!

While a couple of the Trinity Seven are cutout characters, the ones that I found myself drawn to were Lilith Asami, Levi Kazama, and Akio Fudou.

First off, Lilith-sensei is one of the teachers at Royal Biblia Academy, and as such is Arata’s #1 tease. She wields a magical rail rifle weapon and knows how to fire it quite well. I love the concept art of her character, red-braided hair with blue eyes and a monocle on occasion, as well as her hate/love relationship with Arata. The two get along well, and by the end, hold respectful positions with each other. Also, Arata loves her giant jugs – the best out of the Trinity Seven 😉

Levi and Akio act more like supports for Lilith and Mira Yamana (the cute yet stern tsundere leader) respectively, and as such are mainly “power houses.” They both have their own motives, yet go along with Arata’s teasing. Truly a hidden comical duo!

Another one of the show’s better features was the animation by Seven Arcs. While intricate CGI architecture made up the school and its majestic hallways, characters had matching and rich color designs, be it in uniforms, hair color or eyes. The ecchi hot scenes are also a beauty; graceful curves and shining skin really do go a long way :3

OST-wise, the soundtrack contains lovely violin melodies for both combat and relaxation. Sometimes rap-like chanting is sung to help fill the space. It’s unique and adds its own touch to this anime.

The opening “Seven Doors” by ZAQ is freakin’ amazingballz! By using chromatic scales to create a haunting undertone, and mixing that with a sweet, reminiscing melody, you get a super cool song! Check it out – it is a must! BTW, I love Hijiri’s cute face when the verse starts ~

Now back to the rant. TRINITY SEVEN is nothing but boobs, attempted serious magic, exploding clothes, then more boobs. It’s awesome for a while and really could have been so much more, but by episode 6 or so I was utterly lost and just done. To be honest, I can’t believe I stuck it out, but then again, I’m a completionist, so yeah. “Connect to blah blah – Execute Thema!” Or whatever the hell it is.

Thanks for reading! Remember that these are my own thoughts, so feel free to drop a comment with your own. Until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Negima!? (season two) Review

This anime has a special place in my heart as it is the first I had ever seen, besides random encounters with Sailor Moon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Pokemon, etc. I watched it in the spring of 2012. For those of you who don’t know, Negima!? is slice of life, fantasy adventure, comedy, magical girl, fanservice anime. With that being said, it is an honor for it to be the first that I review! First review – here we go!

Negima!? revolves around Negi Springfield, a 10 year-old genius wizard who had just graduated from the Magic Academy, a school for wizardry and magic. As part of his training, Negi and his talking ermine fairy friend Chamo are transferred from their home in Wales, England to Mahora Academy in Japan, which is an all-girls school. His mission – to teach English class there while seeking out a partner to help in his sorcery. With this partner, Negi must form a pact, or “Pactio!” which involves a kiss on the lips. The partner then may have their contract invoked in order to use magic. The plot rolls along, however, when the loudmouth obnoxious Asuna Kagurazaka, student No. 8 in his 2/3-A class of 31 girls, sees him using magic. From here on out, Negi eventually makes partners out of his entire class, all while encountering twisted fairies, magical worlds and the darkness.

When I first watched this series way back when, I found it to be ridiculously awesome, probably giving it more credit then it actually deserved. The concept is easy, but not astonishing in any way, to understand, as most of the terms are thoroughly explained in the first episode. I found myself always wondering what would possibly happen next, then again I was younger when I first watched it. The surprises Negima!? had in store were nicely executed. This series also has a lot of cultural references, which made the experience a knowledgable one, too.

Negima!? has one of the largest casts that I have ever seen; 31 girls plus a few more is a handful to keep track of. Nevertheless, Ken Akamatsu, the creator, displayed valuable and unique traits for each of the girls. A decent amount of screen time (for a cast this large) was given to each one, which allows the viewer to love more than just the main eight or so. It was silly, at one time, I had all of the girls memorized! Looking back, it was a huge waste of time trying to remember all of them!:D Since it is a comedy, all of the cast members each have their individual quirks that make them stand out. This makes the dialogue for the English dub especially fun to listen, as the voice actors really get distinct in their respective character(s).

While characters in Negima!? made me laugh, they did not make me feel anything else. Aside from Anya, Negi, Nekane, Evangeline, Asuna and maybe Yue, the others were pretty static. I guess if the creator spent an episode for each one, then the plot would never advance. But, maybe a couple episodes dedicated to the side characters instead of useless boobage and banter would have been more beneficial.

I distinctly remember the OST, opening, and ending for this anime, which is a good sign. The OST for this show is small, which means the tracks are used over and over again. However, they are good songs and tend to fit the mood better than anything else. Some themes such as Nekane’s or the Chupacabra Research Society’s are especially easy to recall, for they are breathtakingly sweet and outrageously hilarious respectively. The series’s opening “1000% SPARKING” is really catchy and motivational and is also sung in English in FUNimation’s dub. Personally, I prefer the English one. The same is for the show’s ending “A-LY-YA!” – it is such a fun song.

Previous anime I had seen include Sailor Moon and Pokemon, so Negima!?‘s animation was a treat (no offense to those classics). The artwork was presented in one of the most memorable fashions. Sometimes they would have different camera angles in boxes and these boxes would just be floating and shaking on the screen depending on who is talking. Sometimes the background would be super ornate – like reeeally cool – and during other times it would just be one solid outline color. I recall even a few times they would include real life photos and crop them in. The differentiation in presentation made the show more exciting, as it was more of a show for humor over plot. Characters were drawn with individuality, so you could remember how certain characters acted just by looking at them. These people were also drawn in a simple yet fitting way to match with the background. In other words, the characters were easy to see but did not stick out like black on white. Negima!?‘s unique animation is definitely its highlight.

Overall, Negima!? was quite the entertaining show. Its mix of stupid comedy, quick jokes and decent plot make it a good first-time anime for those who are interested in the culture. I can say that I was fairly entertained. While this anime lacks in individual character development, it makes up for that in its one-liner character descriptions. Each character really does have an individual personality, and part of the experience is figuring out what roles certain characters play. A downside to this, however, is trying to balance this enormous cast with each of the single impacts on Negi Springfield. A tip from me is to just roll with it because you’ll pick up on who Negi hangs out with right off the bat.

As I mentioned at the beginning, Negima!? has carved a very special place in my heart and I will never forget it was my first anime. Whenever I see or hear make a joke with similar wordings, I immediately reference this series before any other. I find myself still drawing Motsu’s face on all of my papers! Motsu and Shichimi were, by the way, the driving forces of comedy!! I love them both so much! This show in particular is one that you could watch a few times over and still have fun doing so, as there is so much detail work put in to the setting, the character designs and the funny dialogue. A warning, however, is to enjoy it the first time through because if you spend your whole time fussing over the details, you will miss Negima!?‘s quick wit and crazy charm.

Currently, FUNimation’s S.A.V.E. edition of Negima!? “balances rather precariously” on my shelf, “In a good way.”

Thanks for reading!

– Takuto, your host