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

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Log Horizon 2nd Season Review

I’ll be doing a review of the first season sometime this summer, but until then, here are my thoughts on the fall simulcast season’s Log Horizon 2, the sequel to the realistic adventure/ trapped in a game anime that is NOT Sword Art Online. :3 Enjoy~

We return to Elder Tale through the eyes of veteran gamer Shiroe who, along with all of the other players, has been trapped in the game for six months now. The Round Table Alliance continues to bring order to Akiba, and the People of the Land have begun to trust Shiroe by teaming up for war against the Goblins. As a result, Princess Lenessia has moved to Akiba to protect the Cowen family wealth and name.

Presently, winter is approaching quickly, and the Adventurers start to ponder their goals in this world: Are we going to keep living in Elder Tale? Can we get back home, and if so, how will we get there? Should we travel to the West or remain here in Akiba? What about the North or even further? These rival opinions cause mayhem and disorder to spread. Shiroe and his team, of course, do the best they can to maintain public order and expand their knowledge of the mysterious world, stumbling into new foes that might know a way out . . .

Log Horizon is known for its slow pacing – despite the great story, it does drag often. This sequel is no exception, and in fact, it drags even more than the first season. The plot starts strong with Shiroe leading the largest raid to the Abyssal Shaft, the supposed source of the world’s gold flow. Meanwhile, Akatsuki the cute ninja and the women of Akiba fight off a player-killer who stole transporting armor from the Royal Guard. Both of these stories flesh out characters, and allow us to get to know them better all while watching action-packed fights . . .

And then there are a few filler episodes that lead up to the children’s arc, which like the first season, focuses on the kids of Akiba and their own adventures. IT WAS PAINFULLY SLOW TO WATCH. Not only was it boring, but besides Rudy’s depressing truths, there wasn’t much development for them. The only things good that came from this dull period was a new mysterious character Roe2 and a personality reveal of Nureha and other Plant Hwyaden members, both of which raised more questions than answered. None the less, the new additions are still awesome!

Best for last, the series ends with a couple of thriller episodes pertaining to a way of going home, and as such leads off with a direction already pointed towards a third season. I suppose I don’t mind a third, but I was really hoping the series would end considering the drastically slow pacing at times.

As I mentioned, Roe2 is a new character among a few others. The “villains” of Elder Tale have also been splattered in here and there, but they sadly weren’t very interesting or the main focus. Akatsuki gets sidelined for quite a few episodes, so if you liked her like I do, you’ll be disappointed. The best thing that came from the characters in this sequel were the epic encouragement speeches made by guild leaders like William, who in particular brought tears to my eyes 😥 So freakin’ relatable! Such powerful dialogue!

Now the animation, yikes. A switch in animators to the infamous Studio Deen – most likely caused by budget issues – causes a lot of changes in art style compared to the old studio – specifically, the eyes are drawn differently and characters are bland as hell. It takes a while to get used, but it’s not necessarily “bad” by any means. The finale was superbly animated, however, which ended this category with an overall positive review.

The electric/orchestral music has always been one of this series’ best features, and this second season only continues to impress. While most of the adventuring and Renaissance-esque pieces return from the first season, there are many new tracks like “This World and its Music” by Yasuharu Takanashi that are absolutely bliss. There are tracks like “A Hopeful Journey” and “The Uncertain Path Ahead” that ring with the Log Horizon SPIRIT in just the perfect moments! Seriously, one of my favorite OSTs.

“database feat. TAKUMA (10 Feet)” by MAN WITH A MISSON returns as well as the show’s annoying rap opening. In addition, the ending “Wonderful Wonder World” by Yun*chi represents Akatsuki’s sweet, shy attitude perfectly! Love that song 😀

So, does the practical “stuck in a video game” adventure anime live up to its first season’s standards? No, but then again, that bar was already pretty high. Filler episodes about Valentine’s Day, slow anticlimactic Children’s arc, and overall poor pacing ONLY to be led to a third freakin’ season has me awarding Log Horizon 2 4/5 stars. While that’s still pretty darn good, this slightly disappointing sequel could have been better – in all categories. Fans of the first season should like it, so long as they manage to stay awake for the whole thing!

“There are things you can only learn by accepting your weakness.” – Akatsuki

You can watch all of Log Horizon 2 and the first season on Crunchyroll for free! I was rather impressed by Sentai Filmwork’s English dub of the first season, so I hope to see a release of this soon. I’d like to extend my thanks to all of my newest customers and my frequent café-goers – you’re all awesome! Thank you for reading and as always, this has been

Takuto, your host

Sword Art Online II (Phantom Bullet) Review

It’s funny that I do this review before the prequel, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen the first season and I didn’t want to half-ass a review. Enjoy ~

It’s been one year since Kirito escaped the deadly game that is Sword Art Online. Meanwhile, ALfheim Online has gained much popularity, for it serves as a peaceful outlet for Kirito and his friends to escape from real world troubles.

Evil doesn’t die so easily, though. Roaming around another famous VRMMORPG by the name of “Gun Gale Online” (GGO) is “Death Gun,” a cloaked man rumored to kill individuals in real life through the game’s avatars. Kirito once again risks life and limb through virtual means to apprehend the mysterious assassin, but he’s not alone – the best sniper in the game, Sinon, with her highly destructive PGM Ultima Ratio Hecate II, proves worthy of battle herself in this world of guns. As the world tournament Bullet of Bullets commences, Sinon, Kirito, saber in hand, and Death Gun enter the arena among many other foes, guns locked and loaded.

After the events of last series, SAO had a little repairing to do, and GGO was the best tool to do so. This arc in the light novel series by Reki Kawahara made up for the lack of action and strength in the first season’s Fairy Dance arc. Phantom Bullet reminds us of the quality characters and themes that the SAO series was famous for; a powerful sequel that matches the strong will and survival feel of the first arc, Aincrad. Sword Art Online II is engaging and thrillingly eerie through to the end of the arc.

Kirito logs into GGO as a . . . girl? Yep, and it’s just great. His particular model possesses long dark hair, and his breastplate, well, yeah, adds emphasis. While he continues his unwavering badass style, he crumbles when he finds out that Death Gun must be a member of the “Laughing Coffin” guild, a player-killing group from SAO. The vibe from the first season returns as Kirito realizes that he could actually die in this harsh, cold, foreign world. He starts to recall haunting memories of the PK-ing he committed himself when fending off the Laughing Coffin members. This new revelation builds on past his one dimensional superb fighting skills.

Asada Shino is weak, quiet, and had shot someone when she was very young, and that terrifies her. She can’t even hold a weapon without trembling and then vomiting. But in GGO – a virtual world, she’s not actually killing anyone, so she masks her fears through Sinon, the cerulean-haired, lime-armored heroine. In the gun world, she’s stronger, faster – better. She doesn’t have to worry anymore, because Sinon protects her and fights for her. Sinon puts a new spin on “the will to fight” that makes her my favorite character. When she meets Kirito, she thinks they are both girls, and acts in a friendly manner, but quickly goes tsundere when she finds out the truth.

Kirito and Sinon balance each other out very well – I couldn’t have asked for better pairing besides maybe Asuna, who supports Kirigaya Kazuto on the other side of the amusphere. Sinon does, however, fall to Kirito’s irresistible charm when she becomes weak, but hey, that’s just her real-world self breaking through, not a whole new and sudden change.

I would tell anyone to watch SAO for the character costume designs alone because holy sh*t this is where it’s at! Match these colorfully crafty armor and weapon designs with fluid visuals pumped with action and A-1 Pictures really has something going on! As mentioned previously, there are many more battle scenes in this sequel, and quality never dipped once. The landscape of GGO is give a desolate color palette to that of a ruined desert city. Graphically and artistically, the anime does take me to the mature and virtual world of GGO.

Yuki Kajiura adds to this unique universe by providing an adventurous soundtrack. There’s not really much to say, as it is still just as amazing as the first season’s. She did, however, take the “Survive the Swordland” track, the epic main theme, put it on flute, and up the tempo to add a new sense of glory to the Kirito and Sinon action. Nice 🙂

While the opening “Ignite” by Eir Aoi was befitting for a show with this quality of animation, the true delight is in the lovely ending, “Startear” by Luna Haruna. It features Asada Shino young and old along with her avatar, Sinon, providing a reminiscent feel of childhood and maturation.

Sword Art Online II is a strong follow up to its first season, as it contains much action, brilliant music along with fluid animation, and reminds us of the themes the very first arc held. I recommend all of the SAO series to young viewers because of its genuine romance and characters. While more mature viewers might get bored of the concept , I still recommend this season for its high quality animation and soundtrack. This second series definitely lives up to the hype, so I’d get aboard the SAO train before it’s long gone.

You can watch all of the anime for free at Crunchyroll! Sword Art Online II continues to cross the bridge between the virtual and real worlds, proving to us that they might not be as different as people think. “The virtual world is just a different form of reality.” – Asada Shino
It has been tons of fun following this thrilling adventure! Till next time ~

– Takuto, your host

Oreimo 2 (season two) Review

Of course I had to continue with Oreimo 2 because the first season was so eccentric! If you haven’t already, check out my anime review of Oreimo (season one) for a better reinstating of the plot. Also, watch the first season before you read this, as a spoiler or two might be present in this review.

Following Kirino’s departure to America in season one (OVAs), the sequel picks back up on the average life of Kyousuke Kousaka. When the older brother demands his sister’s return, even traveling all the way to America himself to do so, things between the two begin to break apart again. After all of the work in season one Kirino still seems just as tsundere as ever. Drama rears its ugly head, however, when Kuroneko, Ayase, Kirino and the rest reveal their mixed feelings for our bumbling brother. The story goes from otaku culture in society to relationships with siblings and others.

This second season crushes the majority of the characters by turning them on their own heads. Specifically speaking, the hot-headed and sophisticated Ayase is no longer that. Do you recall the moments when she detested Kyousuke, eroge, and everything else that he was involved in? How about the episodes of time where she would yell at Kyousuke and even Kirino just to try to cleanse Kirino of her hobbies? That signature kick that she would deal upon him when he was against Ayase – well, that’s still here, but anyway, the series suddenly turns her into an active yandere without even a second thought. She was one of the few serious characters, now diminished to a lover and a dreamer. A shame.

Kirino remains true to her tsundere influenced setup. In fact, she still gets mad at Kyousuke, yells at him, and then kicks his door. I love Kirino as a character; even in this second season, she realizes the bad things she does and tries to take care of it, though this usually fails and then gets cleared up by Kyousuke. She’s just a teenage girl – she makes mistakes but grows through them. The only difference in her mood is that towards the end, she somewhat realizes her love and dependence on Kyousuke. It’s weird and strays away from the original plot, but touching nonetheless. After watching the strange ending, I now understand Kirino and Kyousuke as characters much more than before.

If you liked Kuroneko, Saori, and Manami, you’ll be pleased to know that they have improved. Kuroneko gets her own little arc with Kyousuke, but I found it less right than him and Kirino. Kuroneko and Kyousuke didn’t go well together; I couldn’t feel the connection between them like I did with his sister, and I know it’s “wrong” to say that. Saori receives a nice embellishment with her sister and her past, which many people skip by, but I found those episodes to be more enjoyable than the entire Kuroneko arc – and that’s saying something!

Enough about characters. The soundtrack is pretty much the same quirky OSTs as last season. Some new tracks are added to the romantic moments, though. The opening, which I can’t even remember, is just another J-pop song. Yeah it’s fine, but nothing I can recall.

Animation has improved. And saying that the quality before was fine, this was even more enjoyable. I like the concept art of Kirino and the other girls’ characters. They are soft, yet gorgeous and just overall well presented.

Oreimo 2 is a very good anime; it just fails to deliver as a sequel to an amazing first season. This season drops most of the otaku acts and focuses on forced cliché relationships. I guess if you love drama, then here you go, but I watch this particular anime for the struggles of otaku life and comedy – Oreimo is not a serious show, so why should it start being so now? For people who followed the first season, feel free to watch the sequel, just know that it’ll break your views of the interesting characters we encouraged for the previous twelve lovely episodes.

And with that, I conclude my overall thoughts Oreimo – My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute! Currently, though I do not own a copy of the series, you can watch it for free over at Crunchyroll, but you can also slide on over to my place because “The only one I sexually harass is you!” – Kyousuke

Hehe, if you found this review at all helpful or interesting, go ahead and slap dat like button. You know you want to. 😉

– Takuto, your host