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Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion

Discussion in 'Reviews' started by Goetia, Jun 2, 2015.

  1. Goetia

    Goetia Godly Member

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    Series Name: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion | Kōdo Giasu: Hangyaku no Rurūshu | Kōdo Giasu Hangyaku no Rurūshu Āru Tsū | Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R1 | Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2

    Year of Serialisation: 2006 - 2007 [R1], 2008 [R2]

    Author(s): Ichirō Ōkouchi

    Artist(s): Clamp [Anime & Manga]

    Genre(s): Alternate History, Drama, Mecha, Action, Psychological, Science Fiction, Supernatural,

    Current Status: Code Geass R1 - Completed | Code Geass R2 - Completed

    Format(s): Anime & Manga

    Moment of Reviewing: Anime Completed


    Series Summary

    Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R1

    The Empire of Britannia has invaded Japan using giant robot weapons called Knightmare Frames. Japan is now referred to as Area 11, and its people the 11's. A Britannian who was living in Japan at the time, Lelouch, vowed to his Japanese friend Suzaku that he'd destroy Britannia. Years later, Lelouch is in high school, but regularly skips out of school to go play chess and gamble on himself. One day, he stumbles on terrorists 11's who've stolen a military secret and is caught by a member of the Britannian task force sent after them, who is Suzaku. As the rest of the squad arrives, Suzaku is shot for disobeying orders, while the military secret, a young girl, gives Lelouch the power of Geass, which makes anyone obey any order. While Suzaku is secretly made the pilot of Britannia's brand new prototype Knightmare, Lancelot, Lelouch becomes the masked Zero to lead the rebellion to destroy Britannia once and for all.

    Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2

    It's been one year since the failure of the Black Rebellion and the supposed death of Zero. Britannia has assigned Area 11 a "correctional education" status, where Elevens are made an example of by brute force, to try to prevent any future uprisings and suppress rebellious thoughts. Unsuspecting high school student Lelouch, oblivious to his rebellious past as Zero, stumbles upon a scheme on his life and the life of a mysterious woman known as C.C., who reveals to him his forgotten purpose and his "true" self. Destroying his assailants and declaring himself Zero once again, Lelouch sets out to finish what he started.


    Critical Review [May Contain Spoilers]

    On the surface, Code Geass actually doesn't really seem too special. It has traits which many other anime share, mecha and sci-fi etcetera, even down to the story. But the events that occur along the way, it's political and moral complexity, the characters, are what lets this anime differentiate itself from it's other mecha/sci-fi brethren. This review will be structured into different parts, for the purpose of keeping this clean and a little nicer to read.

    The Story

    As said above, the story isn't something that screams unique at it's very core. It follows the life of a teenager that strives to change a country, and along the way, the world. However, as said above, it is the way that the story is told and presented sets it apart from others. The narrative starts slowly in the beginning, just to give as an idea of what kind of character the main is, Lelouch. Throughout the first few episodes, the anime is building the plot and slowly progressing the story, ensuring that the audience knows completely what is going on. Throughout, there are many, and I mean, many twists and turns that occur. Despite it's sci-fi, supernatural and mecha genre labels on it, it is rooted in a world of harsh realism. This anime knows how to pull it's punches, and throw them when the time is right. It also knows very well how to manipulate the viewer, via portrayal of characters and unpredictable story-telling. A lot of the time, it'll have you rooting for the main character(s) and hating others with a passion simply because of how the story is able to dictate their actions. The story is suspenseful, and once again, has you rooting for the main character. It is a very gripping narrative that knows what it's doing and is able to take the step forward when needed and build up when it should. The story is what this anime is so critically acclaimed for, and this is understandable. With a strong beginning, middle and end that is always testing the mind of the viewer, the characters and their limits respectively, there aren't many I know who can discredit the series solely on the basis of story.

    The Cast

    In Code Geass, there are a wide range of characters. There is the charismatic and charming protagonist, Lelouch, with the other main characters being the patriotic Kururugi Suzaku, a boy born of Japanese blood but of Britannian allegiance, C.C, an enigmatic woman who stands at Lelouch's side throughout his rebellion, and Kallen Stadtfeld, a half-caste woman of Britannian and Japanese descent. There are a multitude of other characters that join them in the roster, and most, if not all, of them have their own place in the series and role to play. Many of the characters have a distinct personality, and each their own motivations for what they do. While such personalities and motivations aren't showcased for all the characters, the ones that are usually make sense and are able to appeal to the viewer in some way. Lelouch is motivated by his disgust towards Britannia, feelings of revenge, his love for his sister, and the desire to create a better world, to stand up and lead a rebellion. Suzaku has the same motives as Lelouch, but he believes that Lelouch's methods are wrong and wishes to change Britannia from the inside. C.C is bound by a contract with Lelouch, but it is hinted multiple times throughout the story that she loves him. Kallen follows Lelouch because she shares his disgust for Britannia, but it is known that she loves him. All of these motives are put into question as the story progresses, and it makes these characters really feel alive and relatable.


    Another thing that separates Code Geass from it's peers is it's ability to seamlessly incorporate each of it's genres into the story, without disrupting the balances between each element. The most obvious elements of the story are the Mecha, Supernatural and Action, but the addition of Psychological and Drama adds realism to it, and gives the characters humanity. Code Geass is a result of these genres blended together, but is done with finesse and careful work. The visuals are splendid, and the fights are choreographed to a good standard. Each mech, named Knightmare Frames, has it's own unique capabilities, and it's entertaining to see what each one can do. On another note, each Knightmare, in a way, represents the person piloting it. It adds a sense of uniqueness to the mechs as well, and it's great to see the effort put into these elements. The supernatural genre works very well in Code Geass, as it adds to the mystery of the story and some of the characters, as well as the drama and action in the story. As said before, the genres in the narrative are blended together quite well. The alternate history element is an interesting touch, given that the narrative is displayed in a manner that tells us "this is what would happen if this imperialist country decided to conquer this one". This in itself adds to the story by telling the viewer that despite allegiances and promises, anyone can turn their back and commit even the most selfish of acts for the purpose of furthering oneself.

    Now, onto the most intriguing part of the anime, which is the controversy surrounding the philosophies, morals and types of individuals that are integrated into the anime. Code Geass is an anime that really tests morality and philosophy, of both the characters and the viewer. The character of Lelouch is an example of such. Throughout the story, his morals and motives are tested and he is pushed to the absolute limit. He is taking it upon himself to carry this incredible weight, that damages him greatly as a person, for the sake of creating a better world for everyone else. He commits all these horrible acts, but it is for the better future of everyone else. Not himself. By the end of the story, we see the true extent of his mindset and selflessness. One of the greatest qualities about this anime is the character of Lelouch himself. The way he evolves as a character shows how human of a person he is, even through his manipulative and deceitful nature. From the start, he is simply a cold and uncaring leader that sees the lives of his soldiers as expendable. Time and time again, he is a victim of a very harsh reality as a result of the life he chose, and this shows in the way he acts and thinks. His companions and friends either abandon him or die, and he is forced to make extremely hard decisions in lose or lose situations many times. He goes through things that destroy him as a person, and he is aware of his actions and how they hurt others. We see this in the ending, where he finally pays for the atrocities he committed. Lelouch is the epitome of selflessness.

    Code Geass is an anime that really makes you think about the series, and yourself. Throughout the anime, a question is presented: "how far will you go to change the world?". This question in and of itself requires lots of thought, as morals, personality, are all needed to be taken into account to make such a choice. This is the biggest question given to the viewer, as well as the questions of which side would you take; the Imperialist nation of Britannia or the oppressed nation of Japan? Who is right, who is wrong? In all honesty, this is a series that truly portrays both sides as evil, or at the very least, gray. During the anime, Lelouch poses an interesting question to another character, asking "Let me ask you something, Lord Guilford. 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?". Then, to himself, he says "I see, then I... shall become evil to conquer an evil larger still!" This shows us that Lelouch acknowledges that he is not a good person, and the fact that nobody in the series is really a good person. One side of this is an imperialist superpower and the other is a terrorist organisation. Both have killed many in their quest to fulfill their goals, and both will do anything to get what they want. There is no element of goodness to either party, and the only time we as viewers see any sort of good act is during the ending of the anime. Ultimately, this anime is all about morals and philosophy, what is right and what is wrong, where the line separating those two concepts blurs, and how far one will go to achieve their goal. This is all answered through the character of Lelouch. He makes many sacrifices and many bad things happen to him, but he keeps getting back up, and makes the ultimate sacrifice by the ending of Code Geass. It is heartbreaking, but in that huge sacrifice, the world is a better place because of it. The soundtrack helps to set the atmosphere, and fits well into the series. Colors, sung by the band Flow, is a fantastic choice for the series.

    Overall, Code Geass is an excellently written anime that always has the viewer thinking, it always knows what it sets out to do, and rarely fails to deliver.

    Final Verdict: 9/10

    Mahesvara and Kame like this.
  2. Kame Heaven's Feel

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    Great review, i still have to finish this.

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