Welcome back to my top 5 anime countdown. We started off with the soccer based anime “Giant Killing” (link) but now for something completely different. Mecha (giant fighting robots) based action/drama Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion!!
CODE GEASS: LELOUCH OF THE REBELLION
The year is 2017 a.t.b. It has been 7 years since the Holy Empire of Britannia has conquered Japan, (that’s right the English have succeeded where the Nazis failed and achieved world domination!), using their superior Mecha, the Knightmare frames.
Forcefully subjected to their oppressors the Nation is nothing but a colony designated as “Area 11.” Guerrilla warfare resumes but the Japanese efforts have yet to produce any results. It’s not until a mysterious young man with a special power, Lelouch, appears that a true rebellion takes place.
Looking back the story is slightly ridiculous, full of plot holes and extremely cheesy. But who doesn’t like a bit of cheese!
Opening with a game of chess, where Lelouch defeats an aristocrat in record time he then gets caught up in a terrorist attack and meets a mysterious pizza loving girl with green hair called C.C who gives him the power of mind control. From then on it’s a roller-coaster ride in which Lelouch, in an all-black super-hero costume and under the pseudonym “Zero”, plays a political game with people as the pawns. Outmanoeuvring the oppressive Britannian Empire between bouts of maniacal laughter and sweeping hand gestures. The show is an exercise in theatrics. Indeed this series embraces melodrama that its liberal application becomes its most endearing trait.
In the middle of the story is the whole friends at war senior, where Lelouch’s childhood friend Suzaku is fighting for the empire and trying to change it from within.
It may be classed as a Mecha show it’s not necessarily defined by this feature. The Mecha are seriously cool but they act more as accessories to the plot helping it drive on at a faster pace. All the same their extremely fun delivering the kind of pyrotechnics and en mass causalities such action fans crave!
With all its excess and crude pseudo-philosophies, nobody can mistake Code Geass as being subtle or even intelligent for that matter. But it verges on madness and once or twice even flirts with genius but always with a keen eye for spectacle.
The animation in this series is excellent! With the girls from CLAMP handling the character and Mecha designs and the guys from Sunrise, who are responsible for the Gundam Franchise, handling the backgrounds and the action sequences. I match made in heaven it would seem.
The character designs are colourful and “cartoon-ish” for a lack of a better word but stop short of looking childish thanks to the ample amount of blood, gore and explosions. The Mecha in this series are some of my favourite of all-time only Gundam Wing and a certain anime I can’t mention as it’s on this list surpass them. Thankfully Sunrise do them justice with some truly inspired action set pieces.
Code Geass manipulates its cast with such ruthless disregard for their development, that most remain unmemorable at best. Some main characters deliver entertaining performances and serve their purpose well, although they sometimes have glaring contradictions or convent mindlessness.
Take Suzaku for example who seems like the typical hero, who justice wants to make the world a better place but in the end is just a textbook hypocrite. He’s a Japanese citizen fighting for the Britannia army who are massacring the Japanese civilians, yet he chooses to fight Zero in the name of “Justice?!” With that kind of loyalty to the wrong side, his actions against Zero seem more idiotic than heroic.
But it’s Lelouch that makes this series so great. He is the Light Yagami from Death Note for this show. His character is fully developed, has an arsenal of awesome speeches and you can’t help but love him due to the fact that he fights on behalf of the victims whilst having little regard for his own status. He delivers a performance that’s theatrical/fabulous but also full of acute anguish. He epitomises everything brilliant about Code Geass, he is Code Geass!
The opening and endings are very good and fit the tone of the series for the most part. A special mention goes to one of my favourite J-Pop tunes “Hitomi no Tsubasa“ by Access.
The rest of the soundtrack with its instrumentals works well with the shows grandness. The sound effects of course are excellent because Sunrise are the Kings of Mecha and action anime. The voice acting is generally very good especially Lelouch’s voice actor, Jun Fukuyama, putting in his usual stellar preform.
Yes Code Geass isn’t prefect with its plot holes and some forgettable characters but for pure entertainment value it fantastic!!
The action and animation are some of the best I’ve seen in an anime and Lelouch is one of the great anime characters. With a bounty of twist and cliff-hangers on the menu it is perfect way for action fans to burn away some hours.