Sunday, November 30, 2008

Review: Code Geass - Lelouch of the Rebellion (2006-2008)

Code Geass is a Japanese science fiction mecha anime set in an alternate universe. The storyline chronicles the epic journey of Lelouch vi Britannia who leads a rebellion as the masked hero, Zero, to seek revenge on the death of his mother and create a new world order with the power of Geass ("Power of Kings"). It premiered in June 2006 and finished in September 2008 with 50 episodes total. I will cover both seasons (Code Geass and Code Geass R2).

The Holy Empire of Britannia conquered the Japanese country with their robotic mechas called Knightmare frames. In the aftermath, the Japanese people lost their freedom and their rights. The country was renamed Area 11 of the Britannian Empire. The Japanese people, also renamed as Elevens, lived in unsafe, squalor neighborhoods while the Britannian people lived in settlements in excellent condition. Rebel groups and organizations gradually emerge to protest the Britannian government and to reclaim Japanese independence.

After his father, the Emperor of Britannia, failed to prevent the assassination of his imperial mother, an attack which also left his sister, Nunally, blind and crippled, the young prince Lelouch vowed to his childhood friend, Suzaku, that he would destroy the empire. Seven years later, with a new identity as Lelouch Lamperouge attending an elite private high school, he accidentally becomes mixed up with "terrorists" in Area 11. He stumbles upon a military secret and encounters a mysterious young girl named C.C., who grants him the power of Geass. With it, he finally has the power that he needs to defeat Britannia and fulfill his two wishes: to seek revenge for his mother and to construct a world in which his beloved sister can live happily. While Suzaku, who is of Japanese descent, is a soldier in the Britannian task force and secretly made the pilot of Britannia's new prototype Knightmare, Lancelot, Lelouch becomes the masked Zero of the Black Rebellion to destroy Britannia and create a new world of peace for his disabled sister.

After the failure of the Black Rebellion to overthrow the Britannian forces, the empire assigned Area 11 on a "correctional education" status where the Japanese people are made an example with brute force to suppress rebellious thoughts and uprisings. Lelouch, who lost his memories as Zero a year ago, stumbles upon C.C. (who is immortal) who reveals his forgotten purpose. With his memories and Geass in tact again, he resumes his role as Zero and sets out to finish what he started with the Black Rebellion. The story line and battles becomes more complex as Lelouch learns new enemies, confronts his father, and endures betrayal to achieve his ultimate goal.

I must say this was a GREAT EPIC anime series. I watched all 50 episodes for an entire year, and I am very glad I stayed loyal even though there were some bad pacing and inexplicable moments in the second season. This season incorporates a lot of themes from Irish and Norse mythology. Geass is a corruption of geas/geis, a term for a magical contract in Irish mythology. Ragnarok means "final destiny of the gods" which becomes a central theme in the second season when Lelouch confronts his father in the realm of Geass. Area 11/Japan is a major battleground scene with mechas. The "Holy Empire of Britannia" takes its name from how Great Britain was able to conquer one-fourth of the world in the early 20th century. Although he learns the truth about his mother in the later half of the second season, Lelouch fulfilled his promise to Nunally by sacrificing himself to create a better world.

The ending was so ambigious that people still debate whether Lelouch is still alive or dead. If he achieved the Power of Kings, he also became immortal. If you have watched Death Note, there are similarities between Kira/Lighto and Zero/Lelouch: they are masterminds who have a srong sense of justice and desire to change the world through magical abilities. Some fans may wonder did so many people in this series have to die for Lelouch's dream to come true. While I do believe Lelouch did not want some people to die (i.e. Euphemia and Shirley), he made sure their deaths were not in vain. Lelouch also helps C.C. fulfill her wish in the last episode.

This was a very good popular show. The OSTs are also excellent, particularly the songs ("Innocent Days", "Stories", and "Boku wa, Tori ni Naru") by hitomi. Both seasons have been licensed for release in the United States. You can learn more information on Adult Swim and the English official version of Code Geass R2. I highly recommend this series.

Code Geass 1st Season ED2: Mozaiku Kakera by Sunset

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

ALL HAIL LELOUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!