Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
Hello there everyone, Pudding Earl here with the first of many reviews of anime box sets and shows. For my premier I chose a personal favorite of mine, Code Geass. Feel free to comment on what you think of the review or what you think of the show if you’ve seen it.
Seven years ago in 2010 the Holy Britannian Empire invaded the nation of Japan. The conflict was over in a matter of months as Britannia unveiled their new weapon the Knightmare Frame, a five meter tall mech suit capable of being outfitted in a variety of weapon configurations and quick maneuvering around the battlefield. Japan becomes a territory of the Britannian Empire and is now called ‘Area 11’ and the Japanease are simply ‘Elevens’ and have no rights. Elevens may apply to become Honorary Britannians and attain citizenship but this equality is on paper only.
And now we fast forward to the year 2017.
This is where the anime starts and shows us the story of Lelouch vi Britannia and his dream to change the world. The first thing you’ll notice about Code Geass is the mech suits, which are called Knightmares in this anime to reflect the feudal system that Britannia uses, but don’t be fooled into think this is just about a kid who gets his hands on a mech, rounds up some friends, and raises holy hell. The Knightmares are not central to the story at all, if they had made this anime based in a setting with no mechs I think it would’ve been just as good. Early on in the series LeLouch gets mixed up in a skirmish between some Japanese terrorists and the Britannians and is caught by a squad of soldiers. About to be executed and with nowhere to run things look bleak for our protagonist, suddenly this girl with olive green hair and a strange tattoo on her forehead takes the bullet for LeLouch and offers him a ‘contract’. In exchange for fulfilling her one wish she will grant him the power of the king. LeLouch accepts the contract and immediately commands the soldiers facing him to die and they immediately turn their guns on themselves.
With this newfound power LeLouch manages to hijack a Knightmare and helps the terrorists drive off the Britannians and make his way to the enemy headquarters. LeLouch manages to get alone with Prince Clovis, Viceroy of Area 11, 3rd
in line to the throne, and LeLouch’s half brother. We find out that LeLouch is actually an exiled prince of Britannia and that his mother was assassinated while he was a young child. LeLouch is furious with the Emperor, his father, for throwing his sister and himself away and that he didn’t put more resources into finding his mother’s killer. After using his Geass to find out what Clovis knows LeLouch kills Clovis and leaves the bureaucracy of Area 11 wondering how their Viceroy was murdered.
As the series goes on LeLouch has to balance a double life. In the public eye he’s just a normal schoolboy at the local academy but behind the mask he is a leader of men and the inspiration of a nation eager to overthrow their oppressors. All of the characters in this anime are forced to question how far they are willing to go to achieve the peace they desire and how much a human life is worth. One of the biggest reasons I like this series is that there’s no clear cut villain. Every character is fighting for a goal they feel will bring peace to the world but at the same time are forced to commit atrocities that would scar some for life.
All in all I’d give the story a 9/10 The only thing keeping this from a 10 is that it can be hard for some people, myself included, to keep track of all of the different characters and understand a few of the things you see. This can easily be remedied by re-watching the series, or better yet, watching Season 2 and then revisiting Season 1. But again, the only thing keeping the story from being perfect in my opinion is the amount of characters you’re introduced to rapidly and the numerous references to things you won’t understand until season 2.
The animation in Code Geass is certainly up to the standards set today. And for being made between 2006 and 2008 it's pretty damn impressive if I do say so myself. While it certainly doesn't measure up to shows like FMA: Brotherhood or Gundam 00 it is not harsh on the eyes at all. If I had to compare a series to it in term of animation style I would say Naruto Shippuden.
All in all I'd give the animation a 7.5/10 the style is clean and fairly realistic but not groundbreaking by any means. Again though the animation was made almost half a decade go now so if you take in how dated he show i compared to some newer shows the animation is very impressive for the time.
This is the part of the anime that you will either love or hate. The soundtrack from season one tries to convey a wide range of emotions. Everything from the rage of loss to the comfort of a loved one and while the music is fantastic in my opinion there are some instances where a different song may've been more suited. For example, whenever LeLouch does something particularly dark you hear this little brass crescendo and then fall. I personally like it but a few of my friends complained that they didn't think it fit the situation at all. Personally I'd give the soundtrack an 8/10 but be warned that your opinions may differ from mine.
And now onto the actual Season 1 Box Set. Full retail for this is usually listed between $30 to $50 but almost every retailer online leaves it at $30. There are 25 episodes on six discs. There are no special features aside from language selection, commentary on some episodes, subtitles and trailers. All in all though, for over six hours of anime, $30 isn't a bad price. Especially considering the quality. The first time I watched Code Geass it was online and re-watching it on the DVD there were numerous times where I noticed something on screen that hadn't show up before due to the quality on the website(s) I was using. There were no skips in the sound or video and the discs were in perfect shape. Really my only complaint with the box set is how they have the six DVD's set up inside of the case. If one isn't careful they could potentially scratch a disc easily with how they are laid out inside. In the end I would give the box set an 8.5/10. It' certainly worth the value, but a few more special features and a better layout for the discs wouldn't have hurt.
If you haven't given Code Geass a chance I certainly recommend it to you, doubly so if you enjoy mecha. It leaves you rooting for both sides of a conflict where only one can emerge victorious, will leave you near tears at times and will also keep you guessing on how far each character is willing to go to achieve peace in the world. If you feel this sounds like an anime for you I can easily recommend just going out and purchasing the Season 1 set. It'll easily be one of the best, and cheapest, anime purchases you have made. If you're still a little leery of jumping into this anime whole heartedly there are numerous places you can find the first few episodes and if you enjoy it as much as I do please support the official release and pick up the DVD.
Thanks for reading and I hope you found the review helpful,
PS: Please comment on anything you think I could've done better with the review or if you feel there's an aspect I should elaborate on.