Code Geass is an alternate history, mecha, military anime, created by Gorō Taniguchi and Ichirō Ōkouchi. It ran from 2006 to 2008 for a total of 2 seasons and 50 episodes. It tells the story of Lelouch vi Britannia, an exiled prince from Britannia living in Japan, which is conquered by the empire of Britannia.
There are countless spinoffs in the form of manga and light novels, and OVAs which do continue the story. But I will be focusing on the anime in this review.
In an alternative timeline, the world is divided into three superpowers (similar to the world of Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell): the Holy Britannian Empire (the Americas; also called Britannia), the Chinese Federation (Asia), and the Europa United (Europe and Africa). The story takes place after the Holy Britannian Empire’s conquest of Japan on August 10, 2010 a.t.b., by means of Britannia’s newest weapon, the “Autonomous Armored Knight”, or “Knightmare Frame”. In turn, Britannia effectively strips Japan and its citizens of all rights and freedoms and renames the country Area 11 with its citizens referred to as Elevens.
The point of divergence for this timeline appears to be that King Henry VIII of England had a male heir who became King Henry IX. Later, England, led by Queen Elizabeth III, was defeated by Napoleon at the Battle of Trafalgar. The queen fled to Britain’s American colonies where the Britannian Empire was established.
Lelouch vi Britannia is an exiled Britannian prince, son of Emperor Charles zi Britannia and his royal consort Marianne vi Britannia. Lelouch has a sister, Nunnally vi Britannia. Marianne was brutally murdered in the palace and Nunnally, who witnessed the murder of their mother, was so traumatized she lost both her sight and ability to walk. Lelouch is furious with his father, believing his father failed his mother and sister by turning a blind eye to their mother’s death and failing to pursue their mother’s killer.
Lelouch and Nunnally are sent as political pawns to Japan to lull the Japanese government into a false sense of security. After the siblings are sent to Japan, Japan is attacked and defeated by Britannia. With the ruins of Japan as a background, Lelouch vows to his Japanese friend Suzaku Kururugi that he will one day obliterate Britannia as an act of vengeance against his father.
First, let’s acknowledge the fact that this anime is legendary in anime circles. Not to mention, it is often recommended to those who wish to watch something like Death Note. Another interesting fact is that both of these anime aired at the same time period. The first season introduces us to life in Japan under Britania’s rule, and let’s just say it isn’t any good. On a side note, all those idiots who praise British India should be shown this anime, to give them an idea of how an empire treats its subject.
Anyway, Lelouch is pulled into a terrorist attack against the empire, where he finds the girl named C.C. After she saves his life, she gives him the Geass, the power to control anyone with eye contact. But it only works once on a person.
After acquiring this new power, Lelouch slowly gets involved with the resistance against the empire. The fights are both destructive and tactical in this anime, with Lelouch often playing the role of a general, which is something I really like. Given how it is actually strategy-based, I can easily see why people recommend it after watching Death Note.
Though season one is good overall, and I have no complains, the openings and endings leave a lot to be desired. They are nowhere near good as Claymore, or Black Cat, the anime which aired around roughly this same time period.
Season two is much more chaotic and political, and I feel overall it has better battles and maneuvers. Naturally, it is much darker. Openings and endings are still not good, though, musically speaking.
Season 2 also has its time changed, and some executive meddling, because of which the story was changed. About which, we will talk next.
So, is this anime worth watching?
I want to recommend this whole-heartedly. But I do think you should know what you’re getting into. First, strategic battles are good in season one, (the entire season is great in general) but they soon devolve into Hollywood tactics.
After season one, the executives wanted to reintroduce everything, so the story was changed. But that isn’t the only problem there. In season 2, Black Knights betrayed Lelouch, despite how he basically provided the backbone of their organization. Before he took control, they were nothing more than pests for the empire to squash anytime it wants.
What’s more, they just betrayed him just because the enemy prince told them some incriminating things about him. They never even questioned that this entire thing could be fabricated.
Then, the final plan of Lelouch is a problem. He decides to become the most hated man in the world, and then dies by the hand of Suzaku, who took the role of Zero from him. But why did he die, while other, more reprehensible characters got to live on in peace? Why should he die for the world, when a lot of the things are not his own fault in the first place? You will ask these questions to yourself when you watch it.
Apart from that, I do think the anime is great, even though I did have a discussion online where a fan said its old, its mecha, and overrated. I suspect that the guy didn’t even watch it. So do give it a chance, you will be surprised.
Also, interesting to hear the English cast of Bleach. Most of these voice actors have moved on now, or are now retired. So, it was great to listen to them once again. Not to mention, it has been a while since I’ve heard Johnny Yong Bosch in a main role.