Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Code Geass (2006 - 2008)


Seventeen year old Lelouch Lamperouge has lived in hiding for the last 7 years with his crippled younger sister after the assassination of their mother and exilement from their father, the King of Britannia, the world's reigning empire. One day a chance encounter with an immortal, known only as C.C., grants him the power to control the mind of others, a power known only as Geass. Already a genius chess master, Lelouch creates the persona Zero, and uses this power to enact his plan for revenge... and in turn free the world from dictatorship.

Epic is the best way I can describe this anime series. Starting from a small squad of Japenese resistance fighters to a massive army, this latest Mecha anime series contains everything. Emotionally powerful, intelligent, and at the same time heartfelt, Code Geass is as much an action/adventure as a combination of tragedy, cautionary, and uplifting tale. It's creativity is quite astounding, and each episode brings something new to the table, each providing keen insight, and building the various characters that serve as the foundation of the tale.

To say this series has a few characters would be to call the Atlantic ocean, damp. Each character wonderfully adds a new dynamic to the show, each elevating our understanding of the main three characters: Lelouch, C.C., and Suzaku (Lelouch's childhood friend turned enemy). To watch this series is to be absorbed in its world, to be captivated by its tale. With each cliffhanger I quickly ran to the next episode as fast as humanly possible. Feeling as if I was caught up in a world not all that dissimilar from Lost. A world where anything is possible, mystery reigns supreme, and each passing moment is as important as the next.

Of course it doesn't hurt when your series is backed by amazing action sequences. Lelouch's tactics will get anyone's blood pumping, and the use of Mecha are animated to perfection (not as common as you might think these days). At the same time Code Geass deals with the notion of love in war. Kallen, Lelouch's right hand, and Shirley, Lelouch's high school friend, in many respects embodies the various struggles. While we see Lelouch's inability to cope with the massive violence he has to cause for this dream of his to be fulfilled, they provide emotional counters to him as C.C., an immortal, struggles to connect with the importance of human life. The dynamic built between them creates a unmatched collection of laughs, and tears, paved throughout the story.

Yet the series does suffer three obvious setbacks. The first setback is that it's quite obviously geared towards males. What do I mean by that? Well each female character possesses a great deal of strength, and a killer set of curves, a fact the show constantly reminds the viewer of. I know certain people, and sects of society, enjoy that sort of thing... but animated characters do little for me. The second is product placement, notably Pizza Hut which is featured throughout (as C.C. is an immortal with a pizza addiction - yeah, I know). And the third is what I would call the insane laugh. You know the wide eye, evil, way over the top, laugh. At times in the series it works in context, but I'm not a big fan of it, and I think there are better ways to show emotional breaks.

Still there's much to love and admire about Code Geass. The show is riddled with emotion, and that's because it takes the time to care about its characters. Throughout the show it recognizes the need to be smart, amusing, and action packed. It balances these through character building events, and side episodes meant to bring the viewer down after heavy emotional episodes. Notably an episode in which Lelouch chasing a cat through school that has stolen his Zero mask, which would give away his identity.

This combination and balance counter the stories more out there elements. Told in an alternate reality, Code Geass takes full advantage of its world, and takes that the nth degree. At times the show can get ahead of itself, and it may be too far out there for those who don't buy into anime. Though if you're willing to buy into the premise. If you're willing to be absorbed by it, Code Geass is a truly rewarding adventure. All encompassing, and epic, it possesses a strong moral look at the role of leadership in the world. And when dealing with the salvation of the world, does the path you choose to take matter? Should you be violent, or should you be pure? Two paths. That's at the heart of this series. A question it presses upon the viewer. Because make no mistake about it Lelouch is as much an anti-hero as he is a hero. It's up for the viewer to decide.

While it has its fair share of flaws, Code Geass is a powerful, and emotional, ride from start to finish. It'll get your blood pumping, tears going, and mind rolling, and that's why it accomplishes what it seeks to be so well.

2 better thoughts:

DEZMOND said...

Oh, how wonderful it would be being called Lelouch Lamperouge :)) Imagine using the name in High School...

Univarn said...

@Dez Awesome name for an awesome series. That's just how things go :)

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