Sunday, September 25, 2011

My heart has been officialy Geassed

It's about time I got around to reviewing an anime (both seasons) I finished a few days ago- Code Geass Lelouch of the Rebellion. It took me long enough to even get around to watching this anime... I mean it's not like I wasn't watching it on purpose, in fact I had seen the first few episodes of the second season on [adult swim] but at the time they weren't too interesting considering at the time I was not a fan of the mecha genre. Matters weren't made any better with me knowing the show was produced by Bandai who is known for their long running series of mecha under the Gundam label. Ya, I knew CLAMP did the character designs and I happened to have done some CC (a character from the show) fan art before even watching more than one episode... but that was a request so I don't know if it counts as me being oblivious to the show.

image copyright goes out to Bandai

Code Geass is based on no previous work. It was not previously a manga, visual novel, game nor light novel. It is what you would call an original work by the studio that produced it. Lots of times than not anime has some basis in something that already exists, and this gives the viewers expectations for a show already because they have voices and mannerisms in their hair for characters even before an anime has been green lit, so for Code Geass to be a show that didn't have something to be based on other than concepts, it left me wondering if it would be as good as some of my favorite anime that have something to be based on.

Studio- Bandai
Director/ Original Concept- Goro Taniguchi
Music Producers- Hitomi & Kotaro
Original Character Designs- CLAMP

Series Information:
Year(s)- 2006 to 2008
# of Seasons- 2
# of Episodes- 25
Genre(s)- Action, Drama, Mecha
The Empire of Britannia has invaded Japan using giant robot weapons called Knightmare Frames. Japan is now referred to as Area 11, and its people the 11's. A Britannian who was living in Japan at the time, Lelouch, vowed to his Japanese friend Suzaku that he'd destroy Britannia. Years later, Lelouch is in high school, but regularly skips out of school to go play chess and gamble on himself. One day, he stumbles on terrorists 11's who've stolen a military secret and is caught by a member of the Britannian task force sent after them, who is Suzaku. As the rest of the squad arrives, Suzaku is shot for disobeying orders, while the military secret, a young girl, gives Lelouch the power of Geass, which makes anyone obey any order. While Suzaku is secretly made the pilot of Britannia's brand new prototype Knightmare, Lancelot, Lelouch becomes the masked Zero to lead the rebellion to destroy Britannia once and for all. [ann]

After watching both seasons of Code Geass Lelouch of the Rebellion I've come to the conclusion not all breath taking anime has to be experimental, sad, one that teaches a lesson or even tragic. Anime doesn't have to be good solely cause it has some ground breaking story that surpases any of it's predecessors or even those to come. Anime is suppose to be entertaining and fun. It's suppose to be enjoyable and make you think 'time well spent.' It's also suppose to make you think, while also letting you not think too hard for a while. Just like a good book, movie or tv show anime is an escape from the world even if only for one 24 minute episode. Code Geass is all of this, and more.

I won't go into a premise for the anime because there is a handy synopsis that has already been posted, and this is a review not an anime showcase. Instead I'll go into some initial thoughts of this anime when I made the mistake of watching the first few episodes of the second season on [adult swim] without realizing that I was coming in half way through the series. I honestly thought that these episodes were those of the first season because one of the manga adaptations of Code Geass started from this point. I had picked up a volume of this adaptation after watching a few episodes of the show to see if the manga would appeal to me more than the show itself, in the end neither were all that interesting to me at the time so I dropped the show and sold the two volumes of the manga I had to someone who had wanted them. Basically, back when the second season started it's first run on [adult swim] the show seemed a bit to mecha focused and not as much as on characters. I'm more of a character driven based anime fan, than one driven by an end result or plot alone.

Fast forward to about a week ago. I had some spare cash, and a friend had been telling me the fight scenes in Code Geass were "pretty dope". Relying on the fact that Bandai has been releasing Gundam Unicorn (the anime that got me really interested in just about any mecha show) for a few years now, I decided to buy the recently release anime legends complete collection of Code Geass only to watch the entire first season in about three days. I was utterly surprised on how much I had been enjoying the show considering that a few years before hand I had no interest in it just because there was mecha involved. Due to my love for the first season I ended up getting my hands on the second, had an 8 hour marathon the next day and cried because I felt like this was one of the best anime I had seen in a while.

It's really hard reviewing a show like this. There's really no story to it, but more of a series of events and rebellions that bring about the end of the series. There are some pretty breath taking mecha fights, even a hand to hand one in the second season. There are quirky characters, even side characters are pretty likable. Good Guys and Bad Guys are sometimes hard to distinguish because while the main character Lelouch is a hero of sorts, there are plenty of times he's closer to that of an anti-hero. There's this huge roayal family, and the show is full of politics. This is certifiably a Bandai mecha anime, but it has one of the best main characters I've seen in a while as well as some other characters who made me go awww every time I saw them.

Let's get something straight before I move on, Code Geass is an anime that no matter who I've asked is one that is seen as having a really good story. I'd be more than willing to say the same to someone who asked me if the story was good only if the person who asked was an anime fan, if not well I'd have to tell them based on what I've seen in other anime it's good but if I were to have the choice between recommending say a good book or movie verses Code Geass I'd have to say the story is rather forced. The main character from the get go was meant to become someone who's sole purpose in life was to create a world where his little sister could live in peace and without fear. While this is a good basis concept, it makes the main character rather bland and one dimensional. Bandai did try to solve this with some "love interest" type characters but there wasn't much development with these characters so in the end they were just there to make the character seem like he had many angels where was he didn't.

Other than having the main character be one sided, the geass powers in this anime made the show interesting because the questions posed to those with these powers became an interesting look at human nature. Almost anyone effected by a geass power proved to end the end be a bit more human than those who never dealt with the drastic change geass could create. I can't say much in reguards to these powers because the show is very reliant on them just as much as the show is reliant on the main character.

All in all, Code Geass is a very entertaining in your face show. I liked it because while the main character ended up being so one sided, most of the remaining cast made up for the lack of any real development with the main character Lelouch.

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