Code Geass, the dark horse of the productions of year 2006, a series in which I initially didn’t intend to watch, as I was expecting it to be just another mecha produced by Sunrise to accommodate the fact that there was no Gundam for that year. Even the first episode had that trademark protagonist stumbled into scene while enemy was stealing weapons storyline. Thankfully, it turned out that I was gravely mistaken. Code Geass turned out to more than just a mecha series.
The plot isn’t anything special, nothing really unique either. It is essentially a rather typical storyline about a discarded Prince who seeks for revenge. A storyline rather common in Shakespearian plays revolving round conflicts among the Royals. Then again, the theme of revenge has always been a delicious storyline popular among many and for many ages. So, how is it that a series consisted of so many generic storylines is able to become one of the most phenomenal series of the recent years? All I can say is that Sunrise played their cards really well in the production of Code Geass.
What is so special, and thus made it deserve a high rating, is how the story develops. And it is how it progress that made the overall storyline complex and so engaging. The concept of the Geass itself is also rather fresh. I have to compliment the production team for their analogies and references to Celtic myth. Also, I have always loved the symbolism of Chess, however mild or insignificant it is, that is being portrayed in anime, and CG had lots of them. They certainly have done a splendid job in the scripting of this series.
The characters’ development is the strong point of this series. Indeed, Lelouch is certainly not the genreic clear-cut good guy. And yet, branding him a “villain” doesn’t really fit the bill either. As far as anti-hero archetype goes, it does seem like Yagami Light is the closest in comparison. But of course, on a deeper level, Lelouch is a much, much more complex character than Light, which is understandable when considering the nature of the series’ stories. In addition, even the antagonist, Suzaku is more than what he seemed to be, and I certainly cannot simply classify him under the archetypical justice-upholding Hero. Because, similar to Lelouch, his personality is much darker and much more complex than that. The side cast, on the other hand, is the generic make-up (At the base of it all, this is Sunrise after all). Yup, you have the Princess, the klutzy girl, the scientist etc. Though I have to say that Lloyd made a rather deep impression because I found him to be a very hilarious character and I laughed at his awesome one-liners and nutty archetypical scientist personality. Of the friends/enemies duality concept, I’ve heard of complains about how it is just ripping off from Gundam Seed. However, I have to say that Code Geass has taken the relationship duality to an even deeper (and more realistic) level, making this aspect to be even more intriguing than that of Seed’s.
The roles are also changed in this series. In most mecha, the protagonists are usually the ones piloting the mecha and fighting in the frontline. Lelouch on the other hand, plays the role of one who leads and plans the battles. In short, the protagonist of Code Geass is the leader and strategist, rather than just the soldier. But on the other end of the spectrum, the viewers can’t help but to question if by the end of it, Lelouch is really the “King” controlling the scene or the “Pawn” being played on by the Emperor. Or that they are essentially the same since the “King” is but another chess piece on the chessboard, and that Lelouch can never escape from the Emperor’s control no matter what he attempts to do.
Of the voice-acting cast, I dare say that Jun Fukuyama has pretty much stolen the show. His role as the voice of Lelouch was definitely nothing short of terrific in how he managed to bring out the arrogance of Lelouch. Really, Jun sounded so different from when he voiced for his other notable roles (eg Watanuki from xxxHOLiC) that I initially didn’t realize it was actually him.
Since character designs are done by CLAMP, I just have to give this section high score simply because I’m a fan of CLAMP’s art styles. CG boasts beautiful character designs and fantastic animation quality. Lelouch’s emotions, particularly his facial expressions, are all very accurately and realistically shown. The only complaint is that the character design for Suzaku is a freakin’ Syaoran. Why, CLAMP? Do they really *have* to throw in a Syaoran for almost everything they draw? As for the mecha, I don’t have much to say. After all, it is the usual Sunrise style and all.
The music is fantastic too! The first OP, while no doubt good, is not really fitting for this anime: the mood of the song is too “happy” for a series such as Code Geass. I disliked OP2 though. OP3 was also good, though it resembled too much to a Gundam-ish sort of OP. BGMs used are really well chosen. I like generally all of the EDs. Personally loved the Inserts by Hitomi.
At this point of time, I doubt I’ll need to recommend this series: it’s already too well known. Now off to my review for Code Geass R2 in order to truly finish my review for Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion!
Personal Overall Rating: 90%