So, after reviewing Argevollen and Aldnoah.Zero some time ago, I had an uncontrollable itch to go back and watch one of my favorite mecha shows… or because I’ve seen it all before, all my favorite moments and it’s sublime ending. It’s called Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion… and if that name doesn’t put you off, there’s probably something wrong with you.
“Lelouch” is a Japanese man’s idea of what a Western prince should be called – lots of “l”s and “r”s dot the royalty’s names, “Charles”, “Marianne”, “Cornelia”, and the equally surreal “Nunnally”. Code Geass isn’t about cryptic ducks either. It’s all very misleading, except for the Rebellion bit.
The world is constantly at war, and it’s all the fault of those damned Brits…. well, “Britannians”, who appear to be what would have happened if the British kept all their colonies and moved their headquarters to the States. Run by a “survival of the fittest” system, the Emperor’s many children keep waging wars with the world in a battle for the succession. At the bottom of the heap are 17th-in-line Lelouch and his sister Nunnally. They are presumed dead after being used as hostages in the invasion of Japan, now renamed “Area 11” by the Britannian victors. Blaming his father for his mother’s death, his sister’s crippling injuries, his abandonment and the horrible state of the world, Lelouch will do anything to get his revenge. Including laughing diabolically and world domination. Luckily for him, his sinister plots get sped up when he gets the power of Geass in his left eye, which, to explain as simply as possible, gives him one-shot hypnosis attacks against anyone he makes eye contact with. Not very easy when everyone fights inside giant robots.
So, like Dexter and Death Note (link to my old article), the main character is an anti-hero/villain, but he’s also a total underdog, and everyone loves an underdog… so you’ll love and hate him, and that’s going to swing wildly both ways, which is one of the best things about the show. There’s also a hero character in the suped-up high-tech gangly white knight bot (link to Argevollen article) who’s always getting in the way, and, depending on how you’re feeling about Lelouch at the time, you’ll love and hate him too.
One of the shows main strengths is the chess-like tactical games played, where victories are snatched from the jaws of defeat and pawns sacrificed for the greater good. Another is the subterfuge, as he lives a double-life as bored school-kid and maniacal genius. Towards the end, the overpowering of mechs does become a serious problem, but please try and stick it through to the end, because I think, with the exception of Cowboy Bebop (link), it has the most brilliant ending of any anime ever made. Everything fits; everything is resolved and tied up with a neat little ribbon. You know when you watch a show spin on for six seasons and then the final conclusion is just so unsatisfying? This is not the case here. The ending is planned in from the start.
It’s two seasons long, and to give you a Buzzfeed style teaser, towards the end of the first season is the most tragic miserable slip-of-the-tongue in history, that I didn’t want to re-watch but had to because it’s just unbearably sad. Maybe I’m not doing these teasers right? Anyway, ignore the crap name and give it a try. Maybe you’ll like it as much as I did.