Time Enforcer Anubis here with a fresh review!
There are many anime that try to be several things at once. Martian Successor Nadesico, for example, tries to be a harem series, a real robot series, and a space opera all at once (Among other things). It’s not an easy thing to pull off, but when an anime does manage to succeed, it’s all the better for it.
Code Geass tells the story of Lelouch Lamperouge, a prodigal high school student living in the upper-class part of Tokyo, in the nation formerly known as Japan, now known as Area 11. Years prior, the Holy Britannian Empire launched a massive blitzkrieg, taking control of much of the world, Japan among its territories. Lelouch’s life is turned upside-down when a chance meeting with a green-haired woman known as C.C. grants him the power to command anyone to do his bidding. With his newfound power, he sets out to overthrow the Britannian government and empire.
Code Geass is part mecha series, part character drama, part tragedy, and part war story, among intermittent lighthearted comedy and harem elements. It’s difficult to pin down to one specific genre, and some viewers might, of course, like some elements more than others.
The characters in Code Geass all feel deliberate. There aren’t any characters that don’t fill a purpose, and they’re all just fleshed-out enough to serve the purpose they’re meant to. Viewers will undoubtedly develop favorites and hated characters, and who those characters are will depend on how the viewer sees the characters’ ideals. Design-wise, CLAMP’s seasoned character designers’ talent gives the series a unique, elegant style.
Code Geass delights in playing chess with the viewer, and, like any good chess master, is always a few turns ahead. What results is a genuinely exciting series that keeps the viewer on their toes with unexpected twists and brilliant solutions to seemingly impossible problems. Though, arguably, the best part of the series’ chess-master nature is how it never breaks its own rules. Everything is done by the rules of the world the series is set in, and while some things are quite out-of-the-box, nothing outright cheats the viewer out of genuine excitement.
If I had to choose one element of Code Geass as the weakest, it would be the mecha element, and even that is very deliberately implemented. The “Knightmare Frames,” as they’re called, are tiny compared to contemporary Real Robot mecha, averaging around 4.5 meters tall (That’s about ¼ the height of a Gundam), and are how the Britannian Empire managed to conquer much of the globe. The smaller size of the mecha gives a much more personal nature to mecha combat and keeps interaction between mecha-riding characters and people on the ground a much closer affair. I applaud Code Geass for being able to personalize mecha elements the way it did, but when the super prototype mecha are introduced, the combat starts to feel disingenuous and lacks the tactical intrigue that’s present in face-offs between the grunt mecha.
Unlike other shows that try to be everything to everyone, Code Geass makes a point of focusing on one element at a time. This might prove problematic for those who, for some reason or another, cannot deal with one or more of the elements, genres, or themes present in the show. These people may be turned-off when the show shifts focus to an element they can’t stand. Those who don’t have this problem, especially those who like to mix-and-match their genres, will enjoy Code Geass.
If I had to use one word to describe Code Geass, it would be “Deliberate.” The mashup of genres, the story, the characters, and the placement of all its different elements, including its use of mecha and its subtle-but-spot-on use of moé, all work toward making a fun-to-watch, edge-of-your-seat series. I’d recommend Code Geass to anime fans who are looking for a series that knows what it’s doing, but still manages to surprise its viewers, as well as to fans who are into mixed-genre anime.
Code Geass is one of those anime that’ll have you up two hours after you should’ve gone to bed, promising yourself that this one is the last episode you’ll watch.
The same promise you made two hours ago, but you had to find out what happened next.
‘Till next time!