Code Geass

Code Geass

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion anime cover art
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion Cover Art

Overview

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion is an anime I put off watching for far too long. I thought the title “Code Geass” sounded dumb, and the protagonist’s name “Lelouch” sounded even dumber, but I’ll admit that I was wrong about this series.

The series follows protagonist Lelouch Lamperouge, formerly Lelouch vi Britannia, as he leads an uprising against the Britannian Empire to avenge the murder of his mother and to create a world of peace for his sister. To do so, Lelouch creates the persona of Zero and starts a war to end all wars.

While the series is in the mecha genre, the focus is more on the complex political relations between a variety of warring factions and empires. There’s the Britannian Empire, the Chinese Federation, and the EU as far as “empires” go, but in Japan alone, now called Area 11, there are a variety of different rebel groups vying for power as well.

That said, despite there being a bunch of warring factions, the best part of the series is that none of them are really the good guys. While some of the groups can definitely be viewed as the “bad guys,” there are both good and bad people fighting for every side, and often times their reasons for fighting are completely justified.

There could be someone fighting on the side of what essentially amounts to slavery and oppression, and yet still be considered one of the “good guys.” At the same time, there can be a mass murderer with no regard for civilian casualties on either side, and yet they’re fighting for freedom.

This blend of ideologies makes just about every situation or decision in the anime a shade of grey rather than black or white. After completing the first season, I’m still not entirely sure who the “good guy” is, although I definitely have a preference for a particular faction as a whole.

Characters

Lelouch Lamperouge, formerly Lelouch vi Britannia, is the protagonist of the series, and yet also a villain. He’s a member of the Britannian royal family, and yet he’s leading a rebel army of Japanese against the Britannian Empire.

The Britannian Empire overall is clearly the “bad” side, and yet Lelouch is arguably more evil than anyone who fights for the Empire. He wants to destroy the Empire to avenge his mother’s assassination, and yet he doesn’t care about the Japanese whom he leads. To him, they’re just expendable soldiers.

Lelouch is kind of like if Ainz Ooal Gown from Overlord was actually a super villain instead of just playing the part of one. While he doesn’t always want to do certain actions, such as killing those who were once his friends, if that’s what needs to be done to accomplish his goal, so be it.

He also has a magical ability known as Geass in his left eye. With this power, he can command anyone to do any one thing, and they have to obey him. This results in the afflicted person’s memory being erased surrounding the time when the Geass was used on them.

The very first time he uses his Geass, it’s to order a military squad to kill themselves, showing just how ruthless he has the potential to be. Later on, he loses control of his Geass and accidentally causes mass genocide as a result, but since he’s Lelouch, he figures out a way to turn genocide to his advantage.

Suzaku Kururugi is Lelouch’s foil character. While Lelouch is a Britannian fighting for the Japanese, Suzaku is a Japanese fighting for Britannia. Despite fighting for the “bad” side, Suzaku is an arguably “good” guy because he wants to change the Empire from the inside.

He fights for the overall good of humanity rather than for himself the way Lelouch does. Suzaku and Lelouch also happen to be childhood (and current) friends, which makes the dynamic between the two all the more interesting.

Kallen Stadtfeld is half Britannian and half Japanese, which means she can fit in to either side of the war. However, she sides with the Japanese rebels and becomes Zero’s (Lelouch’s) right hand. She’s yet another foil character to both Lelouch and Suzaku by being a combination of them both.

She believes in fighting for the independence of Japan, like Lelouch is doing (although for him, the independence of Japan is just a side effect of his main goal), yet at the same time she understands Suzaku’s argument for changing the empire from the inside and knows he’s a good person.

While Lelouch and Suzaku are set in their ways and won’t give in to each other, Kallen is a bit more conflicted and doesn’t know which side is really right. In many ways, Kallen is the embodiment of the viewers because she sees both good and bad in both sides.

C.C. is the final main character of the series, but she honestly hasn’t done all that much so far, so I assume she becomes more important in the second season. She’s an immortal being of some kind who is responsible for first granting Lelouch his Geass power.

It’s implied that she’s either part of, or fighting against, an organization of others like her, but we have yet to actually find out anything substantial about that. She and her kind are also immune to Geass powers themselves. Finally, she loves pizza.

Lelouch Lamperouge from the anime Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
Lelouch Lamperouge

Conclusion

Although I could have mentioned her in the character section, I want to briefly discuss one of the supporting characters here before I end. Nina Einstein is probably my most hated character in the entire series, and yet she’s one which I think is also the most relevant.

She’s a Britannian citizen who fears the Japanese above all else. Although the anime frames her as being afraid of them, in reality her fear is due to a deeply ingrained hatred of them in the form of racism. She believes that the Japanese are all murderers who want to kill her, even though they have never expressed this desire, and are actually the ones being killed themselves.

The reason I find her character so relevant is because I’ve seen this same kind of thinking in the US. Some people are so fearful of those who are different from them, that they convince themselves those who are different are an enemy trying to do them harm, even though that isn’t the case.

In the end, I kind of view Nina the same way I view Asuka in Evangelion. I hate her as a person, but as a character she’s extremely interesting to me. And although many of the characters in this series are terrible people, that’s kind of what makes it so good.

It’s so refreshing to see characters who are willing to commit horrible crimes, as strange as that sounds. In too many anime, everyone is a white knight who would never do anything wrong, and even the villains who would, don’t actually do anything which harms the heroes of the story in any real way.

Because Code Geass is such a more realistic depiction of a world ravaged by a complex war, I think it’s easily an 8/10, and the second season could even become a 9 if it continues on the same way. I just hope the series doesn’t become too supernatural with various Geass powers.

If you enjoyed this review, click the heart button down below, and while you’re down there, leave a comment to let me know your thoughts on the first season of Code Geass. You can also subscribe to my blog via email or follow me on Twitter @DoubleSama to be notified every time a new post goes live.

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One Reply to “Code Geass”

  1. Since you specifically asked for a comment! I’ve been staring at the LL guy gif and his rapid eye swoosh is terrifying. Thought you should know.

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