This contains spoilers… So if you’re interested in watching this anime then DON’T read this!
My wife’s cousin is a bit of a nerd and he’s the awesome kind of nerdy older relative that buys me game consoles and new video games, stops by once a week to drop off fresh issues of JUMP, burns me DVD’s of DBZ, and he’s always awake at late hours of the night so you can call him drunk and incoherent and he’ll cruise over in his Skyliner GT and pick you up.
He also tells me what animes he thinks I should be watching and what mangas he things I should read. Now our taste for such things differs ever so slightly. As a lit major in college I have trouble just appreciating stuff without over analyzing it in a pretentious condescending way. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy anime and manga.
I bring up my wife’s awesome older cousin because he made me watch an anime called Code Geass. This was way back in 2008… but I was reminded of it last week because of the KONY2012 movement that has taken the world by storm.
Code Geass is a depressing fucking story and the ending is kind of terrible (more on that later). But if you’re a fan of mecha and emo-level depression, then this might be for you. (Think Machiavelli meets Gundam meets Evangelion)
This is an anime set in a sort of parallel universe where the evil empire, Britannia, has rolled over Japan in the year 2010 and stripped the Japanese of pretty much all rights and freedoms. To top it off they’ve renamed Japan “Area 11” and the people are called “elevens.” (How that’s worse from being called Japan and Japanese, which are also not in the Nihongo lexicon, I don’t know)
The protagonist of this story is an anorexic exiled prince of Britannia with a tongue twister name: Lelouch Lamperouge (it’s even worse in Japanese, レレーシュ Lehlehhhshu). His father, Charles zi Britannia, is the evil douchebag running the show, and his mother was “murdered” some time ago. As a character he’s pretty well constructed, not an idiot, and a bit of a tragic hero, which I dug. He’s motivated by his desire to protect his sister Nunnally, who for most of the show is confined to a wheelchair and blind; trying to figure out what happened to his mother; and his intense desire to personally destroy his father and the empire of Britannia.
Lelouch and his sister live in Japan at a sort of boarding school for social elites and royal leftovers. On his way home in the first episode, Lelouche happens to meet up with a green haired witch girl who enters into some sort of “contract” with him which grants him the power of “geass.” There are several characters with geass and like snowflakes, no two geass are alike. I think they’re determined based off of the owners personal disposition or something like that.
Lelouch’s geass grants him the ability to command people to do whatever the hell he wants as long as he can come into direct eye contact with them. His first use of this power is ordering some Britannia soldiers that are trying to kill him to shoot themselves in the face while he watches.
Then, Lelouch hooks up with some resistant fighters called the Black Knights. He becomes the leader pretty much right away and adopts an alter ego named “ZERO” that is a mix of Darkwing Duck and Voldo’s mask when he’s wearing his really gay outfit.
There’s a lot of cool battles and one-on-one fights. The nightmare frames are updated more times than an Apple product so the action sequences manage to keep an edge without getting repetitive, plus the introduction of different and unique geass keeps things fresh. The geass are also not without weakness, which is a nice touch.