Are you looking for an anime with giant mecha robots fighting each other? Are you looking for an anime with mysterious powers and green haired witches? Are you looking for an anime with high school romance and political rivalries and morally grey areas? Look no more! Code Geass has them all.
In the year 2010, the nations of Britannia have conquered Japan, renaming it “Area 11” and subjecting its inhabitants to a life as second class citizens. Lelouch Lamperouge, a Britannian prince is caught in an attack which kills his beloved mother and forces him to flee to Japan with his sister Nunnally, who has been rendered blind and paralysed. Although they are able to live as privileged Britannian citizens, concealing their royal status, Lelouch swears to his childhood friend Suzaku he will one day have revenge on the injustices Britannia has created.
Lelouch’s wish is granted several years later when he meets a mysterious woman named C2 (C.C. in the manga) who makes a contract with him which grants him the power of Geass. Geass allows Lelouch to command anyone to do whatever he wants, though he can only command a person once and he must have direct eye contact with them. Lelouch vows he will use Geass to create a better world for his beloved sister to live in, and begins to assemble a resistance movement called the Black Knights, led by himself under the alter ego Zero.
Code Geass is an interesting anime from the get go. It’s impossible not to support Lelouch’s cause when the effects of Britannia’s tyrannical rule are shown, but his methods and sacrifices keep him from being considered a pure hero. Lelouch believes the end justifies the means, and there isn’t much he won’t do to reach a better world for the Japanese. Suzaku is the white knight to Lelouch’s black knight, and wants to change the system from within, even joining the Britannian forces and battling Lelouch’s group. They represent two binary opposed approaches to social injustice.
Code Geass is a riveting political fantasy drama, with a set of interesting characters. Lelouch melds hero and anti-hero in an engrossing way. The budding romances add a human touch to the backdrop of war and political manoeuvring, and provide some painfully tragic moments which keep the audience asking that core question – is the end worth the means and the lives lost or destroyed along the way?
My only real complaint would be the occasional over the top fanservice moment here and there which felt unnecessary, although the men are as pretty as the women are large breasted which is down to CLAMP being responsible for the character designs. It can also be hard to keep up with the politics later on when other factions are introduced, but this only adds to the realism Code Geass aims to convey in portraying the ripple effect one warring nation can have on those around it.
Whether you’re new to anime or a seasoned watcher I would highly recommend watching Code Geass if you haven’t already. It effortlessly combines multiple genres, really makes you think about how injustice should be dealt with and demonstrates the real impact of war and tyranny on the innocent. The mecha battles are pretty cool too.