With a third season having been announced after some nine years, it seems like a good time to go deep into the popular anime known as Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion which will also serve as a nice memory refresher. We’ll be going into both its seasons, excluding the Akito the Exiled OVAs.
The show is basically about a high school kid, who is the vice-president of his school’s student council and wants to overthrow the Great Holy Britanian Empire. Sounds pretty stupid, don’t you think? But the show’s not as dumb as this little summary might make it out to be.
As is obvious by the title, the protagonist is Lelouch Lamperouge—or as he should be known, Lelouch vi Britania, son of the emperor Charles vi Britania. Why is the son of the emperor rebelling against the emperor and what is essentially his own empire? Let’s take a look at Lelouch’s past for answers.
Charles vi Britania had at least two wives; from one wife he had Lelouch and Nunanly, and from his other wife he had all his other children. Marianne, Lelouch’s mother, was killed in what looked like an assassination, leaving Nunnaly’s legs paralyzed and eyes devoid of light due to the shock of the event which happened in front of her for that matter.
Charles is a staunch believer in the survival of the fittest; he believes that the strong solely exist to eat up the weak and there’s nothing the weak can do about it. And because of this twisted mindset, he abandons Nunnaly for being weak. Lelouch took this as if he had been abandoned too, and he relinquishes his claim to the throne. He leaves the Britania family, taking an extreme hatred for the Britanian Empire and its ruler with him (we’ll get to the twist regarding this whole story later on).
Seeing this story, it’s clear why the prince is rebelling against his father. He wants to get back at the emperor for abandoning him and his sister, and for not doing anything about the death of his mother. With her mother having been assassinated, Lelouch also has the fear that someone may come for him or Nunnaly, as the reason for the murder is believed to be jealousy. Lelouch also wants to make a safer place for Nunnaly and since they’re in Japan, now Area 11 under Britanian rule, Lelouch decides to start his rebellion by trying to free Japan.
How can a high school kid accomplish all this? That’s where part of the show’s name comes in again: Geass. A sexy, green-haired enigmatic woman called C.C, gives Lelouch the mysterious power of Geass which allows him to control anyone who makes contact with his activated left eye. This power, combined with Lelouch’s own brilliant strategic mind, allows him to put up quite the resistance against the Britanian Empire’s forces.
Code Geass is an exciting show filled with mind-boggling strategies, tactics, plans against plans, politics, blood spilling, robots and whatnot. It’s a thrilling ride from start to end; each episode makes you look forward to the next. Lelouch’s strategies are all precise and when they’re pulled off perfectly, they’re a sight to behold. Lelouch is shown as the all-powerful protagonist, but even then there are times when his plans are brilliantly foiled and he ends up throwing a fit. The main opposition to his plans in the first season is Charles and other unforeseen events whereas the second season brings in a couple of other strategists against Lelouch.
Lelouch trying to hide his identity as Zero, the masked leader of the rebellious Black Knights, while trying to keep up his facade as a normal high school student also makes for quite the entertainment. There are a lot of points where he gets close to being revealed, but he manages to hide things. A lot of hilarious events also ensue because of Lelouch hiding his true form from everyone, though at times some of these may feel a bit out of place.
There are two parts to the story of Code Geass as seen in the show’s name too: one part is related to Lelouch’s Rebellion, and the other part is related to Geass, which comes into more focus in the second season and is also a reason behind the show losing some of its quality there.
As we’ve already said, the story of Lelouch’s Rebellion against the Britanian Empire is quite the exciting thing to watch, but the story about the Geass… not so much. This part is overall just too weird and not interesting enough at all. Perhaps it’s because of its execution, or it could be that it shouldn’t have even existed in the first place. This Geass story is also responsible for a rather ruinous twist in the second season about Lelouch’s back story.
The twist is that Charles wasn’t responsible for Marianne’s death but it was V.V (another C.C-like being), and Charles sent Marianne’s two kids away to keep them safe. After making out Charles to be an evil villain the whole time, they turned him into a not-so-bad guy in the end. He does die because of Lelouch, but he dies for a different reason. And along with Charles, Marianne dies too. The same Marianne who was Lelouch’s reason for rebelling, dies at Lelouch’s hands.
The reason for this twist is directly linked to this Geass thingy, which means that this flaw could only have been avoided if the Geass story was drastically changed. They do make us slightly curious about who exactly C.C is in the first season, but the second season with Charles being all like “imma kill god” makes us lose quite some interest in the story about Code and Geass.
It is a natural element of every relatively long show to introduce more characters; but some additions here, like each new robot having a hadron canon like it’s nothing, do feel somewhat off.
The story is really engaging when only about Lelouch, the Rebellion, and everything directly associated with it.
The ending is one of the finest endings one could find. Everything seems to just fall into place so brilliantly as Zero Requiem plays out. Lelouch becomes emperor of the whole of Britania and literally stands on top of the world as the strongest man alive, but at the same time he becomes the target of everyone’s hatred. And then, as per the Zero Requiem plan, the very Zero he had established as a symbol of justice, comes to kill him. The emotions are real as he falls down in front of Nunnaly who then finds out the truth behind this act. The show manages to come to a spectacular end with Lelouch’s mission being completed.
Lelouch destroys the world and gives it a remake by handing it over to Nunnaly and Suzaku. Through his sacrifice he creates a new world; a world where everyone has equal rights irrespective of where they’re from. And this is one of the things that Code Geass deals with. The Japanese faced oppression and discrimination at the hands of their Britanian rulers; they were basically treated like lower lifeforms and didn’t have any rights, all thanks to Charles vi Britania and his superiority complex. Lelouch makes use of all these feelings of hatred towards the oppressors and rebels against the Britanians in order to give the Japanese their identity and rights back. The Japanese get it all back, and Lelouch manages to make a safer world for Nunnaly, wrapping up the story so perfectly.
We’ve so far discussed the story of Code Geass; what makes it good and what points work against it. Coming up in the second part of this discussion are the characters and prospects for the upcoming third Code Geass season.