So I haven’t had the opportunity to read anything new yet, unfortunately. I’ve been suffering a bad cold and my exams were on but now that they’re over I’ve a little time on my hands again.
We’re finally studying Pompeii and Herculaneum! I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time now. We haven’t really done much yet though, sadly. Mostly I’ve been re-watching old animes… the fact I haven’t seen them in a while actually made it all ‘new’ again.
Spoilers ahoy! I will be reviewing as if I have never seen the rest of the series, so I will pretend to have no knowledge of later episodes. For lack of anything else to review, I’m going to begin by reviewing the very first episode of the anime Code Geass. This is a show about terrorism, war, heroes, and whether the means is more important than the end. It also has copious amounts of pizza, bizarre festivals and cats. So let’s proceed.
Episode one of Code Geass (and the dubbed version is quite faithful to the subbed version, so it matters not which you watch) opens with a lovely little back story provided by a disembodied female voice overlaying some brief shots of what the Britannian invasion on Japan was like. This is all exceptionally important; if you skip it you’ll be pretty confused later on. I do love that the show’s creators feel no need to explain what ‘Britannia’ is or what happened to cause the current timeline we’re following in-series. There’s no really natural way of telling the audience when everyone in that world would of course be quite aware of why things are as they are.
Companion booklets to the DVDs do provide history for the world, but that’s ‘in the handbook’ and not really necessary to enjoy the series.
We are immediately shown a world controlled by a dictating empire where discrimination is rampant. Two boys (who I assume are our main characters) sit in a barren area exposed early in their lives to an apparently horrific experience and we are given the driving force behind the main character’s actions.
* “I swear, Suzaku… I swear I will one day obliterate Britannia!”
Strong words from a ten-year-old. Clearly this is not intended for a young audience! This brings us to the opening credits, which like with every anime tells very, very little about the series upon first viewing.
What is clear is that the first episode is arranged more or less to establish what we’re in for; there is no beating about the bush! I cannot think of many animes which launches right into the massacre of the elderly and the young.
Let me explain; you can be forgiven for being emotionally traumatised by this series opening. It’s not pretty. Lelouch, our main character, goes gambling – chess? Really? – and is unfortunately caught up in a terrorist affair. ‘Elevens’ – Japanese, to you and me – are rebelling in small ways and have, apparently, stolen poisonous gas. Poor Lelouch goes down to help out when the truck crashes and tumbles inside the vehicle when it takes off. Terrorists really don’t wait around regardless of injury.
Meanwhile Rivalz (Lelouch’s pal) sees the truck drive away (having watched Lelouch go down to investigate) and then moves away wondering where Lelouch went, completely unconcerned for his apparent BEST FRIEND. Can I just say… WTF?
Anyway… so Lelouch is being dragged off in a terrorist vehicle with poisonous gas and is being shot at. He knows where he is exactly because he recognises little things (terrain, darkness, WHAT?) And when one of the terrorists, a young red-haired woman, dumps her jacket near him – AHA! Communicator! This turns out to be very important too, but it’s a blink and you’ll miss it thing so pay attention.
Oh by the way, there’s a character who appears briefly who I can already tell I’m going to love; a scientist by the name of Lloyd. Why do I love him?
* “W-what are you doing?”
* “Looking at a man who blundered, am I correct?”
This, as well as his pose and his voice. I love this man. I don’t know what his purpose is yet but I like him.
The truck crashes again (rubbish driver) underground and instead of being smart and trying to escape Lelouch hangs out a bit. Britannian Lackey #253 now signals his commanders and goes to investigate with what I must say was an incredible spinning kick. This obviously signifies that BL #253 is not just any lackey. He’s a main character! Lelouch goes down and I was like… Oh no he didn’t just do that to a helpless citizen! He is going in my Bad Book!
But then whoa! Hold it! Because #253 recognises Lelouch from his words; obliterate Britannia, am I sensing a catchphrase here? And behold it is Suzaku, the kid from the beginning who Lelouch apparently hasn’t seen for seven years. Happy reunion time!
This reunion is cut short though because POISONOUS GAS OMG WHAT IS HAPPENING? Ahhh it’s the standard pretty girl (she has green hair, what?) making her appearance. Being men Lelouch and Suzaku promptly begin to strip her of her straight jacket. I don’t suppose it occured to them that there might be a reason she was wearing a straight jacket? Anyway, then Suzaku’s superiors arrive (Suzaku’s Japanese working for Britannia and Lelouch is Britannian and wants to destroy it – ooooh conflict!) and order Suzaku to kill Lelouch. Suzaku says no and then WHOA THEY KILLED HIM! I thought… that’s a kind of abrupt ending to that guy I was just starting to like…
Now they’re going to kill Lelouch! Lelouch and girl escape and hide and the Britannians come after them and a baby cried… Followed by gun fire. No more crying. My heart is breaking; this is insane. I think this is going to be very emotional… But then Lelouch’s phone rings! Here we get a little contrast with Lelouch’s schoolfriend getting annoyed about him hanging up on her whilst the sound gave Lelouch away and now he’s in big trouble. They know he’s just a student, oh my God I think I hate Britannia and oh crap the random girl just protected him and took the bullet and…!
In short the last five minutes of episode one are action-action-action! The girl, supposedly dead, grabs Lelouch’s arm (I’m confused) and then somehow she gives him special power which he automatically knows how to use. Wimpy Lelouch becomes Confident Lelouch and a red bird flies out of his eye (… what now.) as he commands all of the little troupe to die… whereupon they WHAT commit suicide! Also, they called him Your Highness. So… Lelouch vi Britannia, eh?
The Geass: (red bird)
Lelouch now treats us to a delightfully evil smirk which lets us know EXACTLY what we’re in for…
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