Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion: Viva le Revolution! (Sponsored by Pizza Hut)

In the annals of anime history, a show like the one we are talking about today needs to be introduced. Anyone who was around in the days of the fan-sub era will know it, for it is one of that generation’s crown jewels. An anime that invaded every pore of the medium, one that set the fandom on fire. Long before shows like Attack on Titan and Demon Slayer, and after Dragon Ball had taken its bow. There were shows like this. Join me after the cut as we take a dive into the first season of Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion.

Revolutions and Pizza

If I could sum up the first season of Code Geass, it is that it really is “Death Note with Robots.” I don’t say that to be flippant or funny, because if you strip both shows down to their base roots, they are pretty much the same. A young man with a chip on his shoulder gets an ungodly ability to enact his vendetta against the world. But instead of Light Yagami and a notebook, we have a Lelouch vi Britannia, the exiled prince, and the mysterious power of Geass, which gives him the ability to ‘absolute obedience.” What follows is a game of cat and mouse as Lelouch attempts to tear down the kingdom of his birth, free Japan from tyranny, honor is bargain with the mysterious (and pizza obsessed) C.C, and keep his friends and family at arms lengths. This will put him across the path of his friend Suzaku Kurugugi, an idealistic soldier who harbors guilt over his actions. Their conflicting ideas will contrast with greater themes of imperialism, manifest destiny, racism, naivety, and the price of rebellion and freedom.

The rise of the Black Knights is thankfully a slow burn that happens over the course of the first season.

Now I had not watched Code Geass again since its debut almost (fuck) sixteen years ago. In that time much has come and gone, but I have always remembered the big moments of the series. Things like C.C, the fanservice, the mechs, the boobs, Mao, the cliffhanger ending, Nina-face, the Euphie twist, orange kun. Code Geass has so many memorable moments, ones seared into the minds of the fan-sub generation that you can be forgiven to remember that there is actually a lot of stuff in between those events. And it all holds up…fine.

Euphie’s character arc starts off too samey, but ends up with one of anime’s biggest twists.

I’ll be honest, coming back a decade and a half later, I found myself not falling in love with the series in the first handful of episodes. Enjoyable sure, but not the massive ‘omg what is THIS!” feeling I had back as a teenager. I could see a few more chinks in the armor, with a few too many characters, strange ‘nothing episodes’, and questionable edits that left some plot threads uncooked. That is due in some part to the march of time, but as I got deeper and deeper into the first season and the story got more and more interesting, I began to remember the brilliance of the show, and why people fell in love with it so much. Geass remains a unique skillset. Lelouch straddles the line between hero and villain. Suzaku’s heroism makes you want to see him fail, and C.C drips mystery that keeps you tuning in. Despite the filler episodes, the school day hijinks and other detours, When Code Geass wants to hit, it fucking hits. All of those legendary moments struck just as they did before. And god damn if that final cliffhanger didn’t have me right back to the first time I watched it, going to my screen wondering. “WTF!” 

The cliffhanger confrontation between our two leads at the end of the season remains one of anime’s best cliffhanger.

If anything, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion may not hit all the balls, but those that do are easy home-runs. The cast is colorful and memorable with CLAMP making a mark on anime fandom once again. The music is (almost) solid. The mech designs feel unique (though you can see Gundam SEED‘s influence), and again, the plot knows when to deliver. I’ll get into the pitfalls of the second season in a future blog post, but I can say that this show remains a perfect ‘gate-way’ anime to those fans who might have watched more “weeb-light’ stories, and want to dip a toe or two in deeper. Clever, inventive, sexy, thought-provoking and action packed. The first season of Code Geass still holds up, and if you haven’t given it a look before or in a while, then you should try to do so. And order a pizza while you do it.

C.C not being able to eat the giant pizza remains the series biggest crisis.

One thought on “Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion: Viva le Revolution! (Sponsored by Pizza Hut)

  1. Man. I still remember that Euphie twist. I was thinking all right. Something good is finally going to happen to Lelouche. But no. Everything is a disaster all of the time.

    Liked by 1 person

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