Code Geass Review R1+R2
Code Geass is a turbo charged rollercoaster ride with aerial explosions and missles going off all about, set in an artificially created world around a star that is going nova.
That’s the short metaphor of it. The long of it is rather lengthy. Reality always is.
Amidst political and slice of life school, far reaching conceptual analysis of free will vs predetermined fate, including permament peace and utopia, are among the 50 episodes constituting the series. Even though each episode is around 24 minutes, which includes the Opening and End runs, so many sequences happen at once that you feel like you just saw an hour long feature film. The amount of plot complexity and exciting happenings makes it feel that way.
The artwork is amazingly beautiful in terms of character design. The anorexic design famous by CLAMP is not taken too quite as much extremes here, especially with the varied costumes and MECHA combat. It does lend a remarkable air of fragility to feminine characters, not to mention highlighting youth and adolescence.
It’s super good theater. Mega dramatic, with exaggerated theatrics, but it works. In terms of attaching human emotion and experience with the characters and plot, it is top notch.
The pace of events and plot advancement is quite rapid. Creating a high tense interest, a cliffhanger, at almost every episode. The introduction of comedic episodes fits quite well into the emotional connections required to make sense of the main character’s relationships. This is not like Scrapped Princess, however, where the humour is spread well over the series. Unlike Scrapped Princess, Code Geass has no problems figuring out the balance between humor and love of life with death’s sadness and despair.
There is a fair bit of tragedy here, especially of the Greek and Shapeskpearian sort. On the other hand, there are noble deaths. Beautiful deaths that are sublime in aesthetic and heart wrending in sadness. A death that brings forth new life, is simply one end and the beginning of another. In Christian and Buddhist and ancestor worship zones, death is simply the gateway to a different existence rather than the end of existence, as atheists believe in.
In the American cultural matrix, there is the saying that ‘where there is life, there is hope’. In warrior cultures like Sparta or the US Marines, however, the mission often overrides consideration of individual life. Combine the mission with a political cause and you have some interesting dynamics here.
I love the conflict between free will and predetermined fate. Should people be allowed to decide what dreams to pursue and their methods, or should a centralized authority or special group of elite and enlightened leaders decide for the people. Does a permanent peace become an eternal good that ethically justifies any evil, of whatever duration or magnitude, so long as the evil is temporary compared to the eternal length of the ultimate goal? Should the security of a people, a state, a country, or even a continent be ensured by centralized forces, chains of command, and military forces or should they be secured by the individuals at the bottom of the society, which a lack of security affects the most.
In Code Geass the conflict is between changing society from inside it with gradual reform and fighting for justice outside the boundaries of law and societal limits. With sympathetic characters on both sides of the issue, there is no lack of intense emotional drama. Mix them in a school type slice of life setting and you can get interesting humor as well. This conflict is only the first main theme introduced in CG. Eventually you’ll see a good example of the question wheter humans have free will and whether exercising it leads to a better or worse world.