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CODE GEASS: Lelouch of the Rebellion Part 1 (a J!-ENT Anime DVD Review)

January 20, 2009 by  



“’Excellent!  The animation, the artwork, the voice acting, the storyline… ‘CODE GEASS: Lelouch of the Rebellion’ is one of the rare, fantastic anime titles that is just literally a must-buy!”

Image courtesy of (c) 2006-2008 SUNRISE/PROJECT GEASS, MBS, CHARACTER DESIGN (c) 2006 CLAMP

DVD TITLE: CODE GEASS: Lelouch of the Rebellion Part 1 (aka CODE GEASS: Hangyaku no Rurushu)

DURATION: 225 minutes (9 episodes/ disc 1 – 5 episodes / disc 2 – 4 episodes)

DVD INFORMATION: Original Uncut Episodes,English and Japanese Stereo, 1:78:1 anamorphic widescreen, Bilingual (Japanese and English), English Subtitles

COMPANY: Sunrise/Bandai Entertainment

RATED: Suggested 13 and Up

Produced by MBS, SUNRISE, PROJECT GEASS

Original Story by Ichirou Ohkouchi and Goro Taniguchi

Director: Goro Taniguchi

PRODUCERS: Hiroshi Morotomi, Yoshitaka Kawaguchi, Takuo Munegishi, Atsushi Yukawa

Character Design: Takahiro Kimura

Character Design Concept: CLAMP

 

ART DIRECTOR: Yoshinori Hishinuma

Mecha Design/Character Design: Kenji Teraoka

Main Animators: Takahiro Kimura, Yuriko Chiba, Eiji Nakada, Seiichi Nakatani

Assistant Director: Kazuya Murata

Assistant Series Planner: Hiroyuki Yoshino

Series Planner: Ichirou Ohkouchi

Knightmare Design: Akira Yasuda, Eiji Nakada, Junichi Akutsu (BEE CRAFT)

Featuring the following voice talent:

Jun Fukuyama/Johnny Yong Bosch as Lelouch Lamperouge
Takahiro Sakurai/Yuri Lowenthal as Suzaku Kururugi
Yukana/Kate Higgins as C.C.
Akeno Watanabe/Megan Hollingshead as Viletta Nu
Ami Koshimizu/Karen Strassman as Kallen Stadtfeld
Fumiko Orikasa/Amy Kincaid as Shirley Fenette
Jouji Nakata/Jamieson Price as Diethard Ried
Junko Minagawa/Mary Elizabeth McGlynn as Cornelia Li Britannia
Kaori Nazuka/Rebecca Forstadt as Nunnally Lamperouge
Kazato Tomizawa/Cindy Robinson as V.V.
Kazunari Tanaka/Michael Lindsay as Shinichiro Tamaki
Ken Narita/Crispin Freeman as Jeremiah Gottwald
Kikuko Inoue/Deborah Sale Butler as Cecile Croomy
Masayo Kurata/Laura Bailey as Rakshata Chawla
Mitsuaki Madono/Kirk Thornton as Kaname Ougi
Noriaki Sugiyama/Brian Beacock as Rivalz Cardemonde
Norihiro Inoue/Troy Baker as Schneizel El Britannia
Omi Minami/Michelle Ruff as Euphemia Li Britannia
Saeko Chiba/Kim Mai Guest as Nina Einstein
Sayaka Ohara/Julie Ann Taylor as Milly Ashford
Tetsu Shiratori/Liam O’Brien as Lloyd Asplund
Yuuji Takada/Steven Blum as Kyoshiro Todo


On August 10th of the year 2010, the Holy Empire of Britannia began a campaign of conquest.  Its sights set on Japan.  Operations were completed in one month thanks to Britannia’s deployment of new humanoid armor vehicles dubbed Knightmare Frames.  Japan’s rights and identity were stripped away, the once proud nation now referred to as Area 11.  It’s citizens, Elevens, are forced to scratch out a living while the Britannian aristocracy lives comfortably within their settlements.  Pockets of resistance appear throughout Area 11, working towards independence for Japan.

Lelouch, an exiled Imperial Prince of Britannia posing as a student, finds himself in the heart of the ongoing conflict for the island nation.  Through a chance meeting with a mysterious girl named C.C., Lelouch gains his Geass, the power of the king.  Now endowed with absolute dominance over any person, Lelouch may finally realize his goal of bringing down Brittania from within.

Excellent!  “CODE GEASS: Lelouch of the Rebellion” is just excellent!

It’s been awhile since  I watched an anime series and just enjoyed it from animation, art, mecha designs, music, character designs, storyline, etc.   I may be a late bloomer when it comes to the fandom of “CODE GEASS: Lelouch of the Rebellion” but now I can see how this series has captured the attention of fans worldwide.

The main storyline is that in 2010, the Holy Empire of Brittania began their campaign of conquest and Japan within a month as captured.  And the country was humiliated by losing their country’s name and being designated as “Area 11”, their citizens known as “Elevens” and their once thriving cities became known as “ghettos”.

There are still Japanese resistant forces that still fight for Japan but the Empire of Brittania goes through these ghettos and exteriminates them as they are like rodents.  Men, women, children…it makes no difference to them.

The storyline then shifts to a high school student named Lelouch who tries to help a people who may have been injured in an accident.  What he doesn’t know is that the vehicle he is in belongs to a group of terrorists (resistant fighters against the Britannians) who have stolen a significant weapon or some device from Britannia.

Lelouch ends up being captured by a Britannia soldier, who turns out to be Suzaku Kururugi, an old friend he grew up with.  Suzuki thinking that the device maybe poison gas tries to get Lelouch out of the way but it turns out that a girl with long green hair comes out of it.  Britannia’s Red Army arrives and continues their slaughter and forces Suzaku to kill Lelouch and the girl which he doesn’t do.

While the Red Army thinks of ways to kill the girl and Lelouch,  they shoot at him but the green-haired girl (named C.C.) saves his life by getting in front of him and taking a headshot.

Thinking that she is dead, the girl gets into his mind and gives him a choice that he can give him incredible power if he agrees to help her.  Lelouch agrees and uses the power of the Geass, when a human looks into his eyes, the Geass will hypnotize them and follow Lelouch’s orders.  In this case, his order is for the Red Army to kill themselves which they all do.

Now, with this power…Lelouch can use it to destroy the Britannia Empire.

The main key characters are:

Lelouch Lamperouge – To his friends in Area 11, he is just a normal guy.  But in reality, Lelouch is the 11th Prince of Britannia who was kicked out of the family by his father, the Emperor of Britannia, because he is seen as a weak person from a weak family.  He is renounced as a Britannian and used as a bargaining chip by his father and forced to live in Japan.  His hatred towards Britannia is greater than anything and he wants revenge for the death of his mother and the health of his sister.  He posseses the power of “Geass” which when a person looks at his eye, he can take over them and make them do what he wants.  No one knows he is from Britannian royalty.  No one knows he is “Zero” and he lives a double life as a student and Vice President at Ashford Academy.

Suzaku Kururugi – Grew up with Lelouch and are good friends.  Lelouch is now a soldier of Brittania.  His goal is to change Britannia from within and follow the laws of the land.  A compassionate soldier and pilots the experimental Knightmare mecha known as “Lancelot”.  He becomes a member of the student body at Ashford Academy.

Kallen Stadtfeld – Secretly half Britannian and half Eleven but more proud of her Japanese side.  Also, lives a double life as a very intelligent student and member of the Student Body at Ashford Academy.  But also a life as a terrorist fighting against Britannia.  Fights for Zero.

C.C. – The mysterious green-haired girl who gave Lelouch the power of the Geass.  Lives with Lelouch privately and wants to make sure he keeps to their agreement that in exchange for power, he must do something for her.

Nunnally Lamperouge – Lelouch’s younger sister who was shot during the murder of his mother.  She can no longer work and she is blind.

Shirley Fenette – A student at Ashford Academy who loves Lelouch but also jealous when he sees him with Kallen and other girls.

Milly Ashford – The student president who seems to like digging the dirt of those around her.  Her family developed the Ganymede Knightmare frames.

Rivalz Cardemonde – Lelouche’s best friend and a member of the Student Body.  But since Lelouche has been busy, Rivalz and Suzaku have become good friends.

Nina Einstein – The smart member of the Student Body.  Has a major fear of Britannia but develops a crush on Princess Euphemia.

The main characters of this Part 1 DVD series for the Empire of Britannia are:

Charles Zi Brittania – Lelouch’s father and the 98th Emperor of the Britannia Empire and believes that equality is an evil thing that must be destroyed.  A believer of Social Darwinism and uses his children to accomplish his goals is creating the Britannian Empire.

Clovis La Britannia – The Viceroy of Area 11.  A cold and narcissistic man.

Euphemia li Britannia – The Third Princess of Britannia. Kindhearted and despises conflict and the half-sister of Lelouche

Cornelia li Britannia – The Second Princess of Britannia and Commander-in-Chief of the Britannia Army.

Jeremiah Gottwald – An elite Knightmare frame pilot but because he was used by Lelouch (ala Zero) in releasing Suzaku, because of this he disgraced the pure bloods.

Viletta Nu – A Knightmare frame pilot who works under Jeremiah, not of noble blood.  Lelouch used the Geass on her and she suspects a high school student may be involved with Zero.

Lloyd Asplund – Scientist in charge of research and development. Developed the Lancelot (Suzaku’s experimental Knightmare frame).  He is an Earl of Britannian nobility.

Cecille Croomy – Subordinate of Lloyd and developer of Lancelot.  Cares for Suzaku like a mother.

“CODE GEASS: Lelouch of the Rebellion Part 1” comes with both volume 1 (episodes 1-5) and volume 2 (episodes 6-9) of the popular television series.  Here is a quick spoiler-free rundown of each episode:

  1. Episode 1 – The Day a New Demon Was Born An introduction of how Lelouch came to have the power of Geass
  2. Episode 2 – The White Knight Awakens – Suzaku Kururugi pilots a new Knightmare mecha developed by Britannia.  Meanwhile, Lelouch uses the terrorists to help fight back against Britannia.
  3. Episode 3 – The False Classmate – Lelouch confronts Viceroy Clovis la Britannia and uses his Geass to find out who murdered his mother Marianna vi Brittania.
  4. Episode 4 – His Name is Zero  – Suzaku becomes the scapegoat for the death of a major Britannian and Lelouch along with his terrorist friends try to save him.  Lelouch uses the costume and disguise and reveals himself to the world as “Zero”.
  5. Episode 5 – The Princess and the Witch – C.C. is alive and well and makes her stay at Lelouche’s home.  Meanwhile Suzaku starts a friendship with a girl named Euphie (who actually is the third princess of Britannia).

For Volume 2, we get the following episodes:

  1. Episode 6 – The Stolen Mask – Suzaku attends the same high school as Lelouche but both know they must keep their friendship quiet.  Meanwhile, a cat steals Lelouche’s “Zero” mask and President Milly of the Student Council hoping she can find something embarrassing about Lelouch, asks the high school to go after the cat.  Lelouche fears that his secret may be revealed.
  2. Episode 7  – Attack Cornelia – Britannia’s Cornelia wants revenge for the death of Clovis and will do what it takes to bring Zero out and that means gunning down innocent civilians that are living in the Saitama ghetto.  Will Lelouch and the resistance be able to fight Cornelia and her army?
  3. Episode 8 – The Black Knights – After the events of episode 7, Lelouch relies that he needs to have more allies, an army to take down the Empire of Britannia.  Thus “The Black Knights” are born!
  4. Episode 9 – Refrain – This storyline focuses on Kallen and about her family and specifically her relationship with her mother.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“CODE OF GEASS: Lelouch of the Rebellion” is featured 1:78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen.  The animation and video quality is colorful and digitally modern since it is a newer anime television release.  What I love about the video quality is the sheer amount of people involved.  Everyone with detail, buildings, mecha and the destruction has detail.  The character designs based from CLAMP’s character design concepts are just fresh and cool to look at.  One of the coolest looking character designs in an anime mecha series without being a full-on mecha series.  Very cool!

I watched the anime series on my 52″ and then afterwards on my 24″ LCD and video quality was just great from the character animation to the backgrounds.  Because this series features so much moving around Japan, this series really featured so many things in each different scene.  Again, I’m very impressed with how much went in creating a single episode.

As for the audio, the audio is English and Japanese stereo.  For a television series, I was sort of expecting stereo sound but knowing some television series including Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD soundtracks,  I was hoping that there may have been a Dolby Digital 5.1 track for Code Geass but the audio is stereo.  Dialogue is clear and you can understand what the characters are saying.  Both the English and Japanese voice acting are well done.

If I had one slight problem is that I enjoyed the Japanese voice acting a lot it’s just that Johnny Yong Bosch’s voice acting of Lelouch sounds too similar to his Ichigo of “Bleach”.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

You can find really cool special features on both volumes.  Let’s start with the volume 1 DVD:

  1. Picture Drama Episode – This is short drama episode featuring non-animated stills or drawings but featuring both Japanese and English voice acting.  This one is about Lelouch and Nunnally arriving to Japan and finding their new place to live.  Lelouch comes into contact with Suzaku.
  2. Audio Commentary – There are three audio commentaries featuring the Japanese voice actor for Lelouch, C.C., the director and the screenwriter.  The voice talent talk about their characters and experience of working with so many voice actors and also their auditions.  They are very careful not to reveal what happens in future episodes, so there is quite a bit of banter about experiences and the voice talent asking the director and screenwriter about certain scenes.  One example is the writer talking about how he fashioned one of the mecha in this series after a mecha from another anime series “Gasaraki”.
  3. Textless Opening

With the second volume, the special features are:

  • Picture Drama Episode – There are two picture drama episodes included.  One featuring the girls of Ashford Academy all at a hot bath.  The way the characters are featured shows a little sexy fan service as they get to know Kallen.  The second drama episode features Suzaku and Rivalz talking to each other followed by Lloyd and Cecille talking to each other.
  • Audio Commentary – There is one audio commentary for episode 8 and this time featuring Jun Fukuyama (Lelouch), Mitsuaki Madono (Kaname Ohgi), Kazunari Tanaka (Tamaki) and Kawaguchi (producer).  A festive commentary as the Black Knight guys are together and joke around.
  • Textless Ending I

When I first started seeing the positive comments in Japan, followed by the US and then watching the album become the first anime album in nearly two decades to debut at #1 on the Oricon Album Daily Charts, just shows you the popularity of this anime series.

Having now joined the bandwagon of those who love “CODE GEASS: Lelouch of the Rebellion”, I can’t help but fall in love with this series.  It’s great!  A lot of suspense, violence, mecha battles, love triangles, drama, political corruption and so much emotion involved in each episode’s storyline and balancing it out with awesome animation, awesome artwork, really great voice acting  on both Japanese and English.    I really feel that “CODE GEASS: Lelouch of the Rebellion” is an excellent anime series.

The first nine episodes started with a lot of action and each episode thus far have been excellent.  Even the commentary by the Japanese voice talent is lively and fun to listen to.  And I like the addition of the Picture Drama Episodes as well.

With everything so positive, the only negative, and it’s really not a negative but more or less I enjoying hearing the action all around me via Dolby Digital 5.1 (especially in DTS-HD or Dolby TrueHD ala Blu-ray) is that I wished that audio was presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 but still dialogue is quite clear and easy to understand in stereo and the music as well.

“CODE GEASS: Lelouch of the Rebellion” is a fantastic anime series that doesn’t come along to frequently.  Everything about Part 1 so far has been excellent and I highly recommend this DVD collection!

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