Region: 2 - UK
Volume: 1 of 2
Length: 625 minutes
English 5.1 Surround
Japanese 2.0 Stereo
Lelouch is a prince of the Britannian Empire, after his mother is murdered and his sister is blinded he goes to his Father the Emperor to demand justice. For his impudence he is stripped of his title and exiled to the newly conquered province of Japan now renamed area 11, to be used as a political pawn. Blaming his father's inaction for his Mother's death, he swears revenge so that he can create a world where his Sister Nunnally can be happy.
Code Geass in many ways plays out like Death Note, like Death Note the series main protagonist uses his abilities for what he considers pure reasons to help make the world a better place. But absolute power corrupts, and in Lelouch's cases exposes a young man who is despite being disowned was raised imperial prince. Throughout the series Lelouch's compassionate side does battle with his tough royal core, both as he seeks his revenge and as he deals with the results of his actions . As a Britannian student Lelouch isn't above helping a passing Eleven ( the Japanese have even been stripped of their name), but will then coolly take control of the struggling local resistance in order to use them to harm his Father's Empire.
The Geass has it's own rules which become apparent as Lelouch uses his power in order to manipulate events to his liking. There's a constant game of cat and mouse as as Lelouch balances his ascent to power with maintaining his civilian identity, which is a cover itself as few characters in his day to day life are aware of his royal status. In order to do so he dons a disguise as leader of the rebellion and takes the name Zero. Combat is largely mech based, and thankfully for someone who doesn't watch a lot of mech shows the fights are well paced and easy to follow. After a strong start the story seemed to sag a little in the middle, but the pay off is worth it, though the series end is a little abrupt.
There are occasional bouts of comedy amongst the angst, especially from the student council. Sometimes they feel out of place, but more often than not it's deliberate contrast to what's going in the wider world.
The character designs deserve a mention as Sunrise drafted in the talented manga studio CLAMP . There are some familiar CLAMP archetypes in there with Suzaku in particular having the classic CLAMP hero look, but the series still maintains it's own look and feel.
Code Geass is a smart shonen action series, mixing the politics of Gundam with the supernatural thriller aspect of Death Note; wrapping it up in some solid world building. It occasionally falls prey to some by the numbers fan service, but is thankfully only a light offender in the main series. If the lighter side of things appeals to you, also included on the set is a picture drama (stills with Japanese audio), which is pure fan service. I watched through on DVD though Blu-ray is also available. The set is generally solid but on the downside though every time I booted up a DVD (on my PC) it kept playing trailers at the start. It's utterly annoying and I wish they would stop. I will happily watch trailers by choice, but force them on me and all it does it make me skip and never watch them.
This set features the whole of series 1, plus some commentaries as well as the aforementioned picture drama. It's good value, though be warned the series end is sudden and harsh though left me wanting more. Thankfully season 2 is already licensed and available in the UK.