I'll say one thing for Bandai Entertainment. They certainly look for quality over quantity. Rather than bombard the market with release after release the publisher takes its times finding just the right license. From shows such as Lucky Star to Gurren Lagann, Bandai has been making waves lately. Their other big recent his has been Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion.
If you have been following the world of anime at all you have undoubtedly heard your friends going on about Code Geass, or at least read about how awesome it is. The show originally hit Japan in 2006 and after the first season came to a close, a second was ordered almost immediately. While we're still receiving the first season here in the States on DVD, it's safe to say that this is one of the better shows to come along in quite some time. It's a solid mix of drama, action, incredible artwork, and some fantastic character development. You won't soon forget this show once you watch it and in all honesty after experiencing the whole affair you'll want Bandai to start releasing the second season as soon as possible.
In case you're just joining us for this review of Code Geass, you should know that Bandai has been releasing the series in parts as well as individual volumes. These "parts" are basically two volumes in one for a cheaper price. If you're going to be buying the series and you don't want to wait for the whole collection, this is definitely the way to go (it's a shame they didn't do this with Eureka Seven).
The show itself takes place in an alternate world and begins around the year 2010. At that point the Holy Empire of Britannia conquers Japan with powerful technology known as Knightmare Frames (mecha). The Japanese are forced to live in slums and are reduced to destitution with their livelihood being stripped away. Their name has been taken away as well and the region has become known as Area 11. During this time the son of Britannia's Emperor, Lelouch Lamberouge, is banished to Area 11 after his mother was assassinated and his sister was blinded in the attack. Lelouch comes to loath the Empire and sympathizes with the Elevens (Japanese) so it's only natural that he's wrapped up in events that bring about a revolution.
Throughout the course of the first two parts we have watched as Lelouch gained a special ability from something known as Geass. It has gifted him with the power to control people just by issuing a single command. Naturally this comes in handy when you want to spark a revolution against your oppressors, so Lelouch dons the alter ego of Zero and begins to build an army. So much has happened in the past seventeen episodes, and quite honestly I don't want to spoil it for you if you have not watched the show yet. Let's just say that by the point this third, and final, part begins the show has been working itself up to a boiling point. And what a climax we receive!
With the fifth and sixth volumes of the show, part three of Code Geass brings about quite a dramatic and satisfying finish. The set begins in the midst of battle as Zero is leading the troops against Britannia. There's a bit of a ploy here as he works towards getting Suzaku back, but things become convoluted as Euphemia gets involved. Right up to the end there's a fine line between who is a friend or an enemy, and you won't have a clue how it all wraps up.
Unfortunately there's really not a lot I can say about the specifics of the end for Code Geass's first season because there's so much that happens. Just about every episode here has some twist or dramatic moment that simply must be seen to be appreciated. This was one of the finest finishes to an anime I have seen in a long time and it made me ache for the second season. After experiencing this fine conclusion you'll wish that every anime was as finely tuned and dramatic as this one.
From start to finish Code Geass was every bit as engaging and interesting as the hype surrounding it suggested it would be. The show maintains such a high level of quality on all fronts that it simply deserves to be watched regardless of what kinds of anime you typically prefer. Don't let this one slip by you. Go check it out now!
Code Geass hits DVD with a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The presentation of this show is absolutely stunning with a vibrant color palette, solid animation, and very rich designs. All around the quality of the image holds up well with virtually no grain or digital artifacts, though it's worth mentioning that some blurring occurs now and then during fight scenes. Despite very minor oversights, Code Geass is a fantastic looking show that receives an equally impressive transfer for its DVD release here in the States.
Sadly while the video presentation for Code Geass impresses; the audio doesn't really push the envelope. This release comes with English and Japanese 2.0 stereo offerings with absolutely no 5.1 mix in sight. That's kind of a shame when you think about because the sound range for this show could have been very dynamic. As it stands the quality is acceptable, if not a little underwhelming, and it suits the show fine enough. The audio is clean and clear and the front channels get an average workout.
For the final act of the show's first season Bandai has included a familiar set of bonus features. We have a few more Picture Dramas, three audio commentaries with the original Japanese cast, English voice actor interviews, and four versions of clean animations used in these episodes. The commentaries and interviews are quite informative and interesting while the rest of the material simply feels like filler.
Code Geass stands shoulder to shoulder with Gurren Lagann as a crowning achievement in Bandai's recent licensing endeavors. It's an incredible show from start to finish, and I dare say that this was one of the finest endings to a series I have seen in quite some time. With each episode I was on the edge of my seat and after the final credits rolled I felt an ache for the second season almost immediately. This anime gets some big thumbs up from me and earns a high recommendation.
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