Admittedly, while I was excited to see Code:Breaker, I was also a tad hesitant going into it as well. The reason being is that Code:Breaker is an extremely popular and critically well received manga by creator Akimine Kamijyo (who is also the creator of the well known, Samurai Deeper Kyo.) The manga had already produced over 20 volumes by the time the anime went into production (it's currently up to 26, which I believe ended it), so when I heard that this series was only getting 13 episodes, I knew they were going to have to rush through it and it could end up potentially being a disaster. With all that ground to cover and only 13 episodes to work with, the main question is does Code:Breaker overcome the odds stacked against it?
Sakura Sakurakouji (yes that is her real name, voiced by Jackie Ross/Yōko Hikasa) is a beauty queen teenager, every guy wants to be with her while every girl wants to either be he(and/or her best friend. One regular day she is taking the bus and is on her way home from school, suddenly out of the corner of her eye she sees a large blue glow in the distance. As she looks out the window, she sees numerous people seemingly burning to death, with one man standing over watching the entire thing. She quickly returns to the same area, finding nothing but scorch marks.
The next day in school, "coincidentally" there is a transfer student. His name is Rei Ogami (voiced by Micah Solusod.) Soon after his arrival, Sakura figures out the new students identity as he man who seemingly burned those people alive. After she confronts him about who he is, Ogami reveals to her that he is what's known as a Code:Breaker.
Code:Breakers, for all intents and purposes, do not exist. There are only six Code:Breakers at any given time, ranked 1-6 based off seniority (only 01 is base off strength) of when they stared working for EDEN, a mysterious organization that controls the group and gives them the mission of killing those who the law cannot bring to justice. Once assuming the job of a Code:Breaker, they completely fall off the grid, cutting off all communication with their past, and their new identity/jobs not known to the public. Ogami is currently known as Code 06.
Ogami at first is a seemingly cold-blooded killer who follows the principle of "an eye for an eye", and to "use evil against evil" by burning the criminals to ashes for them to atone for their life sins. Despite that the victims are the worst forms of life on the planet, Sakura is convinced that killing is not right and no one as the right to take a life, and she sets out to stop Rei from taking more "innocent" lives.
The first half of the series serves two purposes. The first is to show Ogami in his element as Code:Breaker. In the first half of the series, he is shown takig on the yakuza, corrupt law enforcement, and a medical facility that experiments on young children whom were born with powers. Each of these arcs is to show us and Sakura that the world can be cruel, Sakura continues to try and convince Ogami that he is a good person and that killing is wrong, however, Ogami not a morally gray character. It's only black and white for him. It doesn't matter to him that you're a corrupt cop by day, taking money from gangs so they can provide for their starving families. It's only good or evil for Rei, and for those that fall into the evil side of the line, he burns to nothing, without remorse.
The other element that that first half of the series focuses on is introducing us to the other Code:Breakers. We'll break them down according to number rank...
- Code 01, Hitomi (voiced by David Matranga/ Shinichiro Miki.) Little is known about Hitomi, except for the fact that he handpicked the team himself and was especially close to Code 02 and Ogami. His code power is that of controlling electricity. He went rogue prior to the series for unknown reasons.
- Code 02, Heike Masaomi (voiced by J. Michael Tatum/Subaru Kimura), the strongest of the current Code:Breakers, and the current leader. a classmate of Sakura's, he's slightly enigmatic, and you never really know his true intentions. As his power, he can manipulate any form of light.
- Code 03, Yuuki Tenpouin (voiced by Jerry Jewell/Toshiyuki Toyonaga.) Yuuki bears childish tendencies, not being able to find his way home, spending all of his money on a crane machine, and idolizing a stuffed cat named Nyanmaru (even wanting to become it.) Despite his childish ways, Yuuki is known as being the most barbaric and violent of the Code:Breakers. His code power is using high density sound waves/sonic booms.
- Code 04, Toki Fujiwara (voiced by Todd Haberkorn/Kenichi Suzumura.) The son of EDEN's leader, Prime Minister Fujiwara and the comedy relief of the series. Toki's past is a bit of a mystery, and he is currently the rival of Ogami. His power is being able to control magnetism.
- Code 05, Rui "Prince" Hachiouji (voiced by Jessica Cavanagh/Mitsuki Saiga.) The only female Code, not much is shown of her aside from being an ex re-code that switched sides. She gets the least amount of screentime amongst the Code:Breakers, mostly being shown riding around on her motorcycle. Her power is to be able to create objects (most commonly, a scythe) out of the shadows.
- Code 06, Rei Ogami. The most brutal and efficient of all the Code:Breakers and was the personal pupil of Hitomi. His power is to be able to produce a blue flame that reduces those who are caught in it, to ashes.
The second half of the series strengthens the idea of the world being a cruel place, as the main antagonist of the series comes in around the halfway point of the anime. After some strange events occur throughout the city, including the kidnapping of the Prime Minister, all of the code's realize Hitomi (voiced by David Matranga/: Shinichiro Miki) has returned, Hitomi is not your average bad guy though, he is also known as Code #01, the strongest of all codes. Along with his partner, a man with Code powers, Yukihina (voiced by Eric Vale/Kenjiro Tsuda) a re-code, agents used specifically to be able to battle code breakers, they set out to bring down EDEN and shine light on the lives of the Code:Breakers once and for all, but why are they reappearing now and what is their end game? The Coe:Breakers must stop him before everything is exposed and their very existence comes to an abrupt halt.
+ Rei Ogami is a total badass. He may not be on the levels of Lelouch when it comes to antiheroes (although, not many are), but Rei is awesome to watch.
+ Adequate screen time for all of the code breakers. This is something I was initially worried about as there are numerous main characters and I didn't know if they'd be able to properly focus one each Code with the limited time. I happily surprised.
+ The dub cast is exceptional. I can't really pick one stand out as everyone nailed their roles in my opinion, if I were to choose standouts though, they'd be... Micah Solusod (Rei), David Matranga (Hitoki), Todd Haberkorn (Toki), and J. Michael Tatum (Hieke.)
+ The action sequences were wonderfully animated.
+ Great entertainment value.
+ Every scene that involves the quote... "An eye for an eye... tooth for tooth... and evil for evil. Burn to nothing!"
- The series contradicts itself quite often. Rei's sudden character change for example. In the first episodes of the show, his secret life as a code breaker is being threatened to be exposed, Rei's response is that whomever is told will be killed, and anyone that the person killed is close to will be killed as well, and so on. However, at the end when he's trying to talk Hitoki out of his plan to slaughter innocent people, Hitoki asks him why he's tying to stop him, and Rei responds that no one has the right to take innocent lives, no matter the circumstances. It just rubs me wrong that this wasn't a gradual change over the course of the show, it just happens, there is no buildup to this outside of some of his classmates being nice to him and saying hi.
- With the amount of source material, it should have been given more episodes.
- The series is pretty hollow, with little depth.
- The school scenes. These felt tired and clichéd, every scene is pretty much the exact same... Sakura shows up, confronts Ogami and yells at him to talk to her in private, he either declines or accepts, and all the guys either cry or throw a fit in a jealous rage. Thankfully those were pretty much over after the first 3-4 episodes.
Video and Audio:
My favorite thing about the animation is hands down the action scenes. They're beautifully animated with fluid bright and vibrant colors, in all honesty, I think the series would have a lower rating in this department without the plethora of action. The character designs don't really stand out as unique and the regular animation itself never really hits that next level that would make it special.
For Code:Breaker we have two different audio tracks. The first is a 5.1 TrueHD English Dolby track and the second is the original TrueHD Japanese 2.0. As per usual I watched the series in English dubbing while sampling a few episodes in it's original language. The dub is absolutely fantastic. The sound mix definitely could have had been better. There weren't many instances of it, but there were a few times where the music drowns out the dialogue, other than that very minor issue, there were no signs of dropout or distortions.
- Episode 7 commentary with Micah Solusod, Todd Haberkorn and Jerry Jewell. They all portray Rei Ogami, Code #4 Toki, and Code #3 Yuuki, respectively.
- Episode 12 commentary Colleen Clinkenbeard, Ben Phillips, Jessica Cavanaugh. Colleen is the ADR Director for the series, while Ben and Jessica play Prime Minister Fujiwara and Code #05 Rui "Prince" Hachiouji, respectively.
- Original Japanese promotional videos.
- U.S. trailer fir the show, plus trailers for other various FUNimation series'
- The limited edition comes with 2 amaray cases all housed in a beautiful chipboard art box. It's honestly one of FUNimation's better efforts with their art boxes. It fits the tone of the show perfectly.
Code:Breaker may not be complex or have layers of depth, but it's a flat out fun show from start to finish. The characters are solid, especially Rei, the plot is unique, the action is awesome and gorgeously animated. If you were a fan of the manga, like Zetman, it was condensed from over 20 volumes into 13 episodes and it completely deviates from the source material, so you're probably best to skip it. However, if you're a casual anime fan looking for a show that you want to be able to enjoy the ride without overthinking anything, then this is most definitely recommended.