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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Code Geass Lelouch of the Rebellion Part 1
Code Geass Lelouch of the Rebellion Part 1
Bandai // PG-13 // August 5, 2008
List Price: $39.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted September 9, 2008 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Show:

Chances are good that if you have your fingers on the anime pulse you have undoubtedly heard about Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion. It's not only a difficult to pronounce title, but it's also a successful anime series from the mind of Ichiro Okouchi who has worked on Stellvia, Planetes, and Eureka Seven. In addition to that it's worth noting that the original character designs were put together by the popular manga group CLAMP. With 25 episodes under its belt Code Geass' first season came out in 2007 with a second that began airing earlier this year. That's a mark of success for anime series, but I suppose another test is whether or not the series withstands the test of the American audience.

Released by Bandai, Code Geass receives the mutli-disc treatment for its first outing...sort of. The publisher has issued individual volumes that stand by themselves, but if you want more anime for your buck and more Geass at one time you can buy the series in "parts" which is a trend the company has started recently (a positive one I might add). Part 1 includes volumes one and two and comes with the first nine episodes. You don't necessarily have to get this particular package if you want to experience the show, but it certainly is nice having more episodes available all at once.

To give you a little background on exactly what's going on in Code Geass everything basically started in the year 2010. That was when the Holy Empire of Britannia conquered Japanese forces with something known as Knightmare Frames, which are a form of mecha in this series. The Japanese are all ushered into slums and forced to live in destitution with their livelihood being stripped away. The proud nation of Japan has been reduced to virtual nothingness and their identity has been altered to Area 11. The Elevens, as Japanese are now called, make up a sub-class in Britannia's empire and social structure. Hope seems lost for a number of years, though pockets of resistance persist.

Adding a layer of depth to everything is the introduction of Lelouch Lamberouge who is the son of Britannia's Emperor. When he was younger his mother was assassinated and his sister was blinded in the same attack, but this was something his father didn't really seem to care about. The Emperor banished Lelouch to Japan and it was there that the young prince leaned a thing or two about how the world works. He came to live with a nice family, make friends, and go to school under the guise of being a normal Britannian. He has witness first hand the atrocities that his father's empire has wreaked across the world and it's not very surprising that he becomes wrapped up with people and in events that will bring about a rebellion of sorts.

Lelouch wants nothing more than to uncover the truth about the attack on his mother and sister. Through this, and in his capacity in Area 11, he becomes involved with a group of terrorists who are performing acts of sabotage through Britannia's stronghold. In one such attack a green-haired girl named C.C. is released and when Lelouch encounters her, his life changes forever. She bestows upon him the power of Geass, which is essentially ability somewhat akin to a person's desires. In Lelouch's case he gains the power to control people just by giving them a command. This comes in handy, I assure you, and it's very similar to Jesse Custer's abilities in Preacher for those of you who read comics.

With his newfound Geass power Lelouch begins his quest for revenge and soon enough he's working with the terrorists against Britannia under the guise of an alias. As Zero, Lelouch becomes a legendary fighter against the Empire who carves a name for himself through his actions. With this set up in place there are plenty of opportunities for the series to add layer upon layer of depth to its plot and characters. The serious tone of the series definitely helps ground everything and the way it approaches the Geass powers is pretty cool. There are some light elements scattered about as well considering Lelouch and most of his friends attend school together. That element does add a selection of pitfalls that typically accompany the setting, but thankfully they are kept relatively light and in the background.

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion is off to a fantastic start with the first two volumes. By the time the ninth episode rolls around the build up for the coming episodes is great, especially with the formation of the rebel group known as the Black Knights. All around the action is great, the story is extremely layered, and the characters are very endearing. This one looks like a solid hit and we'll see if the coming volumes continue this trend. For now consider Code Geass highly recommended.

The DVD:

Video:

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.

Audio:

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.

Extras:

There are bonus features to be explored on both discs in the first Part of Code Geass. On the lighter side of things there are clean opening and closing animations, but a step up from there are the Picture Drama Episodes. These are entertaining diversions with still shots set up like a slideshow with voiceovers in the background. Probably the biggest draw in the extras department is the pair of audio commentaries pulled from the original Japanese DVDs. The commentators a tad on the dry side here but they provide plenty of insight into the production of the show that we simply couldn't get from English cast commentary. As such it's definitely worth checking out if you enjoyed the show and they are an appreciated inclusion.

Final Thoughts:

I honestly didn't know what to expect when I started watching Code Geass. The alternate history mixed with mecha and supernatural powers has been more or less done before, but thankfully this show approaches it all differently. The added bonus of the series being very complex with layer upon layer of detail and background most definitely helped out. Right from the start this show grabs you and pulls you in, but it's the characters and solid plotline that keep you watching. Between this show and Gurren Lagann, Bandai is having a solid year so far. Let's keep the trend going and look forward to the next batch of Code Geass DVDs!


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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