It doesn’t take much to make me happy these days. A hot mug of tea, a comfy couch and a cat by my side are instant ingredients for a recipe of contentment. Sprinkle some anime viewing on top of that, and we’ve got ourselves one perfectly happy blogger who can melt into his armchair and enjoy a night of Japan’s finest export with reckless abandon.
We’re also living in a fantastic age for the consumption of anime, compared to years past when hot new episodes of whatever was on the block was downloaded in all of its 360p glory, burnt onto a CD and passed around through various circles. Access to anime these days is a fundamental right, much like clean water and education. Thanks to streaming services such as CrunchyRoll, Netflix and Amazon Prime, legally watching the stuff is easier than ever before and now allows for massive binges of popular series.
It’s also allowing me to finally catch up on series that I missed the first time around, as even in the mid 2000s there was simply too dang much content to ever consume in one lifetime without being incredibly picky. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion was one show I’d always heard about, but never really endeavoured to actually find out about and watch. I saw it pop up on my Netflix feed one day, and I decided to finally pull the trigger on it as I hopped in utterly blind to what it was all about.
Bruh, how could I have been so stupid as to wait this long to watch this masterpiece.
I’m still kicking myself for waiting this long to give it a whirl, but I’m still in awe at what I watched unfold over two weeks as I worked my way through two seasons of the show and its dozens of episodes. If you’re at all curious, I implore you to close this tab right now and not read another word. Go watch the show, go into it as blindly as you possibly can and then come back as a dishevelled mess once you’re done, a sleep-wrecked husk of a human being talking about the themes of this series.
For those of you who have seen Code Geass, you know exactly what I’m harping on about. This is what happens when Preacher meets Gundam. This is a show about duality and the ends sadly justifying the means. It is about war and loss, about survivors and empires feuding against one another in a grand game of chess where lives are disposable and ideologies are useful tools in claiming victory on the battlefield.
It is intrigue and sacrifice, a tale of duality where you never know who to truly root for. In a world where the lines of morality are greyer than ever, I’m amazed that an anime series which regularly features giant mecha tearing each other and entire cities apart nails the reality of warfare so well that it makes Saving Private Ryan look like an overly-patriotic fanfic in comparison.
Code Geass also benefits from the fact that it still holds on numerous design fronts, even a decade and a half later. It has style for days, an aesthetic that shines and looks wholly unique in a genre that is all too often criticised for being artistically formulaic. Lelouche, his collaborators and foes all boast a pedigree of style that has clearly been imitated in the years since Code Geass first debuted, the mecha battles have a hefty realism to the power that they bring to any showdown and the voice acting.
Man, this is sublime stuff considering that I’m about to make a blasphemous statement here: The English dub is amazeballs.
Most anime fans will spit on any English dubs of any shows given localisation, and for good reason. There have been disastrous attempts in the past, mediocre adaptations and baffling experiments that have done nothing but serve as an example of subs before dubs. Code Geass bucked that trend, with a capable cast anchored by Johnny Yong Bosch who stepped into the boots of Lelouche and led his vocal rebellion.
This is what happens when you nail the character the first time, and having an actor accurately pull off the arrogance, scheming and tragic nature of one of the greatest schemers in all of anime is nothing short of spectacular. Bosch set a benchmark as Lelouche that I’ve seldo heard equalled in the years since then, let alone surpassed and made an outstanding series all the better. If there’s one takeaway from Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, it’s that it has me pondering: What else did I miss out on in the 2000s? What other anime slipped underneath my radar while I spent way too much time waiting for Naruto and Bleach’s filler arcs to finally end?
There’s most likely a treasure trove of anime waiting to be discovered, and knowing that I’m a few recommendations away from blindly falling down another rabbit hole has me feeling rejuvenated and more excited than the first time that I discovered the medium and its ability to push entertainment past the bleeding edge of what’s possible. I’m not just saying that you should go watch Code Geass, I’m commanding you to do so.
This will all make sense once you’re done.
Last Updated: February 26, 2020