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Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, on MBS
ANN; Bandai (archived); Characers Database; IMDb; Madman; TV Tropes; Wikia; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Funimation; Hulu; iTunes

Caution: spoilers.

Okay. Well. Seems to be an alternate history kind of thing, where the Holy Britannian Empire has taken over most of the world. In the year 2010 of the Britannian calendar, the Empire declared war on Japan. Using these mobile suits called "Knightmare Frames," they quickly conqured Japan and renamed it "Area 11." The show starts seven years later, but at first it's kind of confusing. There's a student at Ashford Private Academy, in Area 11, named Lelouch Lamperouge. Then there is a Japanese resistance against the Britannians, including a girl named Kallen Stadtfeld and a guy named Kaname Ohgi. (Kallen's real surname, btw, is Kozuki.) They apparently have a Knightmare Frame which Kallen pilots. And they steal something from the Britannians which is supposedly poison gas, but the capsule turns out to contain a strange girl. And anyway, Lelouch gets mixed up with them. Then a young honorary Britannian soldier named Suzaku Kururugi (an "Eleven" by birth, the son of Japan's last prime minister) shows up. He and Lelouch were childhood friends, and seem not to have seen each other in a long time, and are surprised to see each other again, and to see the paths each have taken. Then a group of Britannian soldiers show up. They apparently kill Suzaku, and the girl, and they're going to kill Lelouch, too. But the girl... gives Lelouch the power to force people to obey any order he gives them. So he tells the soldiers to die, and they kill themselves.

And that's just the first episode. Other stuff was going on, too, but I couldn't really follow everything. But after seeing several episodes I started to get the hang of it, a bit. Lelouch is a Britannian prince, though he hates Britannia and the way it rules the world, so he wants to bring down the entire nation and its royal family. He also wants to learn who is responsible for the murder of his mother, Marianne Vi Britannia. He uses the power that the girl, who is called C.C. (pronounced "C2") gave to him, in his campaign. He calls this power "geass." But this isn't all he uses, he also is a master strategist (and tends to treat battle like a game of Chess), and he assumes the secret identity of "Zero," and starts issuing commands to Japanese rebels, who become known as the Black Knights. Before long, he manages to kill the viceroy of Area 11, Prince Clovis. But Clovis is soon replaced by a new viceroy, Cornelia. And she seems to be at least as good a strategist as Lelouch, plus she has far greater numbers and resources on her side.

Well, there are lots of people on the Britannian side, and it's hard for me to keep them all straight. There's a princess named Euphemia, who becomes Sub-viceroy of Area 11. There's a Knightmare pilot named Villetta Nu. There's a guy named Lloyd Asplund, who develops Knightmare Frames, including the latest model, the Lancelot. He has an assistant named Cecile Croomy. And the Lancelot is piloted by Suzaku, who isn't dead, after all. And... there are plenty of others.

Meanwhile, all the military stuff is complemented by life at the Academy, where Lelouch is a member (vice president, I think) of the student council. The council's president is Milly Ashford. Also on the council is Shirley Fenette, who seems to be interested in Lelouch. And there's a friend of Lelouch's, Rivalz Cardemonde. And a brilliant but socially awkward girl named Nina Einstein. And an honorary member of the council is Lelouch's little sister, Nunnally (who has been blind and crippled, apparently, since their mother's death, and for whom Lelouch wants to make a better world). There'll be some drama at the Academy, but there's also a great deal of comic relief. And Kallen joins the Academy and the student council. She doesn't seem to know Lelouch is Zero, though he does discover that she's one of the rebels he's worked with before. He uses geass on her once, and then discovers that he can only use it once on any one individual. And C.C., who had her own motives for giving Lelouch this power (he had to enter into a mysterious contract with her), starts living in Lelouch and Nunnally's house, on the campus. She remains fairly mysterious. And Suzaku also joins the Academy and student council. Oh, and there's a cat named Arthur.

Anyway, it's all very complicated, there are too many characters for me to keep track of (far more than I've mentioned). Um... there's a scientist named Rakshata Chawla, who works with the Black Knights. The rebels also have some help from the Chinese Federation, including a girl named Kaguya Sumeragi, who is a princess or something. And in spite of being fairly young, she considers Zero to be her fiancee, for some reason. We also eventually meet a guy named Mao, who C.C. had given the power of geass at some point in the past, but he's lost control of it, and has gone crazy. (It's not the same kind of power as Lelouch's geass, btw. He can read minds. It will eventually turn out that a number of people in the world have their own types of geass powers, in fact.) Mao becomes a threat to Lelouch, for awhile. Eventually Suzaku becomes Euphemia's personal knight, and they seem to have romantic feelings for each other, which is complicated by the fact that he's an Eleven. She declares a specially administrated zone where Japanese may call themselves Japanese instead of Elevens, and can be equal with Britannians. However... a terrible tragedy occurs, the nature of which I won't reveal, but it's tragic on a number of levels, both large scale and personal, and forces Zero to alter his own plans. Eventually, the Black Knights make a final attack against the Britannians, at the end of the first season.

The rebellion fails, in large part because Zero abandoned the Black Knights to try to deal with a more personal situation, involving Nunnally and Suzaku. Suzaku finally learns Zero's true identity, which he had already suspected. Kallen also learns his identity, which shocks and disturbs her greatly. The season ends on a cliffhanger involving gunshots, the results of which are not seen.

The second season is referred to as "R2," and it's set one year later. Things have changed in some ways, and at first it's really confusing. Lelouch is back at Ashford Academy, with no memories of being Zero (who everyone assumes is dead). He also has no memories of Nunnally being his sister, though he does have a little brother named Rolo, who is also at the Academy. Lelouch and all his friends remember Rolo, in place of Nunnally, whom none of them remember. But before long, C.C. reawakens Lelouch's memories. However, he must pretend to still be missing his true memories. We also learn that there are others with the power of geass, including the Britannian Emperor himself, Charles zi Britannia, whose power comes from a mysterious boy named V.V. (V2). With Zero back, the Black Knights resume operations, though it's trickier than before, since Rolo, Villetta, and Suzaku are all keeping tabs on Lelouch, hoping he'll lead them to C.C. Meanwhile, Suzaku is now a "Knight of the Round," which is a group of elite Britannian knights. Most of them I never really got to know, except for a girl named Anya Alstreim. I guess they all pilot Knightmare Frames, though. Eventually Nunnally, who has been in Britannia for some time, becomes the new viceroy of Area 11. She remembers Lelouch as her brother, though he still has to pretend not to know her. And she wishes to make another attempt at opening the Specially Administrated Zone that Euphemia had planned on. Oh, and she has an advisor named Alicia Lohmeyer, who very much disapproves of Nunnally's actions.

Um... Well, lots of stuff happens, of course. I left out plenty in the first season, and now I'm leaving out plenty in R2. Partly to avoid spoilers, partly because it'd take too much space to recap all the major events, and partly... because I can't remember it all and probably can't even completely follow it all as I watch it. But there are other Black Knights I probably should have mentioned before, including Diethard Ried and Kyoshiro Tohdoh, but I barely have a clue what they're doing, and there are lots of other rebels who I don't know at all. Oh, there was also a maid named Sayoko Shinozaki, who in the first season worked for Lelouch and Nunnally, but eventually she became a spy working for Diethard, and assisted the Black Knights.

Anyway, the ties are becoming stronger between the Black Knights and the Chinese Federation. And there are lots of characters there, who aren't all on the same side. There's a young Empress, Jiang Lihua (or Tianzi), who is a friend of Kaguya's, but real power mostly rests with the High Eunuchs. Also there is a military officer named Li Xiangke, who is indebted to the Empress. He has an aide named Zhou Xianglin. And... um, the Eunuchs, who were I think supposed to be on the Black Knights' side, eventually want stronger ties with Britannia, so it all gets really confusing.

And... well, lots more stuff happened in the season. More characters to meet, or get to know old characters better, and some mind-blowing plot twists along the way, none of which I care to spoil. But things are always changing, and Lelouch himself is often surprised by how events transpire, sometimes making him go kind of crazy, and sometimes simply making him act as if he were crazy. And he often has to alter his plans dramatically. Anyway, mysteries about the past are revealed, eventually, things that one might expect to bring some resolution to the story, but which end up... not doing so, after all. There's still more story to be told, in the present, after we learn about the past. But ultimately, it's all about setting the stage for the future of humanity, and everyone seems to have their own ideas about how best to do this....

Anyway. In spite of the fact that I can't always follow what's going on, it's a very interesting show, with great animation, great battles, great strategies, great drama, great humor, great fanservice (the girls are all redonkulously hot), great characters (several of whom I grew to genuinely care about quite a bit), great everything. I really don't know what else to say, except that the final episode was very sad, but also one of the best series finales I've ever seen. It serves as a fitting requiem for the series as a whole, as well as making the last few episodes leading up to it make more sense than they did at first....

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