Posted on Friday, December 4th, 2020 by Rafael Motamayor
(Welcome to Ani-time Ani-where, a regular column dedicated to helping the uninitiated understand and appreciate the world of anime.)
Because of its incredibly long and daunting history, it can be really hard to know what mecha shows to watch. On this column, we have already covered an Evangelion-like mecha show, a throwback to Saturday morning cartoons, and the best introduction to the massive Gundam franchise. This week, let’s do something a bit different and explore an anime that’s like one giant political chess game and also a fun teenage drama show. It’s time to declare war on Britannia and join Zero in Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion.
In an alternate version of our world, the French Revolution spread across Europe, and all European nobles fled to the American colonies (which never gained independence) and founded the Holy Britannian Empire. The Empire controls most of the entire world since it invaded Japan, now known as Area 11, and rules with the highly xenophobic, racist ideology of “all men are not created equal” that puts the strongest at the top and everyone else is treated like crap. No matter how many rebellions begin, they’re brutally smashed by the Empire.
That is, until we meet Lelouch Lamperouge, secretly the 11th prince of the Britannian Empire who was exiled by the Emperor to live in Japan with his sister, who is now obsessed with getting revenge and discovering who murdered his mother. The show evolves into a combination of the mecha and war themes of Gundam, the psychological and moral games of Death Note, and all the teenage drama of a CW show. And it begins the moment Lelouch gains literal superpower, a “Geass” that allows him to mind control anyone and give them one command they can’t refuse.