So tonight, Calvin’s Anime Club is watching the first three episodes of Code Geass and I am really excited!
For the unfamiliar, Code Geass is an anime, created by Sunrise–the studio behind the popular Gundam franchise–and with character designs by CLAMP, a famous all-female group of mangaka or manga artists.
The show takes place in an alternate history where the British Empire never dissolved and eventually became the Holy Britannian Empire, a global superpower that, in 2010, conquered the nation of Japan, renaming it Area 11 and designating the Japanese as “Elevens.” Protagonist Lelouch vi Britannia (the guy in front up there) is actually the son of the Royal Emperor, but as part of some incredibly convoluted shenanigans involving his mother’s murder, he and his younger sister Nunnally–left blinded and crippled in the attack that killed their mom–were exiled to Japan just before the invasion.
Several years later, Lelouch, now living under the last name Lamperouge, is a student at Ashford Academy and an expert chess player; while driving his motorcycle on the highway with his best friend Rivalz, they witness what looks like a truck crash, but is actually a foiled hijacking by Japanese freedom fighters.
Lelouch investigates and comes across a mysterious, green-haired woman named C.C. (called C2) who grants him a mysterious power called Geass that enables him to control someone just by staring at them and ordering them. This new power sets off a dense web of intrigue that spreads to the top of the Britannian empire and beyond.
I watched all of this show last year in English, so I’m hoping tonight we watch it in the original Japanese just for variety; I’ll update this later with my thoughts.
AND UPDATE: OK, so we did watch the first three episodes in Japanese after all, and I did, as I thought I would, notice some changes. By and large, the story of Japan being invaded and utterly abused by another country (in a news report of an explosion in the first episode, the dead Japanese are simply referred to as others) just has more poignancy and passion behind it when conveyed by a Japanese cast.
And what a cast, let me tell you! As Lelouch–who, in the dub, was portrayed by Johnny Yong Bosch as a man with noble intentions slowly corrupted from the inside out–, Jun Fukuyama was conniving and charismatic, showing why he won the inaugural Saiyu Award for Best Male Actor in this role. As Kallen Statfeld, one of the Japanese rebels–voiced in English by Karen Strassman–Ami Koshimazu was terse and abrasive, showing just what happens when you put your life on the line for freedom.
Some other observations: 1. Rivalz, voiced in English by Brian Beacock and in Japanese by Noriaki Sugiyama, is annoying as hell no matter what. 2. The show’s animation is still utterly gorgeous. 3. Nunnally, as voiced by Kaori Nazuka in Japanese, is much, much less annoying than in the English dub voiced by Rebecca Forstadt. Seriously, sometimes a voice can make all the difference.