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Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (コードギアス 反逆のルルーシュ Kōdo Giasu: Hangyaku no Rurūshu, often referred to as simply Code Geass), is a television series created by Sunrise, directed by Gorō Taniguchi of Planetes fame, and written by Ichirō Ōkouchi, with original character designs by Clamp and mechanical designs by Akira Yasuda (Overman King Gainer) as well as Kenji Teraoka, Junichi Akutsu and Eiji Nakata.
Code Geass first ran in Japan on MBS from October 5, 2006, to July 28, 2007. It won several awards at the Tokyo International Anime Fair, Animage Anime Grand Prix, and Animation Kobe event. On April 6, 2008, the sequel Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 aired on MBS.
Prior to the start of the main events, the Eleventh Prince of Britannia, Lelouch vi Britannia and his sister, Princess Nunnally vi Britannia lived with their strict father, Emperor Charles zi Britannia, and their mother in the capital city of the Holy Britannian Empire, Pendragon. When Lelouch was ten, and Nunnally was six, their mother was mysteriously shot to death. Ultimately, Nunnally was caught in the crossfire and could no longer walk, and was blinded from trauma of seeing her mother murdered. Lelouch became angry that his father did nothing to solve the murder and renounced his anointment to the throne, and he and his sister were thereof placed in the care of the Kururugi Shrine, in Japan. In this time, Suzaku Kururugi became friends with Lelouch, but they were separated from each other because of the Second Pacific War, which, with Britannia's introduction of fighting machines called Knightmare frames into battle, ended Japan's existence in 2010 in the given calendar. The conquered nation's name became "Area 11" as a mocking gesture to the month long defeat of the nation. Later they were taken in by the Ashford Academy, run by the Ashford Foundation of which their mother was a test pilot for. They were given a maid, Sayoko Shinozaki, to assist with the care of Nunnally, and they lived in hiding for years, using the false last name Lamperouge.
Lelouch is a high school student with a knack for chess and an I.Q. that well exceeds being a genius, along with a hatred for all things higher in rank or social class than him. He is generally caring, yet lazy, but has a dark desire to destroy anything and everything that pollutes the world with lies and anarchy, ultimately wanting global dominance and peace proceeding. He is accidentally trapped along with some terrorists and then confronted by the Britannian military as being involved, what which point a girl with green hair blocks a coming bullet to prevent Lelouch from taking it. She's declared dead, but moves after the shock, bleeding from the head, and grabs Lelouch's hand, offering him a contract that will allow him to live. She collapses and Lelouch opens his eyes to reveal a bird shaped, pink and crimson iris that releases an ability of absolute obedience. He announces his real name in a command and orders the guards to commit suicide which they do with glee.
Stealing a Knightmare frame from Viletta Nu, Lelouch uses his keen intellect to lead the terrorists in their fight, but it ends in a draw when Suzaku appears in the Lancelot, a new Knightmare frame designed by Lloyd Asplund, and easily defeats the terrorists. Lelouch escapes from Suzaku and confronts Prince Clovis, who he forces to order his forces to retreat. He uses his power to question Clovis about his mother's death, to which Clovis tells him that their half-siblings Cornelia and Schneizel might know the truth. Lelouch, determining that Clovis doesn't know anything more, kills Clovis and returns to Ashford.
Lelouch becomes "Zero," the masked leader of the Order of the Black Knights, a group of freedom fighters aiming to protect the strong from the weak while also liberating Japan. He is aided by C.C., the green haired girl who gave him his ability (called Geass) and who is revealed to be immortal. Following many battles, Lelouch learns that Suzaku is the Lancelot's pilot, and lures him into a trap on Shikine Island. However, the tables are turned on Lelouch when Schneizel decides to bomb the Lancelot while Suzaku keeps Zero hostage in the cockpit, which would result in both of their deaths. Desperately, Lelouch uses his Geass and orders Suzaku to "live." Lelouch, Suzaku, Kallen Kozuki (the pilot of the Black Knight's Guren Mk. II Knightmare frame), and Princess Euphemia li Britannia wake up shortly afterward on a different island. From there, Suzaku discovers Kallen's identity and Euphemia discovers Zero's, but both choose to keep it a secret. Lelouch and Kallen finally escape the island in the Gawain.
After a series of victories, Euphemia creates the Special Administrative Zone of Japan, an area where Elevens are given full rights and are allowed to call themselves Japanese. Lelouch agrees to support the Special Zone, but when talking privately with Euphemia, his Geass becomes permanently active, and he accidentally orders Euphemia to kill all the Japanese, resulting in her ordering a massacre. With no way to reverse the command, Lelouch is forced to kill Euphemia and uses her supposed treachery to gain the support of all the Japanese.
Lelouch begins his full-scale rebellion by attacking the Tokyo settlement, using the very foundation of the settlement to his advantage. After securing a base of operations at Ashford Academy and ensuring the safety of his classmates and Nunnally, Lelouch confronts Cornelia and defeats her in battle, revealing his identity to her. He begins to interrogate her on his mother's death, but is interrupted when C.C. informs him that Nunnally has been kidnapped. Learning that she was taken to Kamine Island, Lelouch leaves the battlefield to save his sister, leaving the Black Knights leaderless, while at the same time, Nina Einstein, devastated by Euphemia's death, prepares to detonate a bomb on the Ashford campus that would destroy all of Tokyo. Lelouch and C.C. are attacked by Jeremiah Gottwald in the Siegfried, with C.C. eventually commiting dual suicide with Jeremiah by driving both their Knightmares into the water. Lelouch continues on foot, but is stopped by Suzaku, who reveals that he knows about Geass. He knocks off Zero's mask and reveals him to be Lelouch to himself and Kallen. Lelouch and Suzaku fire their weapons at each other and the season ends.
The second season occurs one year after the defeat of the Black Knights in the Battle of Tokyo. Lelouch is shown attending Ashford Academy, but he has no memories of being a prince or Zero, and has a little brother, Rolo Lamperouge, taking the place of Nunnally. The remaining members of the Black Knights launch an operation to restore Lelouch's memories by attacking Babel Tower while Lelouch is in the building. C.C. is able to return his memories, and Lelouch resumes his role as Zero. He destroys the tower, and uses the destruction to kill Viceroy Calares and secure an escape route to the Chinese Federation consulate. Using his Geass on one of the Chinese High Eunuchs, Zero makes his return and declares the creation of the United States of Japan within a single room of the consulate. He then continues his rebellion from the previous year, culminating in the destruction of Tokyo by the brand new devastating F.L.E.I.J.A. missile.
When Lelouch's identity is revealed to the Black Knights, they view his efforts as being ungenuine, and attempt to eliminate him; Before this can happen, he is saved by Rolo, who sacrifices his life using his defective Geass to escape. Having his resolve restored, Lelouch then faces his father, and finds out that his mother had survived and supported his father; Knowing this he uses his Geass to command the collective consciousness of the World of C to prevent his father from "stopping the hands of time." A month later he appears in the capital of the Holy Britannian Empire, Pendragon and declares himself the next emperor. Lelouch teams up with Suzaku in order to complete the "Zero Requiem."
While his father's plan would have had wanted to live in the "past," his brother Schneizel is revealed to have his own plan for world peace, through fear, effectively living continually in the present, never moving forward. In order to complete the Zero Requiem, Lelouch takes command of the Schneizel ultimate weapon, the Damocles, effectively eliminating all adversaries, and focusing the hate of the world towards himself. After which to complete the Zero Requiem, Suzaku disguised as Zero assassinates Lelouch, thus the hatred of the world is dispelled.
Code Geass began as a concept developed at Sunrise by Ichirō Ōkouchi and Gorō Taniguchi, who proposed it to producer Yoshitaka Kawaguchi while they were working on Overman King Gainer and later Planetes. The initial concept of the plot consisted of a secret organization led by a "hero," which was later developed into a conflict between two people with differing values of morality, belonging to the same military unit.
During these early planning stages, Kawaguchi contacted the noted manga artist group Clamp, the first time Clamp had ever been requested to design the characters of an anime series. Clamp signed onto the project early during these development stages and provided numerous ideas, which helped develop the series' setting and characters.
While developing the character designs for Lelouch Lamperouge, the protagonist of the series, Clamp had initially conceived of his hair color as being white. Ageha Ohkawa, head writer at Clamp, said she had visualized him as being a character to which "everyone" could relate to as being "cool", literally, a "beauty". During these planning stages, Clamp and the Sunrise staff had discussed a number of possible inspirations for the characters, including KinKi Kids and Tackey & Tsubasa. They had wanted to create a "hit show," a series which would appeal to "everyone." Lelouch's alter ego, Zero, was one of the earliest developed characters, with Ōkouchi having wanted a mask to be included as a part of the series, feeling it was necessary for it to be a Sunrise show, and Clamp wanting a unique design never prior seen in any Sunrise series (said mask was nicknamed "tulip" for its distinctive design).
Clamp's finalized original character design art, illustrated by its lead artist Mokona, was subsequently converted into animation character designs for the series by Sunrise's character designer Takahiro Kimura, who had previously spent "every day" analyzing Clamp's art and style from their artbooks and manga series. In working on the animation character designs, he focused on designing them so as to enable the series' other animators to apply them without deviating from Clamp's original art style.
The music for the series was composed by Kōtarō Nakagawa and Hitomi Kuroishi, who had earlier worked with the series' core staff in Planetes and Taniguchi's earlier work Gun X Sword. In addition to the incidental music featured in each episode, Kuroishi also composed numerous insert songs for the series, including "Stories", "Masquerade", "Alone", and "Innocent Days", which were each performed by Kuroishi herself, while "Picaresque" and "Callin'" were performed by the singer-songwriter Mikio Sakai, who had also earlier worked with Nakagawa and Kuroishi in Planetes. The bands FLOW, Ali Project, Jinn, SunSet Swish, Access, and Orange Range have provided songs for the opening and ending themes.
When the series was being developed for broadcast on Mainichi Broadcasting System, it had been given the network's Saturday evening prime time slot, which was later changed to a Thursday late night time slot. Due to this change, the overall outlook and some elements of the series were changed and further developed to suit the more mature, late night audience.
When the first episode was shown during a special test screening, which was attended by Ōkawa, other members of the series' staff, as well as several journalists and other media-related personnel in response to the hype surrounding the series' upcoming release, the audience fell into immediate silence after it ended, followed by "tremendous applause." By August 2008, over 900,000 Code Geass discs have been sold in Japan. Reportedly, Bandai Visual shipped over one million DVD and Blu-ray Discs related to the Code Geass franchise by November 2008, placing it among the most popular contemporary anime series in both Japan and North America. During 2008, the first volume from R2 was the fourth bestselling anime DVD and Blu-ray Disc in Japan according to Amazon.com.
Since its premiere, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion has collected numerous awards and accolades. At the sixth annual Tokyo Anime Awards held at the 2007 Tokyo International Anime Fair, Code Geass won the best TV anime series award. The second season also got the award of "Best Screenplay" in the 2009 Tokyo Anime Fair. In noted Japanese anime magazine Animage's 29th Annual Anime Grand Prix, Code Geass won the most popular series award, with Lelouch Lamperouge also being chosen as the most popular male character and "Colors" being chosen as the most popular song. In the 30th Annual Anime Grand Prix, Lelouch won first place again and C.C. was voted most popular female character. At the first Seiyū Awards held in 2007, Jun Fukuyama won the award for best actor in a leading role for his performance as Lelouch Lamperouge in the series, while Ami Koshimizu won the award for best actress in a supporting role for her performance as Kallen Stadtfeld.
Furthermore, Code Geass won the award for Best TV Animation at the twelfth Animation Kobe event, held annually in Kobe, Hyōgo Prefecture, with R2 taking the award in the following year. In the 2009, Seiun Award, Code Geass R2 was a nominee in the category "Best Media Award".
Anime News Network's columnist Todd Ciolek attributes the soaring popularity of Code Geass to "the series hitting every important fan sector," with the audience appeal points ranging from a "complex cast of characters and a fast-paced story, told with Goro Taniguchi's capable direction" for "general-interest fans" to "pretty and just-a-little-broken heroes" for "yaoi-buying female fans." Carl Kimlinger also finds that the series "has the skill and energy to carry viewers over the top with it, where they can spend a pleasurable few hours reveling in its melodramatic charms." He also adds that Taniguchi "executes the excesses of his series with care, skillfully intercutting events as Lelouch's plans come together (or fall apart) and using kinetic mecha combat".
Columnist Carlo Santos of Anime News Network wrote that the franchise "in a way, [...] reflects the malaise of a generation: the realization that old, rich, powerful people have screwed up the world and that the young are helpless to do anything about it". According to him, Lelouch's actions exemplify the wish to see problems like "economic collapse, class conflict, political instability, radical extremism" solved by "Zero's vigilante methods" but Santos expresses doubt in such an approach and concludes that "the series is at its best when raising questions rather than offering a final solution".
Code Geass is set in an alternate universe where three superpowers, the Holy Britannian Empire, the Chinese Federation, and the Europia United have divided up control of the world (with the exception of an independent Australia) and maintain a tentative balance for the first part of the series. The balance shifts in the second season as the E.U. has much of its territory conquered by Britannia while Lelouch engineers a revolution in the Chinese Federation and creates a new alliance of countries, the United Federation of Nations, reducing the number of superpowers to two.