Title: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion Vol 1 & 2
Manga by: Majiko!
Original Story by: Ichirou Ohkouchi
& Goro Taniguchi
Publisher: Bandai Entertainment
ISBN: 9781594099731 & 9781594099748
May Contain Spoilers
After the Holy Empire of Britannia conquers Japan, its people lose their freedoms and rights, and the island becomes known as “Area 11.” The Britannians rule with a strong arm, and Elevens, as the Japanese are now called, chafe at the constraints placed upon them. Lelouch, a Britannian boy, has lost everything important to him, and it was Britannia that has stolen it all away. When he is given the power to change the world, he begins a rebellion of his own. Can he protect his sister and still win his revenge?
This is my first foray into the world of Code Geass, and though I found many aspects of it intriguing, I found parts of the manga confusing. The presentation is herky-jerky, as the action switches back and forth between Lelouch and his childhood friend, Suzaku. There is also a surprisingly large cast thrown together for the first volume. I suspect that part of my confusion stems from not being familiar with the story, as there isn’t much background offered to help me understand any of the characters other than Lelouch.
Lelouch is a young man suffering from a burning rage due to unfortunate events from his past. His mother was brutally murdered, and his sister was injured in the attack, leaving her blind and paralyzed. The irony is that he is the successor to the throne of Britannia, and his mother and sister suffered because of a conspiracy played out by the Imperial family. Lelouch is left with guilt because he couldn’t protect his family, and rage, because he feels so helpless. He longs to bring the downfall of Brittania, and when he is given a mysterious power by a strange girl, he thinks he’s finally got the key to his vengeance.
Suzaku is an Eleven, but he’s joined the Britannia military. He’s viewed as a traitor by his own people, and as a dog by Britannians. He just wants to find a peaceful resolution to the troubled world he now lives in, but he seems to be in the minority. Everyone else is open about their hostile feelings for the other group, and the Elevens and Britannians mix about as well as oil and water.
When Lelouch is given the ability to control people after trying to save a girl after the ship she was in crashes, he immediately begins to experiment with his new powers. I have to admit that they are pretty cool, and I like that there are limitations to how effective they are. While he can compel people to do his bidding, he can only do it for a limited amount of time. I felt that this aspect added some tension to the story, because Lelouch doesn’t understand his powers enough to know how they are going to work, and when they don’t, he is in a bit of a bind.
The contrasting personalities between Lelouch and Suzaku are interesting, but there isn’t enough background given about Suzaku. Lelouch’s motivations are easy to understand, but Suzaku, not nearly so. Though they share a friendship, they hold vastly opposing views about how to make the world a better place. Suzaku is more of a pacifist, though he can back up his talk with his fists if he has to. Lelouch is a totally different animal altogether, and his evolution from powerless boy to ruthless avenger makes for some pretty interesting reading. Though he despises everything the Britannia Empire stands for and every offense committed against him, he isn’t one to hesitate when it comes to underhanded tactics or sacrificing innocent people in his quest for revenge.
The artwork is attractive, and both Lelouch and Suzaku fit into the pretty boy set. The character designs are very easy on the eye, and the uniforms are not without their charm. The long, lean torsos show the clothing to their best advantage, and there are a couple of characters just screaming for cosplay. Lelouch also gets to express a gamut of emotions, all of which are easy to read. There’s some action, too, to break up the fashion show.
This is a powerful story, where revenge and self-incrimination play a huge role in Lelouch’s behavior. There were times, though, that emotions and tensions weren’t capitalized on. I didn’t get totally caught up in the story, and there were even a few sequences, like the chase after the pilfering cat, that just seemed out of place. When Lelouch is out for his pound of flesh, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion is exciting and hard to put down. When he’s going through the normal motions of life, though, the pacing is awkward and slightly painful.