In the latest installment of our My Favourite Anime, Barrington Jobson makes a convining case for why Code Geass is the best anime of all time.
There are those anime that have to be excluded from the ‘best anime’ debate otherwise what’s the point! These are the select series that have surpassed favouritism to become like family, literally. DragonBall, Naruto, One Piece, Bleach, Pokémon, and Neon Genesis Evangelion, to name a few – we’ve grown up with them even if we found them long after their original television run. So debating these anime is like asking “who is your favourite parent” or “who is your favourite sibling”. The answer changes every day.
So now that we’ve set the foundation for this conversation. Ichiro Okouchi’s Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (including R2 – its sequel) is the best anime of all time! Enter Lelouch vi Britannia, our title character, a young Japanese high schooler with a hidden and bloody past, who becomes humanity’s self-anointed saviour. (Admittedly, he bears a strong Light Yagami reminiscence.) By day, Lelouch is your average teenager and by night, a warrior for justice dubbed ‘Zero’. Given the power of ‘Geass’ by a mysterious witch to control the actions of any person, Lelouch is a one-man rebellion against the society he deems unjust. The title of the first episode – ‘The Day a Demon was Born’ – aptly sets the tone for the tale of a boy who is given the power of kings.
Code Geass brings together the fanfare of the gundam mecha and the genius tragic hero endowed with a supernatural ability into a psychological thriller to restore justice in the world. But justice is often subjective and therein lies the story. In this dark tale of twists and turns, Okouchi blurs the lines between right and wrong, keeping the viewer in psychedelic-like shock. Code Geass easily tops my list for its fantastic character development, beautiful tackling of complex realities of systemic oppression and inequality, and nuanced storytelling in such a short series.
By the end, you’re left bittersweet and teary-eyed fearing the series finale with utter excitement. Okouchi leaves the viewer to wonder if maybe there’s some Lelouch in all of us and that with the right resolve we just might be able to change the world too. But at what price?
The Death Note lovers out there will find a home with Code Geass. And if you liked Code Geass, I highly recommend Psycho Pass, Steins;Gate, and Erased (Boku Dake Ga Inai Machi).
“Lelouch vi Britannia commands you: ‘Obey me subjects! OBEY ME WORLD!”