Kirin Mini-Review: Code Geass (Episode 1)

(Note: spoilers for episode 1 only)

The vaguely near future. For some reason, most of the world has been conquered by the Britannia Empire. In the prologue, they invade Japan with overwhelming force (of high-powered robots, naturally), subjugate its citizens, and name it "Area 11". Not surprisingly, certain idealistic young Japanese youths take exception to this state of affairs. Also not terribly surprisingly, one of them basically seems to have lucked into phenomenal powers.

A bit of a yawn of a set-up, but there are lots of directions you could go with it. I'm briefly intrigued when an rebel bomb manages to kill a handful of Britannians as well as 50 Japanese bystanders, and the local Britannian prince shows up on TV to preach peaceful cooperation - are they going to delve into the moral ambiguities of insurrection? But no, ten seconds later the magistrate and everyone under him are shown to be irredeemable bastards as they wipe out an entire slum to cover up a mistake. So much for nuance.

And by the end of the episode, the main character has also started killing rather indiscriminately, and the one guy (a totally cliche childhood friend character) who looked like he might inject a little humanity into the situation has been shot.

The animation and action are quite well done; this was a premier series for Sunrise. The character designs are fine if you like CLAMP - even toned down a bit for the setting compared to some of their other recent works. But it's just hard to care when all of the major characters are basically assholes. If they don't mix things up with some unexpected twists or actual interesting characters in the next couple episodes, I'm not sticking around for more.

(Episode 2 update - more spoilerz)

Ok, I've discovered that the way to enjoy this show is to attempt to keep track of just how high they can possibly crank the cliches-per-second dial. In this episode alone we have:

Whew, that's a lot. It's hard to see how they could possibly keep up this pace, but then, it looks like the next episode may take us back to the main character's high school, which opens up a whole new bag of neverending cliche possibilities.