The second season draws to a close as the world – and the cast – changes drastically once again.
What They Say Lelouch has lost everything. Nunnally, his beloved sister and his reason to fight, disappeared within a nuclear blast of the new weapon, F.L.E.I.J.A. , and the Black Knights, his loyal armed force, has turned against him after they found out about the secrets of his Geass power.
At the depth of his desperation, Lelouch renews his determination to defeat his own father, who is about to achieve his ultimate goal by activating a super-dimensional apparatus, the Sword of Akasha. Meanwhile his elder brother, Schneizel, also decides to rebel against the emperor and to take over the throne for himself, which leads them to a sibling rivalry of the global scale.
The controversial anime series now delves into an electrifying climax in which Lelouch performs his grandiose Zero Requiem and rewrites the course of human history.
Bandai Entertainment has a decent pair of audio tracks to it with two stereo mixes encoded at 192kbps. It’s something of a surprise that the English track didn’t get a bump up to a 5.1 mix in order to showcase the solid audio and action sequences though. In general, the stereo mix is pretty strong with some well placed directionality in a number of key scenes and a sense of impact when required during the action. Dialogue is clean and clear throughout and free of problems in general. Amusing, the commentary tracks are encoded at an even lower rate, just that if 128kbps.
Originally airing in early 2008, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The release contains six episodes across two discs in a 3/3 format. The series has a relatively high bitrate to it with a lot of it sitting in the sevens and eights, which is a bit of a change from Bandai’s releases in the last couple of years. The transfer looks really good throughout with the only problem being that the opening sequence sometimes has a little bit of a fuzziness to it due to the high motion and detailed animation that’s used. Beyond that, the transfer looks really solid with clean lines and bold colors. The occasional panning sequence is the only area within the show that introduces any problems and that’s simply source related.
The release for this installment is designed similarly to the previous release in terms of framing and style. The cover artwork is solid as it uses a good trio of characters with Kururugi as the background center while a princely Lelouch is in the foreground along with a saddened Nunally. The colors for it a very well chosen as it gives it a decidedly creepy feeling. The logo looks good with the addition of the R2 aspect as well. The back cover has a good layout to it with a touch of elegance framing the three main sections. The background, which is also used as foreground character artwork in the first section, is a good shot of Lelouch posing in a regal outfit with a commanding presence. The summary deals with the overall setting of the series but it also provides too much of a spoiler by talking about Shirley which is disappointing. There’s a small strip of decent character artwork through the center and a section listing the breakdown of the discs. The episode numbers and titles are clearly listed and the discs extras and features are well laid out so you know just how much is there. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
Bandai has again wisely employed Nightjar for their menus and I find myself very happy with the results. Utilizing the basic imagery of the map outline of Japan and putting it as the center piece of the menu done up as a tactical map design almost, with pulsing purple flowing behind it. The navigation strip along the bottom provides quick access to the setup and other standard areas which load very quickly. As is standard practice for a Nightjar driven menu, our player presets were correctly read and setup so we didn’t have to bother with the setup menu. Submenus load quickly even with a small bit of transitional animations and everything flowed seamlessly.
The extras for this release are spread across the two volumes and there is a lot of mirroring going on, but with differences for particular episodes related to that volume. The broadcast versions of the prologues and next episode previews are provided here for both volumes, there are animation galleries to be found and a few commentary tracks as well. Each volume has an additional extra with the “Baba Theater Redux” which is a slightly animated piece that has simplistic little gags for some of the characters done in a very rough cartoonish style. Also included here are the brief pieces that talks about the prizes that were given away during the broadcast run in Japan which are short and cute. We also get clean versions of the opening and closing sequences that are relevant to this volume.
Code Geass has been a series that a lot of the time I feel really, really guilty for enjoying. It's got substance to it in its own way, but it feels so much about style more than anything else that it should be easily condemned for being fluff. But what saves it is that it excels at the style in making sweeping movements across the world while still keeping the human element there. It gives us a lead character that is focused and driven on his goals who will be ruthless when required, even if it pains him. He's a character you can like because he is flawed and because he does go after his goals, understanding that sacrifices are involved even of those close to him. Simple a character he may be, yet he's also fairly complex when you get right down to it.
The final arc of the second season is essentially all over the map, but it's not a surprise as they want to cover a lot of ground with all the characters involved. Lelouch has achieved a lot but the machinations that have been going on around him have slowly pushed him outside the sphere of power, or at least out of the sphere of power that he did control before. His focus early on here is still to deal with his father, Charles, in order to get the truth out of him as to what happened to his mother and how he let her die. Surprisingly, the truth is actually far more complex than we realized as Charles is ready to unleash his Ragnarok on the world and is ready to talk plainly about what happened in the past.
What makes it easier is the arrival of Lelouch's mother, Marianne, in a really nice little twist that changes a lot of how you view the past. The final meeting between Lelouch, C.C., Charles and Marianne brings a lot of little bits from the past together that have been a little clear but now come much more into focus. Charles plan is intriguing in how he wants to reshape the world with the power he has, but I was far more fascinated with the truth about the past with what happened with Marianne that caused her death and the way she manipulated events in order to survive to this day. There have been several moments throughout the series where people are revealed to be more than who they seem to be and this is yet another one of them.
A great deal of this set is given over to the action side of things as the large scale events really take on a new meaning. With Lelouch now assuming total control over Britannia, he's intent on taking over everything else, things that he created beforehand with the UFN, so he can continue to work towards the future. With Charles looking at the past and his brother Schneizel looking at the present for how they want to change the world, Lelouch is in a very different position because he knows that change will bring things that are needed and it may be bloody to do so. In a way, he's intent on taking on all the hate and anger onto himself in order to achieve the greater good. It's the classic angle of the villain with good motives, who doesn't seem himself as a villain but a necessary evil to cause a greater good.
Lelouch's plan is one that really pushes things to the limit a bit, but the credibility straining part is when we see the Damocles that Scheizel is using to try and take down his brother as well as the way he intends to use the FLEIJA missiles. So much destruction without a serious enough outcry from either everyone else or even within his own people is too much to really believe, but it does paint him in the same light as Charles and Lelouch in just how far they'll go. That it turns into a fight between the two men with Nunally being used by Schneizel to lure Lelouch in, everything becomes hugely personal again. Lelouch's force of personality is strong though and even though he lost a lot of people when he became the Emperor of Britannia, he still has a lot of people that either owe him, believe in him or have been sworn to him through his Geass.
Code Geass R2 does tease a lot as it gets towards the end but it hits so many right notes for me that I can't complain. There are pieces to it that are frustrating, especially the size of the cast since it means a lot of the secondary characters get lost in the shuffle. There are some great fights during this, particularly between Kallen and Kururugi as they try to settle the score between each other, but there are also some solid battles of dialogue. The encounter between Lelouch and Nunnally is particularly heartbreaking in its own way while the cold and calm sparring between Schneizel and Lelouch on board is really engaging. The two have certainly had a rivalry between them for some time as we've seen through the chess games but it takes to a new level here. The mecha battles have sort of become less interesting as time goes on, especially since the sides get so confusing at this point, but the visuals for them continue to be good even if they do keep raising the bar with how powerful and creative they are with the weapons.
The second season of Code Geass draws to a close with this set of episode and it’s everything I wanted it to be. When you have a show that’s not constrained by following the manga, that has no problem in killing off characters to be shocking and/or to advance the story, you have the potential for it to reach really fascinating heights when it gets to the closing arc. This volume did not disappoint as the action is constant, the plotting even more constant and the changes incredibly fascinating to watch. Few show really play on a global scale, sweeping epic pieces that change a world, but Code Geass did it regularly and managed to keep the twist and turns exciting, fun and thrilling. The ending to this is pitch perfect with how it leaves things where you both want more and want that to serve as a true ending scene. Fantastic stuff that I look forward to revisiting again.
Features Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Extra FLASH: BABA THEATER REDUX: Episode 8 & 9 / Prize Announcement on TV: Turn 20 - 24/ Broadcast Version of Next Turn: Turn 20 - 24 / Audio Commentary: Turn 21 & 25 / Textless Opening "World End" Version A, Version B / Textless Ending "Waga Routashi Aku no Hana" Episode Version, Final Turn Version / Key Animation Gallery: Part 8 & 9
LE Features: Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion Vol. 7 Manga
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
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