Subseries Highlight: Sword Art Online Alicization Arc (Light Novel)

Sao Volume 9

Absolute Defense Shield, activate!

*ahem*

Hiyo, everyone! Today I’d like to talk about the Alicization Arc in a series I like both watching and reading despite acknowledging its many flaws! I’m aware that Sword Art Online receives a lot of criticism, much of it fair, and a lot of hatred, which feels a bit extreme. Regardless, I’ve been enjoying the latest arc in the light novels, and at least some of the content from that arc is going to be the subject of the anime’s upcoming season 3, so I decided to talk about it anyway! After all, I’m all about enjoying the best parts of a story despite its flaws and, in my opinion, this arc is the best that mainstream SAO has to offer so far. Flame me if you must – or try. This shield will never break!

An overview of the Alicization Arc’s role in the light novels – it encompasses volumes 9 through 18, so, by the end, it claims more than half of SAO up to that point. Until now, only volumes 9 through 14 have been officially translated into English, so even I don’t know how this all ends! However, as I understand it, the Alicization Arc can be split into two subarcs, and I’ve finished the first of those, and I really enjoyed it! I have no idea if season 3 of the anime can adapt 10 volumes of material – previously, the 25 episode seasons have covered 4 volumes each, so if season 3 is to tell us the full story of the Alicization Arc, I imagine it would have to be at least 50 episodes long. Maybe they’ll split it into two seasons.

I don’t want to ruin your enjoyment of the story whether you watch it or read it, so I plan to keep spoilers to a minimum. That said, I will touch on some plot points from volume 9 and hint at some facts from volume 10. Also, anything that happened in seasons 1 and 2 of the anime or volumes 1-8 of the light novels is fair game.

Volume 9 opens up… strangely. Kirito has somehow become younger. He lives in a small town called Rulid with his friends Eugeo and Alice. The setting is that of the start of a typical fantasy game. A simple village. Lush forests. A dark land beyond that none may enter. The people of this world are ruled by the Axiom Church and its Taboo Index, a set of rules that are not only absolute laws, but literally unbreakable. For most people. Heroes called Integrity Knights uphold the laws and protect the people from the denizens of the forbidden land. Rulid is to be a place of order and stability. As you might expect, that doesn’t stop Kirito – who has only ever known this world – from going on an adventure with his friends. An adventure that leads to dire consequences.

Then he wakes up. He was just testing a game for an acquaintance of his in the MMO industry. Whoops! That almost got dramatic! He recalls nothing of the time he spent in that world.

He then hangs out with his real life friends, including his girlfriend Asuna, his AI daughter Yui, and Sinon, a player of a competitive MMO called Gun Gale Online. The latter recounts the tale of her attempt to win a major tournament only to be defeated by an opponent who told her that her soul would be sweet. Creepy! Afterwards, Kirito and Asuna leave together – and are confronted with something truly frightening.

The Death Gun murders, previously stopped by Kirito and Sinon, were carried out by two former members of Laughing Coffin, a murderer’s guild from the original SAO, and one of their brothers. While the two siblings were brought to justice, the third person was never caught. And he – known as Johnny Black – wasn’t particularly happy with Kirito. So, in the middle of the night, Kirito finds himself the victim of a real life attack using the same substance that Death Gun used for his killings.

When Kirito wakes up, he’s back in that fantasy world, now his proper age – and with all his memories, save for the ones of his previous time in that world. Before long, he realizes it’s a virtual world, but that the inhabitants are not mere AI like in previous MMOs, but fully fledged people. With the help of a friend, he embarks on a quest to escape from this world – known as the Underworld – and to better understand the true nature of the people surrounding him. It seems as if his MMO insider acquaintance may have been more than he appeared…

That’s all I’ll say about the story for now! As I mentioned before, I really liked this arc. It touches on themes such as what it truly means to be a human being and delves deep into the characters’ souls. If you like SAO, I recommend reading the light novels and checking out season 3! If you hate SAO, I don’t recommend bothering! If you hate me for liking SAO, please don’t post in the comments below! Otherwise, though, I’d love to see your feedback. Are you excited for the next arc? Interested in watching season 3? Have you already read some of the Alicization Arc, and, if so, what did you think? Feel free to criticize SAO, too – just keep it friendly and civil. I hope you all have a great week!

Recovery of an MMO Junkie Review

Recovery of an MMO Junkie

Hiyo, everyone! I’d like to apologize for not updating in a while; health issues have been getting the better of me, and to be honest, it will still take me quite some time to fully mend. Nonetheless, I’d like to review an anime I managed to watch while healing: Recovery of an MMO Junkie. As usual, I intend to keep spoilers to a minimum, but I’ll discuss the premise of the show. Here goes!

Our protagonist, Moriko Morioka, is a thirty year old woman who quit her job after becoming fed up with ‘real life’ and decided to become a ‘Super NEET’ who lives through MMOs. She plays a game called Fruits de Mer as a character named Hayashi, a male warrior-style character. She’s part of a small guild including a character named Lily, a healer who becomes one of her closest confidants despite neither of them knowing the other in real life.

To no viewer’s great surprise, eventually Moriko coincidentally encounters Lily’s player in real life, a businessman named Yuta Sakurai. Naturally, neither knows who the other is. Eventually, they (literally) bump into each other and Moriko falls over, briefly landing her in the hospital with a contrite Yuta at her bedside. The two exchange numbers, ostensibly so Yuta can check up on Moriko, but the former finds the latter taking up more and more of his thoughts. Eventually, events transpire that hint that the two know each other better than either of them realizes…

And that’s all I’ll say for now! Recovery of an MMO Junkie is a short (10 episode) slice of life anime, so it would be unfair to expect it to provide a profound, iconoclastic worldview, but it does succeed at being what it tries to be – cute, and funny at times. It was a nice, fun little show for me to watch while I myself was recovering. It does have the downsides of being predictable and, in the end, feeling like an incomplete story, and it may be difficult to get into if you aren’t at least a little familiar with MMO culture, but I found it charming enough to make up for those faults, and as an MMO player myself, I enjoyed its nods to the genre. I therefore rate it 3.7/5. It’s a nice little anime to watch if you’re into MMOs and want to enjoy something cute.

Have any of you seen Recovery of an MMO Junkie? If so, what did you think? If not, have you seen other MMO-based anime or played any MMOs yourself? Let me know in the comments section below. I’m not certain if I’ll be able to post next week, but I’ll try my best! Until next time, I hope your lives are epic!

Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online Review

GGO Alternative

Hiyo, everyone! Today, I’ll be covering a story in a franchise loved by many and bashed by perhaps even more! Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online takes place in the world of Gun Gale Online as seen at the beginning of SAO season 2, but the cast of characters is entirely new! No Kirito here! SAO Alt GGO (as I will be calling it for the rest of the review) evades several of the pitfalls of mainstream SAO. Since it will doubtlessly come up, I’ll start by saying I do like the existing SAO anime despite acknowledging that they are rather flawed. Personally, I just try to take as much enjoyment as I can from stories! But I would prefer to focus discussion to just SAO Alt GGO for this review, so for now, let’s just forget about the rest. Even if you hate normal SAO, you may enjoy this!

SAO Alt GGO is focused on Karen Kohiruimaki, a Japnese woman who is quite tall and has a complex about it. At the advice of her friend Miyu Shinohara, she decides to retreat into a virtual world to escape, and converts from game to game until she finds one where her randomly generated avatar happens to be short and cute, as she wishes she could be. Naturally, that VRMMO is Gun Gale Online. At first, she plays just for the escapism, but, as time goes on, she becomes fond of the game, advancing her character and meeting new people.

One of those is a quirky woman whose avatar is named Pitohui, a long-time veteran of GGO. She takes LLENN (Karen’s avatar) under her wing, and the two become friends and teammates. Pitohui, too, plays GGO to avoid real world problems. She says that, some day, she and LLENN will go all out against each other in GGO, and, if LLENN wins, the two will meet in real life – a prospect LLENN finds scarier than appealing, I think!

One day, Pitohui convinces LLENN to sign up for Squad Jam (SJ), a free-for-all tournament between teams of up to six players. Pitohui herself is unavailable that day, so she has LLENN partner with her friend M, an experienced man with a knack for strategy. Since LLENN’s own real life plans fall through on the day of the Squad Jam, she agrees to enter alongside M, as part of a team of a mere two players. Of course, I’m not going to tell you what happens after that! SAO Alt GGO is only twelve episodes long, so if you’re interested, you ought to check it out for yourself!

While I don’t intend to get into spoilers, one of the things I loved about this anime was how it showed how several VRMMO players were driven together in the world of GGO by their real life insecurities and problems. Karen/LLENN and Pitohui were both ultra relatable to me. It felt quite nice to explore virtual reality themes without intrusive fanservice.

It’s hard to go into too much detail without spoiling something, because the meat of SAO Alt GGO’s story occurs after the Squad Jam plays out. So, instead, I’ll just recommend that if you’re interested in virtual reality based anime, this one is worth checking out. If you liked the original SAO, you’ll probably like this too, and if you wanted to like SAO but found some of its flaws difficult to look past, you may find them absent or mitigated here. SAO Alt GGO is provides a lot of good action and an interesting story surrounding characters who feel capable without being too overpowered. As in normal SAO, the music is good, too!

I’d rate SAO Alt GGO 4.4/5. It got me hooked early on, and before I knew it, I had marathoned the series and waiting for a season two. xD

Have any of you watched Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online? If so, what did you think? Let’s try to avoid talking too much about normal SAO in the comments; I don’t want a flame war on my hands. That said, I’d love to hear your opinion on the VRMMO-centric genre of anime! Personally, I’d like to see more of it, so I welcome your recommendations! Hope ya have a wonderful week! Ciao!

Danganronpa 3 Review (Anime)

Danganronpa 3 Future Arc

Hiyo, everyone! Today, I’m gonna review Danganronpa 3, which is an anime, not to be confused with the game Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony. Full disclosure – I am utterly obsessed with the Danganronpa franchise, so that may affect my opinions. =p

Since this anime is nothing new, and I absolutely cannot recommend watching it unless you’ve completed the preceding games (Danganrona: Trigger Happy Havoc, Super Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, and Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls) I’m going to assume most people reading this know what happens, so this review will be positively teeming with spoilers. If you’re invested enough in the games to have played the first three but haven’t yet watched this anime, I recommend it. It’s split into three arc: Future, Despair, and Hope. By the way, the correct watching order for the episodes is Future 1 > Despair 1 > Future 2 > Despair 2 > … >Future 11 > Despair 11 > Future 12 > Hope. It’s rather convoluted, I know. xD

Aaanyway, that said, I’m not going to explain the differences between the three sides of the anime, ’cause I presume that going forward, my readers already know! Instead, I’ll talk about the parts that really stood out to me, starting with the Future Arc.

We begin with your typical killing game, this one lacking much of the usual charming presence of Monokuma and using members of the hope-centric Future Foundation as participants. Honestly, we aren’t given much time to get attached to many of the new characters; emphasis is placed on the returning Makoto, Kyoko, and Aoi as well as Munakata and Sakuraka. The eventual twist that the “attackers” were all killing themselves due to brainwashing was a bit surprising, but the lack of anything resembling class trials made this killing game completely unlike the ones in Danganronpa 1 and 2. Instead, the focus was on character development for a select few.

Unsurprisingly, Kyoko alone was capable of solving the whole mystery. What wasn’t expected was her “death” via a rather devious forbidden action. It was sort of obvious she’d find some way to survive, but, even so, the assumed loss allowed for some good character development in Makoto. (I also enjoyed the few cute moments between the two.)

I’m not going to lie. My fav –

Actually… *Casts flame shield around herself.*

As I was saying, I’m not going to lie. My favorite part of the Future Arc was the inclusion of Monaca, who is also my favorite character in the franchise. xD Her newfound apathy is ultra relatable to me. She didn’t have all that much screen time, but what she did have was good, and expanded on the character discernible to the careful observer in Ultra Despair Girls. She was never actually all that invested in despair, just in finding a place for herself. In the end, Nagito convinced her that acting as an avatar of despair was not really right for her, so she decided she had no place in the world at all and left to become a space NEET! To the casual observer, that decision may seem incredibly random, but it’s actually pretty consistent with her character. I’m glad she didn’t die. But, since she’s my favorite, I hope we haven’t seen the last of her. xD

Let’s shift gears and talk about the Despair Arc a bit. It re-introduced us to all our favorite characters from Danganronpa 2, including the human version of Chiaki. That said, the real star was, unsurprisingly, Junko. Really, the whole arc is about how she took all sorts of things – many good, like class 77’s close friendship, and others bad, like the unethical Kamukura project – and twisted them all to the purposes of despair. In brutal fashion. Some of the parts that most stood out to me was the Student Council’s little killing game and Chiaki’s death. Junko was totally the star of the show.

Most of the members of class 77 were not really expanded upon as characters in Danganronpa 3. We did get to learn more about Chiaki, who is basically the protagonist of the Despair Arc, and we got to see Izuru in action, which was amusing in its own way. Mukuro’s portrayal was a bit… odd. But the story was otherwise rather predictable. Then there’s the whole brainwashing issue. Honestly, it was disappointing to see Junko rely so heavily on that despite the talent to inspire despair through setting up brutal situations she showed in the games. It would have been much more compelling if she had convinced class 77 to turn more naturally.

The brainwashing issue extends into the Hope Arc, which ties Future and Despair together. Mitarai’s goal to brainwash the world into ridding itself of negative emotions was kind of boring. Really, the final episode existed largely to give cameos to the post-Danganronpa 2 versions of class 77. They ended up being the ones to stop Mitarai and take all the blame for the Future Foundation’s killing game. I suppose the point was to show us hope in the form of the seeds Makoto planted by saving the former-Remnants finally bloom. Since Kyoko survived, none of the characters from previous games actually died. (The real-life version of Chiaki is technically a different person than the AI version.) That left the whole series feeling a bit meaningless. I guess Danganronpa has just made me a junkie for character death~

Anyway, despite Danganronpa 3’s many flaws, as a fangirl, I’m still gonna rate it 4.2/5. I found it quite entertaining. I really hope to see even more of the characters we’re become familiar with thus far.

Have you played or watched any Danganronpa stuff? If so, what do you like most about the series, and what did you think of my review? If not, why are you still reading this? xD I mean, I kinda of just spoiled the whole series, but I still recommend you check it out. =p Until next time, may your days be shining beacons of hope… or may they drag you into the depths of despair. Whichever you’d prefer. =p Buh-bye!

 

My Top 5 Favorite Moments in Code Geass R2

Code Geass R2

Hiyo, everyone! Today I’ll be offering the follow-up post to my previous one concerning my favorite moments in Code Geass R1. As before, I will assume the reader has already watched the anime. If you haven’t, please, watch it first. It’s ultra worthy of your time, and reading all the spoilers ahead of time would make for a much worse experience.

Anyway, time for the list!

5. Happiness

This is another short scene, but one that always struck me as profound. Lelouch, after coming to terms with the fact that he’s going to have to fight Nunnally, returns to Ashford academy to find that his friends have foregone their school trip so they could spend time with him and Rolo. Brought to tears, the Lelouch recalls a discussion he had in the past. Here’s the quote (English dub version):

“A long time ago, Nunnally, Suzaku, and I talked about something. We wondered what happiness would look like if we could give it a physical form. If I’m not mistaken, I think it was Suzaku that said that the shape of happiness might resemble glass. His reasoning made sense. He said that even though you don’t usually notice it, it’s still definitely there. You merely have to change your point of view slightly, and then that glass will sparkle when it reflects the light. I doubt that anything else could argue its own existence more eloquently.”

I’ve held that thought with me ever since I first saw that scene. It’s just so beautiful, and it rings true. When you reflect on the past, even on times you thought were difficult in the present, you’ll sometimes find that hint of nostalgia waiting for you in the memory. Happiness can blossom in even the hardest times. That’s something we should always keep in mind.

4. Rolo’s Death

Another emotional moment! With Lelouch exposed as Zero and revealed to have been manipulating people with Geass, the Black Knights themselves decide to finish him off. But he’s saved by Rolo, even though he’d just finished telling Rolo their relationship as brothers was a lie and that he’d been trying to kill him. Using his Geass – which greatly strains his heart – Rolo escapes with Lelouch aboard the Vincent. Various enemies give chase, and Rolo uses his Geass over and over, freezing the perception of time for others. As Lelouch tries to explain he has no reason to live, Rolo says that even if Lelouch was using him, out of all the people who used him throughout his life, only his time with Lelouch felt genuine. Therefore, he chose to save Lelouch of his own volition. As the scene progresses, the beautiful song “Like a Bird” plays throughout, charging it with extra emotion.

Once the two have escape, as Rolo lays dying of heart failure, he asks for assurance that Lelouch was lying about trying to kill him. Lelouch gives it (even though he really did try to kill Rolo) and, with a sad smile, leaves the locket once meant for Nunnally with Rolo’s corpse, a sign that he does now accept him as a brother.

I’ve always been so moved by this scene. The way Rolo remains loyal to Lelouch despite everything shows that he’s grown as a character, and has finally come to understand what he values most. And Lelouch’s response in the end, once he believes he has lost everything, brought me to tears. After the two of them had such a rocky relationship, it felt quite good to see them each put their own desires aside and, for a moment, accept the strength in even connections not tied by blood.

3. C’s World

It happens in a world outside of space. About 80% through the series, we finally learn of C.C.’s past, and of the terms of Lelouch’s contract. In return for his Geass, C.C. would have Lelouch kill her and take her place as an immortal. She views her time on earth not as living, but as accumulating experience, and claims life has no value unless it is finite. Lelouch, of course, refuses to kill C.C., so she sends him off to see her past and lets Charles do the deed.

Lelouch then sees that C.C. was born long ago, that she was an escaped slave, and that she made a Geass contract with a nun. Her Geass made others love her. But, in time, she learned that infinite love was just a meaningless farce. It prevented anyone aside from the nun from seeing many parts of her personality. One day, C.C. explained that to the nun, and the nun finally revealed her scheme – she had been using C.C. all along. She forced C.C. to kill her and inherit her immortality.

Lelouch returns to the place where Charles and C.C. are on the verge of C.C.’s death and promises her something that she never had. A smile. Impulsively, C.C. pushes Charles away, and she and Lelouch are ejected from C’s world. But, when they get out, Lelouch finds C.C. left something behind – her memories. In an instant, she transforms from an enigmatic witch to a timid servant.

C.C. has always been one of my favorite characters in the series, so it was nice to see her play a major role in an important scene. And everything about her is so relatable! Her desire to be loved having come from a background where no one loved her and her desire to die when life lost all meaning. C.C. is someone who feels both life and love lie in their limits, and there is something to be said about that opinion. Learning so much about C.C. made me like her even more. In this scene, she finally dropped the mask and showed her genuine self.

2. Nunnally’s Smile

Lelouch, along with Suzaku and C.C., faced off against his immortal father and his not-so-dead mother. They rejected the plan to hold the world in a constant state of past. The Thought Elevator is falling, broken by Lelouch’s request to the collective unconsciousness. Charles and Marianne are dissolving. But they haven’t given up. They try to appeal to C.C., to get her to switch back over to their side. She, however, now knows that they only love themselves, and says as much. Marianne says that’s false, and that they love their children. Then Lelouch delivers possibly the most powerful line in the series.

“Do you have any idea what the meaning is behind Nunnally’s beautiful smile?”

Naturally, Charles and Marianne don’t know. Lelouch explains that Nunnally is aware of the many things she can’t do without help due to being blind and crippled, and that she smiles to show her thanks. Charles rejects that idea and lunges at Lelouch – but with a few words, he dispels both of his parents forever.

That one question is all it took for Lelouch to expose his parents’ true motives. They didn’t understand Nunnally, nor did they even try to. C.C. is exactly right about them. They only look at things from an abstract angle, and, in doing so, they miss the people before their very eyes. That one question refutes all of their claims so easily. It was the perfect thing for Lelouch to ask, for it revealed a truth Charles and Marianne themselves were not aware of.

1. Zero Requiem

Was there ever any question?

Lelouch presides over a the public executions of his enemies as the evil emperor of the world. Everyone hates him, but they dare not speak out. But as his parade advances down a street toward its destination, they encounter someone unexpected.

Zero.

But Lelouch was believed to be Zero! How can there be another? Zero charges through Lelouch’s guard with comical ease and prepares to plunge his blade into Lelouch’s chest. That’s when Kallen – and we, the viewers, see the truth. Zero is Suzaku, who is not actually dead after all, and Lelouch arranged for his own assassination. He focused all the world’s hatred on himself then arranged to be eliminated, and that hatred discarded with him. His death would pave the way for the world to move forward.

Suzaku stabs Lelouch. lelouch tells Suzaku he is to sacrifice his own happiness to serve as Zero for the rest of his life, and Suzaku accepts. He pulls the blade from lelouch’s chest, and Lelouche slides down is vehicle and lands right next to Nunnally. She touches his hand – and sees it all.

To quote Lelouch: “Yes, I… destroy the world… and make it… anew.”

The result is bittersweet irony at its finest. The crowd chants “Zero!” as Nunnally wails, stating she had only ever wanted to be with Lelouch. The beautiful song Continued Story plays in the background as her cries grow louder and louder. Lelouch set out to make a better world for Nunnally, but, in the end, that lead to her grief and a bright future for the world.

In the subsequent scenes, we see how the world really is becoming a better place. Some people would argue that this ending is unrealistic, and maybe it is, but either way, it’s beautiful. It completes Lelouch’s and Suzaku’s character arcs in the strongest way possible. I sobbed like a baby! It’s the best ending of anything I’ve watched, read, or played ever. Thanks to this scene, my love for Code Geass is eternal.

Then there’s the debate about whether Lelouch actually died, but I’m not gonna get into that here! xD

Anyway, that’s my list! What were your favorite moments in Code Geass R2? What did you think of my choices? Did I miss anything you felt should have been included? Please let me know in the comments below! I command you, have a wonderful week! =p

Why I Love Anohana: The Flower we Saw that Day

Anohana

Hiyo, everyone! Today I’ll be reviewing an anime I recently rewatched that I found awesome! As you can tell from the title, it’s called Anohana: The Flower we Saw that Day. As usual, I will avoid substantial spoilers, but discuss the premise of the show. But I have an entirely different warning to issues about this eleven episode anime: Anohana is one of the most emotional stories I have ever experienced. If you watch from beginning to end, prepare to cry. If you don’t mind that, I encourage you to read ahead!

The story of Anohana began with a group of six kids who were close friends and called themselves the Super Peace Busters. For a while, they enjoyed days of fun and camaraderie. That came to a crashing halt when, after a dispute, one of the six friends, a girl named Menma (I will use their childhood nicknames instead of their real names in this review) suddenly died. Her death devastated all of those around her – her family and, of course, the surviving members of the Super Peace Busters. The group shattered, leaving the secret base they had long played in vacant.

Years later, the five surviving Super Peace Busters have, for the most part, gone their separate ways. Molded by his grief, our protagonist, Jintan, succumbed to the hole in his heart left by his mother (who died of disease) and Menma, and eventually stopped going to school. His father didn’t try to stop him. As of the beginning of the story, he lives at home and spends much of his time doing things like playing games.

Then, suddenly, Menma appears to him, and only him. He can see her and hear her whenever she’s around, but no one else can. She asks him to grant her wish, and he agrees. The problem is she forgets what her wish is. So, Jintan finds himself revisiting the places and people of his past, trying to find out what it might be. Before long, he is reunited with his old friends – and it’s abundantly clear that he and Menma are not the only ones who have struggled to move on.

I don’t want to spoil more than that. Such a beautiful anime deserves to be seen for itself. It’s on Crunchyroll for free as of the time of this writing, so I recommend you check it out… provided you can withstand a violent tearjerker. I’m not at all ashamed to admit I cried! A lot!

Anohana’s music is absolutely wonderful and pulls you right into the story’s themes, which include friendship, wistfulness for the past, grief, and the struggle to move on despite great loss. Anohana masterfully shows how intricately tied together your life is with those who care for you. If you’ve ever experienced loss, this will hit close to home in the best way possible. It will help you acknowledge your sadness even as you move forward.

Obviously, I rate Anohana 5/5. It’s phenomenal, and I just can’t praise it enough. I also rate having a box of tissues close at hand while watching Anohana 5/5. You’ll probably need them.

Do you like sad stories? If so, which are your favorites? They can be anime, movies, books, games, whatever! I’m eager to hear about them, ’cause I love that stuff. If not, feel free to share something cheerful instead! Until next time, I hope you make beautiful memories, and cherish your friends and family. Buh-bye for now!

 

My Top 5 Favorite Moments in Code Geass R1

Code Geass R1

Hiyo, everyone! It has been a while since I did a top list on this blog, and I’ve been gradually rewatching Code Geass, which I previously covered as my favorite anime, so I figured it was a perfect subject to discuss! In this post, I’ll talk about my five favorite moments from Code Geass R1 – that is, the first of the series’ existing two seasons. I’ll probably do another list for the second when I finish rewatching it, but that could be a while. Anyway, unlike my previous review, this post will be absolutely teeming with spoilers and will assume you have some knowledge of the series. If you haven’t watched it yet, I can’t recommend it enough! And, um, you probably shouldn’t read this post until you do. xD

Let’s begin!

5. The end

I guess beginning with the end is so overdone by now that it has become a cliche, but in this case, it’s still an accurate reflection of my opinion. R1 ends with Suzaku finally confronting Zero, his greatest enemy, and shooting the top of his mask, cracking it in two – only to have his worst suspicions confirmed in learning Zero is Lelouch, his long-time friend. With Kallen watching, Suzaku lays all that he knows bare – he reveals that Lelouch has been using a supernatural ability, his Geass, to control people. When Lelouch suggests a temporary alliance to save Nunnally, Suzaku will have none of it – he says Lelouch would just betray his trust, as the world betrayed Lelouch.

I love this scene because it shows just how far apart the two once-friends have grown. And Lelouch is visibly angered by Suzaku’s accusation; I believe this is the first scene in the series where it is presented to him so bluntly. It’s the culmination of the strife between the two throughout R1. At the end, Lelouch and Suzaku each aim their guns at each other – then there is a brief shot of Nunnally in some distress followed by blackness. The end of the season. I started watching Code Geass after the first two series were already released, so that didn’t really bother me, but I can’t blame anyone for hating that scene for its cliffhanger ending if they were watching while the series was ongoing. That’s just mean!

4. Euphemia orders Suzaku to love her

This scene is a short one, but I just can’t get enough of it! After thinking through the conflict that had occurred between herself and Suzaku, Euphemia finally comes to a striking realization, with a bit of help from Nina: she discovers that Suzaku suffers from self-hatred just as she does. Rash as ever, Euphemia contacts Suzaku in the middle of a battle and demands that he love her – and promises she will love him in return. Suzaku’s instinctive reaction of “Yes, your highness – huh?”just makes the scene even cuter!

This moment is particularly dear to me because I deal with self-hatred, too. Suzaku and Euphy can’t love themselves, so they each take on the responsibility of loving the other instead. It’s just so adorable, and had to ship it!

Until another event occurred…

3. Shirley follows Lelouch and discovers he’s working with the Black Knights

This entry may seem a little weird to some. The Black Knights are holding an operation to ostensibly save a submarine containing members of the Japan Liberation Front, but it’s not the battle itself that interests me, but the events leading up to it. As the beautiful “Stories” plays in the background, Shirley learns that Lelouch, the boy she’s had a long-time crush on, is working with the Black Knights, the terrorist organization responsible for killing her father. Meanwhile, Lelouch, under the guise of Zero, explains to his subordinates that they have to stay the course; that, to atone for all the blood they’ve spilled, they have to spill even more, and eventually succeed.

“Stories” played a large role in this scene’s influence over me. The feel of that song perfectly captures the tone of the unfolding events; everyone is trying to do what they feel is right, and despite those intentions, the song signals a tragedy in the making. The same sort of scenarios play out all the time in real life. Conflict is essential to who we are, and at this moment, it struck me more powerfully than ever.

2. Mao’s Death

Having kidnapped Nunnally and rubbed Lelouch’s weaknesses in, Mao agrees to confront Lelouch in his game of choice – chess. Winner takes all. The problem for Lelouch is that Mao’s Geass allows him to read minds over a large area, or, alternatively, focus his abilities on an individual and hear their every thought. Lelouch enters the situation knowing all about that, and he believes this is his last chance to save his sister’s life. But, as expected, Mao uses Lelouch’s own strategical prowess against him, then wins the game. Gleeful, he watches Lelouch melt down and presses the button designed to set off the bomb to end Nunnally’s life.

It doesn’t go off. Instead, Suzaku, who had been helping Lelouch, bursts into the room. By doing a high-precision maneuver, he disabled the bomb, and Lelouch’s chess game had been a diversion – one he himself hadn’t known about. With the help of a reflective surface, Lelouch used his Geass on himself so he would forget his own plans. Completely taken off guard and beaten by Suzaku’s comically overpowered physical abilities, Mao uses the only weapon he has – he reads Suzaku’s mind and reveals that Suzaku killed his father to end the previous war between Britannia and Japan. As a result of that action, Suzaku has been carrying a death wish with him, and that’s the reason he’s always so willing to risk his life.

But the visor Mao usually used to protect himself from Lelouch’s Geass had been removed. Furious, Lelouch gives his immensely satisfying command: “Never speak again.” Robbed of the voice he relies on to control others, Mao leavesĀ  – only to find himself face to face with C.C., the only person he loves and the one who gave him his Geass.

But C.C. has had enough. She’s finally ready to clean up her past mistake. With a bullet, she ends Mao’s life.

I like this scene because it pushes so many characters to their limits. It makes everyone face their pasts. I also found Lelouch’s Geass trick particularly clever. The scene plays out in a wild rollercoaster of emotions that I just loved to death!

Um, speaking of death…

1. Euphemia’s death

Throughout the series, Euphemia is depicted as unfailingly benevolent. She struggles to make the world a better place so earnestly and impulsively that you can’t help but root for her. So, when Lelouch finally takes her hand and tells her she’s won – that he will assist her in running the specially administrated zone of Japan she’s creating to put a stop to the violence – it’s quite cathartic.

That doesn’t last.

Lelouch’s original scheme involved having Euphemia shoot him, something he had told her she would do. She prods him about that, and he admits that he has the ability make others obey him. Euphemia scoffs, leading Lelouch to joke that he could even order her to kill the Japanese people, and she would have to obey.

That’s the moment his Geass starts acting up. The command takes, leaving Euphemia a mess begging not to be forced to do something so horrible. Lelouch tries to stop it, but it’s too late; he can’t undo the damage. Eventually, Euphemia succumbs to the order and runs off to do her new, dark duty.

The Japanese people gathered outside have no idea what hit them. Even the Britannian soldiers are shocked. But Euphemia takes the first shot, and the slaughter begins in earnest.

Chaos erupts. Through tears, Lelouch orders that the Black Knights make the most of Euphemia’s actions and orders her death. But, when the time comes, he himself is the one to shoot her. With Suzaku watching.

Enraged, Suzaku dives into battle, grabs Euphemia with his Knightmare, and flees. Euphemia is immediately hospitalized aboard the command ship, but the doctors quickly conclude she won’t make it. So Suzaku is left to speak with her in her final moments.

The emotions reach a crescendo when the song “Innocent Days” begins playing. Suzaku – who is Japanese himself – asks why she gave that order. But Euphemia remembers nothing. For a moment, it looks like she might again fall under the command’s spell, but, faced with the thought of killing the man she loves, she closes her eyes and finally snuffs out the Geass. “Innocent Days” alteernates between a mournful melody and a triumphant one as the scene shifts back and forth between Zero, who condemns Euphemia as a murderous hypocrite as the people wish her the worst, and Euphemia’s death bed, where Suzaku tells Euphy the lie she needs to hear – that her project was a success – and she asks him to complete his education in her place.

Then she flatlines, and the music with her. It’s replaced by a chant of “Zero, Zero, Zero!” as images flash by. Of Zero standing triumphant before a crowd having just established a new nation. Of Suzaku crying and reaching out for Euphy as he’s pulled away from her body. Of Zero’s supporters brimming with joy. Of the badge Euphy gave Suzaku when she named him her knight.

Cornelia, Euphy’s sister, sums up the scene succinctly at the end with the phrase “Dear God” when she learns what happened. Just like that, Euphemia, who pushed herself to her limit to help everyone, who was willing to give up her status as royalty to make the world a better place, has her legacy sealed as “Massacre Princess.”

Those events moved me to tears. The writers so masterfully pressed conflicting emotions right up against each other with perfect juxtapositoning; it all hits like a truck. And I love when media can draw an intense emotional reaction from me, so I love this scene. My descriptions can’t do it justice. It just has to be watched.

Aaanyway, that’s the end of my list! Have you guys watched Code Geass? If so, what were your favorite scenes in R1? If not, which scenes in anime move you the most? I hope to hear from you in the comments! Until next time, I hope you have a great time! Ciao!