The Holy Britannian Empire owns about a third of the world. With their knights in mecha, they can easily dominate any battlefield, and their territory is divided into 'Administrative Sectors'. A few years ago, the Britannians invaded Japan, which became Sector Eleven. The 'Elevens' live in poverty in ghettos, while the Britannians order them around.
Lelouch ('Lulu' for friends) is a young Britannian, who attends a school for Britannian youngsters. He plays chess for money against noblemen in his spare time, and on his way back from one such an outing, he witnesses an attack by Japanese terrorists who want to kick the Britannians out. Lelouch gets mixed up in the attack, and he encounters his old friend Suzaku, a Japanese who enlisted in the Britannian military in order to become a 'honorary Britannian'.
The terrorists have stolen some kind of secret weapon, and a special military force is sent into the Shinjuku ghetto to retrieve it -- and to kill pretty much any Eleven they can can find. Lelouch manages to uncover the secret weapon, which turns out the be a green-haired girl, C.C.. She makes a deal with him: in exchange for helping her further her goals, she gifts Lelouch with a geass. When he looks someone in the eye, he can give them an order they are compelled to follow it.
Lelouch hates the Britannian empire, and with his new-found power, he sets out to destroy the Britannian Empire -- and especially the Emperor.
Aided by his sharp wit and of course the power of the Geass, Lelouch sets out on a carefully orchestrated campaign of terror, propaganda and subterfuge. He mercilessly uses his group of freedom fighters, and the Geass allows him to get away with most of it too. He does some really atrocious things, all to further his own agenda -- Lelouch's target is the Britannian Emperor, and he couldn't care less about Japan.
You see -- Lelouch is actually a Britannian prince that had been sent to Japan as some sort of hostage. Suzaku was the son of the Japanese prime minister at the time, where Lelouch and his sister were staying. But then Britannia attacked, and the two royals were presumed dead. Suzaku's father died, and now Suzaku tries to mend what was broken.
And of course, Lelouch and Suzaku meet on the battlefield as well -- but it takes them a bit of time to piece the puzzle together...
And in between all of the bloodshed, we get a few episodes in school. And then it is just like any other highschool-kids anime -- which is really weird. Outside, a bloody revolt is raging, but inside the school kids have time to worry about who is on the student council and who isn't. Of course, it doesn't take too long before the war visits the school too...
The show is technically perfect. The visuals are rich and striking, the animation is fluid, the backgrounds lush. The mechanical designs are distinct -- no cookie cutter mechs in this series! The voice acting is very good too (especially Lelouch's).
- Very interesting setting;
- Very interesting plot -- Lelouch is a real bastard with a great sense for tactics and the ruthlessness to see it through.
- Techically perfect.
- The complete dichitomy between school life and Lelouch's life as the leader of the resistance is jarring at times;
- The complete lack of resolution. The 'ending' left us staring at the screen for a few minutes in utter shock -- but unfortunately there was no more to show us how it ended.
If you like series with a military undertone with enough attention to the personal dramas of the characters themselves, then this is your cup of tea. I will give it an 8 -- could have been higher if there had been an ending that didn't stop on a cliffhanger moment.