Two boys had been playing together one day when they had seen something in the distance. It was on this August 10, 2010 that the Holy Britannia Empire had declared war on Japan. It was a fight between the neutral Japan and the super-power Britannia, but the latter had used their “Knightmare Frames” to overwhelm Japanese self-defense forces. Japan became a possession of the Empire, meaning that freedom, rights, and even its name was taken away. Area 11 was the new name of the defeated Japan. Back then, one of the boys had vowed that he would smash Britannia. It is now seven years after the war, in the year 2017. With news reports of terrorist bombings on the TV, a student named Lelouch faces off against a noble in a game of chess, which Lelouch is confident he can finish in 9 minutes. In fact, he pulls it off in just 8 minutes and 32 seconds. As Lelouch and his friend Rival are exiting the building, they see the third prince of Britannia, Clovis, on a nearby TV screen. Addressing the empire’s citizens and the people of Area 11, the prince makes an impassioned speech about terrorism and fighting for justice. He has the people pray for the lives sacrificed for justice, but Lelouch and Rival just ignore it.
After the speech, the prince receives word about some medical equipment and orders out a Knightmare squad in response. Around this time, Lelouch and Rival are on the road when they get almost run over by a large truck. The truck veers off the road and crashes into a building. Lelouch goes to investigate and briefly sees a figure made up of light particles floating above the truck trailer. With more and more people gathering to see what’s going on, Lelouch runs in to help the drivers, but they don’t respond to his calls. When he climbs on top of the truck, he suddenly hears a female voice say that she’s found him. Lelouch isn’t given much more time to think because the drivers of the truck put it in reverse and pull back out onto the road, causing Lelouch to fall into the trailer. As the truck speeds down the highway, it comes under attack by military helicopters, so the female driver Kallen goes to the back and boards her own Knightmare Frame. With it, she easily brings down a pair of the helicopters, but then a Britannia Knightmare gets air-dropped to challenge her. To compound their problems, another Knightmare appears and shoots at the truck, forcing it to escape down a different road. Outmatched, Kallen manages to fire her Knightmare’s arm and escapes in the smoke.
The military believes that what the terrorists stole in that truck is a chemical weapon – poisonous gas. The terrorists are of course Kallen and the other truck driver, who is bleeding as now he drives down a subway passage. Unfortunately, the truck gets stuck in a large hole in the ground. The noise alerts a nearby Britannia soldier, who spots Lelouch in the trailer and assumes he’s a terrorist after the poisonous gas. After getting attacked, Lelouch wants to know from the solider why Britannia created the gas. It’s when Lelouch says that he wants to crush Britannia that the soldier realizes Lelouch identify. The soldier is actually Suzaku, Lelouch’s friend from before the war seven years ago. As the two are trying to figure out how it ended up like this, the container that supposedly houses the poisonous gas suddenly starts to open up. Suzaku tackles Lelouch onto the floor and covers his mouth, but no gas comes out. Instead, a green-haired girl emerges. Soon after, the two of them and the girl are discovered by another Britannia force. The commanding officer wants Suzaku to shoot the terrorist Lelouch, but he refuses, so the officer shoots Suzaku in the back instead. However, before they can do anything to Lelouch or the girl, the dying truck driver activates the self destruct and blows up the truck.
Upon receiving word that the terrorists ran away, Clovis decides to order the destruction of the Shinjuku Ghetto. Various squads of the military set out and start slaughtering the population and shelling the city. Still underground, Lelouch is blaming the girl for what’s happened as he reacts to Suzaku’s apparent death. As the two emerge above ground into a warehouse, Lelouch sees several civilians, including children, getting shot by the military. Unfortunately, Lelouch’s friend Shirley calls him right then, causing his cell phone to ring and alerting the Britannia men. The officer in charge shoots Lelouch, but the girl gets in the way and takes a bullet to the head for him. After she falls and starts bleeding all over the ground, Lelouch is angsting about not being able to do anything when the girl’s hand springs up and touches him. She wonders if he doesn’t want it to end since she can see that he has a reason to live. She asks if he can live if he has power, and says that this is a contract. In exchange for giving him power, she wants her wish to be granted. If they contract, he will live in the human world but live for a different reason than everyone else – a different providence, a different time, and a different life. The power of the king will make him isolated.
Lelouch agrees to the contract and stands back up in front of the soldiers. With the new power of his left eye, Lelouch commands the soldiers to die, so they point their guns to their necks and commit suicide. By the time Lelouch realizes what’s happened, there are dead bodies lying everywhere. In retrospect, he recalls that from that day on, he had been telling lies – lies about his name, lies about his background, nothing but lies. He’s sick of this world that doesn’t change, but he can’t give up the lies because of despair. However, he obtained power.
ED: 「勇侠青春謳」 (Yuukyou Seishunka) by ALI PROJECT
Watch the ED! Mirror 1 Mirror 2 (11.9MB, XviD)
I like the OP about as much as I liked it when I heard it on the trailer and on the special, which is to say I LOVE it. FLOW music always has that catchy tune, and this is no different. I’m not a big fan of ALI PROJECT, but the ED wasn’t too bad. What really caught my eye in the ending animation was that they kept what appears to be a tiny bit of nudity.
Well, this series starts off with a fairly big action episode that throws our main character right into the middle of things. I was pretty impressed by the pacing of the episode and how two of the main characters have been shot already. Odds are that neither Suzaku nor C.C. is dead, but that doesn’t mean that Lelouch can’t angst about them anyway. He picks up a rather interesting power of king that seems to make Britannia people obey him. But if the opening animation and what C.C. said is any indicator, this power isolates him from the people around him. That’s probably where Suzaku comes in: as the friend character who has to save Lelouch from himself or his power or whatever. Anyway, I really like the anti-hero vibes I get from Lelouch, and I think Fukuyama Jun did a great job on his voice.
So I originally thought Britannia was referring to England or something, but then I saw this shot and which makes me slightly suspicious of an anti-American message. It kind of reminds me of the US government in Blood+. Come to think of it, for whatever reason, this series gives me the same overall feeling Blood+ did. That and Eureka 7. It’s somewhat hard to describe, but I have a feeling that this will be a great show. It is of course a Sunrise series and I’ve had fairly good luck with those. This story has proven itself interesting from the get-go, and the animation and music are the usual Sunrise high quality.
I’m pretty sure that I’ll be picking this up as a second Thursday show (next to Kanon). We’ll see if the second episode can cement that decision.