It’s amazing to think that the first Code Geass anime was released almost twenty years ago. When Geass first emerged, it seemed like the anime industry and its fandoms were going to embrace it as the Next Big Thing. The wonderfully melodramatic and campy chronicles of Lelouch vi Britannia and His Super Robot War have undoubtedly earned their praise, but it has been a while since I last thought about them—possibly not since I evaluated the film’s re-edits almost five years ago.
All of that is about to change, though, because Crunchyroll’s obscenely massive and intricate Collector’s Edition box set is going to be released this Christmas season. Let this review serve as your only reminder that this sucker is enormous. When its contents are fully shown, it will fill a moderately sized kitchen table, that’s how much of a stage Lelouch wants.
I expect you’ll have a few questions as you figuratively stand here and whirl, your mind reeling at the sheer luxurious girth of this beast. “What the hell does this veritable chest of Geass-y wonders contain?” is probably the first one. “Holy crap, it’s been over fifteen freaking years since I last saw Code Geass; does it even hold up?” is presumably the second question. Ultimately, you’ll probably ask yourself, “What kind of unspeakable crimes am I going to be forced to inflict upon my poor, innocent bank account to get ahold of one of these Collector’s Editions?” as your eyes adjust and the shock wears off.
Permit me to take a somewhat detour and start with that second point. I regretfully do not have time to go into the specifics of the enormous project that is Code Geass because this Collector’s Edition includes more than thirty-four hours of anime (along with several hours of commentary tracks and other features that have been ported straight from the original Blu-ray releases). In case you are unfamiliar with Code Geass or have forgotten about it, allow me to provide you with a quick refresher: This anime, along with its movie, spinoff OVA, and sequel film, is a concentrated dosage of pure mid-00s cheese, with a generous amount of badass mecha crazy and high-camp YA drama mixed in with science-fiction intrigue and drama.
By 2023 standards, is it good? You can understand why so many people have grown to enjoy its unique brand of insane soap opera extravaganza over the years based on that description. Akito the Exiled offers extra-deep-cut setting explorations, and Lelouch of the Resurrection indulges in fanservice, but I can just as easily see newcomers becoming frustrated with the pace of the 50-episode TV series and finding it difficult to keep up with the much more streamlined (sometimes to the fault) movie series. Code Geass is A LotTM, capital A, above everything else. To be sure, I would never advise starting with this Collector’s Edition without first seeing the show. But for those who have been riding this new set for the past seventeen years, ride or die, it’s the ideal homage to a classic.
This collection is A LotTM, much like the show whose Blu-rays it so sumptuously cradles. We’re talking about a nearly foot-long, practically golden box covered in magnificent artwork by Geass that weighs close to fifteen pounds (if my bathroom scale is to be trusted, that is). Not only do the series’ CDs come in gorgeous holographic chipboard casings, but there are also some adorable small trinkets that I’ve included a picture of above. One lovely piece of jewelry is the “Geass Symbol” necklace. Even if the Lancelot Key USB stick doesn’t come packed with any digital delights like I could have hoped for, it’s still a fun trinket that you could find a purpose for as it’s always great to have an extra 60 GB of portable storage laying about.
Aside from the amazing box display itself, the highly detailed chess set that comes with the box is the true star of the show. The pieces, which are displayed above, are all designed to look exactly like the ones that the show’s protagonists use. The chess pieces are pretty attractive when arranged on display, even though the material used to build them is perhaps a little more flimsy than I would have liked. You can also play chess with them. In addition, the kit comes with four magnetic boards that fit together to form a lore-accurate playing area suitable for all of your chess-themed Lelouch role-playing fantasies.
If you’re a die-hard Code Geass fan, this Collector’s Edition should be your first choice. However, there is one minor drawback: the cost. To put it plainly: This device costs the same as a brand-new PlayStation 5″ (MSRP of US$549 at the time this article was written). Although the Code Geass Collector’s Edition costs more than most anime releases I’ve ever seen—say, the US$800 Legend of the Galactic Heroes collection that Sentai released a few years ago—it’s still not quite as much of a blow to the savings account. I wouldn’t have objected to seeing a few extra pieces of artwork or collectible artifacts for the asking price, and perhaps some stronger materials for the chess pieces. However, the ostentatious box itself is a piece of art. Not to add, each set’s Certificate of Authenticity comes with a US$60 discount code for the Crunchyroll shop or a six-month subscription to the streaming service Crunchyroll, which is valued at approximately US$75.
This Collector’s Edition is an investment, much like the Code Geass viewing experience. First-time viewers or casual admirers of the franchise should generally stick with the much less expensive alternative of streaming the episode. The Code Geass Collector’s Edition would be an incredible stocking stuffer this Christmas if you know of any physical media-loving Otakus that also happen to have an absurd amount of shelf space to devote to an obelisk-sized box set. Make sure they truly, truly adore Code Geass before anything else.