What is good and what is evil? If someone were to do something many consider evil to put a stop to something far worse what does that make that person? A hero? A villain? While many series tend to focus only on a hero who can do no wrong must put a stop to an evil mastermind’s plan, Code:Breaker looks to offer a different perspective. That being said, is Code:Breaker unique and entertaining enough to be worthwhile?
Sakura Sakurakoji is an extremely popular girl who is a martial arts expert in high school who lives a normal life. However that changes when one day on a bus ride home she witnesses a group of people being burned alive by blue fire with a young man standing in the center unharmed. After witnessing this event, Sakura tries to report it to the police but the only thing they find are scorch marks with no evidence left behind.
Believing she might have just imagined it, Sakura attends school the next day only to find that a new transfer student is joining the class and it just so happens to be the young man from last night. His name is Rei Ogami and despite Sakura questioning him about the incident, he plays innocent. That is until, once again on the way home, Sakura stops to try and protect a homeless man that is being beaten by gang members only to find herself outnumbered and outmatched.
On the verge of being killed, Sakura sees that Ogami has appeared and after committing a horrible act in front of her eyes, he proceeds to kill every single one of the gang members with blue flames before trying to kill Sakura as well. Once she wakes up again, Sakura tracks down Ogami and learns that Ogami is a member of the Code:Breakers, a group of assassins who have been organized to deal with evil that is outside of the laws reach by killing anyone they are assigned to.
After threatening to kill her if she says a word about this secret organization, Ogami allows her to continue observing him, even as Sakura ends up getting pulled along for assassination missions where she tries to prevent him from committing any more murders. However when an old Code:Breaker who has gone rogue surfaces and threatens their way of life, Sakura finds herself meeting with the rest of the Code:Breakers as they deal with this former ally.
The beginning of Code:Breaker feels like it was created with someone checking off boxes of clichés that had to be filled and unfortunately that feeling pops up far too often in the series which is full of cliché elements that you find in almost every other action drama. The only saving grace for Code:Breaker’s story are the various plot twists and revelations that occur throughout the series. The world of Code:Breaker is one of moral ambiguity where performing heinous acts to put a stop to evil plans seems justified in a world filled with terrible people.
However the feeling of a dark story is hindered by the fact that not only does the story have numerous tonal shifts from serious drama to cornball comedy, but also due to the fact that Sakura’s feelings of good and evil and about how no matter who they are and what they done, everyone deserves a second chance. While she does make a few good points in some cases and her view on good and evil creates an interesting contrast to what Ogami and the rest of the Code:Breakers are used to doing, her idealistic and naïve nature ends up being more of a hindrance than anything else.
Ultimately Code:Breaker does tell a mildly interesting storyline that is littered with clichés and poor attempts at comedy with its only saving grace being the fact that it is an action series with a decent amount of drama. That being said, the ending also feels as generic as possible which was probably intentional due to this being an adaptation of a fairly long manga series, but due to how mediocre the story still ended up being, the type of ending used only makes things worse.
The artwork and animation on Code:Breaker is something of a mixed bag. While the characters are all rather polished looking, they are also very bland and generic. Those watching the series will find it very hard to find anything really unique looking about the characters that populate Code:Breaker as they are all designed to fit into a very typical visual style.
The same can be said for standard scenes where characters are talking to one another, as there is little to no actual animation in these sequences. This is an odd problem as the background details are fairly impressive and the action sequences where the Code:Breakers use their special abilities are a highlight of the series.
FUNimation has chosen to give Code:Breaker the English dub treatment so viewers will be able to choose whether they wish to listen to that or the original Japanese voice track. The English voice cast perform admirably considering the characters they had to work with and they also do a nice job following the wild tone shifts that the series makes.
The background music has a decent amount of variety and is actually not half bad when compared to the way the artwork is. That being said, both the opening theme “Dark Shame” by Granrodeo and “White Crow” by Kenichi Suzumura, the Japanese voice actor for Toki, are as standard as action theme songs come, making neither memorable in any particular way.
As far as bonus features are concerned, Code:Breaker comes with a standard array of on-disc FUNimation content. There are two commentary tracks, one for episode 7 and another for episode 12, Japanese promotional material, clean versions of the opening and ending theme, and trailers for other FUNimation releases.
Code:Breaker has a unique sounding concept and while it tries to run with this dark and philosophical story, it simply falls apart in the process. While the story may have a number of different twists here and there and the fights are impressive, the story begins to feel as generic as they come while Sakura’s sense of justice should have been used differently instead of making viewers feel like she is simply naïve. Code:Breaker might be interesting for those who are fans of darker themed action anime, but everyone else should pass this one by.
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