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Anime Review – Code:Breaker

To my pleasure, HuluPlus has started offering an extensive anime line-up, both subbed (my preference) and dubbed, and sometimes both formats for a series that’s been out a while.

On to the Code:Breaker review… Here was a stylishly-animated action/adventure series that promised to be interesting, especially when the high-schooler heroine, Sakura Sakurakouji, is introduced as a martial-arts expert who easily trounces the boys. While riding the bus past a city park late one night, she catches a glimpse of a handsome young man surrounded by corpses burning with an eerie blue flame.

Soon thereafter, Sakura discovers that the mystery man is her homeroom’s new transfer student. His name is Rei Ogami, and as she quickly discovers, he’s a secret government assassin with superpowers, the junior member of a team of similarly-gifted people known as the Code:Breakers.

So far so good, I thought. Very promising, I thought. Kick-ass high school girl meets and befriends mysterious assassin (and kudos to the show for actually letting him *kill* people in the line of duty. I have a pet peeve against shows that tell you that the hero is dangerous, but never actually show him doing the dangerous things).

Then things went downhill. It was like the show’s creators had a change of heart about Sakura. We never see her use her fabulous martial arts skills again. Instead, she alternates between stalking Ogami so that she can plead futilely with him to not kill his targets, and needing to be rescued.

We’re told early on in the series that Sakura has a very important superpower of her own, and that Ogami was assigned to be her bodyguard because she is supposedly being targeted, but we’re never told exactly why her powers are so important, or see her employ them effectively after the introductory sequences. Instead, the story’s focus shifts to the Code:Breakers’ attempts to collar a terrorist who’s one of their own gone bad, and Sakura’s story takes a definite back seat.

In fact, the final set of episodes were almost completely focused on the former Code:Breaker Hitomi, his tragic back-story and the efforts of the present Code:Breakers to prevent a massive act of terrorism and bring him down.

The terrorist storyline was fairly suspenseful, but by this point, I was feeling a definite sense of bait-and-switch as Sakura had been reduced to little more than a mouthpiece for wildly inappropriate pacifist sentiments, a need to be rescued, and a convenient vehicle for expository lumps. Granted, Hitomi’s story *was* interesting (even if his actions didn’t make a whole lot of sense in the end), and I would have been interested if the series had been about him, but given the setup, this arc felt like a bit of a left-turn from the original storyline.

We have our grand climactic battle, complete with explosions, shattering glass, double-crosses, and near-death moments, and then the series ends with several unresolved threads…Rei Ogami leaves for his next secret assignment without a farewell, so there’s no closure to the storyline about his slowly-developing friendship with Sakura. And what about that secret government program to intern kids with superpowers and experiment on them? That was a major part of the series’ first half, and it just sort of drops away.

And how *does* the Hitomi’s #2 man and sidekick manage to spend approximately 13 years (if the dates in the flashbacks are to believed) wearing a high school uniform and attending high school without anyone noticing or commenting?

Code:Breaker was interesting enough to keep me watching until the end, but I came away with a definite sense of bait-and-switch. If there’s a second season, some of these questions may be answered, but the first season definitely left me frustrated.

Grade: C+

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