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Anime review: ‘Code: Breaker’

Code: Breaker
Based on the manga “CODE:BREAKER” by Akimine Kamijyo originally serialized in the weekly SHONEN MAGAZINE published by KODANSHA LTD. ©Akimine Kamijyo KODANSHA/CODE:BREAKER Committee. All Rights Reserved.

On June 24, 2014, anime publisher FUNimation Entertainment releases “Code: Breaker” in limited and standard edition Blu-ray/DVD combo packs, so we decided to check out this action anime series, based on the manga by Akimine Kamijyo.

Code: Breaker” follows the story of Sakura Sakurakouji, a popular teenage girl who witnesses a group of people being burnt to a crisp by an unknown young man, while riding the bus home. After forcing the bus driver to stop, Sakura finds a police offer and the two return to where she witness the incident, only to find that there was nothing there but some scorch marks, that the cop brushes off as fires set by homeless people.

Wondering if it was all a dream, Sakura goes to school the next day and is surprised to learn that the person she saw at the fire the previous night, has now transferred to her school, under the name Rei Ogami, and he is in her class. Sakura questions Rei about the incident and he denies any knowledge of the event, but Sakura continues to follow Rei, in the hopes of uncovering the truth.

Her persistence eventually pays off, when while attempting to help a homeless man, Sakura is attacked and Rei comes to her aid, setting another group of men on fire in front of her, and then he threatens to kill her. Sakura wakes up the next day unsure what happened after Rei grabbed her, but after school the next day Rei tells her that if she tells anyone about him or what has happened, he will kill her and anyone he suspects of knowing.

Instead of keeping her distance and fearing Rei though, Sakura instead intends to save Rei and everyone he would kill. This is when she learns that Rei is actually number six (out of six) of a group of government assassin’s who possess special abilities, and as far as the world is concerned, they don’t exist. Even after knowing Rei’s mission, Sakura tries to get Rei to stop killing, and along the way she meets his fellow “Code Breakers”, who all have their own reasons for working for the organization, called Eden.

Throughout their journey, Sakura tags along with Rei on some of his missions, and she sees first-hand, some of the atrocities that the men they are sent to kill commit. But no matter how horrible things are, she continues to try and persuade Rei that killing is wrong and that there is always another way.

This idea especially hits home later in the series, when Rei and his companions come face to face with someone from their past, who has begun attacks on the country. Rei struggles quite a bit when it comes to this, as it is someone he was close with, as with the others, but they are intent on doing their job, no matter who the enemy is.

“Code: Breaker” has an interesting story, for me, it felt like it lacked some originality, but it was still presented well and it stayed entertaining throughout. Rei having such a black and white idea of what evil is, also made for some interesting moments, he is so focused on the job that he just kills without thinking about it. But once Sakura begins to get involved, he hesitates and you begin to see more of the reasoning behind the bad guy’s intentions, and though monstrous the actions might be, there are good intentions behind them.

Visually, “Code: Breaker” has a nice look, the animation is smooth and detailed, even during fight scenes, and the picture quality is clear. This review is based on the DVD version of the series, the Blu-ray may have slightly better quality. As far as the characters go, they have nice designs, but the special abilities were some of the more impressive things about them, especially Rei at the end.

As far as the audio goes, I liked both the English and the Japanese voices options about the same. They both match up with the characters well and either version would be a good option. The subtitles are clear, easy to read and are on screen for a good length of time. The translations also had good flow when reading.

Included as on-disc extras are Japanese commercials, promotional videos, TV spots, the textless opening and closing, a U.S. trailer and trailers for other FUNimation Entertainment releases. There are also commentaries for episodes seven and twelve.

“Code: Breaker” is an entertaining series filled with plenty of action-packed battles and drama. It isn’t the most original story, but it is still presented in a way that keeps viewers watching from start to finish. The battles were a big part of the series for me, I really enjoyed seeing Rei and his co-workers battling it out with various special abilities, especially Rei’s blue fire and Yuuki’s sonic abilities.

The story didn’t really surprise me very much, but there were some interesting and dramatic moments that happened during the missions, that definitely caught my eye. There were also many people to hate in “Code: Breaker”, some of them were bad, but I also found a few “good guys” that I found myself disliking even more than the villains. The ending could have been a little bit better, but it did resolve a fair amount of the issues that the story had, about what you can expect from most anime.

If you liked series like “Kaze no Stigma” and “Gakuen Alice”, then you may enjoy “Code: Breaker”.

Score
3.5 out of 5

Code: Breaker

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
Runtime: 325 minutes
Number of Episodes: 13
Number of Discs: 2 DVDs (Also on Blu-ray)
Languages: English, Japanese with English subtitles
Age Rating: TV-14
Release Date: June 24, 2014

(A review copy of “Code: Breaker” on DVD was provided by FUNimation Entertainment.)