The sound of locusts, a girl with green hair, sunflowers, young boys with giant eyes... I'm unconvinced it's anime until I see the giant robots. Two boys climb a small hill out in the middle of nowhere, and so far, there's only the sound of locusts. But as they get to the top, the soundtrack jumps to attention, and they both look towards the camera, surprised at the ominous music.
"2010 a.t.b., August 10th. The New Britannia Empire declared war on Japan." Okay. Evidently, them Englishes took over the entire world, except for most of Asia. The map we're shown has the Britannia attack leaving the US. Either someone was as bad at geography as I am, or there is no United States. At this point, I'm pretty okay with either option. During the attack on Japan, Britannia breaks out their 'Mobile Humanoid Armor Vehicles,' or "Nightmares." We've hit anime! With the Nightmares, the British Empire easily takes over Japan, which has 'its freedom, rights, and name taken away." That's right, just to make sure Japan knows it's been utterly defeated, the Empire takes away the name "Japan," and instead calls the whole country, Area 11. One of the boys from a minute ago is sitting by an army vehicle, while dead bodies are set ablaze nearby. The other boy, a purple-eyed fellow, stands up and says, "Suzaku, I'm going to destroy Britannia!" So, a minute and a half in, Japan has been taken over by tea-drinking, robot-wearing fops; a pile of bodies has been set on fire; and a young boy has set out on a life of revenge. Not that it stops the show from having a typical anime opening theme song that sounds cheery and upbeat, but is probably about isolation and suicide and dead puppies.
It's now seven years after the war, or 'freedoming,' and we're in the Britannia Suburb of Tokyo City. It's very shiny. A flying police thingie chases after a truck. Inside a nearby building, a TV reporter shows us images of a terrorist bombing from the week before. We pan out to see two men playing chess. A chess clock beeps, and one of the players, a scared, old man, is about to explode. He's playing against a noble who is calmly filing his nails. The old man's 'substitute' arrives through the door behind him, only to find it's a student. A purple-eyed student, in fact. "Lelouch Lamperouge," is his name. I hear he's of some rebellion. Lelouch's buddy, Rival, looks at the chess board, and exclaims that there's no way to win. I guess they aren't starting over. There's some banter to show how cocky Lelouch is, then he sits down and makes his first move with his king. The noble laughs, Lelouch smiles, and we're whisked away to a school to see girls talking about their "Lulu-chan." They think he's smart, stupid, and cute. The animators quickly get bored, and take us back to the stolen truck. But after a few seconds where we learn nothing, we get back to Lelouch, just as he's beaten the noble at exciting chess. Rival and Lulu leave the noble's place to see a public address by His Majesty Clovis, the Third Prince of the Britannian Empire, starting on the giant TV that just happens to be on the building across the street. He pretends to be heartbroken over the fighting and terrorist attacks. Blah, blah. Rival and Lulu chat about not crying over the dead, with Lelouch shoe-horning in the line, "No matter how hard you stretch, the world won't change." A slam against yoga, I'm pretty sure.
A camera shuts off, and Clovis walks down from where he gave his speech to rejoin a flippin' party. Very heartbroken. A military dude walks in to give Clovis some information. We don't hear what it is, but it pisses Clovis off. Military Dude tells him, "We've told the police that it was just some medical equipment." So, it's probably not. Clovis orders in some troops and alerts the Nightmares. A few horribly skinny people hop into their robots, and start them up with their ignition USB sticks by Lexar.
Rival and Lelouch are heading back to school in Rival's sort of femmy motorcycle - Lulu in the bitch seat - and talk more about chess. Rival is curious as to why Lelouch started by moving the king. "If the King doesn't move, then his subjects won't follow," Lulu says while reading. The stolen truck comes up behind them too quickly, and veers off into an abandoned building. The two stop to check it out, and Lelouch sees a green mist leak out from the top of the truck. Lelouch sees a crowd form to take pictures with their phones and talk about how someone should help the drivers. Seeing that they're just going to talk about helping, Lelouch runs in to help by himself. A woman with her cell phone out even asks if someone 'could at least call the cops.' Take THAT, modern society! The drivers are fine, but Lelouch can't get to them through the rubble, so he has to climb onto the back. He calls out to them, but the animation shimmers and all he hears is a disembodied voice say, "I found him." As he looks around to investigate the new voice, the truck starts back up, and Lelouch falls inside. The flying military thingies open fire on the truck, prompting one of the drivers to remove her hat. In the back of the truck, Lelouch is stuck with a big contraption that sort of looks like a giant, robotic Easter egg. He's about to pull out his phone to call for help, when the female driver, Karen (or "Kallen" as she's even called in the American dubbed version), walks in and over to a step ladder.
Somewhere, Rival is looking for Lelouch.
Just as the military is about to open fire again, a "smash hawk" flies out and blows up one of the flying thingies. It's basically a big rope dart, but it was shot out of the Nightmare that was hidden in the back of the truck. Karen blows up another flying thingie, just as the Britannian Nightmares arrive. They're using the Sutherland model of killer robot, while Karen is using a piddly Glasglow. Karen's Glasglow loses an arm during her retreat. It's looking bad for the terrorists (aw), but Lelouch got himself a transmitter (yay).
A doctorly-looking guy with purply/grey hair is talking to Military Dude about how they lost something secret to the terrorists. Military Dude is ready to pay off Doctorly for keeping quiet, but it turns out he's there to help. But it'd be nice if they told Doctorly what was stolen. He tells him and Woman Behind Doctorly that it was some poison gas. Of course, he tells them this in a voice-over while we see Lelouch sitting right next to the container.
The military sends out orders to infantrymen to find the container, but not try to retrieve it themselves. Then they bitch at them cause they're all Elevens looking for Britannian citizenship. Lousy Elevens. The other driver has been hurt, but is still trying to drive. And does so, right into a hole. He opens the back of the truck, revealing Lelouch and the container to an infantryman, who quickly jumps inside. After a quick fight, the infantryman is revealed to be Suzaku from the opening. Evidently, Suzaku is Japanese, working for the Empire, and Lelouch is Britannian, looking like a terrorist. They try to figure out why anything's anything, but don't get far. The container opens itself. Suzaku throws Lelouch to the floor, covering his mouth from the gas he expects to bellow out. However, inside is just the green haired girl we briefly saw in the opening. Lelouch tries to help the girl, but the military bursts in to call Suzaku a monkey then order him to kill Lelouch. He refuses, saying he can't shoot a civilian, and is promptly shot in the back by the commanding officer. As the rest of the military officers close in on Lelouch, the driver reaches for a switch that blows up the front of the truck. Nobody's happy about this. Especially Clovis, who orders the Shinjuku Ghetto destroyed. Nobody can know about... the girl? How badly they all just fucked up? At least one of those. More Nightmares are released, and they start to open fire on anyone they see. Soldiers go door-to-door, murdering people.
Lelouch sort of freaks out. Rightly so. Doctorly complains that since the 'gas' was already released, there's no use for his "Lancelot" and is bummed they don't get to collect data on it. Lelouch is trying to help the green-haired girl out, but runs into the military shooting children. Before he can give a flowery monologue, his phone rings, giving away his position. The man in charge of the local murdering goes to shoot Lulu, but the green-haired girl yells out and runs in front of the bullet, getting shot in the head. Lulu gets shaky anime eyed over the girl's body, and before he can get shot or fully go insane, she grabs his arm. During a vision of some sort, filled with production art, she offers him a contract; "In return for power, I want you to grant one of my wishes. If you agree to the contract, you will live as a human, but differ from other humans. A different source, a different time, a different life. The power of the King will make you isolated." Either as a part of the vision or as a cutaway, a man with his back to the audience says, "The union of Ragnarok." Lelouch binds the contract, stands up over the still dead girl, and addresses the military, a hand over his left eye. "Aren't you going to shoot? Or have you realized it? That those who are allowed to shoot are only those who are prepared to shoot?" He removes his hand to reveal his eye has changed, and grown more anime-like.
The guy in charge shakes, unable to shoot. "Lelouch orders those of Britannia, you guys... to die." The reply from each man is "Yes, Your Highness!" They each put their gun to their own head, and fire. Lelouch takes a moment to pontificate about how stuff sucks. But now, he has power. And he smiles over the bodies.
Welcome to the show.