Sunday, December 22, 2013

Code Geass is Back to Mezmorizing us Once Again

The poster for Code Geass: Akito The Exiled.

There's nothing like the anorexic character designs of the writing duo CLAMP, especially those for the Code Geass franchise.

Four years after the conclusion of Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion in 2012, the anime production company Sunrise has created many spinoff series for the franchise in novel, comic, and OVA (Original Video Anime) format.For the most part I'm not a fan of spinoff series.I did enjoy the spinoff comic series Code Geass: Nightmare of Nunnally, and when I heard of the OVA Code Geass: Akito the Exiled (Code Geass Bokoku no Akito), I was genuinely interested to see what the producers could do with the world they had created.Upon seeing the first installment, I was a bit disappointed, not because the story wasn't interesting--Sunrise generally does a good job creating compelling and engaging stories--but because the characters lacked the charisma the characters in the TV series had.On top of this, viewers need to have a relatively firm understanding of the world and inner workings of Code Geass, making it unappealing for people who haven't brushed up on the events of the TV series, such as myself.However, I did like how thus far there has been very little use of the Geass.In addition to that, the kind of music played during the action scenes isn't something heard that often in other animated works.

If there were one major aspect of anime that often gets overlooked, it would most likely be the music--not the opening or ending, but the background music.There are of course some series where the music is very memorable; Neon Genesis Evangelion instantly comes to mind in this regard.So, while Code Geass: Akito the Exiled has its fair share of rather unremarkable background music, the fast paced jazz during the actions scenes was exhilarating.While the music doesn't add to the mood, as orchestral pieces often do, it stands out from much of the bland music I've heard in other action oriented anime series.I also have to be a bit honest with my bias here.I was a trumpeter for a good portion of my teens, and listening to the trumpet heavy jazz was very nice, even though I can obviously find professional jazz bands that utilize the trumpet more than any other instrument.

The music alone wasn't enough to grab my attention, however, and much of the story and the characters of Code Geass: Akito the Exiled were dull.Granted, even though this is the first installment of a short OVA series and there will most likely be more development in the next couple of releases, I still felt as though the writers could have done more to make the story and characters just a bit more mesmerizing this time around.Whereas in Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, one of the overarching goals of reclaiming Japanese sovereignty from the fictional nation of Britannia is quite obvious from early on in the series, I found it difficult to parse out the goals of the main characters, Akito Hyuga and Leila Malkal.It's definitely not to overthrow the Britannian empire, which was a major crux of the TV series.So, I found the OVA to be lackluster in this regard.

On top of this, both Akito and Leila were boring characters to watch.Going back to the TV series again, the protagonist, Lelouch Vi Britannia, was extremely charismatic, and while he still had some glaring character flaws, he was, for the most part, very interesting to watch.But with Akito and Leila there is no charisma or stark flaws in their characters' personalities.Akito is just a silent solider who berserks in the heat of combat, and Leila is a humanist who's willing to place her sometimes misguided morality above all else.It's a good beginning for the two, but as with the story, there could have been much more included about them.

Akito's W0X Type-01 Alexander.

What disappointed me the most was not the characters or the story, but the amount of grounding a person needs in the Code Geass franchise to appreciate Code Geass: Akito the Exiled.I will admit I haven't rewatched the series since the final episode on September 28, 2008, nor have I read any of the novel or manga releases, except for Code Geass: Nightmare of Nunnally, so trying to remember the details about the characters and the world was difficult.For me, it has gotten to the point where really all I can remember are the main characters from the TV series, some of their special abilities, and the designs of some of the Nightmare Frames.As a side story of Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, I can understand the need for some prior knowledge of the surrounding world, but making it a bit more accessible for non-fans would have been good for at least this installment.That would have given non-fans ample time to become even more familiar with the franchise before the release of the second installment.

I would like to praise the writers for taking out the use of the Geass for most of the OVA.While the powers of the Geass--generally the ability to gain command over people--made for some interesting plot twists in the TV series, by the end I definitely felt as though there were one too many characters who had that power.So seeing it used by one character thus far in Code Geass: Akito the Exile was satisfactory and it forces Akito and Leila to find creative solutions to the confrontations they have.No bending of wills, no commanding their way out of a social situation, the only tools they have are their natural physical abilities and their wits.I sincerely hope the use of the Geass stays at a minimum in the remaining installments of this OVA series, just because it adds a bit of depth to the characters in an already interesting world.

There really is no questioning the popularity of Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion, but when it comes to the OVA spinoff Code Geass: Akito the Exile, I highly doubt it will garner the same amount of popularity.That doesn't mean the series will be a failure, as Sunrise takes good care of their intellectual property.However, as the first installment of the series, it most certainly could have stood some improvement in regards to the depth of the characters and the direction of the overall narrative.Fans will most likely enjoy this OVA and I highly recommend it to them, but if you are not mired in the Code Geass world, as I am, I think passing on this series may be for the better.

Work Info

Title: Code Geass: Akito the Exiled (Code Geass Bokoku no Akito)



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