Posted by psgels on 30 September 2012 with categories: Anime Reviews

So, I did not like Code Geass. The first season just shattered my suspense of disbelief and even throughout the second season it just wasn’t able to restore this, making it a chore to watch. So when another sequel was announced, I was mostly indifferent to it. And then it got announced that it would be directed by Kazuki Akane, my favorite director ever. Yeah, my opinion changed.

What I love about this guy is that he understands action like no other, and he manages to combine this astonishingly well with his storytelling. His stories are always awesome to watch, he knows how to flesh out settings really well. It’s just the total picture of everything that comes together so wonderfully in his series.

Now, Bokuko no Akito consists out of four movies, so this first movie was just a lot of build-up, so whether the characters and plot will work is still a bit hard to say at this point. I will however say that as a build-up movie this was really solid and it did everything that it was supposed to.

It still takes place in the setting of Code Geass, but on a completely different location. It’s still about a bit of an anti-hero, it still is about the military and it still is about the discrimination of Japanese people, but it removed all those ridiculous elements that the Code Geass TV-series had. There is also no school whatsoever, which also helps. The discrimination issues are also done much better than in the TV-series: the movie added some depth to these issues. In Europe, they’re turned into immigrants and these issues are fleshed out with a slight bit of subtlety that the TV-series completely lacked. All of this together really helped in making me take this series seriously again, something that at the end of the second season, I never would have expected.

And then there is the action: and it really is really well done. The animation is very crisp and clean. The CG stands out, but it’s really well used with intense movements that are all over the place, and are filled with energy. All action scenes just have this sense of power behind them, typical of Kazuki Akane’s action scenes, and they can only get better over the next bunch of movies. The action scenes are also quite grounded for an action series: the creators put thought in their use of explosives and used different ones depending on the situation, and they studied the human anatomy so that when someone is disarmed, it actually looks painful.

Most of my issues were with the characters. The main cast is fleshed out well, they’re likable and interesting, but there is this mindset in this series that I don’t like: the “young people rock adults suck”-mindset. Nearly everyone in this series over 25 years old is incompetent and badly portrayed. This show looks down on them and does not provide an adequate enough reason for it. I hope that this will get fixed somehow in the later movies, but I’m afraid that that will be quite hard to do.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Build-up, but solid build-up.
Characters: 7.5/10 – Some badly portrayed minor characters, but the main cast is solid for the next movies to use.
Production-Values: 8.5/10 – Excellent animation for the fight scenes. It’s a build-up movie, so it’s definitely saving the eye candy for later, but there is a lot for the eyes to admire.
Setting: 8.5/10 – They took the Code Geass setting and removed the ridiculous aspects. The result is quite interesting and it’s good to see this show take itself seriously this way.

21 Responses

  1. Litho says:

    Ooh, finally someone who dislikes Code Gay-Ass as much as I do!!

    How long is each ‘movie’? I’m not willing to commit more than 30 min for any ep of this trainwrecked franchise.

  2. psgels psgels says:

    Each movie is 50 minutes long.

  3. Aidanak47 says:

    “Code Gay-Ass”

    Oh that’s clever, did you come up with that all by yourself?

    Figured you wouldn’t like this Psgels. It’s just not your thing I think. I thought for a start it did really well. My issues with it are the use of CG. The CG looks fine but they really need to work on the movement. I always found that with anime CG. The movement of the models is jerky and unnatural.

  4. Hououin Kyouma says:

    Mhm, it seemed to me a lighter version of Code Geass dosed to numerous new characters … A little bit of C.C. and a pinch of Euphemia for Leila, a bit of Lelouch’s plans to change the world and Suzaku’s abilities for Akito, a bit of Schneizel’s aura and Toudo’s temperance for Lord Falneze…Well, at least the build-up was very down-to-earth and the OST was a buffet of sounds. However…it only made feel nostalgic for THE REAL BOSS that is Lelouch. I hope it will manage be able to stand on its own and be memorable as sth different from the original Code Geass.

  5. Marvel says:

    As someone who actually does like the original Code Geass despite acknowledging that it isn’t perfect, which means strongly disagreeing with your review even to this day because it seemed to be rather lazy and full of double standards in my opinion, at the very least I can say this OVA/movie was certainly a good way to provide a change of perspective and tone while still fitting within the same universe.

    The fact that like yourself I’m also a fan of Kazuki Akane helps, of course, so on that level we’re relatively closer to an agreement. I suppose that’s nice, in spite of everything else, since he really did a good job bringing his own personal touch to this production.

    The CGI worked very well most of the time and the music was different yet still somehow appropriate for the material as well as the action sequences. The traditional animation was a little uneven though, with some frames lacking in quality during certain moments. Finally, I would say the background art was also a highlight.

    On the other hand, I don’t have such a big issue with portraying many of the less important adults in a critical, negative or at least questionable light. Even Yoshiyuki Tomino, the creator of Mobile Suit Gundam, has long used a similar theme in his own works. In this case, I would say there are still a couple of adult characters on each side whoe are either shown or implied to be competent enough and might play a more significant role in the later chapters, so it’s not entirely valid as a generalization. Admittedly, a lot will depend on how they ultimately resolve the narrative.

    Overall, I would say this first episode does manage to present an effective alternate take on the Code Geass universe that could theoretically stand more or less on its own, at least for the time being, but I do believe those who liked the original series will also find interesting elements as well, particularly if they have an open mind and aren’t excessively fond of Lelouch, since he doesn’t need to be present in this situation. Other existing characters will show up, going by the obvious highlights of the preview, but in their case that makes sense.

    • Bjorn says:

      I think you’re being biased with both the reviews of CG and CG: Akito the Exiled. The review here is likely to be biased by the fact that the one who directed it is your favorite director, obviously it would automatically biased. “..And then it got announced that it would be directed by Kazuki Akane, my favorite director ever. Yeah, my opinion changed.” OH GREAT.

      You should’ve wrote for the good and bad sides of the anime rather focusing on its flaws. DAMN YOU.

  6. Reverse says:

    that city (during the highway fight) look somewhat similar to heat guy j

  7. over_seer says:

    Hopefully they can make something decent out of the rest of the OVAs, given this reasonably-okay setup. We’ll see.

    I’m not particularly a big fan of the Geass franchise, but I think that incompetent adults definitely fit into the narrative.

    *original series spoilers below I guess*

    A central theme throughout the series is a rejection of the old-world structure (that is controlled by large corporations and aristocrats, according to Lelouch in S2 ep1), corruption, and stagnation that the adults have developed and are handing over to the kids.

    Despite being an ambitious mastermind, Lelouch is ambivalent about future career plans, classes, and so on. Recall Lelouch’s purpose for the Black Knights and how his goals change in the second season, how the series ends. Think about how the different Knight of Rounds–the three with any characterization at least–and how they and their fortunes change as they switch allegiances and what they’re fighting for. The approach that succeeds in the end is to blow up the adults’ system, not reform it from within.

    The party in this first Akito OVA is a clear reminder about this power structure. Furthermore, we have adults imposing their authority on Leila.

  8. synkronized says:

    Holy crap psgels didn’t like Code Geass? Finally I meet a kindred spirit who thought a lot of the Code Geass hype was silly. Who found the Japanese are persecuted themes to be nauseating. Thank heaven someone else felt like they got beaten over the head with the themes.

    In any case I suppose I’ll check out this movie. It looks like it has potential.

    • Marvel says:

      The hype might have been silly, but the anti-hype was/is often just as bad. That’s one reason why I find it so hard to trade one for the other.

      If you don’t really like the idea of the Japanese being persecuted, period, be prepared or else I doubt you’ll enjoy this much. There is a change of setting, but the concept is still present and ties into the same basic theme.

      • synkronized says:

        Delivery is everything. One side can play the bad guys while the other side plays the victim. But how they approach things makes a big difference. Un-go and Eureka 7 Ao hit the mark. Japan in those series does not get portrayed as some innocent victim that now righteously smites its foes.

        I keep a similar standard for all nations though. I can’t stand patriotic gun wank bullshit from US media and likewise I can’t stand “We’re the victim” bullshit from Japan. You could say my tolerance for straw man portrayals of the evils in the world aggravates me because what happens is far more nuanced.

        I’ve found Code Geass to be a block buster that ends up being one of the worst perpetrators of that sort of flawed over simplified good/evil story telling.

        I’m loud about that problem with Code Geass because I like a lot of what it does and touches upon. But Code Geass is like strong Salt’n Vinegar potato chips. I love eating them but they leave my tongue raw and sore far too quickly.

        • Marvel says:

          Hey, you did originally say that the theme was what bothered you. But then again, I still happen to disagree with parts of your previous description and, just as well, I also think the show provided enough nuances in other areas.

          Pre-occupation Japan obviously isn’t the focus of Code Geass, both as a property and as a story, but the limited information available does indicate that most of the country’s past leadership wasn’t exactly good or innocent either. In fact, Lelouch/Zero himself more or less explicitly separates his efforts and discourse from a mere return to the past, so things are a bit more complicated than that. I won’t bother you with the details at this point though

    • Joaquin says:

      Ja bin gespannt auf 3 safftel hatte zwa gehofft das 3 safftel mit lulu wfcrd aber ist wohl nicht we4r aber mf6glich das er mal einen auftrit hat oder das die eltern von lulu wieder kommen den die sind ja net wirklich tot also gibt es viele mf6glichkeiten falls man kan nur hoffen das code geass 3 das gleiche niveau wie die vorge4nger besitzt

  9. Pax says:

    Some people (actually quite many) took Code Geass too seriously, either like psgels or like all of those who consider it a flawless masterpiece. For me it was one of the most fun experiences I had while watching anime, R2 is the only anime I ever watched as soon as a new episode was released, that says a lot about how addicting it was.

    Anyway, I hope this movies will be just as fun, ridiculous and over the top as the two previous seasons :)

    • Jack says:

      Yeah, it wasn’t a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, just a very good, sometimes very silly, thriller… but really addictive. This OVA feels very different, more serious and “grounded”, but I bet that it’ll be equally as good as the original.

  10. Puran says:

    I am…. Disappointed.

    Kazuki Akane needs to do something else.

    Here are the things that I enjoy in Akane’s works that are missing here:

    -Strong Characters (Escaflowne, Noein) – I uhhh, didn’t like any of the characters in this.
    -Awesome use of sound (Noein, Birdy the Mighty Decode) – I can’t stress this enough, Noein had some very original and amazing sound effects. Birdy too, but less. It’s completely absent here.
    -Cool fights (Noein, Birdy the Mighty Decode) – Ok, so the CG was good, but that’s not why Akane’s fights were good. There was something missing here.
    -Character Driven Plot (Escaflowne, Noein, Birdy the Mighty) – All his other series had a character driven plot and made me care about what happened to the characters. This one is way too focused on politics as of now.
    -Crazy Sci-Fi Elements (Escaflowne, Noein, Birdy the Mighty) – The settings of all those series were really, really, creative and had a ton of interesting ideas (bungee jumping through time is way too awesome), here the settings is like “Code Geass – Lite”.

    And also… One of the aspects of Code Geass that I actually enjoyed is how Lelouch was applying scientific methods to learn the limits of his power. Like how he did tests and timed the results and found exactly the limits of his power. It also helped define his power within a ruleset for the viewers. Here we have none of that.

    • Marvel says:

      You’re entitled to that opinion…but it’s clearly a very bad idea to decisively judge any of those aspects, such as characters and plot, from what was basically an introduction. The same thing goes for the other elements.

      Every project is different, especially in terms of format, but only time will tell. However, I personally found the characters, setting, fights and sounds to be at least more interesting than you did.

  11. onrop says:

    You guys are fools. Why are you going into so much detail about how these ova’s are supposed to be and what they are lacking from the original? These are OVA’s for godsakes.. There are FOUR episodes for them to make this series good. They wont have the time for the main characters to test out their skills and time to show everyone how he learns of his powers.

    This is a well done first OVA. Packed with action scenes and bringing in characters you would like from the start already. The fighting of the Knights are a lot better also with more cg and movements. The use of music was just incredible in this too. It fits the scenes. This is talking about Europe being on the brink of being taken over by Britannia so it should be more series. They cant really incorporate funny scenes in here and joke around while trying to fit everything in a 50 min OVA.

  12. Anna says:

    I am one of the few who didn’t like Code Geass either…it has such a high rating on myanimelist and I never understood it.

  13. banagherlinks says:

    There’s the issue of plagiarism, code geass will always be a sub genre anime. There I said it. Is there anything the code geass writer managed to come up with something original????

    Speaking of the ova, cg is okay. Though I would never compare it to the likes f gundam unicorn and evangelion 2.22 cause ot really staggers so bad.

    • Fer says:

      I disagree. I think the CG is as good or better than in those two movies. It doesn’t really stagger at all, but has more dynamic motion instead.

      It’s also weird to talk about “originality” when almost every shows has external influences. That’s not “plagiarism” and doing something different even with familiar elements, which Code Geass did, wouldn’t fall under that category either.

      More on the topic, Code Geass Akito 2 was pretty nice.

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  • Emma
    (Sunday, Dec 21. 2014 03:17 AM)
    @Aidan: …Jesus I read that wrong at first and read it as Liam Neeson…
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, Dec 21. 2014 02:09 AM)
    @swa, and hearing those lines voiced by Liam O’Brien would be a godsend.
  • swa
    (Sunday, Dec 21. 2014 01:24 AM)
    Even in slow paced intermezzo episodes and with just a couple of lines, still so GARcher.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Dec 20. 2014 10:25 PM)
    And really shinichi and Reiko’s growth as characters do make up for a lot.
    Your not wrong on the love triangles normalcy now that I think about it but I found those parts to be forgettable though not detrimental.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Dec 20. 2014 10:23 PM)
    Now granted its all still a very good series of course.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Dec 20. 2014 10:03 PM)
    @Emma: I don’t know, although the characters are flat the love triangle still seems to work here. That’s probably due to relatively normal way they interact with eachother which doesn’t have too many “senpai!” moments.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Dec 20. 2014 09:39 PM)
    *there
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Dec 20. 2014 09:39 PM)
    I think going through Parasyte again as an anime outside of the soundtrack I’m starting to realize that I wasn’t really into the characters beyond Reiko, Shinichi and Migi a whole lot. Beyond that I was mainly their for the violence.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Dec 20. 2014 09:18 PM)
    I don’t even know how they are going to get to where the PP movie poster suggests, as Akane is wearing a police-like uniform in that while her inspector status was reinstated by the end of the second season, so bunch of more contrived (and possibly inconsequential) events are sure to ensue.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Dec 20. 2014 09:14 PM)
    @Cap: this season’s characterizations were straight up appalling. From Ginoza to the police chief to the cartoonist breakouts of Togane and Kitazawa to every single factor regarding Shimotsuki were gravely mishandled.

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