Date: 2018 March 19 21:47
Posted by Guest Contributor
Thanks to the good folks from Anime Limited Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion I - Initiation hits UK Cinemas on Wednesday 21st March 2018 for a special screening. You want to know is it any good? Well we sent Nes Long occasional Otaku News contributor and Lelouch cosplayer to find out.
Back in 2006 a new series was released by Sunrise that had it all - politics and power struggles, intelligently written and complex characters, a storyline so fantastical yet so familiar, an assortment of fabulous outfits. Oh, and mecha. As an anime fan the series has really stuck with me over the years and I often find myself returning to it as a real beacon of great anime. On a personal level, the main character Lelouch is one of my absolute favourites across media, and as a cosplayer his Zero attire was my first ever sewing project!
The past year or so has already been fantastic for Code Geass. Not only have we been teased a third season of the anime, but a three part film adaptation of the series - the idea of anime in general, but particularly something like Code Geass, on the big screen is always pretty exciting. This is something I went into with high expectations - can they sufficiently portray everything that happened in the series into what's unlikely to be more than eight hours of content, will there be any extras or hints as to the events of the alleged third season, and how will this all feel pacing-wise? I often find that adaptations across media (from game to anime, from anime to film, etc.,) get somewhat confused either trying to cram everything in or moving away from important elements in the plot. I also often think that some adaptations play more to those who are already invested in a series, rather than trying to make it accessible to new fans too. In this scenario, I needn't have been concerned, however.
The first thing I notice is that graphically there hasn't been a huge upgrade to what I remember - this isn't exactly a problem. The series was already visually stunning, thanks in part to the beautiful character designs, courtesy of manga artist group CLAMP; and it looks polished and professional - getting us immediately into the scenario surrounding the titular character's exile. It's a good way of quickly conveying the events leading up to the series, and a chance to add a couple of bits that serve to give us a little more context going in.
Geass has always done an excellent job of showing the corruption of the system it conveys: the propaganda attempts, the lies told to protect a frail pretence to keep people under control, to maintain a peace that can never be realised or maintained through force, and the film is no exception. It follows faithfully the plot of the series, without compromising pivotal scenes or rushing through.
The first film is a romp through our main character learning the difference between combat on the board and real-life tactics, whilst learning to navigate his new power and continuing his facade of 'ordinary high school student'. School scenes are initially a welcome relief to the heavy nature of what's occurring, but soon the lines between begin to blur - mirroring the characters' own challenges when presenting different facades, and navigating the ties that bind them to different people, different circumstances - areas where they seldom see eye to eye. The concept of morality is a constant theme, and calls for us as viewers to question what we are seeing - particularly given the status of our protagonist as walking the fine line between hero and villain. Obviously given its length, the film is unable to cover the entire first series but what it does cover doesn't ever feel rushed or confusing, nor does the pacing suffer from the series' conversion to a film format. Elements such as the reactions of normal people to what occurs within the series, so important because they show more than the juxtaposition of what the main characters believe and fight towards, aren't omitted. These are areas I feared might be further cut back in order to streamline the plot somewhat, but have mercifully been retained in order to show the backdrop of humanity not doing anything spectacular, just trying to survive.
Seasoned fans shouldn't expect much new from this film. It's very much the plot of the first series with a couple of nice extras thrown in. That said, if you love the series, it's an excellent way to watch it again, and if you're new to Code Geass it's both faithful to the original series and instantly accessible. I confess it's been some time since I last watched it, but I found myself falling in love with it all over again. Honestly, that's what a good series should be able to do - and the fact that Code Geass still has the power to do that is testament to how well it's stood the test of time and how important the themes presented remain.
Cosplay photo credit - Eidolon Photographic and Nes Proxy Cosplay.
To find a screening near you visit http://codegeassfilm.co.uk/