One of the many highlights of life in recent times was my little vacation at Sakuracon 2019. Conventions are like a vast anime fantasy land where anyone can escape from the pressures of reality for a short amount of time. It only results in the return to regular life even harder then usual. Still, can’t help but love my experience there. One of my favorite things was being one of a couple thousand people counting Anime Boston that saw this movie in North America before anyone else. This is the part where I say I am glad that I write things that are usually scheduled two weeks in advance, because I needed to talk about this film to some one. I don’t feel like I ever lost the torch I carried for Code Geass because of all the things this franchise means to me, but this film definitely rekindled it regardless. It was a more then solid film. With all that said, time to talk about everything I saw in this film in more greater detail.
(Spoilers for those of you who haven’t seen the film. I know I scheduled this post to appear at least a week after it officially made its way into the American market, but that doesn’t mean that everyone has seen it yet on a world wide scale. That’s it, I’m done. Be prepared to be spoiled. Even if you guessed what was going to happen, you probably didn’t know how it was going to happen.)
One year after the fall of the Mad Emperor Lelouch, peace has widely been spread all across the world. Everyone is united under the organization called the United Federation of Nations. Well, most countries across the world. Not some parts of the middle east. When Nunnally and Zero (Suzaku) were on a peaceful mission in the middle east and captured by a mysterious knightmare frame from the nation of Zilkistan. Very relevant in this day and age, don’t you think? Probably a little too close, but there was talk about fighting in the middle east in the series so it’s a good call back. This small event that happened not only sets the movie into full motion with it’s sense of Code Geass styled battles and over the top shenanigins. I enjoyed Akito: The Exiled, but this is pure Code Geass shenanigins right here and I love it.
Before I move any further, yes Lelouch vi Britannia is alive and he is the focus of the film. Not in the way you would expect though. I feel like the writers of this series knew they couldn’t simply bring Lelouch back after the ending of season two. That ending had way too much impact to it. While I would prefer him staying dead, the way he brought back wasn’t like a bull in a china shop. In fact, I would hardly say that Lelouch is the same Lelouch that he was in the series for a lot of reasons. In the beginning of the film, Lelouch was traveling from location to location to stay outside of society with C.C. and he was barely a husk of a human being. He didn’t stay that way obviously, but that was such an interesting approach because it defied expectations or at least provide a build up. By the way, he did actually die at the end of the Zero Requiem. C.C. was the insistent woman who couldn’t live without him so she forced him to come back using C’s world. Until Kalen, Sayaka, Loyda, and Ciciel met up with the two randomly, they were completely out of the film and the story itself. Their meeting means the film gets into full gear to save Nunally (and maybe Suzaku).
The real arc of the story was between C.C. and Lelouch and everyone else were similar to window dressings really. Not that they weren’t a bad set of window dressings because Code Geass has a fantastic cast of characters, but they were rather flat in regards of developments and that’s fine. Lelouch’s growth was interesting. Yes, in the beginning of the film he was like a child that was afraid of everything. Even when Lelouch gained his brain power back again, he wasn’t the same because of he lacked his usual “never say die” way of thinking when he was stuck in a corner. Something C.C. called him out on. Combine with the fact he saw video clips on how his friends moved on without him and didn’t need him anymore, Lelouch didn’t feel like he belongs in the world anymore. That’s all I am going to say other then C.C. got her way. That’s it, I already spoiled enough as it is.
Ok yeah, I am being pretty mean to the other members of the cast when calling them window dressings. I will say that they don’t really grow in anyway because this is after the end of the second season. Other characters only appeared in a cameo “I am here, cheer” sort of way during the final battle and that’s fine too. If anything, the characters that were in the film since the beginning returned back to the way they were when Lelouch was in charge of strategy and tactics. Their growth since the end of the series was greatly diminished, which was something that Lelouch noticed as well. Part of the reason why Lelouch made the decision to never return to the world as he was. The band known as the Black Knights and Friends was brought together, but the last time with their leader named Lelouch/Zero and it was powerful and touching.
The villains from Zilkistan were pretty interesting themselves. I do think the side villains or mook level villains were way too rapey for my liking, but they got what was coming to them for messing with the Black Knights. Thank god. Younger Prince Chalio, Older Princess Chamna, and the Commander and Chief of the unbeatable Zilkistan were very interesting characters for the screen time they had. Chamna is incredibly sexy in that Code Geass way and carries the burden of the kingdom who also wants to use her Geass to give peace to humanity since it’s start. She plans on doing that by maximizing her Geass ability of traveling back in time six hours after her death and remembering everything that happened. So if you ever wanted to know where Zilkistan’s unbeatable reputation comes from, it’s Chamna. Her hope to use Nunally (for some reason) to go back in time further is very endearing and meaningful. Chalio himself is a cripple who wants to gain more power and fight for his older sister’s happiness and it’s just as meaningful and endearing as Chamna’s story. I can’t same much about the commander and chief though, but he was the third pillar that kept society stable. I really like them even if I wanted to see them lose.
Boy this was such a beautifully animated movie. The character models were still clamp designs and they had a lot of movement to them from a motion perspective with Lelouch’s weird hand gestures and poses to the facial animation on the characters themselves. There were also a number of well detailed settings that carry Code Geass’ personality with them. You know, with portals to C’s world and who knows what else. The mecha designs were just classic Code Geass Knightmare Frame designs with some different designs from Zilkistan to make it more interesting. Seeing the same Knightmare frames could be boring. Also, the classic Lancelot and Guren were stuck in huge mechanical armors. You know, until the reveal of the original suits so Kallen and Suzaku could fight at full strength and have a huge audience applause during them. So much of this film relies on the audiences cheering and laughing from a visual perspective and it really does hit all those notes. I’m so glad that Code Geass came back to us in this interesting way.
After the conclusion of the film, Director Taniguchi along with Producer Taniguchi and the lead animators of the character and mecha perspective continued their panel to answer some questions. The most important one being this was the film that was supposed to set up the Code Geass universe for the next ten years. When I heard that before the panel/showing in a separate one, I was completely uncertain about whether or not I wanted to continue watching what came from this franchise anymore. This film convinced to at least try what is going to come next. It’s obvious how this film was meant as a transition from the Code Geass world we know to something different and it sacrificed a lot of good character moments with the main cast in order to do that. Probably on purpose. Take what you will from that, but I enjoyed it. Maybe being one of the few thousand to see this film weeks before everyone else colored my opinion a bit but oh well.