First Look: Code Geass Akito the Exiled Episode 1: The Wyvern has Landed (and Preview Video for Episode 2!)
Come July 2013, the second episode of the Code Geass: Akito the Exiled OVA will be shown in Japanese theaters. The second out of four OVA episodes of Akito the Exiled was supposed to be shown this spring, but delays have pushed the release to summer. Being a fan of the original Code Geass, Akito the Exiled immediately piqued my interest the moment I found out about it.
Whenever someone asks for my recommendations on what anime can properly “indoctrinate” someone into the world of Japanese animation, I almost always include Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion and Code Geass: R2. From the character designs care of CLAMP to the typical anime elements like the mecha, Code Geass does a pretty good job of delivering a complete anime experience – even the melodramatic, often theatrical lines that border on cheesy and the intense emotions that send the characters into a spiral of inner conflict while being in constant external struggles as well. The original series run had two seasons and 26 episodes each to do all that. However, Akito the Exiled is scheduled for just four hour-long episodes. Can it accomplish as much as the original series?
The timeline of Akito the Exiled occurs between the events of Lelouch of the Rebellion and R2, where a special division of the EU military tries a near suicidal rescue mission of friendly forces behind enemy lines by using Japanese (or Eleven) troops piloting unique Knightmare frames. The protagonist duo, mirroring the CC and Lelouch combo, consists of the gifted EU tactical commander Leila Malkal and the exceptionally skilled Knightmare pilot Akito Hyuuga. The first episode explored the facets of Akito’s battle prowess (think Heero Yuy from Gundam Wing), the personality, tactical proficiency, and backstory of Leila Malkal (a humanitarian Britannian royalty orphaned at a young age and adopted by EU officials), and the unlikely relationship between the two. The episode also introduced more Japanese / Eleven characters with a penchant for chaos, who Leila immediately recruited to her special forces after she and Akito thwarted their attempt to kidnap a high ranking army official. Unorthodox, she is.
The eponymous character Akito might have either a Geass or a Geass curse like Suzaku, a Heero Yuy mentality in combat, and he also seems to have some sense of camaraderie – but other than that he’s largely a mystery. Aside from a lack of main character backstory in the first episode (and it’s just four episodes), I perceive a few other factors working against the theatrical OVA. The good news is that the designs have stayed true to CLAMP’s original vision and the animation and direction is handled by Kazuki Akane of Vision of Escaflowne and Noein fame (among others), so we can rest easy that everything will be pretty darn awesome in that respect. A bit of CGI helps enhance the mecha sequences that blends easily with the more traditional animation and the production values are more than OVA-worthy. In the second episode preview, however, a few key characters from the original series were shown to make an appearance. This caused me to question (or at least doubt) the integrity of the four-episode theatrical OVA as a standalone miniseries. With just four hours of animation, can it tell a meaningful story that spans as much breadth as the original? Can it delve deep down into the mysteries of Akito, whose characterization is – at least in my eyes – already limited by the stereotypical, destruction-crazed, prodigy? Can it match the original series’ callous disregard for life, so nonchalantly killing off characters that have grown and become major players in the storyline which their death inevitably makes more intricate and complex (think George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, just a bit)?
On the other hand, exploring the EU’s role in the war against the superpower Britannia is an intriguing prospect, and it would be nice to see some of the events that occurred after Lelouch lost his memories and before CC brought him back. Leila Malkal’s character is likewise quite interesting. She’s a mixture of CC’s ice cold composure that shows some cracks when it comes to her adoptive family, and a commanding presence matched with notable tactical and strategic aptitude.
While I have no qualms about the OVA miniseries being entirely dependent on the original run, it would be nice to see it able to stand on its own, only relying on the backstory of Britannia’s invasion of Japan and eventual move towards world domination (or obliteration, if Charles had his way). [by G Dino]