CODE GEASS: Boukoku no Akito – 01
「翼竜は舞い降りた」 (Yokuryuu wa Maiorita)
“The Wyvern Arrives”
First of all, I want to apologise for the lateness of this post – I was not originally the person who was going to be writing it and only found out otherwise late last night.
I have to be honest, it was hard to be hyped for Boukoku no Akito. We see it a lot, anime being produced in an attempt to cash in off the success of an extremely popular franchise and failing to live up to the standards set by its predecessor (e.g. Last Exile -Ginyoku no Fam- and Eureka Seven AO, just to name a few more recent ones). It certainly didn’t help that beyond being produced by Sunrise, the team behind it is almost entirely different to those who handled the original two series, and when we take into account the almost complete irrelevance of the other Code Geass spinoff, Shikkoku no Renya, it was hard to feel particularly positive about this at all.
Yet somehow, seeing that the first OVA was finally available for viewing sparked a little excitement in me and I had to drop everything to watch it. It is Geass after all, and I’ve yet to allow anything related to the franchise to pass me by. I was pleasantly surprised; it was nowhere near as bad as I was expecting it to be. Perhaps this goes to show that one should always keep their expectations low! Nah, I’m just kidding. But moving on…
Code Geass has always had an oddly interesting alternative history, most of which was glossed over in the original series and only expanded on in bits and pieces scattered through various supplementary materials. Boukoku no Akito is yet another chance to subtly insert various bits of information, this time with more focus on the EU, hitherto mostly left alone. We follow Layla Malkal (Sakamoto Maaya), a European sympathiser of the Eleven’s cause, and Hyuuga Akito (Irino Miyu), a crazy Eleven under the influence of a geass, as they fight on the European front during the period between Code Geass and Code Geass R2. Yes, that period, where Lelouch is happily going about his life with false memories, C.C. and Kallen are off in hiding, Suzaku is murdering everyone along the European front (this is important), and the Black Knights are in complete disarray after being abandoned by their leader in the middle of the final battle. Oh, there will be spoilers in this post. You knew that though right?
Anger and insanity have always formed a central part of Code Geass’ premise. The Black Knights are angry at losing their country, Lelouch wants revenge on his tyrannical father, and everyone else is angry about something. On the psychopathic front we have… well almost everyone has their moment in the original series: we have Lelouch and Suzaku with their constant raging love affair; Rolo, Nina and Mao who were downright yandere; and even Shirley had her moments fumbling with a gun. Angry people, crazy people, and angry crazy people; these are the central gears that drive the Code Geass universe. Boukoku no Akito is certainly no exception to this. Once again, almost everyone is angry or crazy or a combination of both. Akito himself has that beautiful psycho grin which goes hand-in-hand with his apparent battle-lust, and the terrorist trio, Sayama Ryo (Hino Satoshi), Kousaka Ayano (Hikasa Youko), and Naruse Yukiya (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu), clearly share both traits with their love for explosives and general railing.
But perhaps the biggest reason why Boukoku no Akito still feels like Code Geass is because it hasn’t lost its fabulous flair. While it may not be quite up to par with the original series (completely impossible without the presence of Lelouch and Zero), it still has those moments of flamboyant stupidity and absurdity that manage to inspire awe. The flip side is that neither has it put aside the entire world’s inexplicable and seemingly arbitrary loathing of ‘those filthy Eleven scum.’ But that’s just one of those Code Geass things you have to let slide. It goes hand in hand with the fact that all Elevens are visually distinct from everyone else – it’s always really easy to tell exactly which of the characters are the underdog Japanese we’re meant to be rooting for. This makes it even stranger when people apparently can’t tell them apart in-world, an example being the truck driver who had no idea Akito was filthy Eleven scum until he looked at the ID. Maybe he mistook him for any other Asian which is apparently perfectly fine because we only hate Elevens!
Let’s talk for a moment about the battle scenes. Akito’s feat of Suzaku-style superhuman ability was certainly a huge highlight for me. Taking down a Knightmare on foot by hitting it with a grappling hook and shooting it repeatedly in the groin with a grenade launcher? Now that’s pretty damn badass! On top of this, contrary to my initial expectations, the CGI was actually fairly well executed and allowed for detailed depictions of every motion which would certainly be much harder to do with traditional animation. I’m still not entirely certain how to react to Akito’s transforming-walking-spider-feminine Knightmare. I can only assume that its design has some immense flaw which will be revealed later on as the reason why nothing remotely similar appears in Code Geass R2 and all Knightmares continue rolling around on skates. Or maybe they accidentally blew them all up with self-destruct mechanisms. Only in Code Geass would it be considered normal practice to self-destruct what appears to be a superior model of Knightmare. While I enjoyed watching most of the combat, the complete lack of slash harken use was disappointing and the free-form jazz was atrocious. I understand exactly why they chose to go in that direction – the chaotic discord of the music not only goes well with the chaos of the battlefield, but also reflects Akito’s seeming descent into madness every time his geass activates in battle. However, that does not make it any less horrible on the ears.
Just as any Code Geass is wont to do, Boukoku no Akito leaves us with a lot of food for thought. As I mentioned earlier, we’re aware that Suzaku gained his title ‘White Grim Reaper’ from the mass slaughter he committed across the European front. With that in mind, it’s quite easy to imagine what the fate of most of this OVA’s characters is likely to be. We also have Xin (Matsukaze Masaya), whose family name heavily implies that he may well be a half-brother to Akito. There’s always been an unstated assumption that every geass is unique, so there’s still much room for speculation on exactly what power his might possess, but it seems very likely that he was the one to have placed a geass on Akito. We can also wonder whether or not Akito’s supposed ability to see the dead will actually be a real element as opposed to a delusion, and whether the commander Layla quickly deposed will resurface as an antagonist. Last, but certainly not least, will C.C. actually appear on the European front? Logically, she shouldn’t since she’s meant to be working undercover with Kallen right about now, but it’s hard to predict cameos. At the very least she will appear in the next episode, but based on the images we see during the ED sequence, that will most likely take the form of a flashback.
tl;dr: @MoombaDS – Better than expected, but that’s what shooting a Knightmare in the groin with a grenade launcher will do! #Akito
- I really like the ED, both the song itself and the pictures, each of which tells a story of its own. I imagine there are people who disapprove of trying to fit details into still images rather than actually coming out and telling us the back stories, but for some reason, I’ve always liked it.
- The music was good for the most part. However, it wasn’t Code Geass and that bothers me a little. One of the best things I remember and loved about Code Geass was its frequently distinctive music, particularly the vocal stuff by Kuroishi Hitomi.
- Seems legit.
- Smilas’ (Ishizuka Unsho) beard irritates me. It looks so fake!
- If you look closely at some of the official documents, they reveal that the EU uses a different calendar to Britannia. Apparently the year is 228. Given that it’s currently 2017 a.t.b. in Britannia, and assuming they used the same calendar before, that would make the year they switched 1789. What happened in 1789? The French Revolution began! Coincidence?
*Huge thanks to Mochi for providing the caps and making an absurd number of full-lengths!
ED: 「モアザンワーズ」 (More Than Words) by 坂本真綾 (Sakamoto Maaya)
Watch the ED!: Streaming ▼