When it comes to all of the anime I’ve watched over the years, there are only a handful of titles that I consider to be all-round classics that everyone should watch, whether you’re a fan of anime or not. The Code Geass series is one of them. It contains everything that makes up an engaging and addicting story. It’s full of fantastic characters, an interesting alternate, yet real world setting, gripping conflicts, loss, and a plot that has you asking “what happens next?”. And ever since it ended back in 2008 I’ve wanted to dive back into it’s world and see what was next for these characters and have been waiting for the next big thing.
Yes we got the Akito the Exiled OVA series that released sporadically between 2012 and 2016 and while it was fine it wasn’t the Code Geass story I or many of the other fans wanted to see at the time. So when Sunrise announced back in 2016 that we would be getting a continuation of the ‘Lelouch’ story-line I was pretty excited. It wasn’t going to be presented as a third season but instead as a film. And now after seeing Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection I can say I was pretty impressed with it overall. It wasn’t perfect but it captured most of what made the Code Geass series special to me. Now can I recommend the movie for everyone? Absolutely not, and I’ll explain why further in this review. But fans of the series are likely going to have a pretty good time with it and should be excited for what it looks to be setting up.
Now I mentioned that Lelouch of the Re;surrection isn’t the third season, so what exactly is it might you ask? This film isn’t a continuation of the 2008 R2 anime series but is a continuation of the 3 recap movies Initiation, Transgression and Glorification which act as an alternate timeline retelling of the 2 core Code Geass seasons but with some plot tweaks, such as certain characters that died in the original being alive and well and continuing to have a role in this film. Think of it as an alternate retelling of the story on a ‘what if’ timeline.
This is where you should stop reading if you don’t want the ending of R2 spoiled or don’t want to know the high level plot of Re;surrection.
Re;surrection picks up 1 year after the events of the end of the Glorification film. Lelouch’s death has created a time of peace across the nations but during a goodwill visit to the land of Zilkhistan, Nunnally vi Britannia and her Knight Suzaku, who has now adopted the persona of Zero are abducted and taken hostage by Shamna and Shalio the Queen and King of Zilkhistan for reasons that become clear throughout the film.
Meanwhile C.C is on a quest to reunite the body of Lelouch, who is now a shell of his former self with his memories and personality which have been trapped in the C world. They cross paths with Kallen, Lloyd and Sayoko in Zilkhistan who are there to investigate the kidnapping of Nunnally and with the help of the Black Knights and Cornelia’s Britannian forces, Lelouch plots an all inclusive rescue mission to retrieve his sister.
Now if that plot description made no sense to you and you have no idea who the characters or alliances mentioned are then unfortunately you’re going to be just as lost while watching the film. Re;surrection makes no effort to bring you up to speed on the story so far, it jumps right into the plot of this film without wasting any time holding your hand. I really appreciated that it did this as there’s already the 3 recap films available. Although by doing so it has made it a film I can only recommend to existing Code Geass fans or people that have a grasp of it’s core story. If you haven’t seen the previous series or films this really isn’t a film for you. Fans have been waiting 11 years to see more Lelouch and this is very much what this film is. Fan-service.
As I mentioned in the opening of this review, I really enjoyed this movie, but I’m also a big fan of the series and was able to follow the plot and references to prior events that the movie continually mentioned. But one of my favourite things about the Code Geass series which was almost non-existent in this film were the light-hearted, slice-of-life moments. Re;surrection from pretty much start to end is one big, action-packed, Geass fuelled heist movie. I loved how the original series was able to juxtapose the intense battles and dark war scenes with the softer, more light-hearted moments where the cast would hang out and chat or attend school.
The one time in the film outside of the ending moments we get close to a laid back scene it’s actually prefaced by Lelouch saying something along the lines of “Make this quick, I need to get back to planning the mission”. Re;surrection sets up the mission fairly quickly and doesn’t stray too far to include scenes outside of that plot. This does keep the pacing of the film moving forward at a steady pace but does make me wonder what additional scenes and character moments we may have gotten if this was produced as an additional series rather than a 2 hour film.
Like most good heist movies though, when things get going and all of the people with their own sub-missions come together to do their part to achieve the overall goal it gets really entertaining. But as you think all is going well, the stakes then continue to be heightened thanks to the Groundhog Day ability of the prime antagonist.
One of the things that drew me to Code Geass all those years ago were it’s character designs. With their iconic sharp lines and detailed expressions. The team at CLAMP have yet again done a great job designing a heap of new original characters that get their debut in this film as well as made adjustments to existing characters to keep them interesting to the eye.
Just like the Akito the Exiled series used CG to help animate it’s Knightmare Frame mech battles and detailed supernatural scenes, Re;surrection too utilises CG technology to assist with animation but it’s implemented in a way that is much harder to spot. It doesn’t carry that 3D on a 2D scene look that the Akito Knightmare Frames did and blends with the traditional animation really well.
If you’re a Code Geass fan and are happy to follow along with a plot that treats the events of the recap films as the new canon then you’re likely going to enjoy Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection. It’s not the full season long return many of us were hoping for but just seeing Lelouch and the gang back for another high stakes mission was great to see for now. Code Geass series producer Kojiro Taniguchi has revealed there is a 10 year plan for new Code Geass content and if you stick around after the credits of Re;surrection you’ll see a tease for where the next series or film may take us.
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