Posts Tagged ‘yukana’
‘‘Code Geass’’ continues its amazing trend forward as it turns the story towards more serious notes.
Over the next eight episodes of ‘‘Code Geass’’, the story will take many different twists both literally and emotionally. Lelouch is gaining even more support from the various resistance forces around Japan. Every episode he and the Black Knights continue to launch more and more daring plans to get to his own ends. He’ll do many things that he never expected such as attempt to kidnap Cornelia but is always thwarted by the white Knightmare. Members of the Britannia Empire are getting wise to him however and in an odd twist, will cause the relationship between Shirley and Lelouch to change forever.
In the second half of these episodes, the story will take even more drastic turn towards the serious. With the relationships that he shares with his friends changing, Lelouch will be forced to deal with some very harsh realities that he has created for himself. He has killed many people in the battles he’s fought and for the first time he will truly live with the consequences. Meanwhile, a new villain will enter the scene as someone from C.C.’s past will come back to haunt her and Lelouch.
Good and the Bad
The characters in ‘Code Geass’ are continuing to take shape in ways that no one could have seen coming. Lelouch continues to be developed and carefully sculpted into such an amazing case study of obsession. What is even more amazing about this however is how easily the audience can buy into this character and see him as nothing short of believable. All throughout this volume there are so many examples of writing that absolutely borders on cheesy and overdone. As much as some fans would like to believe otherwise, not every single word out of Lelouch is golden especially during his pep speeches. Because the character is so charismatic though, it’s easy to let that slide and just enjoy the character’s growth.
It’s not just the characters but the relationships that get to see so much growth as well. Since the start, the series has very steadily pushed the relationships between the main characters. In this set, Lelouch and C.C. and Suzaku and Euphy are going to get some amazing time to become closer. The first relationship has always been a little bit harder to push with the audience. The two have always been nothing more than partners in crime so far. In these episodes, the two are really forced to band together in various ways. It’s really interesting watching how coldly these two act around each other and yet know that there is something more waiting to be brought out.
The relationship between Suzaku and Euphy is the much easier of the two to get behind as an audience member. Pairing the two idealistic characters together, ‘Code Geass’ has done another good job progressing this relationship at a gentle pace. It’s never felt like there has been a huge rush to pair these two just to give the audience something to attach to. Instead the two characters have been kept separate for most of the series except for little instances. The inner cynic in me wants to think that these two are in for a tragic ending but there’s still a little hope in me that both couples will get to see a good ending.
The last relationship that gets pushed to its limit in these episodes is the one between Lelouch and Shirley. For the last few episodes, ‘Code Geass’ has hinted towards this relationship and it was a fun twist to see them use it as a plot device instead of leaving it as a source of background comedy. The relationship works so well here though because Shirley is still very fresh for the audience. While she’s always been a part of the series, she’s never really been a part of the story. By bringing her to the forefront, ‘Code Geass’ instantly has a new heroine for the audience to attach to for a little while.
The time that these two will spend together really brings the maturity level of the series up a few notches (though a certain night time scene with a female character earlier in the volume does a pretty good job of that itself). ‘Code Geass’ has always dealt with themes that were a little more mature, but it’s nice to see the staff attempt to deal with some of Lelouch’s problems through a new relationship rather than another battle.
The music in these episodes do not disappoint. All throughout these episodes are wonderful examples of music composed by Hitomi Kuroishi and Kotaro Nakagawa. While not every single piece of music will play well out of context, the music almost always does its job for the scene. A great example of this is in episode ten when C.C. and Lelouch are having an argument. To listen to the dialogue, it’d be easy to take these words seriously. The music in this scene really plays the words down. It acts as a very subtle way to keep the audience in a light hearted frame of mind and remember that they are just having a spat.
Insert songs play a big part in these episodes as well which. Episodes thirteen and fourteen both have very strong sounds to them that really capture the emotion of the scene. At the end of episode fourteen, the scene between Lelouch and Shirley is made so much more powerful because of the incredibly soft ballad playing the background. It is hard not to watch this scene play out and not be touched by the genuine feeling that is radiating from these characters helped along by the perfect mood music.
Dub vs. Sub
Stepping forward from the background, Amy Kincaid really shines as Shirley late in these episodes. Having to go through many emotions, Kincaid really delivers a moving performance that stands out from the rest. Kate Higgins continues to be an incredibly entertaining as C.C. Always charming but appropriately distant and mysterious.
The first set of extras included on these two discs is three more picture dramas telling three additional side stories. On disc three, the first picture drama features Lelouch and Nunnally having dinner together as Nunnally shares what she believes to be the relationship C.C. and her brother. The second picture drama takes a more serious turn though as Jeremiah and Villetta share a private moment before Suzaku’s execution. Before finally on disc four, the picture dramas return to their comedic routes with the students and royalty all attending the opening of a new public pool in appropriate swimwear.
While the serious drama is entertaining, the comedy picture dramas are very funny. While ‘Code Geass’ has never been afraid of going for the laugh, these picture dramas continue to be a great way for the staff to go much bluer with their comedy. Sex jokes and fan service aside, these are going to be entertaining for quite a few reviews.
Also included on these volumes are commentaries for episodes 11 and 14. On the first commentary Jun Fukuyama (Lelouch), Yukana (C.C.), Yuriko Chiba (Character Designer), Eiji Nakada (Knightmare designer and Mech Animation Director) and Kazuya Murata (Associate Director) share their thoughts on the episode. It’s cool enough that there are so many different cast and crew members that are in there but some really interesting questions get asked along the way. The same can be said for the episode fourteen commentary track though which has Jun Fukuyama, Goro Taniguchi (Director), Seiichi Nakatani (Animation Director) and Funiko Orikaka (Shirley).
For the first two thirds of the series, ‘Code Geass’ has always walked a thin line. Ever since episode one I’ve kept trying to guess where the story is going to go next and every time I’ve been dead wrong. Always twisting and pushing the boundaries, ‘Code Geass’ is an action series that anyone can get into. If you haven’t started watching it yet, you’re running out of reasons not to.
‘Code Geass’ is an amazing political drama that earns its reputation within the first three episodes.
In this political drama, the world is seen through an entirely new vision. In this future, England has taken over the world as the only superpower remaining. With the use of superior military technology and mechs called ‘Knightmares’, Britannia has slowly taken over the world one country at a time. In the case of Japan, Britannia rules over them as ‘Area 11’ and has given them the name ‘elevens’. Ruled by an iron fist, the Britannians treat all as scum and regulate them to ghettos as trash.
The hero of this series is a student named Lelouch who is given an incredible power. While heading home from school one day he accidently finds himself caught up in a battle between terrorists who wish to liberate Japan from the rule of Britannia. After meeting and saving a mysterious girl, Lelouch is given the power of ‘geass’ which allows him to command anyone to do anything with very few restrictions. Using this new power, Lelouch joins in the rebellion and leads them as the mysterious Zero while searching for the answers to his own troubled past.
Leading the double life will not be easy however. Not only does he have to hide the secret from his fellow student council members but also his little sister, Nunnally. Making things more complicated along the way is the reunion with his former best friend who has gone on to become an honorary Brittanian. This will cause two best friends who want to see the same results have to fight each other as they go about their goals in completely different ways.
Good and the Bad
When I first started this series, I knew of its reputation but nothing of the series itself. Having now gotten nine episodes in, it’s hard for me to even see why I waited so long. So many things within ‘Code Geass’ reach the audience in new and innovative ways. Using the British as the primary villains is one of the more unique choices of the series. When first getting into this series, I was stunned by how ruthless and evil the British were being portrayed. I even talked to a couple of British friends and described what was happening; their reply every time was something along the lines of ‘Yeah, sounds about right.’
From the start of this set to the end, this series does absolutely amazing things with its story, characters, storytelling and presentation. What the series does with the British to create villains that you love to hate instantly, ‘Code Geass’ does equally well with its heroes. Lelouch is one of the best heroes within recent anime history. Completely driven by his past and search for answers, Lelouch is another example of the ideal driven anti-hero. While admittedly what he is doing is for the better of his country, the reasons revealed so far as to why he is doing the things he does makes him a perfect anti-hero who uses his team members to achieve his own goals.
Balancing this however is the equally idealistic best friend character, Suzaku. A Japanese character who works for the Britannians, Suzaku is almost the exact opposite of Lelouch and yet still wants the same things. While Lelouch is attempting to free Japan and get the answers to his past through force, Suzaku is interested in seeing the two nations co-exist while still freeing the Japanese from military rule. Both characters are presented in such strong ways that it’s impossible to hate either one of them. Only a third of the way through the series, it’s already obvious that when these two are put against each other the emotional output is going to be tremendous. How can someone not already be looking forward to that?
A series with good characters is always a good thing, however without an equally strong story for those characters to tell a series will stall and go nowhere before it can even get started. Moving in a very linear fashion, it’s easy to see how ‘Code Geass’ might fall into that trap early on. By the end of the first episode however, all of those fears will be tossed aside as the political intrigue of the series grows by leaps and bounds within every scene.
Always moving in a very methodical and slow pace, ‘Code Geass’ seems to pride itself on its ability to tell a story that is beyond the simple flash of explosions and mindless battles. From the very beginning, Lelouch establishes himself as a character with a brilliant mind for strategy within the very first battle. While I am not usually one to get into large scale battles (especially early on within a series), the first battle had me applauding (literally). Even with this early set up though, predictable is not a word that anyone would ever use to describe this series.
Getting away from the battle scenes, ‘Code Geass’ does another impressive job with the constantly changing pace and settings of the series. After establishing the intense action early on, ‘Code Geass’ impresses audiences once more by finding a way to smoothly transition back into Lelouch’s regular high school life. Early on it’s easy to admit that these transitions aren’t completely smooth. Moving from intense battles to quiet, everyday high school life never is after all. After a few of these transitions and having a chance to get to know the supporting cast, these transitions become much easier and even enjoyable.
That is the one place where ‘Code Geass’ seems to suffer the most however; the supporting cast. With at least a dozen various supporting characters from both the high school and the upper ranks of the Brittanian royalty, the series does very little to develop them as the episodes continue on. While broad character traits are established throughout (i.e. Milly the perverted student council president), there are so many others who never get the opportunity nor do they ever get a chance to have their finer details talked about. C.C. is easily the best example of this as the source of Lelouch’s ‘geass’ power.
Despite her being introduced into the series very early on, there is still very little known about her by the time this set ends. Who is she really? Where does she come from? Why did she have the power of ‘geass’ to begin with? All of these are perfectly viable questions that will come up repeatedly with audience members with not even a hint of answers to be found. Of course the natural assumption is that late in the series she’s going to get her big reveal that answers all of the questions but with how little screen time she even gets within these first episodes I have to question the lack of any sort of information on someone that seems to be a vital character.
‘Code Geass’ remains a very pretty series to look at however. While the general animation remains steady throughout, it’s hard not to be impressed by some of the brief moments that the staff uses to show off. When Lelouch is given the power of ‘geass’ and whenever he uses it remains a very awesome use of CG. The representation of someone’s brain being rewired is just very well done and even somehow makes the power that much more believable. What did surprise me about this series however the very liberal bloodshed throughout is. While the series being a political drama should have probably tipped me off, the first couple of mass suicides and war scenes within this series completely caught me off guard. Those who can’t handle animated bloodshed or brains being blown out are going to miss out on a lot within this series.
The music and audio in this series always comes across very strong. During the actual episodes, the series has a consistently strong sound in the background keeping the mood intense. While occasionally lightening for a piano theme, the battle themes are where ‘Code Geass’ really makes the music stand out. The opening and ending themes for these episodes (performed by FLOW and Ali Project respectively) are very fitting for the series. The sound of the opening theme isn’t the most unique however leaving a tone that reminded me of other themes from series like ‘Bleach’ or ‘Eureka Seven’ but it’s still a very enjoyable rock tune.
Dub vs. Sub
Both casts were remarkably well done. Jun Fukuyama (LeLouch), Takahiro Sakurai (Suzaku) and Ami Koshimizu (Kallen) always sounded great in the lead roles. The interplay between them was always solid and created a huge amount of drama that could never be recreated. The dub cast does their job but their performances always sounded a bit more flat than their Japanese counterparts. Johnny Yong Bosch sounds good as Lelouch but I never felt as pulled into the role as I did when I watched the original Japanese.
Each disc of ‘Code Geass’ is going to please fans that enjoy lots of extras with their anime. Included within this first set are audio commentaries for episodes 1, 4, 5 and 8, two picture dramas and clean animations. In the audio commentaries, audience members will get to hear from cast and crew members including Jun Fukuyama (Lelouch), Yukana (C.C.), Director Goro Taniguchi, screenwriter Ichiro Ohkouchi, Ami Koshimizu (Kallen), Ken Narita (Jeremiah) and others. The commentaries are never filled with particularly deep conversation between the cast and crew but are always good for some interesting insights into the creative process.
In the three picture dramas, audiences will be treated to short (as in none of them are over five minutes long) drama pieces that are placed over static images of the characters. The stories are never really part of the overall story canon but always reveal some interesting bits from the characters back stories. A nice touch to these though is that they are also dubbed into English for fans. While all three are interesting to listen to, I have to admit that the fan service filled second drama is the most entertaining.
Within these first nine episodes, ‘Code Geass’ has already earned its positive reputation. The characters, story and storytelling are all absolutely gripping and make me want to see more almost right away. If you are looking for a great political drama, this is the one to pick up.
Alright… you’re confused, tired, angsty, etc… we get it already!
Adjustments and realizations are being made all around in the first episode. Some of the girls are having more trouble than others at adjusting to living on the Messis. Alty is having trouble coping with the blood on her hands after the battle and her older sister Kaim is upset about being paired with her sister instead of Paraietta causing issues with their flying. It’s not until a hidden Shoukoku air base is discovered that the source of tension between the two sisters is truly revealed though.
Feelings between Aer and Neviril are also starting to form but after a major verbal slip by Aer, those feelings may be grounded before they even get a chance. Still, the two are forced together again to do a search for the hidden air base while Dominura finally decides that the mysteries of the Simoun must be discovered once and for all before it’s too late and their country is lost to the war. What she discovers though may stay with her for a very long time though as Massis is attacked by the Shoukoku and only four sibyllae to fight them off using the same Emerald Ri Majon that has killed many sibyllae in the past, including Neviril’s former pair.
Good and the Bad
With five episodes, the story spends the first three episodes almost entirely away from the primary war that is being waged and the roles that the sibyllae are playing within it. Aboard the Messis, the series decides to spend most of this time on developing relationships between the various sibyllae.
So many new relationships are being developed between characters that it’s almost hard to keep track of it all. What bothers me the most about this though is that besides Aer and Neviril, none of the characters have been overly developed thus far and that makes it really hard to get into the drama that these new relationships are creating. This creates very slow viewing and while the pacing of the first two episodes manages to get by with little discomfort on the audience’s end, the third episode is where things take a drastic nosedive.
The third episode absolutely kills the pacing of the volume and I actually found myself having to take multiple breaks throughout the episode in order to refresh my mind and keep myself focused on the series. The primary reason for this is actually because the staff uses this episode as a segue of sorts. While part of the episode is spent on developing the character relationships some more, some of the episode is also used to ease the audience back into the primary story with Dominura taking steps to find out the truth behind the Simouns. The issue here is that besides those two events taking place, there is a lot of dead space that is very poorly filled leaving a huge vacuum that the audience is certainly going to notice.
The soft Parisian accordion theme continues to be played at the oddest moments such as when the drama is climbing and yet seconds later during a softer scene, such as when Aer and Neviril are talking on the flight deck, a beautiful and well placed piano theme plays and highlights the mood perfectly. This is an odd inconsistency that has plagued this series since the beginning and one can only hope that now that the series has reached the halfway point, the staff will finally figure out the musical direction that they are seeking to keep the drama and tension at its proper levels.
Dub vs. Sub
The cast in this volume does their very best to keep the audience interested in the story but with so many scenes that struck me as mostly time filler, there is little they can do. The pivotal scenes however were well done as with previous episodes and the final scene with Yukana (Dominura) and Mamiko Noto (Rimone) came across really well.
There are two extras included on this volume for fans to enjoy. The first is a staff commentary piece which is labeled as part three. In the 15 minute clip, the director and character designer sit down to view the dreaded third episode of the volume to give their thoughts and insights about the series and characters. The commentary is interesting to listen to for no other reason than its fun to listen to the two of them talk about their favorite characters and joke around with each other.
The second is a cast interview. In this seven minute feature (which once again takes on a very over the top and fun presentation almost exactly like what we saw on the previous volume), Mamiko Noto (Rimone) and Yukana (Dominura) get to talk about their characters, get quizzed on general Simoun knowledge and more. While you won’t gain a whole lot of insight from this feature about the series, I still found it to be a really fun piece to watch.
Moving away from the story in order to develop new relationships between the characters was a bold move that does not pay off this time. Having spent so little time developing the supporting cast in earlier episodes, these episodes play out as drawn out and boring and by the time they get back to the primary story, it’s hard to really care. Being that we’re only at the halfway point though and this volume ends on a note that I certainly didn’t see coming, I’m willing to bet that this series will make a nice comeback and find a way to regain its momentum for the second half. This one though we’ll chalk up as a tragic misstep.
Final Grade: C-