Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Spotlight: Code Geass – Akito the Exiled

Unless you’re young enough to make me feel really old, you have probably heard of Code Geass. If you’re lucky, you got to rage at being forced to wait for a year to see the conclusion of the epic cliffhanger ending of the first season. 

We are not going to talk about that anime. Not today. 

This time it's all about Akito the Exiled!

Lelouch may be the main draw of the anime, but there is no denying the Code Geass universe has lots of potential for interesting stories. Akito the Exiled is proof of this.

The OVAs take place in Europe between the first and second season of Code Geass. Ever since Britannia kicked Japan’s ass, lots of Japanese fled to other countries, the EU among them. 

Sadly the EU is not exactly the safe haven they wished it to be. As it turns out when you get lots and lots of refugees people start to resent those refugees. Yep, even in Europe, Elevens are Elevens.

The main character, Akito, is part of a special team of Japanese only soldiers of the EU which handles missions too dangerous for anyone else. Suicide missions in other words. Meanwhile, after quelling the Black rebellion, Britannia readies itself to conquer its biggest foe.

Of course, since this is Code Geass, there are plenty of twists and turns along the way.

Before going over the many positives, let’s cover the negatives.

Akito the Exiled takes too long to get to the point. Five episodes are planned for this series. Of those, three have been released so far.

Episode one introduces our setting and characters. Sounds nice and good, but when this is a one hour episode with months between each release, it feels somewhat lacking. Then there's episode two which sets up some important plot points and deals with the team’s first mission, but wastes too much time in the teammate betrayal subplot. Again it feels like the time isn’t being used in the best way possible.

Episode three is the best of the lot. The group hijinks may feel superfluous but they were sorely needed with this group of characters. Furthermore, all the plot points are finally aligned in such a way you just know there are no more breaks in this train.

Middle one is crazy. Crazy.
Moving on to the characters, we have the mecha pilots. A group of three criminals who get “recruited” into Akito’s squad.

The first two episodes do little to endear the viewer to them. They are pretty much just criminals who were forced to join Akito’s squad and naturally they are not happy about it. They want to get away as soon as possible and aren’t exactly the most reliable guys around.

Mind, none of this is really wrong in itself. The problem is we waste time with this subplot. These three could have just as easily being part of the team from the beginning and nothing valuable could have been lost. As it is, we have to wait until episode three for them to fully integrate with the team.

Then there’s Akito himself.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s not a bad character. The problem is he’s almost a background presence. At times Leila feels more main character-y than him. It’s not a bad thing. Not exactly wrong, but it’s certainly weird.

It’s not like Akito is lacking in screentime or plot involvement, yet, as a character, Akito is almost too closed off to the point he doesn’t feel like much of a main character. There is something of a wall there.

But enough about that, let's go over the good stuff!

First of all the setting. Code Geass created an amazing world, but lacked the time to fully explore it. Akito takes advantage of this fact and shine light on the European Union.

In the anime, we knew the EU as the Republic opposing the Empire. A powerful force which was defeated nearly entirely off-screen. This time we get to meet the EU and it’s not exactly the happiest place on Earth. It’s never that simple.

The EU has problems like any other place. Corruptions exists. It has a rich oligarchy that plays the same role as the Britannian nobles when it comes down to it. There is racism against the Elevens who have fled to the EU fleeing Britannian oppression. There is a deeply dissatisfied middle class and an army which has started to wonder about the hand that feeds it.

Only downside is we don't get to see these bad boys in action.
Stupid Spotlight Stealing Alexanders.
Then of course, there are the robot battles.

They are awesome.

Seriously. The Knightmare Frame battles in Akito the Exiled are freaking amazing.

I cannot stress this enough, the mecha action is damn sweet. The battle against the Knight Order in episode 2 and just everything Lancelot does in episode three are visual treats.

Did I just say Lancelot?

Yes, yes I did. Suzaku is in this too and he kicks ass.

By the way, Suzaku is not the only Code Geass character who makes an appearance here.

Julius Kingsley rocks.

Oh, and the girls are hot.

It’s Code Geass so that kind of goes without saiying, but really. They are hot.


Told you. Hot.

All in all, Akito the Exiled has cool action, an interesting world, and epic battles. The only downside of the series is it will take some time until the two remaining OVA are released. However, it is well worth the watch.

If you are a fan of Code Geass, you must give it a try. If you aren’t but just like sweet mecha action, then please watch this. You won’t be disappointed. 

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