The stage light shines once again. The actors appear before us. The production is now set. After the disastrous second installment, here cometh the members of the final act, with the entire world as their stage!
I’m sure many of us were worried, both after the announcement of these movies and after the performance of the second installment. As someone familiar with how rocky the material was later on into the series, I was petrified. However, they made a miracle happen. Here’s how.
With only eight episodes to adapt, the pacing of this film is arguably the best of the trilogy. No more drawn out four-act structures
or movies that feel like two films crammed into one. This means there’s arguably even more time for new scenes and other alterations to take place, both subtle and blatant. As expected, nearly all of them work perfectly. Certain tertiary characters got more screen time than in the series proper, and the student council side characters had some wonderful new scenes to make them more relevant this time around. Adding onto this is that nearly every major payoff in the third arc still hits its mark, arguably even more so than before due to some of these changes. This includes the finale, which they somehow made even better than before with alterations in the epilogue that make more sense than what was presented originally.
On the audiovisual side of things, the new footage was as crisp and marvelous as before, barring the baffling decision to keep the Avalon airship in grotesque CGI. Barring some awkward moments from both this movie and the series proper that could use some major touch-ups, this is still a well-animated project spearheaded by Sunrise. Adding to the audio elements, the added and reshuffled music choices were all brilliant. Reincorporating the final opening and second ending themes was a glorious decision, and the new tracks hold up just as well. Special mention goes out to the ending theme “NE:ONE” by Survive Said the Prophet. No amount of bad writing could withhold the glory of this series’ music.
Sadly, this film’s material could have been a lot better. This certainly isn’t the film’s fault, but not only was it slightly hamstrung by the films that preceded it, the world-building comes crashing down horrifically at this point in the show itself. The Sword of Akasha arc was the point of no return for this series’ writing quality as a whole, if the infamous betrayal scene not long prior didn’t fulfill that role already. Even the visuals began faltering with the atrocious CGI that this film only added more of. Every absurd death retcon in R2 was preserved here and not altered to make the fake-outs believable. That said, not only were the music and the sharper moments of the show spectacular even back then, but by some miracle, the finale managed to be worth everything, especially in this version.
Due to all of this, Geass III - Oudou actually works as a retelling given the material it had to work with. The first movie is still superior, both in terms of adapted content and in terms of being a remake, but this was still better than the second film. As for whether or not I’d recommend this trilogy as a whole, that’s a bit tricky. The second film wasn’t quite up to par and this really should have been a quadrilogy instead of a trilogy, but ultimately the first and final installments are worthy of their original counterparts. Starting the series proper and watching these films for a refresher or for comparison is the commonly accepted route. Despite this, I’d say to watch the first movie to test the waters. All things considered, this series certainly ended on a high note. So as the rain of roses and applause begin to storm, it’s time we bid this trilogy adieu.
I'll make this short because I expect anyone watching this to have already seen the OG series and will have formed their own opinions on Code Geass' story already. So this review will just cover the movie and how it stacks up to the series. Disclaimer: Code Geass is by far my favorite anime and I've seen it 9 times at the time I'm writing this review.
Story - 9/10
Before watching any of the movies I was under the impression after talking to a lot of people about them that a lot of stuff would have been changed. I'm here to reassure everyone that nothing of
terrible importance changes (I'm especially happy that the ending is the same because I'd heard that it changes somehow but that is not the case) and the story is treated about as well as possible given the limitations of the movie time frame.
The story picks up where the second movie left off, with the Black Knights preparing for another assault on Tokyo Settlement after allying themselves with Xing-Ke and the Chinese Federation. The plot from there follows the OG series plot pretty much point for point, some scenes are left out because there are only 2 hrs 20 mins to fit everything in. Some new scenes and dialogue are added that help explain some things from the series that might have caused confusion if one did not stop and think terribly hard about it. Other than that one can just sit back and enjoy Code Geass' story once again. However I can't rate the story 10/10 because of the scenes that are cut but that's not really anyone's fault; it was about as good as it could have been.
Art - 10/10
I will only address the animation for the new scenes because if you've already seen the OG series you know that the animation is fantastic and there's nothing more to be said.
Some scenes are reanimated and those along with the new scenes are sometimes obvious because the animation is actually better than that from the series. The colors are clearer and the animation is smoother. On a few rare occasions the characters looked slightly different than they do from the rest of the animation but it was hardly noticeable and not enough for me to care in the slightest.
Sound - 10/10
Code Geass' has a fantastic soundtrack and the movies, especially this one, don't flinch from taking full advantage of it. They take the liberty of adding insert songs in new places, including new insert songs, all of which I loved and thought fit perfectly. In some places I would have preferred the OG music choices but that's just personal preference and it didn't detract from my enjoyment of the scene.
Character - 10/10
One of my favorite things in Code Geass is how good the characters are. Unlike in the first 2 movies, each character receives enough screen time to keep their...uh...character intact as it is in the OG series. That's about it, nothing really changes in terms of how amazing the characters are in this movie.
Enjoyment - 9/10
Like I've said, the movie limits how Code Geass' story can be treated but it does about as good a job as possible. I'm rather satisfied with the recap movies overall, I think this one was the strongest one of the 3, with the second one being the weakest having lost a lot of the emotional heart of what makes the events in it great. However, I absolutely recommend watching these three to prepare for season 3 because as far as I know s3 does pick up from where they left off and there are easily enough new scenes and events/dialogue that changes/is added to warrant watching these.
Code Geass has finally concluded retelling itself and this review covers all the movies.
Background info for those who do not know what Code Geass is: Code Geass is basically known as the "dumbest show to ever take itself seriously." It's essentially a story about this dude who has a Jesus inside his eyeball and this Jesus can do indeterminate things inside somewhat understandable limits and whatever it is, it all goes according to this dude's plans until there are lots of other characters who have different (or similar) kind of Jesuses inside their eyeballs, too, but it all goes well for him anyway. To
sum it up, this is keikaku doori the anime and apparently it is really smart and awesome.
To give some background info about my experience with Code Geass before we start talking about these movies specifically (just to point out that I didn't always hate this show). Originally, I saw the first 2 seasons in my younger days when I had no basic understanding of things such as plot device, the willing suspension of disbelief or "good anime". In fact, I believe R2 was the first anime I ever hit with a 10/10 on MAL and the entire show itself the first anime I bought on DVD. That's right, we are talking about ancient times when blu-rays didn't even exist yet. The show had such a huge impact on me that I had to take a six month hiatus from all anime because everything else seemed shit compared to Code Geass. Few years later when I had left the casual anime watcher stage and was already leaving the elitist circlejerk shits as well, I made the mistake of rewatching Code Geass, and thanks to my realization that 95% of all anime is shit and the rest piss, I came to see what a terrible show Code Geass is. Third time's the charm they say, so naturally, I spend 7 hours marathoning these 3 movies, and yeah, it still sucks balls.
The entire thing has a highly dramatic start where our main character, Le Douche, is put in a nasty place where his mom dies, sister goes blind and paralyzes for life and his father quite literally tells him that "I am" the evilest person on the planet ps. fuck you, you lil kid. Good for Le Douche, he is real strong willed and smart kid, so he carries on. *boom* A timeskip rolls in and we see a truck carrying the biggest plot device known to mankind that takes a resting place inside Le Douche's eyeball while he beats people in chess games effortlessly because he is smart and simultaneously curses people because they all are the same sheeplets and not smart, unlike Le Douche who is very.
The actual story takes place inside this royalty-ruling world which is pretty much a sad and fucked up place, so this anarchist movement is committing acts of terrorism for reasons that are still quite unclear to me - other than to be acts of terror and symbolization of opposition + dad issues. Of course, Le Douche soon makes these anarchists his minions, but the important thing to know here is that all of this is just an excuse for the military tactics where the preferred party wins every single time, and what is even further important to note is that the military side is essentially just an another excuse to create confrontation between different ideologies that our characters represent.
The entirety of Code Geass' cast is pretty easy to sum up. Le Douche is the single biggest inspiration to modern isekai anime, our 4 harem girls pretty much the very first harem that was used in a "plot heavy" narrative as a plot element. Perhaps the most well-known series that followed Code Geass' use of harem is Steins:Gate. Almost all of the other characters are archetypes that follow their core purpose in the storyline in the most generic sense possible. Suzaku is the single most unreasonable and braindead character I have personally seen in anime. His technician on the other hand is exactly like Orochimaru from Naruto, the main difference being how Suzaku is exponentially worse than Sasuke ever was because he is a "chaotically good" person who never questions his own purpose, motives, reasons or in generally never accepts anything that would prove against his own thoughts or actions. That's also pretty much how all the other "politically active" youths work in this series. It's painfully realistic and accurate recapturing of narrow-minded ideologies from characters who all would have the opposite view on things if they were 5 years older.
The entire cast is also used very shamelessly in the series. Almost every time with eyeball Jesus, but occasionally with random memorylosses that occur to escape the current "dead end" that has been reached thanks to the writer cornering himself without any planning on how the thing should play out, so lots of these "devices" are used not only to advance the story, but to use the characters itself as plot elements in the narrative. In generally, the entire story relies on characters becoming puppets controlled by the super powers of geass, much like Madara's plan in Naruto.
The way Code Geass' story works is also very simple. Whenever we ran out of things to do in the current setup, a new plot element or plot related event is pulled out of the author's butt or alternatively the existing storyline is extended with a plot device that pushed the story onward in whatever direction is preferred no matter how unlikely and improbable the event itself is. Plot holes are nothing but numbers in this narrative which wants to thrills its audience by relying on the shock effect of unexpected events that are only unexpected because a) there is no foreshadowing and b) the twists simply do not make any logical sense. This applies with everything from CC's character introduction to any operation where Le Douche pulls a new truck-sized device out of his butt because - just to quote Le Douche - "Every messiah needs to be able to provide miracles." Cool excuse for lousy writing, bro. This is literally said in the series after another asspull and this is perhaps my favorite part of the series. Whenever I ask questions such as "how the fuck is this possible?" The answer given (if there is an answer) could always be replaced with "because Le Douche is my self-insert." and the reason would make as much sense.
The series also terribly suffers from the Nasuverse effect where every single character lives within a small radius from each others and even the opposing party members are essentially all part of the same "big family" scheme. Majority of the series' characters are classmates in the same school or blood relatives to Le Douche. The school settings and school grounds play enormous role in the series. As a whole, the series is an absolute mess because it tries to be a political thriller with supernatural powers while relying on military tactics while its characters are high school students and new things pop out from every direction for whatever reasons. Meanwhile the whole thing is filled with slice of life content and relationship drama. Enormous amount of irrelevant filler. Chaotic mess is what we have here.
Whenever I end up having a chat about Code Geass and how terribly written its story and characters are, an argument about its technical achievements is brought on the table. The character design is made by CLAMP and every single character looks like deformed spaghetti in the series. CLAMP characters' are memed to be "noodle people" for their long limbs and skinny design, and Code Geass cast is a prime example of this. The mecha fights itself are lacklustery if anything. There is one highly impressive part about this show and that's its directing which does terrific job creating atmosphere and making the whole thing entertaining to watch. There are hardly any scenes where music is not playing in the background and in generally the pacing is a mysterious combination of fast as fuck boiii and new events that don't add anything to the overall plot. Yet, for some weird reason, it feels smooth and important while it is neither.
When it comes to enjoyment, these movies did remind me why I liked the show in my first watch and also made me better understand why I hated it on the 2nd. To talk about the differences between this and tv series, the movie adaptations clearly have less filler in them, which the tv series is absolutely filled with. The cat zero mask part is gone as well as the lesbian table rape, the blonde rescue scene, Karen trap scene and the underwater hotel entrance part, so that's kinda cool improvement. The CC pizza obsessions plays practically no part in the series this time around. However, stuff like the cat festival was not removed of course because important addition or whatever. Good thing they didn't out-write such important characters as the anti-love interest and mini- Le Douche. I am not saying their names because they are 100% objects in the narrative and objects don't need names. One more thing that wasn't abandoned are the intellectual wisdom, poetic quotes and other thought-provoking philosophies, thank god, and they, indeed, are quote-worthy:
"Le Douche, do you know why snow is white? -- Because it has forgotten what color it used to be."
"There's a scientific reason that snow is white. Light is scattered and bounces off the ice crystals in the snow. The reflected light includes all the colors, which, together, look white."
"My story is way cooler."
Honestly why shit like this exists in this series is beyond me.
As a bottom line: Code Geass has a bit of everything, but the outcome is a whole lot of nothing. Except mess. There is lots of mess here. The more you think about Code Geass, the less it makes sense, but given, the same applies with most things. It's a great series to watch before you have reached the part of giving a fuck or alternatively after you have stopped giving a fuck. I would not recommend watching this show anywhere in-between because it is pretty bad to say the least.
Spoiler warning if you haven't watched the TV series.
The TV series is better. The music in a lot of scenes was changed. The original music direction, in my opinion, was way better. For example, Kallen and Suzaku's final fight in the TV series was totally carried by the epicness of the BGM. Another example is Lelouch's death. It just lacked impact compared to the original and they took out Nunally's flashback when she touches his hand...it kind of just dulled the moment. I believe the original sound director died, so no wonder it sucks. Also, the movie was just blasting through each moment way too
fast, but that's inevitable because of the time crunch from condensing a whole season's worth of material into a movie. Overall, this just felt like a bunch of scenes stitched together. The only part worth watching was the last minute of the movie. Regretfully, I have to give this one a 6/10 because it is inferior to the original. I hope the pacing slows down in the 4th movie because there's no reason to rush through new material.