Code Geass: Akito the Exiled (Boukoku no Akito)

(4 50-minute episodes ; next one’s out in March or something)

What’s it about ?

This is a side-story to the main Code Geass anime, apparently set at some point between the two seasons. Remember how that was mainly a struggle between the Brittanian Empire and occupied Japan, with the Chinese Federation meddling in ? Well, there was also a third superpower that was supposed to be kinda equal to those two, but never really got any screentime : the EU. The point of this story is to shed some light on those guys.


The titular Akito is one of the many Japanese people who fled to the EU when Japan got conquered by Brittania. Unfortunately, the EU is about as racist a society as Brittania, as it keeps them into camps where they barely survive and uses those non-citizens as cannon fodder for its war. Akito himself is an unbelievably talented mecha pilot, and has a bit of a death wish.

Our actual protagonist here is Commander Leila Malcal, who leads his unit. Because we can’t have an EU character who isn’t a jerkass, she’s actually adopted from a disgraced Brittanian family. She’s a tactical genius, sympathetic to the Japanese plight and all-around awesome ; her main flaw seems to be a tendency to avoid confrontation until it’s a bit too late (she lets another commander nearly botch the opening mission and get about her whole squad slaughtered before she takes the initiative to have him removed ; and then there’s the issues with her adoptive brothers…).

We also meet a group of Japanese gunrunners/terrorists who are very angry indeed. Predictably, Leila recruits them after they try kidnapping her mentor figure for ransom.

Our top villain for the overarching story seems to be Shin Hyuuga Shaing, who takes over the closest Brittanian outpost by the episode’s end. That he shares a last name with Akito is probably significant. To make things worse, he’s got exactly the same Geass as Lelouch, which feels very strange to me (didn’t every Geass user in the original series have a completely different power ?).

None of the characters from the main series have shown up so far, although the next episode preview already promises appearances by C.C. and Suzaku. From what I vaguely remember of the original plot, there’s a strong possibility of the latter slaughtering everyone at the end (which would explain why none of those new characters have any impact on R2).

Production Values

This doesn’t deviate much from the Code Geass aesthetics : noodle people, and baroque costumes.

The one big departure is for the mecha fight scenes : they’re fully CG animated now. They might have been rendered a bit too dark, but the animation is a thing of beauty, making the OVA worth watching on its own. Akito’s spider-mecha is dancing around at high speed, with a level of detail to every single movement that forces the admiration ; the camera’s wild movements and the spastic jazz soundtrack make it even more dynamic and enthralling.

(And as logic made me wonder why we didn’t see any of this fantastic mecha action in R2, I remembered that most of mecha combat has gone airborne by then, making such ground combat obsolete.)

Overall Impression

A lot here depends on how much time you have for Code Geass‘s glorious dumbness and awkward Japanese nationalism. If you didn’t enjoy the ride then, there’s little chance you’ll appreciate this, as it’s pretty much in the same vein.

The big question mark on this OVA series was that, well, it focuses on the part of the setting nobody cared about the first time around, and doesn’t feature Lelouch at all (as his charisma held the original show together). The good news is that it does work and feels like a worthwhile addition to the story, instead of just a random cash grab (hello, Nunnally in Wonderland !).

I’m definitely on board for whenever the next instalment comes out.

via [In which I review] New anime, Fall 2012.

From the New World (Shinsekai Yori)

(25 episodes)

What’s it about ?

In the future, everyone gets telekinetic superpowers at puberty ! The consequences were so dire that the adults have set up a massive conspiracy (disguised as coming-of-age rituals and education) so that part of those powers get sealed off, and the most unstable kids get “disappeared”.


Saki, our protagonist. Her powers were late to bloom, so she joined the school-for-powered-kids after all her friends (a handy way to get some exposition out on her behalf). Not much in the way of a personality yet, aside from “somewhat scared”. (Which is a perfectly reasonable reaction in her position.)

Similarly, her friends fall into familiar categories (the quiet top student, the asshole loudmouth, the innocent guy, etc.) and don’t really stand out as characters yet. But then, this is an exposition-heavy first episode, and there’s 24 more for them to develop.

Saki’s parents aren’t really in a position to prevent the “disappearance” of their own daughter (the committee which oversees this is apparently quite autonomous). It really doesn’t help that Saki once overheard them talking about it.

Production Values

Quite good ; for some reason this is set in the countryside (did civilization take that much of a hit ?), and we are treated to some decent scenery porn on and off. The character designs are very generic but serviceable.

The direction is very good at creating a very toxic and paranoid atmosphere. It’s a bit rough around the edges, with sudden flashbacks often coming out of nowhere, but it helps building an oppressive mood. Especially effective is the opening scene depicting the emergence of superpowers in all its horror.

Overall Impression

This is quite promising. The setup isn’t particularly innovative, but it’s presented in such a way that it’s very creepy indeed. While most of the episode is centered about inoffensive-looking rituals, classes and slice-of-life scenes, the paranoia is slowly ramping up over the course of it.

The downside is that none of the kids really have any depth yet. Heck, Saki’s parent display more character and pathos in three minutes than the kids in the whole rest of the episode.

Still, that can be resolved later on, and at least this episode set the stage properly. I’m curious to see where it goes.

via [In which I review] New anime, Fall 2012.

Girl’s High (Joshikousei)

(12 episodes, 2006)

My previous exposure

It was mentioned in passing in a recent ANN column as “the anti-MariMite”. Okay, bring it on.

What’s it about ?

It’s a slice-of-life show featuring six girls attending a girls-only high-school. The high concept is that they’re crude and make tons of sex-related jokes (despite most of them having no experience whatsoever, obviously).

The plots alternate between standard slice-of-life fare (the sports and culture festivals), some more risqué material (the love hotel episode) and more character-focused drama.

What did I think of it ?

This is a very decent show struggling under the weight of very pervasive and immersion-breaking fanservice. The pervert camera is on full-on mode here, oggling the girls and never missing an opportunity for a panty shot. This is more than a bit annoying, especially considering how the ED sequence manages to show the main cast sexing it up while still remaining tasteful (and looking like potato sacks teenagers). Fortunately, the fanservice does get a bit lighter later on, with a couple of episodes even having no panty in sight whatsoever.

Similarly, the gross-out sexual jokes of the initial episode quickly get phased out in favour of character-based humour… with some dashes of utterly random slapstick (such as drama queen Kouda’s instant bizarre cosplay shtick) and various parodies. It also gets sometimes into some weightier subjects (bullying, a rape attempt…) that get dealt with an appropriate mix of seriousness and levity.

Once you get past the adolescent pubic hair jokes and exaggerated personalities, there’s something surprisingly genuine about those girls’ portrayal. The series is at its best when it lets them act like actual teenagers. I especially liked the flashback to Himeji’s eating disorder, which is treated as a joke throughout, but still looks very real.

Thus this is something of a mixed bag : a fun little gag series burried under tons of creepy fanservice. But hey, at least it cheered me up.

via [LTTP/WIW] Various anime from the 00s and beyond – Page 13.