Akito the Exiled 01: Did the Fanservice get Exiled too?!

So the show starts, and then we get the world spinning with its curiously drawn borders.  And I say to myself, I say, I’m not going to swallow that bait.  Let’s not get into the geopolitics of this thing.  I just want to watch a show with cool characters prancing about and having their lives/limbs (ideally, life first, then limbs) torn apart by the historical whirlwind their forebears reaped yadda yadda yadda.

But then the world spins again..and again..and again.  This is ridiculous, like the alternate world is begging for us to notice it.  So now I’m like goddammit, Geass people, OK, I got it, I’ll pause the video and look at your friggin’ map.

And, well, the thing is so simple I spent more time resisting it than examining it.  China controls Southeast Asia, India and Central Asia.  One could actually list the countries it controls, since the people designing this map didn’t really redraw any borders, they evidently just used the Fill In option in Photoshop (Paint?) to have a bunch of countries be the same color as China.  For example, the border between Kazakhstan and Russia seems to be exactly the same as it stands in our own planet, it’s just that Kazakhstan is Chinese.  Hm.

And I guess Britannia controls the Americas and Russia, and now Japan.  If so, then how come they invade Japan from the American side?  Beats me.  Maybe they have a treaty with China not to launch operations in that neighborhood?

The red line is the border between two Geass superpowers. If we superimpose a current map of our own Europe then…

Finally, Europe (sans the east) controls Africa.  Once again, you can follow the contour of the map and see these fellas haven’t gone to the trouble of creating new boundaries, but just picked which countries go on one side and which on the next.  Poland is on the European side, Romania and Bulgaria are on the other side (which I guess is Britannian?) so on and so forth.  The lines are clearly based on 20th, scrap that, 21st century borders in our world, and yet we’re supposed to believe that this is an alternate universe with stuff diverging for the last two or three centuries~  It’s a fantastic coincidence, and I guess a meaningless one.

***

After this, the little bits of world lore get much better though.  I like how the French in the screen actually relates to the appointment of Malcal as commander, with details on how it must be confirmed etc.  And judging from the dialogue, I guess the “Europia” on the screen is not a misspelling, but it’s the way the country is actually named now.

Then at the party Malcal is reading the book on tactics by Guibert, which is a real book and which had a great influence on Napoleon.  And since in this alternate history Napoleon was kind of the founder of the great European nation, it’s terribly fitting that Malcal would be reading precisely this in a time of inner conflict (the fact that it took me about 1 minute to find the exact same edition Malcal is reading on google books is a bit meh though whatever).

So far all of the secondary characters seem to be brutally corrupt or downright evil, or both.  It really does seem like a dictator would be far better than a democratic leadership in this world, simply because one bad guy is better than 20 or a 100 bad guys, who of course are all elected by bad guys.  Apparently when Napoleon tried to take full power (which, you know, in our world he totally did) he was doing it for the good of the land and yet he was stopped and executed.  It’s a very odd (and creative) way to rewrite European history, I’ll give them that.  Though ultimately the boldest rewriting is in the fields of Genetics and Linguistics, since apparently it’s not easy to distinguish physically between Europeans and Japanese in Geass world, and the Japanese are able to speak foreign languages without giveaway accents.  Wow~

I didn’t at all get the Xin Hyuga Hannibal Mikhail dealio, but that’s too be expected.  We’ll find out more about this soon.  I wonder if those who have rewatched the first 2 seasons of Geass are actually getting stuff the rest of us aren’t?

Q: Where was the fanservice??

A: Next episode, judging from the preview.

 

~ by Haloed Bane on September 30, 2012.

19 Responses to “Akito the Exiled 01: Did the Fanservice get Exiled too?!”

  1. Nice to see you back in action. I thought the potato people might have gotten you. It’s also good to see Code Geass back; that has been one of my favorites of recent years. I have been wondering what would happen if you crossed a spherical type potato person with one of the long angular CLAMP designs from Geass; maybe a normal person!

    • I AM the potato people, what are you talking ’bout?!

      It would have been interesting in that connection to see Emeraldas’ and Tochiro’s children grow up to be an adult. Though I guess the potato gene dominates in that case.

      • I have reviewed the karyotypes in situations such as these in the past. The combination of a potato person and the long thin Maetel/Emeraldas type results in the Young Harlock type if it is a boy and the Spunky Blonde type if it is a girl, in accordance with Bill’s classification of Matsumoto’s character designs. What a lucky escape for them!

        As far as Akito the Exiled goes, I have not yet seen it myself, but it is my understanding that it will be 4 episodes long and will start in the year 2017, between the first and second seasons, according to the Empty Blue blog. The director is Kazuki Akane, who has a long history of successful productions, including being the director of Noein, which is one of my all time favorites. I would certainly bet on this one.

  2. AK lives. All is well in the world.

    A Code Geass spinoff huh? As much as I enjoyed the last one, the excellent ending of R2 felt like a most approppiate point to complete that series as a viewing experience for me. I will however carefully follow your blog for the next couple of episodes to monitor the situation. Who knows, maybe I’ll change my mind.

  3. My main gripe with this episode was that it was near-impossible to make sense of who was fighting for whom. So Akito is an Eleven fighting for the EU army? And Malcal is Britannian by birth but an EU soldier? Is Xin Chinese or what? etc etc

    I enjoyed the Napoleon bit, but there’s precious few in this episode to get my attention for the next… I found the whole brother-fiancee thing repulsive.

    The action, though, was very, very good.

    • There are 3 countries, pretty much: China, Europe, Britannia.

      Britannia conquered Japan, so yeah, Japanese exiles fight against Britannia on the Europe side. (but apparently they get treated as badly by the Europeans as they do by the Britannians).

      And you’re right about Malcal, she was Britannian but lost her parents and ended up in Europe. It’s all a bit weird.

      Xin confused me too. I guess he’s supposed to be of mixed Chinese descent, with Britannian and/or European thrown in.

      The action was good. The brother-sister thing is silly and overdone but oh well, it’s anime so you gotta take the good with the jap…anese😀

    • I believe they explicitly said Malcal was born in Europe and her parents had been exiled there from Britannia, so both her birthright and eventual adoption into a powerful family should have been be enough to make her a EU citizen.

      But yes, this new OVA does like to play around with the background, ethnicity and allegiance of its characters. I find that interesting myself.

      • Yeah, there’s a story behind every move. It seems the like the main players in this historical struggle will be those people in-between identities, and this is not far-fetched after all, as Napoleon himself was Corsican and would have been Italian (Genoese) if he had been born 2 years earlier etc etc.

  4. i admit, the mechaporn was reaaally well done, but.. but.. what the hell about the rest? the characters so far all were incredibly flat and predictable. mr. chinese geass-villain and his buddy had so such a predictable exchange that i cringed abot it. same with Macal’s family situation and the overly blatant racism and nationalism in this series. even if they changed history insofar that the USA lost the war of indepence and became britannia, did it ever say that it lead to the japanese upholding their isolation instead of opening up to the rest of the world liek they ddi in our history? because if it doesnt, then i see no reason at all why there woulnt have been any japanese in the other countries of the worls like in our history. and if there were soem before, then theres really no reason for the other nations to be so overly racist and nationalistic as they are portrayed here. it may just be the nostalgia blur or the fact that the old geass anime didnt focus on the pseudopolitics so much and rather focused on the characters and the pseudomystycism, but i dont remember the original series beeing THAT bad about the topic.

    • When you’re right you’re right, Break.

      The way this alternate reality works is like this: assume everything happened just like in our world, until someone says it happened differently. And indeed, this is the hallmark of infantile (or lazy) fiction writing no doubt. Note that they even mentioned kamikaze fighters in this episode!! Since kamikaze fighters were only around in 1944-5, this begs the question, was there a Second World War in Geass, and if so, between who? It can’t have been between the US/Britannia and Japan, since Japan here gets presented as non-imperialistic and anyway we would have surely heard of a previous war between the two countries. It’s a headache.

      This OVA runs into trouble for us right off the bat because of Akito.  I mean, the good thing about Geass was that as simplistic as the changes are, they were pretty bold for a Japanese mind to make. One word: Lelouch. He was the hero, and yet he wasn’t Japanese and he manipulated Japanese people. But in this OVA a Japanese takes center stage, so it immediately makes the nationalisms and racisms revolve around how nice Japan is and how people push it around. In addition, I agree with you that this episode really piled on this stuff. The original series had lots of scenes like this, but they were more spread out.

      • Wait. Didn’t the term “kamikaze” as a description of a suicidal tactic originate waaaaay, waaaaay back when the Japanese did battle with the Mongols, as an accidental suicidal tactic caused by the severe winds and ocean swells? Hence, “kamikaze” – Divine Wind? Other than that, I have no remaining argument.

        • This is what I know (or think I know, maybe I’m wrong). The original divine winds were just that, winds, so it wasn’t a suicide at all. The Japanese literally saw the Mongol fleet get destroyed before it landed. So the real meaning of kamikaze is something like “an awesome supernatural thing that turns the tide in Japan’s favor because, you know, the Gods are on Japan’s side”. The first time this was applied to anything else, that I know of, is 1944, with the idea that these suicides would turn the tide in Japan’s favor.

    • While there are victimization undertones, which isn’t new for this property, I feel that sometimes we might get too uptight about them and ignore the nuances. For instance, Akito Hyuga himself doesn’t transmit any sense of personal nationalism, at all, and the OVA does at least point out that the plot isn’t going to be about liberating Japan or returning the nation to its former state. Even the Japanese characters don’t exactly have such ideas in mind either, in contrast to what the Black Knights themselves wanted.

      Speaking about the whole setup, more generally, it’s predictable but effective build-up in my opinion. The next episodes should become more dynamic in several respects, especially in terms of introducing additional complications.

      I also feel we don’t need to consider a hypothetical alternate WWII as the only possible source of Kamikaze operations though, considering that the concepts of Japanese suicide attacks and even their resorting to ritual suicide had been previously established by the original Code Geass series. Zero himself even mocked and killed a few right-wing JLF (a rival resistance group) officers using this idea as a cover. Frankly, I believe the invasion and occupation of Japan by Britannia itself should be enough of a reason to explain why there are many refugees and exiles from the country spread throughout the world. As for why they Japanese are hated or disliked…well, some exaggeration is involved for the sake of drama, but it makes plenty of sense on a visceral yet nevertheless applicable level.

      Despite the political correctness of our own modern age, in practice far too many people in developed countries don’t look very kindly at obvious foreigners in general and refugees or illegal immigrants in particular. Racist comments roughly comparable to those in the show, or sometimes even worse, have been thrown at folks of African, Hispanic, Arab, Jewish or other ethnic origins without always needing any remotely sophisticated or objective motivations. Fear of the unknown and of different cultures allows for plenty of stereotypes, especially in times of war or economic crisis.

      • Akito is a nihilist, yup, itself a favorite Japanese youth trope.

        I imagine that the next episodes will focus less on the Japan-is-oppressed deal and more with the political struggle between the three juggernauts.

        Re: kamikaze, I understand what you’re saying, but the use of the word is problematic. Sure, it works well as a shorthand for this notion of Japanese valuing honor or loyalty over life etc etc but the word cannot but trigger in many people (like myself) very specific images of the War. The word doesn’t have anything to do with suicide attacks; it only received this connotation in 1944. I’d have rather they explained things rather than just using the word.

        Japan is invaded and occupied by foreigners, who act ruthlessly toward it and who show a collective disdain for the Japanese. Leiji Matsumoto has done this ad nauseam, with emphasis on the point that it’s not just a case of country A conquering country B, but of the entire world wishing and conspiring for the annihilation of a single country: Japan. The way Leiji sets it up is that basically the United Nations of the world get together and gang up on the Japanese. Geass seems to achieve the same effect by having one country conquer Japan and then having another country (a mortal enemy of the first) treat the Japanese terribly.

        Now granted, this may be happening all over the place. It’s very possible that Ukrainians, say, were overrun by Britannia, that tons of exiles fled to Europia, and that they’re treated awfully over there. There might dozens of displaced nations, considering the bulk of the three empires. But we don’t see those images, we’ve only seen Japanese get mistreated, so it’s hard not to read it in a certain way…

  5. Can’t help imagining you’ll probably give me an awful look, at best, for posting this much, but here’s the last comments I’ll like to add:

    1. Napoleon could have been remembered as a bit of an idealized hero of the French Revolution (as opposed to a popular but still controversial figure) in an alternate version of our own history too, especially if he had been killed as a victorious General -or even First Consul- before the full extent of his personal ambitions ever came to light. For reference, consider the story about Beethoven’s Third Symphony and his eventual disillusion with Napoleon after he had proclaimed himself Emperor.

    2. That funny issue with the individual country borders being directly taken from the present day world was also found in the original show, so I guess they’re being internally consistent in that respect, although certainly not very realistic. I didn’t give it much thought then and I won’t do so now though.

    3. The preview does promise fanservice, no doubt, but given the actual composition and background of the scenes, it seems to me those specific sequences are more of a tease for promotional purposes and not much else. Just like how certain parts of the videos that initially promoted this first OVA (Akito in a red room pulling a sword out) haven’t been used at all.

    4. Finally, I believe the OVA -and some of the information from the second season, such as a map showing the world after the fall of the EU- does pretty much suggest that Britannia only started grabbing territory in the EU equivalent of Russia after the invasion of Japan.

    • 1. I’m not at all cognizant of how the French see Napoleon today, but his presence in Paris is overwhelming. The man is everywhere. Whatever wasn’t built by him or in praise of him turns out to be built by his nephew the III. In the case of Beethoven, I figure he didn’t like the Emperor invading his country. That’ll cool his man crush~

      2. OK.

      3. No!!!! I like Geass fanservice, don’t make me despair.

      4. That would make a trillion times more sense, yes. And I guess Siberia could be overrun rather quickly too. The Japanese in our own world ran all over eastern Siberia in the 1920s, so I reckon Britannia could do amazing things in a decade..

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