This article contains major spoilers for the Code Geass TV series and recap movies (but not for the new movie). We use our Geass to command you to turn back if you don’t want to be spoiled.
The Code Geass franchise kicked off with the TV anime series Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion in 2006 and enjoyed a lot of success around the world. The story is about a special ability called ‘Geass’ and the ideals of a strong cast of characters who have their own complicated relationships and morals. Even after the airing of the second season, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2, the franchise continued to expand with various releases of manga, OVAs, and games. The newest addition is a theatrical movie titled Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection, brought to us by the original staff members of the TV series. The movie has become a hot topic amongst Code Geass fans and the anime community.
A Story of Honor and Revenge
The story takes place in Japan, now known as Area 11, which was invaded and is now occupied by the powerful Holy Britannia Empire. High-schooler Lelouch Lamperouge, who was born as a prince of the Empire but found himself exiled to Japan, has been plotting his revenge since childhood and after gaining the power of Geass from an immortal girl known as C.C., he puts his plan into effect.
Despite himself being an heir to the throne, Lelouch despises the emperor because of his mother’s assassination, an incident which also blinded his sister Nunnally and confined her to a wheelchair. To find the enemy who killed his mother and disabled his sister, as well as to ensure Nunnally’s security and happiness, he joins the anti-Britannia resistance movement as a mysterious masked man known as Zero. He quickly becomes a leader of vigilante rebel group The Order of the Black Knights and fiercely fights against the Holy Britannia Empire. Lelouch ends up ascending the throne and becomes the 99th emperor, intentionally ruling as a tyrant in order to invoke hatred from the people. He then has his best friend Suzaku don the Zero garb and assassinate him in public. The purpose of his plan to have himself assassinated, dubbed Zero Requiem, was to bring peace to the world for his sister Nunnally.
The TV anime series Code Geass – Lelouch of the Rebellion and Code Geass – Lelouch of the Rebellion R2 ended with Lelouch’s death. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection depicts the world after Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion III: Glorification. It has been two years since Lelouch sacrificed his life for world peace and people are gradually settling into a new world order. Nunnally and Suzaku are inspecting a refugee camp, but are attacked and kidnapped by an unknown group. Former ace pilot and The Order of the Black Knights member Kallen Kozuki launches a search party for the pair’s whereabout. Upon entering Zilkhstan kingdom, they unexpectedly encounter C.C., who seems to be traveling alone to an unknown location. Is this a fateful reunion? Will Suzaku and Nunnally’s hope for bringing peace to the world once again be lost? A new chapter in the Code Geass series begins!
MANGA.TOKYO was honored with the opportunity to conduct an exclusive interview with Goro Taniguchi, the central figure of Code Geass series and the director of Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection Enjoy reading his valuable words.
Creating a New Code Geass
What did you want to accomplish in Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection?
When I received an offer to direct the first TV series, they told me that it had to leave room for sequels. We’ve made various spin-off works since, but we realized that we needed to see the world after Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion R2, otherwise we would struggle to create sequels in the future. We had to settle on what happened to the world after Lelouch’s death. We want to see how the characters are doing and how Lelouch is perceived after his death. Simply making a specification sheet and giving it to other creators probably wouldn’t work, so we decided to make a trilogy of compilation movies (Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion: Initiation, Transgression, and Glorification), and Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection and then depict the world after Lelouch’s death. As long as we have Lelouch of the Rebellion and Lelouch of the Re;surrection, anyone can create another story to fit in the Code Geass world. That’s the main purpose of the movies.
Do you think it has gone well?
I feel we wrapped up Code Geass rather well. I believe the audience will enjoy the movie whether or not they are Code Geass fans.
What did you struggle with while making the movie?
When you are working on a series for more than a decade, it’s inevitable that the staff’s views on the characters will change. There were also some gaps between my views on some characters and what the staff thought about them. I somewhat struggled with reviewing and coordinating the character settings.
Have your views on the characters changed?
I thought my views on the characters hadn’t changed at all. However, I realized that it could be me who caused those gaps. I held many discussions with the staff members to modify the character settings.
Did you have any difficulties?
Difficulties are inevitable. The staff members in each section are specialists in what they do. This means that their way of thinking may have changed since they are always at the front line of their specialties and that sometimes it’s difficult to ask them to approach the work in the same way as they did before. The chief animator decided to stay with us. That’s because his opinion as a specialist matched what we wanted to achieve with the movie. This unfortunately wasn’t the case with every staff member. There were also problems with schedules and contracts which got in the way. We prioritized our purpose of the movie and then decided on the other issues together with the producer.
You added new ideas to the movie, didn’t you?
I did. We got several new staff members, and they came up with ideas that we hadn’t thought of before. They were added bonuses and inspirations for us. Imura who has newly joined our production team as a director suggested his idea regarding film techniques. It was different from what I was thinking at the time; I learned from him. I always try to brush up and update my knowledge, so it is very important to interact with people who have different ideas. I was very much inspired by the ideas from the new staff members.
You must have put a lot of thought into your direction because the title of the movie includes the word ‘resurrection’
There is no easy way to escape from the word. [laugh] However, it gave me an opportunity to rethink what ‘resurrection’ means. I think it’s better to say it frankly rather than toying around with it. People might have been expecting me to tantalize them but that was never my intention. I followed my initial ideas.
A movie opening I really aspire to is that of Ashita no Joe, directed by Osamu Dezaki. The titular character, Joe Yabuki, knocks down gang members and gives his name to the onlooking children. At that exact moment, its title appears on screen. The opening has stuck itself in my mind ever since I first saw it. I think it’s the coolest opening ever and want to create something similar. I hope the audience enjoy the opening.
Were you able to easily decide how to treat the characters who are now 2 years older than in the movie trilogy?
The scriptwriter Ichiro Okouchi and I already discussed and adjusted differences in about 80% of the situations. Our views were quite similar. We talked about changes in each character’s standpoint from a broad perspective and about our personal wishes, but we hardly clashed at all. Because of the storyline, few characters in the Black Knights could stay in the central government except for Kaguya, Ohgi, and Minami. Ohgi has resigned his position as prime minister, so he isn’t involved in the politics in the central government in this movie. The members of the Military Operation section, including Tohdoh and Chiba, stay in the Black Knights, but other members have moved on to live their own lives. We thought of all the things that changed in 2 years from the time when people who created the new world governed it to the time when bureaucracy and self-serving politicians appear.
What parts were you very particular about?
My intention is to preserve the feel of the visuals of the TV series and the compilation movie trilogy while positively introducing contemporary film techniques. For instance, some characters including C.C. have gradient hair in the new movie. I thought it looked more natural that way. But if we applied the new technique too much, then it would look off compared to the earlier works. So, we had to be very careful about the balance. It wasn’t easy but I stuck to my initial intention.
Is there anything which came out better than you expected?
In accordance with the times, some shots were made digitally after the layout stage. It was certainly very convenient. We integrated digital methods with analogue ones. Each method has its own advantage, but I was impressed by the convenience of the digital one. One of the advantages of digital images is that they can be enlarged or reduced easily. It has been well over a decade since we started, and some staff members have difficulty seeing small details due to their age. [laugh] When I asked a staff member to redraw a shot, he told me that he can’t because he can’t see details like he used to. I never thought that I would have to consider my staff members’ health issues.
I have several questions from our readers overseas. They want to know where your inspirations came from and how you created Lelouch’s character design.
Josef Kare: What served as the main inspiration for the storyline?
demonnicxanimal: How did you come up with Lelouch’s design? He’s a very formal character.
I directed the TV anime series Maria the Virgin Witch (Junketsu no Maria) before Code Geass Lelouch of the Re;surrection. The experience helped me a lot because I could study the West again. I’m glad that I had the opportunity to direct another anime set in the West as I could utilize visual expressions like the ones that I studied. I designed Lelouch from something I already had in my mind. The prototype of Lelouch vi Britannia is Rokuro Makube, the antagonist in Osamu Tezuka’s manga The Vampires. I guess the action scenes with robots followed the tradition of Japanese anime. I see minute elements of various movies I’ve watched here and there in this movie. If you ask me, I put element of Mad Max in the movie.
They also want to know if there is any plan for Season 3.
ferdy Septiansyah: Will there be a next season?
Yuki Snow: Can you make Season 3? Is Lelouch alive?
ujniaslaras: Why the movie but not Season 3 itself?
It’s impossible to create Code Geass Lelouch of the Re;surrection as a TV anime series in Japan. There are two reasons for it. First, it would put too much pressure to our production team. Second, I really doubt this work would gain much popularity in Japan if it aired as a TV series. Unfortunately, anime fans in Japan and overseas have differences needs. Although there is more leeway when it comes to streaming services such as Netflix, if we are making an anime for TV broadcast, we have to put the Japanese market first. The content of this movie just wouldn’t fit that market, therefore we couldn’t make this story as a TV series. Having said that, I’m not certain what the future holds for Code Geass. These decisions are not made by me but by the producer, Koujiro Taniguchi. Yes, there are two Taniguchis among the staff members. Goro Taniguchi is the director and Koujiro Taniguchi is the producer. Please don’t mix us up.
Could you tell us what parts of the film we should pay extra attention to?
I guess that would be C.C. We’ll see facial expressions that she hasn’t shown before. I’d be very pleased if the audience notices what I mean. All our cast members are very talented, so their performances were very convincing. We also designed many new mecha for the movie. I think mecha fans may enjoy them. There are more action scenes with Suzaku and Kallen.
In the movie trilogy, the story developed differently and Shirley survived. However, she didn’t play an active role in this movie.
Although she is a key person in the story, it’s better not to get her involved in the main story so that she can act freely. As for this movie, if she had taken on the main female role, then we wouldn’t need C.C.. Therefore, we kept Shirley low-key. Anyway, if she had been involved in the main story, she would have no chance of survival this time due to the situation in the enemy country. [laugh]
Do you have any more sequel ideas?
I have many ideas. It depends on whether producers offer me the work or not. If the offer isn’t for Code Geass, I’ll rethink how I adapt the ideas I have. Agencies deal with various works at the same time and some of my ideas might be fit other series.
Have you been involved in the other titles in the franchise?
I’ve been involved in many of the other works as a supervisor. How far I’m involved depends on the content. Our producer decides if a work needs to be supervised by me. I don’t think I really have any authority on the decision.
Could you give a comment for our readers?
I don’t think Japanese anime will survive if we’re only concerned with the domestic market. We must consider the overseas anime market to survive and from here on I want to put more value on the overseas anime fans. However, if I just make works to fit what fans want, then those works cannot be purely mine. Therefore, I’m going to continue creating works that I, personally, think are interesting. I would be very grateful if you could find my works interesting and keep watching further. It’s difficult for those of us who make anime to know what the reactions are overseas. If you could leave your thoughts about our anime on social media, they’ll eventually reach us. We don’t mind if they are short comments, like ‘I enjoy it’ or ‘It’s boring’. Each comment will definitely motivate us. If the voice gets stronger, you never know, we might be able to make another Code Geass.
It’s my personal principal to create each work with a different taste. Therefore, people who like one of my works might not like the others. I leave it to the discretion of audience whether or not they like Code Geass Lelouch of the Re;surrection. I just want to say that this movie is packed with consideration and affection for Code Geass. Each and every member of the staff and cast tried hard to find their answers regardless of how long they’ve involved in the series. I’d be glad if you enjoy the movie.
Thank you very much.
Born in 1966. Taniguchi studied film-making at Japan Institute of the Moving Image, which was founded by Shohei Imamura, a significant figure in Japanese movie industry who awarded Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival twice. Taniguchi Joined J.C.STAFF as a production assistant. He later became an episode director and made his debut as a director with One Piece: Defeat the Pirate Ganzak! in 1998. His directorial works include Planetes and Maria the Virgin Witch. He also worked as a creative producer for My-HiME and Linebarrels of Iron. His latest work Revisions is currently on air in Japan.