Anime fans were taken aback when they learned that the latest film entry in the Code Geass universe, Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection, would mark the start of a 10-year plan for the franchise. After all, it’s been awhile since Lelouch vi Britannia, C2, and Suzaku Kururugi were last seen, as the property’s original series ended with 2008’s R2.
Though exact details are still unknown, Funimation’s involvement indicates that a new anime series or collection of movies could be announced soon. I had a chance to catch up with some of the minds behind the franchise, including Character Designer/Chief Animation Director Takahiro Kimura, Screenwriter/Scriptwriter Ichiro Okouchi, and C2’s Japanese Voice Actor Yukana at this year’s Anime NYC to discover the process behind bringing this universe to life and what the future holds for Lelouch and his comrades.
Learn more about what these industry veterans think about the current state of anime, their reaction to the series’ return, and what they hope fans will come away with in our Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection interview below:
What was your initial reaction when you heard that Code Geass would be making a comeback?
Takahiro Kimura (TK): At the end of R2, a lot of fans were asking, “What really happened to Lelouch?” When I heard that we were going to return to the series, I thought that we were finally going to get an answer to this question. If Okouchi-san had the resolve to continue this story, then we would have the resolve to make the best-quality product we can.
Ichiro Okouchi (IO): After Lelouch’s story was over, a lot of other media set in the Code Geass universe had come out. There have been games, light novels, comic books, and more. We purposefully choose to end R2 with this idea of a ‘Geass of Hope.’ Now we feel like we have been ‘Geass’d’ by fans to continue work on this universe and further projects.
Yukana (Y): When I first heard that Code Geass would be returning, it was when Okouchi-san had announced it publicly. His determination to continue the story after 10 years inspired me to return to the franchise with my own determination. However, no one told me that I was going to be in the movie when it was first announced! Ultimately, I was really happy that I was able to return to Code Geass, especially after fans have expressed their love of this franchise for so long.
What impressions would you like fans to take away after seeing Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection?
TK: As an animator, I want fans to just enjoy the really fun story we were able to create. I also want fans to see different aspects of Lelouch and C2’s personalities.
IO: The Code Geass franchise has many dynamic elements. The movie is only a portion of the story we are telling. I want fans to remember what happened in the original anime series and feel what they felt after witnessing the show for the first time.
Y: I would like people to think that they had only seen the original show yesterday and that the 10 years that have passed have been really short. I want fans to feel as if the series never left. At the same time, I want them to feel like the movie is worth the wait.
How did writing for the new film differ from writing for the original show?
IO: When I was working for the TV series, I wasn’t a very well-known writer. I didn’t have any money or fame. Going in, I wanted Code Geass to be on everyone’s mind. When I started working on the movie, I wanted to live up to fans’ expectations.
What are some scenes from the film that you felt carried the most emotional weight?
TK: The most emotional scene for me would be that in which we see Lelouch finally resurrect. Until then, C2 couldn’t hold a decent conversation with the character. Now she can finally talk to him and tell him “Welcome back.”
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection is a very C2-centric film. What do you believe to be the most interesting aspects of C2’s personality in the series and the movie?
Y: She has many interesting aspects. C2 brings different emotions to every circumstance. Each time, however, her core is always the same. In the scene that Kimura-san just described, Lelouch reaches out to C2 to pull her out from underwater. Lelouch’s first words are, “I have a lot to say to you.” This is a perfect example of Lelouch and C2’s relationship, as the former can’t just say “I’m back” to C2.
What emotional parts in the movie helped you reconnect with these characters? What are the scenes that resonated with you?
IO: I started working on Code Geass again around five years after the TV series had ended, so I haven’t been too far away from the franchise since it ended. I’ve been involved with a lot of Code Geass projects since the show ended too, so I actually made a pretty smooth transition into writing Re;surrection.
Y: I always have C2 stored in a folder inside my heart. I knew that I would be able to meet her again once I opened up that drawer again. I can’t just open that drawer freely, however. I need the right environment to access C2 again. I was very pleased to hear that I was given the key to open that drawer again.
There have been so many advances in animation over the course of a decade. What were some technological challenges that you had creating this movie, and what did you find easier to handle?
TK: It’s not a technological issue. It’s been 10 years, and I’m 10 years older! I’ve learned to rely on the strength and skills of the next generation and those I’ve worked with that are younger than me. What was really helpful was that some of our new staff members were fans who had grown up watching the original show. Having a group of powerful new animators who were inspired by Code Geass as kids was very moving.
Where do you see the industry headed in the future?
TK: In general, it seems like animation is moving towards CG. There are certainly many CG franchises that are very interesting. This being said, I personally prefer hand-drawn animation. I would like to continue honing the visuals of hand-drawn characters by making them look cooler and sexier than ever before so that fans can continue to appreciate the art form.