**TEN YEAR OLD AND RECENT SPOILERS BELOW**
When I was a teenager, Code Geass was, to put it lightly, THE BOMB. Every weekend, I’d be turning up websites to find a translated version of the newest episodes. It was something akin to gospel. And when you’re a teenager, seeing a character your age change the world (and pilot mecha) is as exciting a premise as any other. Code Geass‘s story of Lelouch Lamperogue’s quest to destroy the world and recreate a better one for his sister was a pretty compelling one. In the tradition of most great mecha dramas, it brought him in conflict with the people he loved and even got some of them killed in the crossfire. It also ultimately (spoilers for an over ten year-old series finale) required him to destroy his reputation and allow himself to die in order to realize his vision. As far as endings go, that’s a final one; and (given the descent Lelouch made into his worst self before he got better) was one that was well-earned. Several years back, however, Sunrise announced that we were getting a sequel. Not another spinoff like Akito the Exiled, a full new story in the form of Code Geass R3: Lelouch of the Resurrection. “How? Why?”, those were the first things on the minds of a lot of fans. And given that Lelouch died by being impaled on a big sci-fi sword, that’s not exactly an unfair one.
Code Geass finished airing a little over ten years ago now, on September 28, 2008. The insistence at the time was that Lelouch was as dead could be. And it was easy to be taken at its word since (aside from a few select characters), nobody had the ability to come back from the dead. Cheat death in some format or another certainly (i.e. Marianne), but not outright come back when the deed was done. However, there’s been some light shed on how things might allow for a new season of Code Geass to begin with Lelouch alive, and it is a doozy.
To begin with, Goro Taniguchi and Ichirio Okouchi (director and writer of the series respectively) have explained that R3 is not a sequel to the TV series, but to the films. For context, over the last year, Sunrise has premiered three films “recapping” all 50 episodes of the original series. More accurately though, it’s a retelling. At first, this took the form of small changes (i.e. pruning out the filler arcs or more silly aspects of the original series), but in the later films these changes added up into much larger ones — like outright erasing certain character deaths, adding new character interactions, or changing major events entirely. Without going too deep into the spoiler-y nature of it all, this has the effect of more or less erasing the original series.
As a fan, I’m not quite sure what to make of all that. While I was excited to be sure, it’s kind of hard to swallow that something you enjoyed can just be retconned out. To be certain, our culture has become a nostalgia-cannibalizing ouroborus. You can’t shake a stick without hitting a remake/sequel of some sort these days. While, as with anything else, anime is beholden to its patrons (who surprisingly like to make money, especially with an identifiable brand), it’s hard not to feel somewhat stung that the original series is more or less being superimposed over for the purposes of the sequel. Code Geass was what it was, warts and all. While it’s understandable that one would want to prune away the executive meddling of the original, it all still meant something. One would want to see a sequel that could work within the canon and framework that was established all those years ago, as opposed to waving it away like an old shame. That being said, I’ll still watch Code Geass R3: Lelouch of the Resurrection. I’m not entirely against it and if it’s more true to the vision of the creators, that’s not a bad thing. But hopefully, they thread the needle between honoring that original series when they move to the new.