Code:Realize – Why Visual Novel Adaptations (Still) Fail

I don’t hate visual novels. I really don’t. My Steam library is mostly visual novels; it’s like reading a picture book, but with music and voices and sound effects. In that sense, they are closer to the anime medium than they are to any other. But why is it so hard to find a good anime adaptation of a visual novel?

English: Code:Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~
Japanese: Code:Realize ~創世の姫君~
Season: Fall 2017
Length: 12 ep. x 24 min. + 1 ep. x 24 min.
Studio: M.S.C

[Spoil Ahead, Not That You’d Regret It Anyway.]

Yeah, Why Are They ****?

Time. It’s always time.

Code:Realize is an all-ages (AKA, non-hentaiotome visual novel by the otomege developer, Otomate. Otomate has released plenty of other visual novels that have been adapted into anime, or adapted from anime, including Hiiro no Kakera, Hakuoki, Amnesia, Brother’s Conflict… Name an otomege anime, 90% chance it’s Otomate property.

Often times, the visual novels adapted into anime are of the long (or really long) variety. In the case of Code:Realize, VNDB puts it at 30-50 hours worth of read time. By adapting it into a one-cour long series, the anime is essentially condensing content into one fifth (or less) of its size; a lot of plot points and world development are bound to be cut as a result.

One egregious example was how, in the middle of a conflict between the good guys and the villain, a third party is introduced via a connection to one of the good guys.

There was hardly a hint of this third party in the episodes before, and all of sudden this new organization wants the lead female character dead. I can’t help but feel that the “plot twist” was rushed, and the timing undercut what was an otherwise decent episode (London is burning, gotta save the Queen!!).

[Insert Obligatory Review Content Here]

Story-wise, Code:Realize is a standard affair. Steampunk and Victorian setting seems to always go hand-in-hand, and Code:Realize is no exception. Being an otomege, it is expectedly a reverse harem with plenty of ikemen; in this case, they are all named after famous fictional characters, such as Arsène Lupin, the “chosen” route, if you will, of the anime adaptation,

as well as his fictional rival Herlock Sholmes.

Ditto with the rivals from Dracula, Abraham van Helsing and the son of Dracula, Delacroix. I guess there’s something about well-known historical characters, fictional or not, that appeals to their fanbase (re: women). Just take a look at Bungou Stray Dogs and the various samurai/Shinsengumi anime.

The plot is similarly cookie-cutter. The female protagonist, Cardia (that is, you, the visual novel player), is ostracized by people as a monster because she secretes an erosive poison. Lupin saves her from imperial guards at the beginning of the show, and in the process becomes her knight-in-shining-armor.

It’s not without logical fallacies though. During the rescue, Lupin uses sleeping gas on the guards, but somehow Cardia is able to stay awake while all the guards fall asleep.

Chalk it up to plot armor or whatever you want to call it.

After Cardia’s rescue, the plot slowly turns towards discovering her past and her connections with the main villain, an albino boy (spoiler: he’s Cardia’s brother) bent on fulfilling their fathers’ wish of destroying the world and remaking it anew.

There’s not much to say about the plot except that it’s pretty unsurprising, and at times, boring. Lupin is always there to save Cardia in the nick of time, or if they are both in danger, someone else will. There is one minor surprise though: Cardia actually fights some villains, having been trained in combat by Helsing and others in an earlier episode.

It’s nice to see her as more than a maiden to be saved, but it’s fleeting moment.

TL;DR

Code:Realize the anime is hardly a masterpiece. While it, technically, has a beginning, middle, and end, the summary of its parts is a (very) rushed story, and honestly, a bad advertisement for the visual novel. Skip if you value your time.

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