CODE GEASS: NIGHTMARE OF NUNNALLY, based on the original story by Ichirou Ohkouchi & Goro Takiguchi, with art by Tomomasa Takuma. First published in 2007 and first published in North America in 2009.
Despite the loss of her mother, her family's prestige, her sight, and her ability to walk, Nunnally vi Brittania takes faith and comfort in her life from her older brother Lelouch. When her brother disappears during an incident with Brittanian soldiers, Nunnally encounters a strange doll called Nemo that grants her wish for power to help herself, giving her the ability to temporarily move and see while encased in a bizarre mechanical suit. As the conflict between the armies of the Brittanian Empire and rebel forces within Japan escalate, Nunnally finds herself wondering if her new power is a gift or a curse...
I wanted to like Nightmare of Nunnally. While I never finished Code Geass back in the day, I always found the concept interesting (if more than a little flawed). Manga is a perfect place to take such a premise and explore it from new angles, such as an AU where the protagonist is not the scheming, ambitious Lelouch, but his gentle, codependent, disabled little sister. It's a shame then that her story is all but drowned out by everything else going on.
In addition to Nunnally's storyline, there is:
- Rehashed plot points from the show, hoping to get those who didn't watch the show caught up
- Lelouch, who is somehow not dead from a very big explosion, has become Zero in the mean time, and teamed up with a group of Japanese rebel fighters
- The thoughts and schemes of the various Brittanian nobles
- Alice, Nunnally's random new best friend who also apparently has Geass powers because why the fuck not?
You might be able to juggle all these various plot threads on a TV show, but in manga form there's simply no space for any of it to breathe, much less flow in a coherent manner. That's a real shame because I liked the idea of Nunnally becoming an active figure in this universe and having to be confronted with a personification of the negative emotions she's been repressing. Yeah, it's not far from your standard Jekyl & Hyde set-up, but it's got the potential for real drama. Plus, this has the edge of Nunnally's transformation turning her into a manic mecha (which itself is something of a callback to Evangelion). I just wish Takuma was willing to fully commit to it instead of mostly pasting her into Lelouch's place in the original story.
Nightmare of Nunnally's art isn't nightmarish onto itself, but it's not great. Takuma takes CLAMP's original character designs and makes their faces a little broader and a lot less angular. I'm sure that made them easier to draw, but they all tend to lose something in translation. What's more distracting is his emphasis on fanservice. I'll bet he had all sorts of good excuses why Nunnally has to operate her suit naked and on all-fours inside her Knightmare frame, or why she (and to a lesser degree, her friend Alice) are the subject of multiple panty shots, or why Nemo's human form involves a skin-tight body suit full of cut-outs. He certain put more effort into them than into the battle. Nunnally's battles are clearly meant to be fierce and chaotic, but Takuma takes it too far. The fights are so disjointed that it's impossible to figure out who is fighting who and it all just falls apart on the page.
Much like its parent series, Nightmare of Nunnally has interesting ideas but it stretches itself in too many different directions and gets distracted with weird, out-of-place fanservice. Because of this, I couldn't recommend it to anyone aside from the most die-hard, completionist Code Geass fans.
This series was published by Bandai. This series is complete in Japan with 5 volumes. All 5 were published and are currently out of print.