Opinion Prone

My opinions, let me tell them to you.

Code Geass: Dead or Alive?

September 29, 2008 Commentary

Okay, so I’ve just rewatched the last episode for the third time (don’t ask me how I’m making time for this when I have about twenty things due tomorrow), and I think I’m finally satisfied with exactly what I think about it. There are a lot of pretty interesting interpretations and theories floating around, so it’s a good discussion all around. It might be a while before I get around to my “official” spoiler-free review of the entirety of Code Geass R2, but for now, here’s what I think about the conclusion of this lovely series… (spoilers, obviously)

He’s dead.

He’s dead. Seriously. But before I get to that, I want to talk about everything in the episode leading up to it.

I liked Kallen and Suzaku’s fight a lot, but I always like it when an entire series or two’s worth of animosity and rivalry accumulate in one final battle. It’s especially great in a series like this where the two characters have ended up completely switching sides, which re-emphasizes their foilistic nature. It’s really interesting from an audience’s point of view, because the typical viewer is probably biased towards Lelouch’s side. As such, they were used to hating on Suzaku and his MADHAX live-geass, etc, and come on — you totally cheered when prisoner!Kallen beat the shit out of him a few episodes ago. But who are you rooting for now? Kallen’s awesome, but Suzaku’s the one on Lelouch’s side now. Their conversation was a little lacking, but I did like the final question of right and wrong. That’s what everything comes down to in the end.

Anya versus Orenji-kun… I was kind of annoyed that Jeremiah ended up anti-geassing Anya. Of all the people he could have helped with that thing, Anya was probably the least important of them all. Nevermind that Marianne was using her as a vessel for her spirit — Anya herself really isn’t that important. Jeremiah could have been fighting anyone else or no one at all; the position was completely expendable. That he used it on such an unimportant character in the end makes the entire notion of the anti-geass superfluous as well. I’d grown rather fond of Shirley, but let’s face it, we could have survived without her subplot. Lelouch would have had to leave school eventually, and we never knew enough about the Geass Cult for it to matter much in the long run, so Shirley’s death just seems convenient in retrospect. So what has the anti-geass really accomplished? The death of a semi-minor character (slash one for the harem) and the memory restoration of a similarly semi-minor character.

With the geass itself as such a relevant central point, that the anti-geass — the ultimate weapon against the geass — is rendered so irrelevant is incredibly disappointing, especially when you consider all that it could have done. The thing that stands out the most for me is the fact that Jeremiah could have very easily cancelled Suzaku’s LIVE-HAX and subsequently stopped the first F.L.E.I.A. (according to Wikipedia, F.L.E.I.A. actually stands for something and isn’t just a gross misspelling by every single sub group!) from being detonated, thus stopping Nunnally’s “death.” Sure, sure, in the end, it was all to move plot along, and you could argue that Lelouch probably wouldn’t have thought to tell Jeremiah about the “live!”-geass if he even realized all the trouble it was causing, but alas… the potential

Toudou, Xing-ke, and Tamaki all should have died. Seriously, Sunrise, what the fuck? I can live with Toudou’s survival, I suppose, just ’cause he was legitimately saved, but Xing-ke has been sentenced to death since day one — come on, “blessed with [Lelouch]’s strategic ability and Suzaku’s strength … but not [with] time” remember? He’s mysteriously absent from Ougi and Viletta’s wedding photo later on, but I still wanted an explicit death. And Tamaki… I appreciate your retarded crack humor. I really do. But you were impaled and exploded. Please stay dead. The same goes for you, Guilford. And hell, I still don’t really accept that Sayoko and Nunnally should be alive. I know it’s Sunrise, but they were right in the middle of the explosion. No way for escape. F.L.E.I.A. ended up not being some weird transportation device, so seriously, how the fuck did they survive? Especially when that creepy Britannian woman (apparently) didn’t? And why was Sayoko horribly injured, but Nunnally was as pristine as ever? I can accept that Nunnally needed to have a fake death to push Lelouch forward, but it certainly could have been done in a more believable fashion.

Anyway. Lelouch’s conversation with Nunnally was really well done. The emotion on both sides was very clear and moving. It made me wonder about when exactly Lelouch geassed Schneizel though. The flashback in the other episode was wonderfully vague and seemed like a huge cop-out, but I think most flashbacks tailored in that fashion can’t help but feel like cop-outs. Was the entire Damocles plot Lelouch’s idea all along? Or did Schneizel pretty much have the exact same idea as Lelouch, and Lelouch just geassed him to make sure things went according to just one plan, his, instead of two? If the former is true and the whole “vessel of hatred” thing was only Lelouch’s idea, then is Nunnally really “thinking for [herself]” when she relayed that to her brother? Or even if Schneizel had also conceived the idea, is Nunnally really thinking for herself?

Either way, Lelouch’s belief that Nunnally had become autonomous was a brilliant way for Sunrise to justify his geassing her, and I completely accept it. Once he knew for sure that she would accept his final plan — that is, once he knew what he was doing was her true wish — he had no qualms about proceeding, and I really give the guy props for putting up his facade as quickly as he did. Walking away was probably the hardest thing he’d ever done, and he’s done a lot of hard things. It was an incredibly powerful scene, and I loved that Nunnally called him cruel because that comment was probably the cruelest thing she could have said. Yeah. Incredible scene.

Another semi-plothole though… why can’t Nunnally walk? It was established that the whole Marianne assassination was a sham and that neither Nunnally nor Lelouch were really present at all. As such, Nunnally’s blindness and the injuries to her legs were completely fabricated. So if she could overcome the blindness, then why not the leg injuries too? …Unless Charles was a huge asshole and shot up her legs for realz. I guess that wouldn’t be hard to believe.

The Zero Requiem. Honestly, the plan was probably one of the most predictable parts of the series because it certainly isn’t the first time this idea has come up. (Ironically, the second season of Gundam 00 begins airing in R2’s slot next week…) I contest the idea that focusing everyone’s hatred in one place and then getting rid of it is an effective means of peace. Sorry, Lulu, but I think things could have been much simpler if you had just played nice with the United Federation of Nations to begin with and made peace from there, especially if you already had Schneizel in your pocket. I understand that you wanted to erase Euphie’s “sins” from history and replace them with your own, but seriously, the book writers aren’t going to leave out an entire chapter about the Massacre Princess just because a few chapters later, there’s a whole long tirade about how horrible the 99th Emperor of Britannia was.

The idiocy of the idea didn’t really make its execution any less poignant and touching though. Even if it meant Suzaku was mad hax again. Oh, Sunrise. No body = no death, right? But seriously, that death scene was beautiful. I totally agree with my buddy Alexius: that death scene was pure, cinematic beauty. Everything about it was perfect, and for once, the flashback didn’t seem so contrived (well, except for the “lol Suzaku is alive!” part, but I think at this point, everyone has come to realize that zombies are completely acceptable). Even the overt homolust didn’t really ruin the moment for me (and undoubtedly, it enhanced the moment for hordes of fangirls), and I actually loved Lelouch’s last words to Suzaku. It is Suzaku’s punishment to have to live forever until his natural death, leading the world as a hero he never, never wanted to be. It’s also hopelessly ironic and symbolic — our two main foils living out each other’s roles. Suzaku had wanted to be the sacrifice. Lelouch had strove to be the hero. Ahh, I love shit like this. It’s so wonderfully tragic.

And poor Nunnally, seriously. The whole world is erupting in victorious chants of “Zero!” while she’s clutching her dead brother’s hand and wailing miserably. She’s right. It really isn’t fair. Poor Kallen too. I guess she gets to have Gino in the end, but her final realization is on the same level as Nunnally’s — “GODDAMNIT, LELOUCH!”

And finally… C.C. That final scene, along with Nunnally’s sudden flash of knowledge as Lelouch died, are the basis for most of the arguments that our beloved hero is indeed alive. I think it’s very interesting to invoke the title of the series, particularly the “Code Geass” part, but I don’t think enough was ever really revealed about geass for that argument to hold. It’s all speculation. I suppose it’s possible for Lelouch to take the Code of a person that didn’t give him his geass; after all, Charles had offered to take C.C.’s code, but whether or not that would allow him to retain his geass? Completely up in the air — absolutely no evidence for or against it. But Lelouch did not have a Code on his hand or anywhere else that we saw, so the easiest thing to do would be to assume that he did not get one and is thus not immortal.

Naturally, Sunrise being Sunrise, this proves nothing, but the fact remains that there is no concrete evidence for the idea that Lelouch obtained Charles’s Code. Except that flash of memory obtained by Nunnally. Honestly, I’d like to believe that that was just Nunnally’s sudden realization by her own intuition and deduction. She’s a smart girl — I don’t think it would have been that hard for her to come to the right conclusion given her impressions of both her brother and Suzaku previously. They didn’t need to show the specific jumble of flashbacks… though I also don’t think that that the visualization of the knowledge Nunnally received was in any way similar to the flashbacks we’d gotten from C.C., which had always detailed the World of C. The only instance where C.C. seemed to willingly transfer knowledge was at the beginning of R2, when she restored Lelouch’s memories, but that seemed more like Lelouch remembering on his own than C.C. giving him information.

I don’t buy the idea that the “R2” of the series’ title is a reference to Lelouch. I agree that the name “Lelouch Lamperouge” is highly suspect, but his name is still in L’s, not R’s. Regardless of the Japanese’s inability to pronounce the “l” sound, the name of the character remains Lelouch, not Rurushu. Similarly, C.C. and V.V. are still spelt C.C. and V.V. despite being pronounced like “C2” and “V2.” Of course, it’s always a possibility that Sunrise is trying to be roundabout and subtle.

The fact that Sunrise left everything up for lengthy discussions and interpertations, as evidenced by the literally hundreds of journal and blog entries that have surfaced since the episode aired less than two days ago, was incredibly smart of them. This pretty much lets everyone interpert the ending in a way that pleases them. The more people that like the ending, the better, eh? Doesn’t matter “which” ending they saw for themselves, as long as they like it. I alway love to hate these kinds of endings. On one hand, yeah, I have my view and it’s probably skewed by the fact that I prefer the tragedy and want Lelouch to be dead. On the other hand, that there’s so many ways to twist it so that it’s reasonable to think that he’s still alive… well, it bugs me that we’ll never know for sure either way.

C.C. wouldn’t have cried while praying in a church if she knew Lelouch would survive. Suzaku wouldn’t have cried from behind his mask if he had known Lelouch would survive. I believe that Jeremiah would have gone ahead with the plan anyway even if he had thought Lelouch would seriously die. If Nunnally really was glimpsing Lelouch’s memories when she touched him, then similarly, wouldn’t she also know that he would survive? There’s the possibility that none of them knew Lelouch would live, including Lelouch himself, and that he just happened to find C.C. later on for that cart scene, but if none of the involved people knew that Lelouch would live, then I think it would have been pretty difficult for him to sneak away into the night after his fatal wound magically healed itself.

Lelouch is dead. It would cheapen the entire plot too much if he were alive. C.C.’s comment about defying loneliness could still apply to Lelouch; after all, in death, he had the cooperation of his closest friend. He was not alone when he died. He’d been killed by the only person he would have accepted being killed by, and his sister held his hand as he drew his last breath. He was not lonely when he died. He had the Power of the Kings, and he was not alone. I suppose this leaves C.C. cheated out of her death, but there’s still something nice about her beginning the series as an immortal witch and ending the series as an immortal witch. At the very least, her perception of mankind has changed and she can probably find a little more happiness in her endless life. Maybe, when the time comes (because history inevitably repeats itself) in a few hundred or thousand years, she will take it upon herself to find a new Lelouch vi Brtiannia and start the cycle all over again.

Unless, of course, Sunrise is really just fucking with us after all and Code Geass R3: Spice and Wolf is announced in the coming weeks.

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  1. Anonymous on September 29, 2008 3:48 pm

    Even if Nunnally’s legs were never really damaged, she still hasn’t used them for like a decade. Thus the muscles would have atrophied and she wouldn’t be able to just hop up and start using them, although with extensive muscle therapy I guess she might eventually regain the ability to walk.

  2. Ravi on September 29, 2008 5:53 pm

    And why was Sayoko horribly injured, but Nunnally was as pristine as ever?

    Nunnally was captured by Schneizel, so I assume Sayoko was injured while escaping.

    Anyway, I'm going to have to disagree with you – I really think Lelouch is still alive. I think that, given his character, if he could find some way to accomplish this great sacrifice, set Britannia on the path he wants to see it on through his death, and come out of it alive, he would definitely take it. (Plus, the thought of Lelouch and CC being immortal and living happily ever after appeals to the fangirl in me. >_>)

  3. Kiriska on September 29, 2008 6:46 pm

    Anonymous — I suppose that makes sense, but I wouldn't really expect Sunrise to make sense with something like that. Especially since Guilford was apparently blinded, but is totally cool with running around like he's been blind forever two months later when he charges out of the building after Lelouch's stabbing. And with the happily-ever-after montage at the end, if Nunnally was ever able to regain her walking ability, you'd think they'd include it.

    Ravi — Yeah, I guess Cornelia's "someone who doesn't agree with us" was referring to Sayoko and not Anya after all. But similarly, why was Guilford injured and not Sayoko or Nunnally? He was only caught in the edge of the blast. As for Lelouch, I don't disagree that he would have liked to come out of it alive, but without the immortality that I don't think he has, I don't see a way for him to have done it. (But I guess my fangirl disagrees with your fangirl and doesn't want to see Lulu living happily ever after with C.C. because Kallen was much more awesome. <_< In the end, maybe it's really that fangirl that decides what we really believe in.)

  4. Ravi on September 29, 2008 9:37 pm