Code Geass has been, for a while now, an extremely popular anime… and for good reason. It truly has “something for everyone”, as one poster so aptly put it, in its amalgamation of mecha-action, deep character development, and over-the-top dramatic story lines. However, while most people watch this anime because of the explosive mecha-battles, personally, I only watch Code Geass because of its story and realistic portrayal of human life… to a point that I get annoyed on occasion at episodes focusing heavily on “Knightmares”.
What ever my reason for watching Code Geass however is, upon watching episode 19 of Code Geass R2 (Season 2), I have felt the need to finally express my thoughts on the story and characters thus far. Instead of analyzing each and every episode like most communities, I prefer to analyze the story as a whole; Episode 19 provides a perfect chance to do so, as it is a major turning point in the series.
Prince Lelouch vi Britannia was immediately established as the protagonist when we first meet him. He shows great analytical intelligence, charisma, but also a troubled side. It turns out that his father, Charles di Britannia, and emperor of the Holy Britannian Empire, is the main source of his discontent. Years ago, when Lelouch resided with the royal family, his mother, Marriane, was brutally assassinated before his sister Nunnaly and his own eyes. The traumatic event left his sister blind and disabled, which had an agonizing impact on Lelouch. A determined Lelouch marches up to his father and demands to know why, as an emperor, he could not protect his own wife. Charles’ cold reply, implying that Marriane was a pawn that was disposed of, set motion to a plan of rebellion in the now exiled Lelouch Lamperouge‘s mind.
By chance, Lelouch discovers a seemingly young girl who endows him with the power of Geass, allowing him to issue a single command, as long as he has eye contact, to any human being. With his new power, Lelouch resolves to cripple the Britannian Empire, and create a safe and peaceful world for Nunnaly to live in.
Donning a disguise, Lelouch proceeds to show the world his power under the identity “Zero”. Proving to be an excellent tactician and a “creator of miracles”, Zero gains worldwide recognition as a symbol of rebellion towards the Britannian Empire. Allying himself with “Area 11″ rebels, he pounces upon a chance to rally their support as an army against Britannia. As leader of the Black Knights, he assails the Britannian Empire in hopes of one day taking it down.
Eventually getting captured, “Zero” is unmasked, has his memories erased, and has Nunnally taken away from him. Upon regaining his memories through the help of C.C, he returns as leader of the Black Knights with a new, silent, goal: To rescue Nunnaly at all costs. However, despite all his efforts, plans, and sacrifices, in a decisive battle at the Tokyo Settlement, a deadly warhead is detonated, killing thousands. One of them, as of episode 19, is presumed to be Nunnaly.
Now, I have given a VERY rudimentary skeleton of the anime’s plot… perhaps even less. But wow, this episode left me stunned.
Lelouch’s sole reason to live, Nunally, is gone and now so is his Black Knights. Schneizel really is sneaky, urging Nina to create the deadly FLEIJA warhead and revealing Zero’s identity to the Black Knights. All the while, leading up to this, Lelouch’s character has been protrayed with stunning realism in relation to an actual human being. The story writers took great care to display Lelouch’s internal conflicts and the effect that his burden is starting to have on him.
The death of Nunnaly shows a man with no more purpose in the world. Lelouch was ready to die before the Black Knights, laughing at all of them as “pawns”… even Kallen. This move, in essence was not because he truly though of them as such, (Especially dear Kallen!) but rather because he wants to take blame for everything as he dies. He sees himself as a despicable manipulator, toying with the threads of life; Euphemia, Shirley, and so many others were caught up in his plans without even asking for it… this is taking a toll on Lelouch.
The turmoil that Lelouch is feeling is also reflected in the world. As the world was seemingly in his hands with his Federation and Order of Black Knights, it suitably reflects Lelouch’s inner feelings. The world is broken in all directions: The Black Knights have no leader, important people are losing their wisdom (C.C.), people with good morals are crumbling (Suzaku), people with hatred are softening (Nina), killers succumb to love (Rolo), and tens of thousands have just died, bringing Tokyo to a complete halt. And all the while… it is resisting the urge to snap. The awakening of the link to Ragnarök that the Emperor is so trying to establish may well deliver the final blow.
Rolo also was a surprise. Despite all of his misdeeds, I for one, can understand his actions. Though it was hard not to hate Rolo for killing Shirley and trying to kill Nunnaly, the way he dies is touching to say the least. Rolo had finally become significant in the world and lived, as he put it. His actions against Shirley and Nunally were in relation to the most basic human need, to have purpose. With Lelouch, he had found a purpose, to love and be loved (am I sounding too much like Flonne?) and, finally content, sacrifices himself to join the afterlife.
The Black Knights as well, must be in utter turmoil, especially Kallen. Without a tactician like Zero, will they continue to fight against Britannia, turn for Britannia, or just pursue an explanation? And what’s to become of our dear C.C? For all we know, she was left aboard the Black Knights’ Ship. However, only one thing is now for certain. The anime has taken an ultimate turn in events and has left a single thread in the story: