Code Geass R2: Geass: The New Terrorist Recruiting Tool?

Hello, Anya. Are you a bad enough girl to top the mighty power of Shirley? Only time will tell…

Code Geass R2 continues its parallel plotlines with the same episodes of season 1, which is most likely deliberate and not unintentional. Essentially, they’re starting the story over again, only everything’s changed. The story parallels (episode 1 being Lelouch gaining/regaining the power of Geass, episode 2 being Lelouch assuming the guise of Zero and commanding the terrorist cell to victory) are most likely done to give a sense of familiarity, since it’s been a year and a half since we last saw our good buddy Lelouch. It’s a statement direct from Taniguchi Goro that, yes, this is Code Geass, and we are Back In Action.

It occurs to me that perhaps Suzaku’s sudden change of personality might be partly due to the death of Euphie, but also partly due to Lelouch’s old command to him to “Live!” way back on the island episode (which was the best episode ever, by the way: any episode with a lot of serious plot content where any female characters present are without clothing for most of the episode can”t possibly be a bad episode). It could be that that Geass from a year ago is sticking with Suzaku, enough to make him turn against his best friend and turn him in for the reward of being with the Knights of Rounds.

We’re only seeing setup here still, so the plot isn’t kicking into full-gear yet, but I can tell that I’m in for another 25 episodes worth of terrorist essays and complicated analyses, which I’m entirely certain is not what Goro is intending with Code Geass but I’m going to do them nevertheless because I can. Zero’s little declaration of war and peace make me wonder just how much of the PR schtick that actual terrorsits buy. We all know that Lelouch’s true objective isn’t the recovery of Japan as a nation, but instead the defeat of his father, Charles di Brittania (I’m assuming here that he’s supposed to be Charles I, and anyone who knows English history will see why), for very personal reasons. That means we can infer that his entire speech wasn’t his true beliefs (although he may certainly believe it) but rather just him showing off as much as he can to win as much support as possible for his entirely selfish cause.

This raises the question of just how much terrorist masterminds believe in the causes they claim to be. It’s probably something we can only explore in fiction, as I doubt many people are close friends with Osama bin Laden (are you catching the possibly uintended parallel between this name and Lelouch vi Britannia? I certainly just did)  or whoever the hot new evil terrorist is nowadays, and it’s extremely unlikely that those who are that close to him would ever betray him. But Zero, and Lelouch with him, do make me consider this question. If the terrorist mastermind all the terroristlings follow doesn’t really believe in the cause that they do, how would they react? Terrorists that are part of a major cell are usually indoctrinated at a young age off the poverty-stricken streets of whereever the cell happens to be operating, and they (assumedly) blindly believe whatever they’re told, because if you’re hit over the head with a doctrine, you tend to eventually come to believe it

And what of Geass? Lelouch has the power to instantly and irreversably indoctinate someone in an instant. It’s amazing that he hasn’t done this before. Kallen insinuated as much when she confronted Lelouch and demanded to know if her thoughts and feelings were her own. I can’t quite recall her backstory, but I don’t recall any in-depth pre-Zero indoctrination going on, and Lelouch told her that her thoughts were her own on his behalf. In a series that’s primarily about toying with the thoughts of people, this is an important question. The very existence of Geass makes one (edit: me) question how much of their beliefs are their own, and how much are planted there, either by a mass media outlet or a magical power of command. Is it nature? Nurture? From whence does personality come?

The power of Geass as a sure-fire indoctrination tool is frightenting. So why doesn’t Lelouch use it? The most likely answer is that Lelouch is reserving his Geass as a trump card, rather than as a common recruiting tool. After all, it can only be used once on a person. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, that in a later episode (possibly near the end) Lelouch conscripts an entire army of Geassed soldiers to fight against Brittania. Of course, that might mean we get into a Geass war with Emperor Charles, which wouldn’t be a very fun thing for Lelouch.

This post might possibly be an incoherent mess compared to my usual things, as I keep thinking of things to say and start shoving them willy-nilly into the text, but for some reason my brain is now working overtime on Code Geass. I certainly hope that, somehow, in the next 23 episodes, Code Geass R2 provides enough material to answer these questions, and possbily raise several more for my overthinking pleasure. And, if not, well, at least we have Goro over-the-top-ness and melodrama and cute girls. I can’t really complain with that.

1 Response to “Code Geass R2: Geass: The New Terrorist Recruiting Tool?”

  1. 1 The Animanachronism 15 April 2008 at 3:48 am

    The scene with Kallen had me thinking too: Lelouch Geassed her for information rather than to make her follow him, but he’s not above using rhetoric and straight-out lies to control his followers. Which – like you said – makes one worry about one’s own beliefs and ideological lenses.

    Also, Charles could be Charles II – not as direct a parallel, since he didn’t get dethroned and excecuted but still a big failure of a king.

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I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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April 2008

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