Code Geass R2: A Million Zeros is Still Zero

Could this be (in addition to a complicated prank played upon Suzaku) an admission that Zero has somehow become the symbol of the Japanese ethnicity despite not being Japanese himself (although only a select few know that)? There was quite a lot of talk about ethnicity, and what defines ethnicity–is it genetics? Location? A state of mind? A common cause binding a disparate group of people together? These lines are, of course, fading away due to the advent of the Internet and the dreaded buzzword “globalization”, and at any rate, ethnicity is only one factor binding you to a group of people–there’s also people who share common interests with you, people who share similar views on political and social issues, people who share your profession, etc. And I’ve heard it said that sometimes the most fierce nationalists in a given state are the immigrants, the ones who chose of their own free will to live in that particular state.

So what does Zero have to do with all this? Well, look at his name, for chrissakes. Zero. Nothing, right? Thanks to watching Nadia, I’ve seen this same naming device used before (Nemo being a word that means “zero” or “nothing” in a certain language, although I can’t remember if the language was ever identified, and at any rate the name is Jules Verne’s so the name has simply been bent to Gainax’s nefarious purpose), but in Zero’s case, he literally is zero. Nothing at all. He, and the Black Knights, are fighting for a nationality that doesn’t actually exist anymore. The Japanese are the Elevens, but Zero is quite clearly fighting for the Japanese, not the Elevens.

So, therefore, by shoving all the Elevens who showed up for the declaration of the Special Administrative Zone into Zero outfits, Lelouch is admitting that the Japanese don’t exist. They are all Zero. It’s a brilliant manuever, to be sure, and one that seemingly secures a state called Japan that will exist outside the confines of Area 11 (I’m not entirely clear as to whether or not the Special Administrave Zone will apply to these million people after they leave Area 11, but I presume that, no matter what, Japan will become a country again, albeit one under the yoke of Chinese rule), but it’s also a huge political statement: those who have been colonized by Brittania are without a national identity and without any recognition. This ploy is strikingly similar to the methods used by European countries in the colonization of Africa and the rule over the Middle East: when a country annexed a certain territory, the borders of the territory would be drawn not by the ethnic lines of the aborigines, but, rather, would encompass a large variety of ethic groups into a single territory and place them all under the same set of laws and governances. The theory behind this was that it was supposed to prevent the natives from rising against the European colonizers, because they’d be too busy fighting amongst themselves. When the European countries left Africa and the Middle East, they left behind these arbitrary country borders, which leads directly into the conflicts sweeping both regions, from the Rwanda massacre to the complex situatiuon in the Middle East. Brittania hasn’t quite set ethnicity against ethnicity (or maybe they have in the other 10 Areas, we’ll probably never know), but they have removed national identity based on ethnicity. Instead of being the autonomous Japanese people, they instead are the Elevens, citizens under the rule of Brittania, and denied any cultural uniqueness.

Yes, I’ll admit it: Code Geass is like a history major’s wet dream come true, provided that said history major enjoys anime enough to watch Code Geass. I have no idea whether or not this all is Goro’s intent or not, but whether or not he intentionally placed these elements in the series, they’re still there, and that makes Code Geass all the more fun.

6 Responses to “Code Geass R2: A Million Zeros is Still Zero”

  1. 1 zqube 27 May 2008 at 12:25 am

    Is the title of the post a reference to Clannad?

    I don’t like pointing out the obvious but I just had to mention that.

  2. 2 OGT 27 May 2008 at 12:27 am

    I don’t think so; I only saw half of Clannad (which I need to rectify ASAP) but I think I remember a similar line. But it wasn’t an intentional reference, no.

  3. 3 Son Gohan 27 May 2008 at 3:17 am

    FYI Nemo is Latin for “nobody”.

  4. 4 cuchlann 27 May 2008 at 4:22 am

    Interestingly, Verne had a very specific background for Nemo in his original draft, but because of certain extenuating circumstances his editor told him to change it; rather than come up with another explanation, he simply excised it altogether.

  5. 5 The Animanachronism 27 May 2008 at 5:53 am

    Mmm. I was confused when I heard Pixar were producing a film called Finding Nobody. I habitually read ‘Zero’ as Lelouch’s attempt to divest himself of emotion(al connection) but I like your suggestion for corporate Zero-hood.

  6. 6 blissmo 27 May 2008 at 6:18 am

    This episode was okay I guess. The talk about what the Japanese are was pretty interesting too

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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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May 2008

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