Code Geass R2: It’s Safe to Say That We are Most Certainly in a Handbasket Now

I don’t know if it’s just because it’s been a month since I last touched a Code Geass episode (no, I was not skipping it on purpose due to the loss of my beloved Shirley [although when I saw that coffin I was saddened all over again]), or if it’s because of the “give Sunrise series more than 13 episodes to set themselves up and get awesome” rule, but I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in saying that watching episodes 14-17 was a feeling that I will simply, at the risk of making crude sexual humor, call a “Geassm”, all the more intensified by watching them all at the same time. Some short observations:

  • Apparently Britannia, when they capture a high-profile female prisoner of war, instead of throwing them in dank dungeons and letting them rot, they give them amazingly hot dresses that overemphasize their cleavage and let people come and talk to them just to chat. I like this approach to prisoners.
  • Neo-C.C. (Retro-C.C.?) is amazing. I wasn’t ever really a huge fan of C.C. in the first place (at least from the viewpoint of “favorite girl” in the cute/hot department; she is, of course, pretty awesome, as 15 proved), but even my cold icy heart was warmed (or made more cold and icy) by her own brand of cold and icy. And then Neo-C.C. comes in and it’s like “where have you been all series, honey?” But, then again, Neo-C.C.’s personality is the type that makes me want to sit down and give them a hug. Completely platonic. And not in the Platonic sense.
  • There is blood on the black king on the chessboard. This is SYMBOLISM.
  • Charles took some lessons from his own son. It was hilarious seeing Diethard react to the hacking of their transmission like everyone else reacted to his hacking of theirs. Two can play at that game, apparently.
  • For a brief moment, Code Geass turned into bizarro Legend of Galactic Heroes, except with more lolis. More girls, in fact, period. Code Geass has girls like Legend of Galactic Heroes had men. They just don’t put their names on-screen to helpfully remind us who they are.

These episodes summed up what I think is great about Taniguchi Goro–he’s capable of amazing and “honestly good” work like Planetes and Infinite Ryvius (which I have not had a chance to see, yet, sadly) and maybe Gasaraki if you count assistant directorship on that, but he’s equally good at just being plain entertaining. I know people who complained about the early episodes of Planetes, probably because they weren’t the later episodes of Planetes, but part of what I think made Planetes such a good series was that it was willing to kick back and relax sometimes and just be plain silly (the NEET moon ninjas were great, and, sad as it was, the fact that they all died when the plot kicked into full gear was astounding), but even when Planetes was silly, it never really lost its focus. And Code Geass, despite all the “pandering” (which, honestly, helps the series far more than it hurts), and despite sometimes ridicukous smoke-and-mirrors “logic”, manages to be serious and hard-hitting in its emotional weight at the same time that it’s willing to be light and fluffy. Code Geass wouldn’t be popular if it only did one or the other–but, since it does both, it’s got multi-level appeal, which, of course, is Goro’s specialty.

Of course, what is really going on here is the fact that everything Lelouch planned is falling apart around him, and even when he tries to make amends to Suzaku and honestly seems to want to change himself for the good, zing goes the bullet and any hope of a moderately happy ending is cast off into the dark bowels of Sunrise’s script recyclers. This is, of course, what Code Geass has always been about–the bait-and-switch, both of the viewer and of the characters, and, more frequently, both at the same time. It’s obvious that Lelouch planned for this contingency before he set off to meet Suzaku, but, given his reaction at the time, I don’t think he really expected his friend to betray him. We kept seeing his thoughts via internal monologue for the whole scene, and Suzaku clearly had no idea he was being followed either.

Television is scary, Neo-C.C. It invades our homes with mindless rot broadcast over the airwaves! Enough television, and we will all become tasty vegetable toppings on the pizza you so dearly love! So, remember, kids: take a lesson from Neo-C.C. and cower in fear when the television is on. Most important, however, is to cower in fear cutely.

Lelouch was almost painfully honest of his own feelings, doubts, misgivings, and sins of his own. Rather than tell Suzaku that Geassing Euphemia was a freak accident (who wouldn’t have believed him anyway) he instead states that he did it on purpose, that he did everything on purpose to acheive his own end. Suzaku points out that, by creating Zero and leading the rebellion, Lelouch began to go against what Zero stood for. Zero, of course, stands for fighting justice and tyranny, but it’s clear that somewhere in the middle of the first season (and for the whole of R2 for certain) the whole idea and concept of Zero began spiraling out of control–rather than doing what he claimed he was doing, he simply started reacting to events as he saw fit in manners that would give him the best tactical advantage, rather than manners that would actually let him live up to what he claimed he stood for. Either the whole conceit of Zero consumed him such that he actually believed that what he was doing was for “justice”, or else the situation simply spiraled too much out of control for him to remain focused on the path of “justice” without making terrible sacrifices along the way. I’m inclined to believe the former, honestly–Lelouch got quite full of himself recently, but effectively losing C.C.–who, up till that point, had been the closest thing he had approximating a “friend”–obviously set him on edge, hence breaking the plate of pizza in Neo-C.C.’s hands for probably the best scene in the series thus far: Lelouch’s own realization that he can’t fight his fight alone and needs support.

Which, of course, makes the Brittanian army’s betrayal of both Suzaku and Lelouch soul-crushingly depressing–and, of course, excellent (melo)drama. Lelouch admits to himself all the terrible things he’s done, in the name of his own, personal, sense of justice, while Suzaku fights against these efforts with his own, personal, sense of justice. The difference between the two isn’t so much their sense of justice–since both, effectively, want the same outcome–but rather in how they apply their sense of justice. Lelouch is bitter over the death of his mother, and turns his own personal vendetta into what is essentially a sham of a revolution; Suzaku calmly accepted the death of his father and joined the Britannian military in order to effectively carry on his father’s last wishes (I might be wrong about this; memory’s fuzzy at this point). Lelouch acts for himself, Suzaku for the good of all. I don’t think either is really wrong, as there’s a clear, definite, and justifiable reason for Lelouch to be Lelouch, and Suzaku is, well, Suzaku.

The downward spiral of the world’s situation (a bad situation made even worse through Lelouch’s interventions for his personal reasons), of course, continues, and, to make a bad thing worse, Lelouch now can’t trust anyone if he can’t trust Suzaku, and, of course, whatever fate awaits Britannia (and Lelouch) will be one they brought upon themselves. Everything starts to converge, and there are eight episodes left.

Lelouch’s eye twitches involuntarily.

1 Response to “Code Geass R2: It’s Safe to Say That We are Most Certainly in a Handbasket Now”

  1. 1 otou-san 10 August 2008 at 10:13 pm

    The Euphie thing was bad of course, but this pile-on of Lulu reaping what he’s sowed is insane and exactly what we’ve all hoped to see. The cool thing is, now that LeDouche has lost pretty much everything (or at least will soon when the Knights finally betray him), I can get back to watching Geass for the sheer spectacle of it. Because I have no idea where Goro+Sunrise are taking this thing.

    I particularly loved how it all came home with Delicious Ironing, Nunnally biting it thanks to the Geass on Suzaku. Kinda makes me wonder if some parts of this show are actually planned in advance…

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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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August 2008

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