Archive for the 'code geass r2' Category

The Ending I Want for Code Geass, Which is Not SDS’s Ending At All

I am in full support of SDS’s fervent wishes and hopes for the resolution of Code Geass R2, but, sadly, despite the fact that Odysseus u Britannia is a manly man (for only a true manly man would unhesitatingly agree to a marraige between a 30-something male and a twelve-year-old) who most certainly would enjoy the finer pleasures of hot cocoa and a rousing game of Parcheesi (or maybe backgammon, or cribbage, or, heaven forfend, pinochle), perhaps followed by some interesting discussion on the finer points of silverware, over getting it on with his lawfully wedded underage imperial puppet, it will probably not happen.

As wonderful as it may be to see Odysseus take his rightful place on the throne of Britannia (it would certainly be a better thing for the Code Geass world, or at least for Parcheesi lovers in the Code Geass world), that, sadly, does not seem to fit in the wild, wacky, frequently nonsensical, and oftentimes deliciously illogical world of Code Geass.

This, however, will fit in quite nicely with the rest of the series:

THAT’S RIGHT.

ZOMBIE SHIRLEY FENETTE.

See, she kills Charles di Britannia after he kills Lelouch, because there’s no way Shirley would actually be able to do anything bad to her beloved Lelou, but if he were conveniently killed just as she stumbled out of her grave (Charles and Lelouch were fighting over Shirley’s grave, which, of course, was transported via helicopter to that ominous island at the end of episode 19 before their final duel so that, should he lose, Lelouch would be able to rest next to his one true love, Shirley, and they would be able to rest in peace together as they never could in life. A noble goal indeed, if you ask me) then she would most certainly be quite upset indeed at whoever did the killing, and, being a zombie, she could most easily overpower anything Charles could throw at her because, well, she’s a zombie. Charles is immortal, but Shirley is the living dead. Key difference there.

After killing Charles, of course, she eats his brain (well, she is a zombie) and inherits the right to rule Britannia, which instantly makes everyone in the world capitulate to her banner, making  her the de facto ruler of the world. She then proceeds to…do nothing, because that’s what she’s always done, and been loved for it,  but that’s okay, because after she ascends to the throne the world is in permanent peace for the rest of eternity. Everyone eats pizza.

~fin~

~applause~

~sentimental yet instantly forgettable pop song that vaguely has something to do with Code Geass~

~parade of cute chibi renditions of all the characters~

~a giant placard reading TO BE CONTINUED…???~

Mark my words. I can read Taniguchi Goro’s mind from across the ocean. And I’ve never been wrong.

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.

Code Geass R2: Worst/Best Birthday Present EVER.

PART THE FIRST: FANBOY RANT
I. PRELUDE

I have to vent. Really, I do. REALLY. I’m proud of the Geass writers, and of Goro, and of Sunrise, and etc etc etc. Really, I am.

BUT

II. THE RANT

I hate you, Rolo. My hate for you knows no ends. You could be the nicest, sweetest guy on the planet Earth, really you could be, and I will hate your guts until I rip them out and splatter them all over the walls like we’re in a Saw movie.

YOU

killed the purest, sweetest love Lelouch (YOUR ADORING BROTHER, WHO LOVES YOU [or so you think/fervently hope]) will ever have a chance at getting in this cold, cruel, twisted world we call the Code Geass reality.

YOU

for the sake of your own personal, homoerotic, incestual (????????????) feelings for Lelouch killed someone who actually had a chance of Lelouch loving because she was the only one who could possibly understand him.

YOU
KILLED

SHIRLEY

FENETTE

and therefore you must die before episode 25.

III. FIN

~fin~

PART THE SECOND: THE ACTUAL, SENSIBLE POST

Okay, so, I’m not really all that pissed. Well, I am, but that’s one thing and this is another. There have been Rumors afoot, or Whisperings, or something, to the effect that Code Geass R2 has lost it, or has otherwise somehow declined in quality since the first season.

THIS IS NOT TRUE.

Yes, it is, as otou-san is so fond of describing it, a “trainwreck“, but, according to ME, it’s not about watching the trainwreck of the series totally succumbing to such abstract concepts as “pandering” or “fanvervice” or “excessive use of Cheese-kun” (just so you know, that bit in episode 11 with C.C. reclining in underclothing and hugging Cheese-kun was pure awesome and I dare you to say otherwise), but, rather, about watching the trainwreck that is Lelouch’s life, as everything he’s done comes back to haunt him–as the narrator conveniently explained for the audience, “karma” is at work here.

One thing that Geass hasn’t done, though, is lost its writing ability–the first season was full of wonderfully pandering moments as well (such as the episode where Kallen and Euphemia are naked for 75% of the episode)–but on top of that, Geass has managed to deliver the goods when it needs to. In short, all the people stating that Geass is “pure entertainment” are 100% correct–Code Geass is, as far as I can tell, distilled, filtered, and purified Taniguchi Goro, left in an oak barrel to age for seven years. Yes, he has made some great masterpieces of anime that are Actually Good (Infinite Ryvius, PLANETES, Gasaraki if you count that), but we seem to have forgotten that he directed s-CRY-ed, which functions essentially like a proto-Geass, in the sense that it’s Goro cutting loose and going full throttle with the amps kicked up to 11. He’s a very good director, yes–but that’s because he’s very good at being both “serious” and “totally insane”, and this is why he is awesome. There are plenty of directors who are good at one or the other, but Goro is good at both, sometimes at the same time (see: PLANETES).

It’s way too early to call this, of course, but R2 12/13 shares almost the exact same setup as 21/22 from the first season. You know, Bloodstained Euphie and all that. That episode. As much as it pains me to have Shirley die that way, it’s completely understandable. Rolo is, of course, upset that Lelouch is spending time with Shirley (and not him, his beloved brother)–we saw this in 12 with a tiny and barely noticable moment of foreshadowing, when Lelouch talks about Shirley for a bit and Rolo makes a barely audible “Ehh?” Lelouch didn’t help matters, both through his manipulation of Rolo to get him on his side (which was strategically advantageous at the time, but isn’t now that Shirley is dead–not that he knows Rolo killed her) and his manipulation of Shirley as a result of Sayoko’s independent actions and back in s1 when Mao was giving Lelouch the run-around. And, of course, Lelouch’s manipulation of Shirley comes back to haunt him when her Geass is released by Jeremaiah (itself made ironic by Jeremaiah’s apparent motive in this episode, which wasn’t to kill Lelouch but merely have a chat with him, BUT we don’t know whether he’s manipulating Lelouch like Lelouch manipulates others AND I am getting a headache so I am ending this parentheses now), which direct her actions in 13, which lead directly to her running into Rolo, and then what she says to Rolo, which gets her killed.

The horror of it all, of course, is that none of these people are wrong at all in what they did when they did it–it’s just that all these things collided in the same space of 24 hours, leading to…this. And as pissy as I’m going to be now that Shirley is dead, as mentioned above, I respect the staff behind this series more now, because they are not afraid to Kill Their Babies, and even though I would like to drop a rock on the Sunrise building, I’m glad they did this, and I hope they don’t bring her back through some contrived medium (unless it’s to create even more crazy drama, of which I will wholeheartedly approve). And, besides, I don’t really hate them–as in the case of Itazura na Kiss, I was (figuratively) screaming and shouting and punching monitors in; in other words, my disbelief was completely suspended. And that’s what we’re supposed to feel when watching anime/reading a book/whatever, right? Even if on a more objective scale, Code Geass is a poorly-told story, who cares, beacuse it wasn’t trying to do that–it was trying to get me to shout at the TV. Which it did.

God, I love you, Taniguchi Goro, even if you are a bastard at the moment.

PART THE THIRD: IN MEMORIAM

REQUIESCAT IN PACE

(That is Latin for “DIE ROLO, YOU BASTARD”, as far as I can tell)

P.S.: Yes, it is my birthday today. Or, well, the day Code Geass R2 13 aired. Thanks for the wonderful present, Goro!

7/6/2008 NEVER FORGET

Code Geass R2: Exploitation of Pinky Promises

You’re sick, Lelou. Sick. Sick sick sick. Li Xingke, you have my full blessing to be pissed off in this instance.

Er, well, I’m pretty sure that the week-gap between episode 8 and episode 9 was not a chance to give the animators a break from their hard lives toiling away at drawing Kallen’s impressive assets. That in particular seems to have become a labor of love in this season, which I suspect is Goro and the rest of the staff reacting to fandom in general. I mean, it’s obvious just from looking at the danbooru tag that there’s C.C. and Kallen (in a virtual dead heat for top spot), and then there’s everyone else. This is obviously intentional on the behalf of the production staff, because Goro, like other directors in the anime business, likes to give the fans what they most want, and what they want is: Kallen’s posterior. And C.C. eating pizza, which I noted made it’s triumphant return this episode, Cheese-kun and all.

Derailed by derrieres, sorry. What I was trying to say was that the break wasn’t there for a break, but, rather, to concentrate as many “Holy shi–” moments (both plot-related and the aforementioned) in this episode as possible. Either that, or this was just a way for them to apologize for the week off. Or something. The major plot development this time around is, of course, Li Xingke enacting a virtual coup d’etat in the middle of a wedding ceremony (the man has class, I must admit, because the only time people ever say anything at the “If there is anyone who objects to the union of this man and this woman, let them speak now or forever hold their peace” bit of a wedding is in fiction where it’s turned into this massive dramatic moment of climatic catharsis. Extra points to the writers for not actually saying the line, but instead just giving you the shocked expressions of everyone as they stared at the spectacle). Of course, this coup d’etat quickly becomes a power play by Lelouch (or perhaps I should refer to him as Zero? There seems to be a distinct difference in his personality when he’s in the suit and when he’s out of it; this was probably there last season, but it’s definitely there now that Zero is almost an entirely separate and distinct personality from Lelouch himself) to try and lever himself out of the dire straits Schneizel has placed him in.

I’m not entirely sure of the reasoning behind this move–clearly he used Xingke to make his own job of defeating Brittania easier in general, but it’s not entirely clear why Zero would throw him away like this, and thereby making another enemy. The resolution of this particular turn of events, however, will have to wait until next week, where we find out that everything went According To Plan, and whether or not that Plan is beneficial to Tianzi or Xingke at all. (interesting side note–according to Wikipedia, “Tianzi” is one of the infinite ways to render the characters for “emperor” in Chinese, 天子, into Latin letters (via the pinyin system) although, of course, you render this in Japanese as “Tenshi” leading to some rather strange confusion on my part while watching this episode. All is understood now, though. I think) Depending on how this little arc goes, either we’ll be left with a Lelouch who is just as bad as the father he’s fighting against, or else we’ll have a moment wherein it is revealed that Lelouch is not as bad as his father is. It’s not entirely clear which way the series is headed at this point, but those seem to be the most likely paths. I’m hoping for the latter, simply based on the much-loathed past couple of episodes of Lelouch having emotional issues pointing towards the fact that Lelouch is conscious of what he’s becoming, and wants to stop things before they get any worse. Of course, I’m now wondering if the Big Plot Twist at the End will turn out to be everything gone according to plan–Charles’s plan, of course, in preparing Lelouch for the Emperorship (I don’t know how he could have that much foreplanning in store, but maybe that second Geass power of his is clairvoyance). Or something.

I am rather upset by Zero’s rather abrupt stance because the bits of backstory we were given for Tianzi and Xingke were quite well-done and touching, in the way that only a “kind-hearted child empress overpowered by eunuchs lusting after power (since they have nothing else to lust after, being eunuchs)” story, however brief it might be now, can be. I think that, as long as said eunuchs get other, more vital parts of their bodies lopped off, I’ll be plenty happy, regardless of what happens to Tianzi and Xingke. Well, okay, unless they die horribly.

Final thought: it’s been mentioned several times (although I don’t know where, if anywhere in particular) that, in the world of Code Geass, there is an awful lot of power invested in extremely young girls (Tianzi, Kaguya, and Nunnally now). If I were to say, that this was symbolism; that, perhaps, the aggression of Brittannia in general and Charles in specific, could be described as “rap

Err, no, no, I won’t say that. Nothing to see here, move along. Carry on about your business.

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.

Code Geass R2: Arms Race in Anime Land

I may talk a lot about the technology in this post, but that doesn’t stop Nunally from totally throwing a wrench into Lelouch’s plans!

Code Geass R2 continues to impress (depite the naysayers who think it’s gone too far), especially now that I’m back to being settled into the Code Geass groove after being in the Gundam 00 groove for six months. And one thing that’s been running through my head all through the first series and R2 thus far has been: “wow, technology is progressing fast.” Yes, a year’s passed since the end of the first season (and I don’t know if there’s any official figures on how big a span of time the first season covered, or how much time R2 has covered thus far), but even in the first season, rather than the Gundam-esque mid-series upgrade (which even Gundam doesn’t follow half the time; I think After War Gundam X had at least two upgrades, if not three, for Garrod’s Gundam alone, counting both the X and the XX) there’s an arms race between the Britannian army and the Black Knights, spearheaded by Lloyd Asplund for the Brittannian side (I cheered when he sauntered on-screen this episode, because he’s hilarious and awesome and other hyperbolic adjectives) and Lakshata Chawla for the Black Knights.

One of the recurring plots of the series that’s only alluded to in passing is that there seems to be a kind of rivalry between these two, such that they’re effectively waging their own war via proxy, though their inventions in trying to counter the other’s latest developments. They’re both hard at work developing countermeasures for the other’s tech and trying to create other, more offensive tech at the same time. I don’t know about you, but I find this barely-hinted-at subplot quite entertaining. We get the bonus of having at least one new technology thrown into the mix every couple episodes or so, throwing a distinct imbalance into the combat. Kallen can’t tear it up with the Guren all the time, and neither can Suzaku and the other Knights of Round do the same with their custom Knightmares. It adds an element of unpredictability into almost every battle, as you never know who’s going to have the technological edge and who’s not going to. We saw this in 6 with the deployment of the aerial version of the Guren, which managed to be just as overwhelmingly powerful as the Guren was the first time Kallen got behind the controls.

Of course, this general sense of instability and one-upsmanship is part and parcel of the whole Code Geass experience. It’s like watching a chess match on ESPN (do they actually show these on ESPN? Does the announcer spend a lot of time saying “He’s thinking, he’s thinking–he touched a pawn! He’s going to move! He’s picked it up an–he changed his mind and put it back down! This, ladies and gentlemen, is one hell of a chess match!” Are there all-female cheerleading squads, or even better, all-male ouendan for the chess players? If not, there should be.)–everything gets planned far in advance and then that one pawn does that accursed en passant move and your plan is trashed and you have to come up with something new, and fast. It’s part of the reason the series is so much fun to watch, and because it’s so much fun to watch, it’s why it’s popular. Which it’s kind of nice to see a Taniguchi Goro series get so much love; I don’t think he’s gotten this much popularity for any of his previous series, even s-CRY-ed and Planetes, which were quite popular but I don’t think they reached that much further out of the internet anime community (and s-CRY-ed barely has a following nowadays, aside from the occasional Radical Good Speed joke, because referencing Straight Cougar never gets old). I think it just goes to show that if you Limiter Release Goro, crazy things happen–good things, but still crazy.

I’m already wondering what craziness he’s going to get up to after Code Geass R2 is over with. The very prospect frightens and tempts me.

Code Geass R2: Sieg Zeon…err, I Mean, Zero

Goro knows how to please a man, and pleasing this man involves Shirley in swimsuit + twintails + thighhighs.

This was probably the best “filler” episode of Code Geass yet, perhaps even better than the Leouche chasing after Zero’s helmet episode. And, yet, it wasn’t entirely filler, much like the previous season’s festival episode wasn’t complete fluff either. What worries me, though, is that what followed the last festival episode was none other than that episode title to strike fear in the hearts of men everywhere, “Bloostained Euphie”. And we all know what happened there.

It’s a testament to Goro’s own personal directorial philosophy that always creeps up in his series (that I’ve seen, so far), in that he’s not necessarily afraid to cut loose and just have fun every once in a while, as he did in this episode. He does it in Scryed (that entire series was about cutting loose and having fun, and it was all the better for it) and Planetes (where he added in comic relief characters that were not present in the original manga, infuriating some but ultimately making the series much more fun to watch). It’s also important to point out that Goro is good at both humor and drama. I don’t quite think Code Geass would be quite as well-liked as it is if it didn’t accomplish both with aplomb. The zany humor of this episode, for instance, don’t really feel out of place when compared with the rest of the series, and the scenes surrounding the festival scenes remind us of the seriousness of the situation, which only accentuates the absurdity.

Still, intermixed with all the absurdity are the chunks of plot, such as C.C. mentioning her…brother? Cousin? Something? V.V. to Lelouch. I’m guesing that all the Geass powers possessed by those in the employ of Brittania come from him in some way or form, which means that there’s much more working under the surface of Code Geass than a simple rebellion. It’s kind of a shame that they haven’t touched on this very much either in the first season or this season, but I’m guessing that sometime soon things are going to Come Clean. It’s likely that Lelouch, for all his scheming and outwitting, is actually playing straight into the plan of C.C. who might be an even bigger manipulator than he is, and they’ve hinted at this since the first episode of the first season. And God only knows what C.C. wants.

And it’s just too damn cruel to play the Nunnally card like Suzaku just did, but it’s just proof that Code Geass R2 is going to be less a season of Lelouch winning effortless triumph after triumph (or maybe I’m just rusty on my first season) and more like an actual chess game between two shrewd players of the game, where the relative ranks of the two players are constantly in flux with every move made. And that’s how actual real-world situations are, atlhough on a much larger scale, as everyone tries to out-maneuver everyone else before they get out-maneuvered themselves. Politics is tons of fun like this, and this is why I don’t really follow the news too terribly closely: one, it’s often too complicated for any one person to figure out on their own, even if they had something like Wikipedia to back them up and provide information on the actual facts; and two, Shirley Fenette is not parading around in a ridiculously hot outfit. But that’s beside the point.

The point is, things are getting much more complex for Lelouch these days. And he thrives on complex situations. He’s quite the dangerous man.

Code Geass R2: Lelouch Lamperouge, Devious Mastermind

Quiver in fear, Rolo, for you have been destroyed by the brilliant intellect that is Lelouch Lamperouge. Feel honored, if your inferior intellect is capable of feeling honor.

So, yeah, this was pretty much the best episode of Code Geass that I can remember. Setup for R2 seems to be over now, and now things start in earnest. There is nothing I like better about Code Geass than Lelouch playing mind games with people, and Fukuyama Jun is so good at delivery that I half-believed what Lelouch was telling Rolo. Seriously. And then I had to slap myself and say “Wait, this is Lelouch, he’s just manipulating Rolo’s mind” and was seriously impresed.

Rolo seems to be a very interesting character, especially given the characterization he’s given in this episode. His usefulness extends only as far as his Geass power can reach, and that’s a pretty small radius to alter time perception. The meeting he overheard between Viletta and the other observers of Lelouch wherein they totally trash him served as excellent foreshadowing for Rolo’s later mindplay, and we didn’t even notice anything was up. It’s clear, in hindsight, that the casual “meh” attitude Rolo had was developed simply to cope with the crippling lonliness and lack of self-worth he possesses. We don’t see that, though, until after Lelouch warps Rolo’s mind enough to bring out his inner feelings. I, for one, didn’t see that particular plot twist coming, so kudos to Goro and Okouchi Ichiro for pulling that off and even foreshadowing it in such a way that you don’t even know it’s foreshadowing until you get to the end of the episode and think about it for a bit.

It’s clear, though, that Lelouch isn’t trying to win over an ally so much as bend Rolo to his means. He fully intends, as he said himself, to leech Rolo dry of any benefit he can, while still making him feel wanted and loved enough to keep him working for him. In the space of four episodes, Rolo has gone from being the BAD END of the PSP game, where he holds ultimate control over Lelouch’s life, to the exact opposite, where Lelouch holds Rolo dangling over a pit of snapping piranas thirsty for human flesh. He might as well be God in the Jonathan Edwards sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”, and, worse, he’s quite enjoying himself as he torments others.

It’s interesting of Lelouch that he’ll forego the usual respect afforded to other human beings simply out of his desire to overthrow his father, Charles. It’s vaguely reminiscent of the little I know about Steven Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, and as I haven’t seen that yet I can’t talk in clear specifics (I’m going to watch soon, though, a DVD of a recording of an actual stage performance with George Hearn in the title role, as opposed to the Tim Burton version, as I’d rather watch the unexpurgated version before the expurgated, but that’s just me), but I’m pretty sure there’s similiarities you can draw, such as using violent methods to exact your revenge upon cruelties performed upon you. The only difference is that Code Geass is successful and Sweeney Todd has never been a major success since its release in the 70s, so drawing comparisons will either make a small subset of the population amazingly happy, or draw the attention from one to the other, which is probably a good thing no matter which way it’s sliced. When I actually watch it, I might see if my notion remains valid, but I suspect it will.

But, yes, Lelouch doesn’t pull punches for people in his quest for revenge. He’s a clear anti-hero, yet, given how sympathetic his plight is, you can’t help but cheer (if that is the correct word) him on and marvel at his cunning intellect as he quashes everyone in his way and somehow has everything work out exactly as planned even when the plan came into being three hours ago. I kind of wish we’d have more anti-heroes in anime, but Lelouch is a fluke of Code Geass’s timeslot You can trust Taniguchi Goro to take advantage of whatever he can, when he can, and I can’t help but think that Code Geass was massively improved over the original concept due to the timeslot swapping. You both love and hate Lelouch as a character, or, at least, I do (much heavier on the “love” side though), which always makes for much more entertaining and complex viewing. After all, if you can’t cheer on a villain, who can you cheer on?

Code Geass R2: Divine, Delicious, and Deadly Desserts

This picture sums up the first two words. Rolo comprises the third.

It actually seems to me that in this episode, Sunrise was baiting the fangirls with tempting images of brotherly love between Lelouch and Rolo. “Aww, look,” the shots seem to say, “aren’t they just the cutest couple? Please go and create hordes of yaoi doujin after watching this episode.” I mean, it’s all there: the tender loving care false-memory Lelouch exhibited for Rolo, the wonderful birthday present of a locket (a heart-shapted locket, no doubt symbolic of their eternal love and devotion for each other) to Rolo, and Rolo’s worried affection for his older brother. Throw into the mix the fact that the original character designs were done by CLAMP and we’ve got some kind of mad crazy giant robot manlove fest.  ()DISCLAIMER: Not that there is anything wrong with manlove fests. It’s just that I’m male and therefore not interested in manlove fests. You can, however, sign me up for mad crazy giant robot girllove fests that aren’t named Kannazuki no Miko)

Of course, probably half these things were made up, and the other half of them are elaborate fictions created by Rolo, an undercover agent, and Lelouch, who is really Zero. It’s an elaborate fiction of passionate brotherly love, made all the more untrue by the final scene, where Rolo reveals his Geass to Lelouch. I mean, time stop? We already had mind reading. Did Lelouch get slapped with the bottom of the barrel, past-expiry, heavily discounted Geass power or something? God only knows what Charles li Brittania’s dual Geass powers are. Is V.V. behind all this? Is C.C. some kind of Geass weakling? Why am I asking questions no one knows the answers to, including this one?

Anyway.

The fiction of Rolo and Lelouch’s relationship as fangirl fanservice means that Code Geass is subverting things left and right. A boy-boy pairing where the happy fun love time didn’t actually happen? It’s like Goro is making some kind of elaborate statement about and/or practical joke upon the fujoshi. Most pairing fantasies exist outside the strict canon of the series, with justification (sometimes flimsy, sometimes valid) for said pairing found scattered throughout the series in small canon hints that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that <Male Character X> would like to be in the pants of <Male Character Y>. (Again, DISCLAIMER: Not like there’s anything wrong with this sort of activity. If guys didn’t do it too, there’d be a hell of a lot less erodoujin) Goro here offers tantalizing glimpses of Rolo and Lelouch, and then by the end of the episode they’re pointing guns at each other (well, okay, it started out with Lelouch pointing one at Rolo, but that situation got kind of turned around). It’s a conscious admission that this theoretical pairing is a complete fiction, because that’s clearly not how the two characters feel for each other.

Whether or not this is actually what’s going on is another thing entirely, but I found it an interesting aspect of the episode. As for me, well, I’ll leave complicated pariings maths to the much more dedicated, and continue to be overly excited at every glimpse of Lelouch x Shirley. I fell in love with Shirley all over agian in this episode, because she’s so darn cute. Useless, yes, but a cute useless. She just wants to be with Lulu. Can’t a girl dream?

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.


NOTICE SHAMELESSLY STOLEN FROM G.K. CHESTERTON

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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