The Meaning, Plot and Characters Explained – Part 2
This second part is focused on the message, the general meaning the plot of Code Geass presents to the spectators. The inspection is as for Part 1, restricted to the anime series R1 and R2. Comparison with other animes and stylistic choices are discussed here. Please prepare. All hail Britannia!
Zero. In the name of Justice.
Lelouch chooses the name “Zero” for the man who would have been the guide of the Black Nights. It’s not a name taken by chance, it’s a homen nomen, that means a speaking name. The choice, in fact, it’s explicatory of the acts, the thinking and the moral of the role Zero has to cover. Zero cannot be identified with a single daily person, he is the symbol of Hope for Japan and in general for the World.
The name of Zero recalls also to the immense sacrifice Lelouch is ready to taken. Reducing his personal life, friends, love sensations and own feelings to nothing, or better to zero. It’s a non-returning point, the one who carries the burden of Zero has to renounce to eveything to achieve a superior goal. It’s the burden also Suzako has to face when he kills Lelouch.It’s not a case that the ultimate plan is referred as Zero Requiem. A requiem is a Mass of the dead offered for the repose of the soul of deceased persons. In this context the Zero Requiem is the destruction phase, with a lot of victims offered to achieve the goal; in few words is the starting point for reconstruction, the (z or Z)ero point.
As introduced here, the name of Zero is related to the concept of annihilation of the personal and private sphere of the person. And this is striclty connected to the appearance of Zero.
The Man and the Mask.
The character of Zero is acknowledged by people by his mask. A mask that allows ourselves as single people to elevate to an idealistic stage. As pointed out previously, in the second season R2, the character of Zero which together with Lelouch undertakes a growing up process in terms of consciussness and moral principles, thinking up a plan to exile the ones belonging in the order of the Black Nights. That way is found out to be wearing all the suits of Zero. That scene is the staging of the fact that everyone who identifies in Zero’s principles becomes Zero. It is a preparatory event when in the final episode 25 of R2 all the people share the acts of Zero killing the Emperor Lelouch. In literature, Zero would be pointed as an Allegory. He personifies Hope, the seeking of happiness the inhabitants of the World strive to achieve.
Beyond the single personality: Pirandello‘s influences?
Because Zero is the concrete image of an abstract concept, it’s important he wears a Mask. However, the mask has also another hidden meaning. It represents also the psychological condition of human nature. Taking hints from Italian literature, according to Pirandello, human personality has no single defined shape. In ourselves differents versions of us dwell; version that take over depending on the situations and the goal we want to achieve. Also in Code Geass a parallel with One No One One Hundred Thousand written by Pirandello seems to be suitable.
In this context the following words of Lelouch, the one capable of find in himself another version of him, Zero, a character beyond the common daily life and ready to sacrifice everything to create a gentler world are explanatory:
“Ever since that day, I have lived a lie, the lie of living.”
― Lelouch Vi Britannia
Relation with other animes: influences and common topics
Code Geass vs Naruto Shippudden.
To my mind, Lelouch’s final plan has a lots of common points with the one settled up by Sasuke Uchiha in Naruto Shippuden. The awareness experienced by the ninja lead him to the desire of cutting off the ties and the bonds every person creates during a relationship. The rising desire for revenge has deeply altered Sasuke mindset, pushing him to become the one who can stand all the hatred, the same hatred he felts for his brother, before discovering the true meaning behind Itachi Uchiha’s actions.
Taking full power, Sasuke would have become the only enemy of the world, unifying with that act the entire humanity. This passage is common to Lelouch’s plan: ruling by fear as a tyrant with no mercy for anyone. The spilled blood from innocent people made Lelouch the devil himself:
To defeat evil, I shall become an even GREATER evil.”
– Lelouch Lamperouge
The relation with Sasuke Uchiha
Besides the similar plan, Lelouch and Sasuke are shaped by differents events and external condition. Sasuke is opposed to Naruto which underlines the importance of the relations, the bonds and compassion towards each other; Naruto is a character much brighter to the one present in Code Geass where we can find a balance of good and evil. In fact, one of the goal of Naruto Shippuden is to sustain values as compassion, friendship and faith: in Naruto Shippuden settings the choice of Sasuke would not have stopped the chain of hatred. On the contrary, that would have lead to a temporary unity of people with continuing raising hatred.
The choiche of Lelouch is similar but on an other level: the prince of Britannia’s principles are never compromised or corrupted by his power. Lelouch’s strategy is to assure a better world for the future creating the figure of Zero which will be a timeless knight of the hope, ensuring the success through the support of Schneizel (by means of Geass) and Suzako. Talking about character which compromised their own moral guide a comparison with Death Note is obliged.
But there’s another similarity between Sasuke and Lelouch! Of Course!
It’s the ability: the Geass for Lelouch and Sharingan/Rinnegan for Sasuke. In both case their power reside in their eyes. The hypnotic power of Sharing and the willing power of Geass are two instruments of destruction and creation. Moreover, they are both capable of creating a world of lies.
Code Geass vs Death Note
The power Light Yagami acquired with the Death Note is exceptional. Death Note greatly underlines how power, the evil can corrupt even the best, highly principle student. That power that compromises definively the mental stability of Light, causing him a non-returning descending into hell and finally becoming the devil: Kira.
I am Justice! I protect the innocent and those who fear evil. I’m the one that will become the god of a new world that every one desires!
– Light Yagami
In both cases, we are dealing with two clever student which live a second covered life. Despite the increasing power of Geass, Lelouch even getting through moments of falling and catharsis does not betray his morality and his goal: to seek a world of happiness. He knew that the sacrifice of people has to be at least worth to obtain the aim; he and Suzako are also ready to accept the relative consequences. On the other hand, we highlight that Death Note is also interested in pushing the spectator to inspect what is Justice, if it has an absolute of relative meaning.
Another touching point is the way Kira and Zero consider the people involved directly or indirectly in their plans. In particular, the comparison is more suitable with Lelouch of the first season (R1). In fact, both of them treat others like merely pawns at the same level of objects. And also here stands the biggest evolution between the Lelouch of R1 and Lelouch of R2: the second has matured the value of happiness.
A long time ago, Nunally, Suzaku, and I talked about something. We wondered what happiness would look like if we could give it a physical form. If I’m not mistaken, I think it was Suzaku that said that the shape of happiness might resemble glass. His reasoning made sense. He said that even though you don’t usually notice it, it’s still definitely there.
– Lelouch Lamperouge
Code Geass – The Meaning and characters explained: Final thoughs and remarks
At the end of this article, I want to some other remarks. Code Geass is a story of a character which the develpments of the plot is ready to sacrifice everything to achieve the ultimate goal. Lelouch is not 100% of the path of blood he has to get through to complete his plan but during that process constituted by fallings and raisings mantain the promise made to Suzako: turning lies into reality.
The best way to remove your lies is to make them come true.
– Suzaku Kururugi
Question of Dark Knights.
The final stage requires Lelouch to become the scapegoat of all the evil. For what he has done, the sins he accepted Lelouch is aware he cannot be a hero. It’s this the case he turn into the villain, talking about dark nights the quote seems to be appropriate:
You Either Die A Hero, Or You Live Long Enough To See Yourself Become The Villain
– Harvey Dent (The Dark Knight)
Suzako and Lelouch with their positive and negative sides are not eligible to classical heroes the real hero is Zero, not the hero we deserve but the hero we needed.