(Foreword: This is what, my third Code Geass rant in as many weeks? Forgive my indulgence, dear reader, but Code Geass is so interesting I’m afraid to pass up any opportunity to dissect the beast while it still breathes. Plus everyone’s watching it so I’m not spoiling anyone’s fun – at least I hope so. Read on!)
Admit it. Hidden in that corner of your mind housing your dark, secret fantasies, there’s an anime character bound and gagged whose neck you’re itching to wring. Most of the time, anime writers aim to make us hate their show’s antagonists because they want us squarely on the protagonists’ side, but as of late the genre has a tendency to drift towards morally gray areas, where a character’s motivations eclipse whatever convenient label the deities of Plot have granted them.
In my case, that character about whom I have bloody fantasies is Kururugi Suzaku from Code Geass. He doesn’t elicit the same hatred that, say, Makoto from School Days does – the kind of jaw-dropping repugnance you feel for someone who pushes people and events further and further without a tinge of guilt – but I (along with many others) still feel justified in hating Suzaku. To put it bluntly, he’s the most immoral character in a show bursting at the seams with them, yet he tries to pass himself off as a righteous indidivual who deserves the blessings he’s received.
Suzaku originated as the foil to Lelouch’s amoral quest for revenge and power. Early on, however, the writers tripped over a sizeable hurdle: an everyday man with nothing but military training squaring off against Lelouch Lamperouge, the ruthless bastard with a genius-level intellect and a Geass that forces anyone who looks at him to obey his will? Not exactly a fair fight. So they brought out the deus ex machina when needed, propping Suzaku up so he could match Lelouch at every turn. First the writers dropped the Lancelot in his lap, then (literally) Euphie, who knighted him and allowed him to rise above his status. And for a time, it worked okay.
But after a while the the plan’s flaws became apparent: if they had to jump in to rescue Suzaku every time Lelouch showed up, the deus ex machina‘s work would eventually become too excessive for us, the viewers, to swallow. The discrepancy was so enormous that during season one, Lelouch himself had to save his “friend” Suzaku’s rosy buttcheeks not once but twice in the first few episodes alone (once when Suzaku had a date with a firing squad, and again when the military decided optimal use for Suzaku-kun was a kamikaze self-suicidal strike at Zero).
The choice before the writers at the end of season one was a simple one: kill off Suzaku once and for all, or level the playing field between him and Lelouch.
Alas, they settled on the solution non-fatal to Suzaku, and I can understand it – why kill off a character you’ve spent hours fleshing out and for which you have great designs? – but that choice still implied a harsh slash of the Gordian knot. To make Suzaku Lelouch’s equal, they had to amputate his moral core and turn him into another bastard. But oh, where ever could they find a source of tragedy to rock his psychological foundation and transform him thus?
Yep. It was Euphie. Euphie died so Suzaku could live on as a Code Geass character.
And here lies the catch, the seeds of my hatred for him. Code Geass‘s characters have a tendency to escape writer control and continue behaving the way they want to. So it is with Suzaku: although Euphie’s death destroyed him emotionally, he didn’t get the memo about his newfound bastardness. He is a bastard – he fucking wants to inject Karen with Refrain! – yet he steadfastly believes he’s behaving as a noble example of morality, avenging deaths, righting wrongs, that whole “knight in shining armor” routine. Suzaku even sacrificed Lelouch in his mad grab for power within the Britannian Empire! For capturing Lelouch and bringing him to the Emperor, he could have asked anything. Anything! Let’s see, how about a little freedom for his oppressed people, the Elevens, for whose sake he embarked on this quest for change?
Fuck no. Suzaku asked to become an even more important Knight so he could become a big shot and continue to dick around. Wow.
The Suzaku we’re stuck with now, who originally had admirable intentions, has devolved into yet another prick with a padded résumé and a box full of toys he hasn’t earned. He’s riding the coattails of all the other Code Geass characters. Meanwhile, the smarmy Lelouch has had to deal with the fallout from trying to create an empire from scratch while leading a double-life that’s made him friendless and, oddly enough, a good deal more human over the course of the show.
But… maybe that’s where Code Geass‘s writers were always headed from the start? A confrontation where the intial roles have been reversed, where Lelouch has become a champion and Suzaku a power-corrupt asshole?
If so, I sure know who I’ll be cheering for.
Today’s Karen is: DO NOT WANT