Lelouch of the Rebellion: A Code Geass Review
Code Geass, the series
What if Japan were conquered by an empire of English speakers of British descent whose base of operation was in North America? And what if these conquerors did not stop at conquest? What if they insisted on humiliating Japan, robbing it of its flag, and completely reorganizing its government? That is the topic of the exciting anime series named Code Geass.
Code Geass is just a work of romantic fiction that helps us to pass the day. But in real life, that could never happen, right? Well, actually, it already did. And that is part of the genius behind Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion. The reason everything in the series seems so familiar, and the reason it stirs up so much emotion, is because it is just a little embellishment on a structure of cold hard facts.
The Japanese Imperial Flag
I am not Japanese and I was born long after WWII was over. For most of my life, when WWII was mentioned, I automatically thought of the Western front and pretty much ignored the role of Japan. If we think in terms of Nazi Germany, WWII seems almost like a moral fable about good versus evil, in which the moral is that good always triumphs. After all, the allies didn't start the war. They merely responded when attacked. The war was conducted by a genocidal maniac who made countless strategic mistakes. Germany deserved to lose the war, on so many levels. It seems inconceivable that it could have won.
But if you examine the war from the Japanese perspective, things don't seem all that clear cut or even fair.
Of course, I am not completely blind to the fact that the Japanese ruled conquered enemies with an iron hand, that they forced prisoners of war on long death marches, or that they kept women and children who were enemy aliens in inhumane living conditions in internment camps.
Nevertheless, as hard as the Japanese were on others, they held themselves to an equally tough standard. The Italians pretended to be fascisti, dedicated soldiers who lived for their nation. This was merely a pretense. The Japanese actually lived up to those standards. One by one their allies deserted them. The Russians and the Italians changed sides. The Germans were defeated. Still the Japanese fought on. Valiant pilots threw away their lives on one way missions. The entire Japanese population soldiered on. They might never have surrendered. Except for one thing.
The atomic bomb!
Was that fair? Did the best side really win? Or did the Americans use a dishonorable technological trick, because they could never have beaten Japan otherwise?
Well, it all depends on your point of view. We might argue that all is fair in love and war. We can argue that technological advances count just as much as dedicated troops and selfless civilian populations. But... look at the world today. And think how different it might have been had Japan won the war!
When the Japanese surrendered, they gave up their empire, their form of government, and even the rays emanating from the rising sun on their military imperial flag. How did that feel? Well, watch Code Geass, and you might have some idea.
Code Geass Opening with Italian Subtitles
The opening to Code Geass shows two little boys climbing up from a valley filled with sunflowers and looking up at the sky through the trees at something horrible and ominous. There is no sound, until the narrator tells us: "The date was August 10 in the year 2010 of the imperial calendar. The Holy Britannian Empire had just declared war on Japan. The far east Island nation held fast to its neutrality, and now Britannia looms as the world's only superpower. Rights to Japan's underground resources became a hotly disputed issue, straining the already deep-rooted diplomatic tensions between the two sides. In the deciding battle for the mainland, Britannian forces introduced into combat the humanoid autonomous armored knight known as the Knightmare Frame. The enemy's forces were far greater than anticipated, and the Knightmares obliterated the Japanese line of defense on the Mainland with little effort. Japan became a dominion of the Empire. Japan was stripped of its freedom, its rights and its name. Area Eleven. The defeated and once proud nation of Japan was rechristened with a mere number."
Then one of the little boys says to the other: "I swear! I swear, Suzaku, so help me, I will one day obliterate Britannia!"
I have to say that I don't really understand the Japanese animators' interest in "humanoid armored vehicles" or machines that turn into people and people who turn into machines. However, if we simply accept that this is a metaphor for a high tech method of winning without actually engaging in direct, conventional person to person combat, then we can move on and discuss what the show is really about.
The show is about fascism, nationalism, resistance groups, the will to power, the thirst for revenge and other Wagnerian themes of the highest order.
It even touches quite explicitly on social Darwinism and the way that different levels of ability and personal achievement are accomodated by society.
The story follows Lelouch Lamperouge, a Britannian prince in exile who is helping the Japanese resistance for some convoluted reasons of his own, not the least of which is revenge. After Lelouch kills his half brother Clovis, the crown prince, we get a speech from the Emperor of Britannia himself that pretty much spells out the Britannian take on social equality.
The Emperor's Speech: Social Darwinism or just a parody?
The Britannian flag and the Britannian national anthem
All Hail Britannia
words by Damian Broomhead music by Kotaro Nakagawa
Truth and hope in our Fatherland!
And death to every foe!
Our soldiers shall not pause to rest
We vow our loyalty
Old traditions they will abide
Arise young heroes!
Our past inspires noble deeds
All Hail Britannia!
Immortal beacon shows the way
Step forth, seek glory!
Hoist your swords high into the clouds
Our Emperor stands astride this world
He'll vanquish every foe!
His truth and justice shine so bright
All hail his brilliant light!
Never will he be overthrown
Like mountains and sea
His bloodline immortal and pure
All Hail Britannia!
So let his wisdom guide our way
Go forth and seek glory
Hoist your swords high into the clouds
Copyright reserved to the original copyright holders.
The Emperor's Speech
"All men are not created equal. Some are born smarter, or more beautiful or with parents of greater status.Some, by contrast, are born weak of body or of mind, or with few, if any, talents. All men are different. Yes, the very existence of man is discriminatory! That is why there is war, violence and unrest. Inequality is not evil. Equality is!
"What became of the EU that claimed all are equal? It is in constant conflict because its tenets go against human nature! The Middle Eastern Federation, which harbors similar sentiments, is constantly mired in sloth. But our Britannia is not like them! We put an end to wars and evolve with every conquest! Britannia alone looks forward and moves toward a better future.
"The death of my son Clovis is yet more proof that our empire is evolving. Fight! For the future rests in the hands of its rulers! All hail Britannia!"
Why does social Darwinism seem to always come up in these situations where different people, and different peoples and nations, vy for supremacy and dominon over the same natural resources? The reason seems to be that we need some sort of justification for the successful party. The justification runs along these lines: "Our weapons are better because we are better, and it is the natural order of things."
How then can someone resist the conqueror without rebuilding himself into the oppressor's own image? That is the universal problem that is at the heart of this series. This is why it appeals to so many across the globe, and this is why the Chinese government has pulled the videos from the shelves of some of its stores.
The growth of a small group of people into an empire is not inevitable. Growth is not the only way of life. It is possible to maintain a stable population in a limited area without depleting natural resources. Many peoples have maintained a natural equilibrium since their group evolved. The problem is that once another group of people whose way of life requires constant growth shows up, then the People of Exponential Growth are bound to overpower the stable group!
In order to beat the Britannians, you need to become like the Britannians! When this happens, everybody loses.
Interested? You can watch the series for free in the location linked below!
(c) 2009 Aya Katz
Fascism at work! (Notice the cognates in the German captions.)
Start Watching CODE GEASS here
- ZiiMedia - Watch Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion Episode 1 Online, Enjoy ^__^
the best site to watch the most popular anime in japan like naruto, bleach, one piece, dragon ball and more
Download Britannian anthem as a ringtone for your cellphone
- Damian Broomhead:All Hail Britannia!!! - Lyric Wiki - Music lyrics from songs and albums
This song is performed by Damian Broomhead.
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