Jake: Alright. I'm Jake.
Trevor: No you're
Jake: Best start to
anything ever, Trevor. Hey, that
Anyway, Trevor, I've
invited you here, to this extra-planetary mindscape to discuss something with
…I’m not really sure why I'm asking because that's what I did.
Trevor: Yes, indeed you did and your wish to break the 4th wall has also
Jake: 4th Wall Smorth
Anyway, I invited you here to discuss the interplay between the
climaxes and conclusions of the anime Code Geass, and the endings of Mass
Trevor: And I'd be
willing to say that we're both experts on both topics.
Jake: Not to toot our own horns, but yes I would be willing to say
that, though I believe you are far more knowledgeable than I when it comes to
Code Geass. Why don't you tell the
readers what it's about, to give a brief refresher or summary?
Fair warning: spoilers for both media to follow
*Pulls up PowerPoint from project last semester
**Really did this too
*is subtly impressed
3 Major Empires in the world:
Britannia, E.U., Chinese Federation
Son of Britannian Emperor (Lelouch) is exiled to Japan
Britannia conquers Japan
10 years later, Lelouch assumes leadership of the Japanese resistance
Zero begins eliminating the Royal Family, AKA his step-siblings
Zero, now leader of the Black Knights, leads a push on the capital of
During the battle, he is drawn away from the front lines
Zero is captured and brought in front of the Emperor
• Lelouch’s memories of
his sister, heritage, Zero, and the “Power of the King” are erased
• End of Season
The "Power of the King" (Geass) is a supernatural power
obtained by making a contract with an immortal, C.C. or V.V. Lelouch has
"The Power of Absolute Obedience", which basically means mind
You see, Lelouch is trying to figure out why his mother, Lady
Marianne, was killed and who did it.
Jake: And he wants to
protect his physically disabled sister, Nunnally, right?
Trevor: Yes, protecting Nunnally, who is blind and forced into a
wheelchair for the rest of her life because of their mother's assassination, is
Lelouch's other motive.
Jake: Lelouch sounds
like a pretty nice guy. Is he a nice
Trevor: Depends, are
we talking about Lelouch Lamperouge, Lelouch vi Britannia, or Zero?
Zero, Lelouch's terrorist persona, is a "Knight for
Justice"; defender of the oppressed and nightmare of those with power.
Jake: And he's pretty
ruthless, right? Lelouch is a master of strategy and, as Zero, he uses is
cunning to outmaneuver superior foes and force them into unwinnable situations,
often sacrificing pawns along the way
Trevor: Excellent input. Lelouch is
a chess master. Zero's first appearance forced the Britannian military to
crumple devastatingly. He managed to hijack an enemy Knightmare, fighting
robots/exoskeletons, using his newly obtained Geass.
From there he used the IFF/radar to give information to the
terrorists and beat the Britannians.
Jake: And on the other
side of our coin, we have the saga of Mass Effect, a video game series centered
on Commander Shepard
Jake: Right. So
Commander Shepard must save the galactic civilization from the Reapers,
towering bio-mechanical death ships that return to the Milky Way galaxy every
several millennia *fact check* (fact checks are for whimps) to catalogue and
cleanse all sentient life in the galaxy, due to a programming error (seriously,
that's what it is). Mass Effect is a game where the player's choices affect the
story. You can play as a benevolent
paragon, out to do good all the time, or you can play as a merciless,
win-at-all cost Renegade. You either unite the galaxy or marshal specific
forces to attempt to end the Reaper threat. At the end of the game, in order to
stop the Reaper threat once and for all, you are presented with 3
solutions. You can essentially destroy
all the Reapers (and possibly other cybernetic life in the galaxy). The threat will be ended but the person
presenting the choices warns you that in time, your descendants may make their
own Reapers and the cycle of death and destruction will begin anew because it’s
depressingly inevitable. The second option is to seize control of the Reapers,
overriding their collective conscious with that of your own. You will lose any semblance of your humanity;
however, the compulsions that guided you through your life (benevolence,
close-fistedness, ruthlessness) will now govern the Reapers. Importantly, the choice-giver tells you that
it'll stop them from killing everyone. The third option, which you can only
access if you've done enough throughout the game, is synthesis. The Reapers were created because organics
would always build sentient technological life, which would eventually surpass
and then destroy their creators. The
Reapers were created by godlike squid-ish aliens
who observed this cycle for millennia
and built a computer program to find a solution to the problem. Their hubris blinded them, believing themselves
above the conflict they had witnessed.
They were rudely told otherwise when the Program turned on them,
deciding that, since organics could not be saved from themselves, it would have
to do so, storing all species DNA in the Reaper ships until a solution to the
organic-synthetic problem could be found.
As it could never ascertain a solution, the Program began the Cycle, a
violent culling of all organic life in the galaxy every millennium. Circling
back to the ending, you, as Commander Shepard, who was brought back from death
by organic and synthetic means, present the Program with a new variable. The third option, Synthesis becomes
available. By essentially casting yourself
into the system, the Program recreates all life in the universe as a blend of
both synthetic and organic. Because
space magic. With the unification of
organics and synthetics, you are presented with a galaxy whole and at true
Long-winded as hell, but there it is.
These three solutions are also present in Code Geass, but in
reverse order of "correctness," for lack of a better term. Trevor, do you want to explain the
set-up and idea of Emperor Charles's solution?
Trevor: Let's see…
Charles wanted to use the power of Geass to defeat the collective
unconscious of humanity
To do so, he needed his 5th wife, Marianne, Lelouch, C.C, and
All of them combined activate a mythical weapon called the Sword
Akasha will return the dead to life, nonzombie-ish. There will be
no war and everyone will connect, subconsciously, as one being.
Jake: Because with the
unconscious destroyed, only truth will remain, right? Humanity loses its
ability to lie, which, Charles says will end all conflict right?
Trevor: Lies and deceit
is the whole underlying theme of Code Geass. As seen by the main character
Jake: Right! Lelouch critiques Charles' solution, correct?
Trevor: Yep! Lelouch
believes that people lie to protect the one's they love. He lies to protect
Nunnally and his friends. He also proves that neither Charles nor Marianne
cared if Lelouch or Nunnally died because they would return to life. Pretty
harsh to tell your parents that they don’t care if you died, right?
Jake: Right. And
doesn't he also claim that total unity will stymie and stagnate the human race
Trevor: "That ...
I ... I reject you, and I reject everything you believe. Why do people lie, it
isn't only because they struggle against each other, it's also because there is
something that they're seeking. You now want a world without change. How
stagnant, you could hardly call it life. The same as a world of memories, just
a world that's closed and completed, that's a place I wouldn't want to live
Jake: Exactly! Which
is an interesting critique of Mass Effect 3's synthetic ending, the
"good" ending. With synthetic and organic life unified at the
cellular level and ostensibly, living forever, what advancement needs to take
place? What does sentient life do at that point when they don't need to do
Trevor: Most would
assume live peacefully, but there are always something to fight about and a
need for advancement. Kind of like how in Mass Effect, Shepard is warned that
your ancestors might recreate the Reapers.
Jake: Right, but if
all life is congealed (trapped) in collective understanding, needing none of
the necessities humans require to survive, why would they do anything? Every single human advancement can be
attributed to fulfillment of the necessities of life. Sustenance, shelter, survival and
procreation. If those requirements are
removed, there's no reason to do anything!
Trevor: Very true.
Jake: I'm not saying
that's exactly what happens in the synthesis ending. The endings are a bit ambiguous like
that. But it’s certainly an interpretation that leaves
it open to Lelouch's criticism.
So on to the next ending: Control. Which is similar to the plan of Prince
Schneizel, Lelouch's elder brother, wanted to control the world's population.
He was going to use a flying base/station called Damocles. Damocles is used to
house F.L.E.I.J.A warheads, which are kind of similar to nuclear weapons. Those
who disobeyed his rule would face an F.L.E.I.J.A. warhead. This route ends in a
world ruled by fear. A forced peace that may or may not last.
Jake: Indeed and if I
recall correctly, Schneizel tested Damocles on the Imperial City murder
Trevor: Indeed. The
first test of Damocles was on Pendragon, the capital of Britannia. He killed
everyone in the city claiming that they did not need to live under the control
of Geass. He even lied to Nunnally by saying he evacuated the city.
Jake: There’s an
interesting parallel between Schniezel and the Shepard who chooses the Control
ending. Throughout the game, the
secondary antagonist is the Illusive Man, the leader of a human supremacist
group, seeks to control the Reapers through his own means to establish human
dominance over other species.
Unbeknownst to him, he is already being subliminally controlled by the
Reapers, which prevents him from ever being able to control them. When the Program presents you with the
control option, Shepard brings up this fact, but the Program assures you that
you would be in control. The
after-decision scene implies that you certainly are. Moreover, the citizens of the galaxy seem
content under watch of the machines that were so recent trying to violently
harvest them. Admittedly, the methods
and circumstances of control in the two stories: Schenizel was dealing with
adversaries who wanted to stop him, where Shepard was trying to end a war with
the total support of the people.
Trevor: Which is the
main difference in the two stories.
Jake: Shepard is
always seen as a hero (or anti-hero, depending on play style) where Schenizel
is a perpetual antagonist to Lelouch.
However, everyone's the hero of their own story. While ME's credit scene
paints a peaceful picture, who’s
to say some people didn't accept Shepard's (possibly benevolent) despotic rule.
Trevor: If I recall,
you encounter some of those people early on in the series.
Jake: Oh yeah! What
must those people be thinking? "Yo, Shepard, I'm real thankful you saved
us and all, but I'm not really 100% down with you being a near-omnipotent
god." Because that's essentially
what the control ending establishes you as: a god, watching over all the little
sentients who scurry about in admiration and/or fear. It's what Schneizel on Damocles would have
Trevor: Why don't you
tell us about destruction in Mass Effect, Jake?
Jake: Whoa whoa, you
can't change the formula in the third act Trevor. This isn't a Shyamalan movie. Tell us about Lelouch's solution.
Trevor: Ugh, fine.
Lelouch wished to destroy evil, by becoming an even larger evil. To do so he
killed his rivals and became the Emperor of Britannia. He destroyed the old
systems and ensured no one within the country will oppose him, by the use of
Geass. When he gained control Damocles, he successfully became the enemy of the
entire world. To end this evil he had Zero assassinate him publicly, leaving
the world to be ruled peacefully by Nunnally and Zero.
Jake: And Lelouch
presumes that since everybody saw how freaking evil he was, nobody would ever
want something like that again, that generations would know the evil came from
giving a sole human so much power over everyone else.
Jake: This is the
interesting point in the relationship where Mass Effect critiques Code Geass,
rather than how it's been for the past two examples.
I fooled you!!! It's Shamalaynian after all!!!!
Jake: There is no
extra planetary mindscape. It's just two
dudes their computers!
Bruce Willis has been dead this whole time!
Aaaaanyway, while the Big Bad in Code Geass turns out to be
Lelouch, the Big Bad in Mass Effect never ambiguous as it's always the
Reapers. The Destroy ending is the only
ending that allows Shepard to survive in his current (admittedly beat to crap)
state. So, presumably, he can tell the
galaxy the lesson of the Reapers, how organics shouldn't build synthetics (as
all the current ones are destroyed with the Reapers). Much like the lesson the World learned from
Lelouch. BUT! The Program warns him that, many generations down the line,
Shepard's descendants will forget the tale of the Reapers, chalk them up to
boogeymen that couldn't possibly be real and, in their hubris, will create
their own synthetics and the Cycle of violence will begin anew. This, arguably,
is a future that is in store for the world of Code Geass. Sure, Nunnally and
Zero may benevolently guide the world for a time, but they'll eventually die,
as will their descendants and the lesson of Lelouch will fade into memory, into
history, into legend. And legends, by
their definition, cannot be real. And so
the world will forget the terror of Lelouch, a human will be given great power,
abuse it and the cycle will begin anew.
My, that's bleak isn't it?
mortality (a semi-common debate among fans) doesn’t matter because he's not in a position to stop anything.
In fact, if anything does occur, it proves the Program right.
Trevor: All he could
do is reappear as Zero or something.
Jake: But if he needs
to that means the Program was right.
Trevor: Which is why
the viscous cycle of WWII happens.
*2017-2018 ATB is like 1944-45 AD
Jake: If immortal Lelouch has to reappear, that means something's gone
wrong, which proves Mass Effect's critique correct.
Trevor: Which in
theory is very strange.
Jake: How so?
Trevor: If Mass Effect
is right, then Code Geass will be happen, then the cycle repeats.
Jake: Which is why
it's a critique and not a handshake, where's the strangeness?
Trevor: The way I see
it, this is the only one that is cyclic.
Jake: Oooooh, you're still operating under the assumption that I was
going to reshape one of your favorite video games with one of your favorite
animes. Turns out, I'm reshaping your one of your favorite animes with one of
your favorite video games!!!!!
Trevor: Charles makes
the entire human race into shiftless automatons, one mind, and different bodies
Schniezel's ending is like if the Illusive Man controlled the
Jake: Right and the
ending of Code Geass is the "bad" ending from Mass Effect. Bad in that it’s not the "eternal peace" ending.
Which can be a good or a bad thing depending on your point of
Which is why the series complement each other the way they
do. They're written with an inverse of
ideals. However, it is only in Code Geass, an anime released six years prior to
ME3's release, that one finds a suitable point-counterpoint system of the two
Anyway, I think this has been a very informative and
thought-provoking discussion, don't you Trevor?
Trevor: It has been
one of the best conversations I've had in a long time
Now only if others would be willing to voice their opinions on
Jake: Aw, you're such
a sweetie. Yes, if you've thought up something we've missed, feel free to leave
a comment below.
Labels: Code Geass, Comparison, I don't understand half of this column, Lelouch, Mass Effect, Shepard