How Lelouch vs. Suzaku Defined Code Geass

Article at a glance:

  • Lelouch and Suzaku’s contrasting philosophiesβ€”Lelouch’s “ends justify the means” vs. Suzaku’s moral idealismβ€”drive the show’s central conflict and character arcs, culminating in the Zero Requiem.
  • Lelouch sacrifices his humanity to achieve his goals, while Suzaku’s trauma and guilt lead him to a path of self-destruction, showcasing their mirrored journeys and ultimate resolutions.
  • Lelouch’s primary motivation is to create a better world for his sister, Nunnally, stemming from his hatred for their father’s failures and his desire for revenge.
  • Important dynamics such as Lelouch and C.C.’s honest connection, Suzaku and Euphemia’s tragic love, and Lelouch and Shirley’s emotional impact highlight the depth of character interactions in the show.
  • The complex relationships and personal struggles of characters like Lelouch, Suzaku, Kallen, and others underscore how these dynamics shape the narrative and contribute to Code Geass’s enduring legacy as a classic anime.

I honestly don’t even have a structure for this article in my mind. I rewatched Code Geass all these years later. And now that I am a lot more mature, I’ve come to appreciate this anime differently. When I watched it the first two or three times, I was young. Code Geass was among my first few anime and back then, I just thought it was cool. But after years of doing this job, I have a different mindset to anime than I initially did. And that has allowed me to truly appreciate how good of a dynamic Lelouch vs. Suzaku was.

This whole article isn’t going to be about Lelouch vs. Suzaku, as there are other interesting dynamics I want to point out. But I don’t think it a stretch to say that the dynamic between these two defined the whole show. During almost every significant plot point in the show, both of them are present and when they’re the most vulnerable, they also somehow find themselves in each other’s company. Initially starting on the opposite sides, these two end up agreeing with one another culminating the beautiful and fitting ending of the show that was the Zero Requiem.

So let’s appreciate Lelouch vs. Suzaku and then we will move on to highlight some more interesting character dynamics. Honestly, the characters are just one facet of the show, then there are also other interesting features like the world-building, the mechs, and politics. But today we are focusing on characters so let’s start.

Lelouch vs. Suzaku

I am not the first person to notice this but I will still say it. Lelouch and Suzaku are mirror images of each other. Lelouch believes that the end justifies the means. While Suzaku thinks that a good result achieved through immoral means is not a good result. Little does he know that deep down, he is the same. He also believes that “ends justify the means”. His moral values and always claiming the moral high ground over others is nothing more than a defensive mechanism because he doesn’t want to relive the trauma he went through for killing his father.

Yes, he saved a lot of lives by killing his father but the guilt still burdens him. Which is why he tries to act all self-righteous even though he hates himself. This is why throughout the series, he puts himself in danger intentionally on many occasions. And then later on, when he joins the Knights of the Round, he simply loses sight of why he even joined the Britannian army in the first place. He didn’t realize the weight of his goal. He did not understand how difficult it would be to change a corrupt nation from the inside. And because of this over time, he loses himself.

In contrast, Lelouch never lost himself. Not unintentionally like Suzaku. Lelouch realized that his humanity was stopping him from making the cold calculated decision he needed to make to win. So he sacrificed his humanity intentionally. He understood the weight of his goal and he crumbled multiple times because of that weight. He understands that he is a hypocrite and throughout the series, he is very self-aware of his actions. As Zero, he is this cold, calculated, and charismatic leader, as a student, he is a kind young man who cares about his friends and wants to make a difference. Neither of these is his true personality.

Those are two extremes of his personality. In reality, his personality flows between these two states. As Zero, his heart stops him from making calculated decisions like he should. As a student, his mind stops him from truly being engaged with his classmates. Ultimately, he embraces his Zero persona and comes up with a crazy plan. Zero Requiem was the perfect conclusion for the character arcs of both Lelouch and Suzaku. Suzaku became this symbol without a name and face, the death he always desired. And, Lelouch finally made a peaceful world for Nannally.

Other Awesome Dynamics

Here’s a quick fire of other dynamics I find very interesting. They’re not as deep as Lelouch vs. Suzaku but still awesome

Lelouch and Nunnally

The whole show happens because of Lelouch’s desire to make the world a better place for his sister. He hates his father for failing to protect his mother and giving Nunnally permanent PTSD because of it. And this desire for revenge combined with his genuine wish to change the world is what kickstarted the story. Saying that Lelouch cared deeply for his sister would be an understatement.

Lelouch and C.C.

C.C. is the only person in the whole cast who Lelocuh shares his true feelings with. He cannot and does not lie to her. Whenever something that deeply affects Lelouch happens and he must maintain a cold face in front of the others, he reveals his true feelings to C.C., and she comforts him too. I don’t know if you’d call it romance or anything like that. But it’s like she’s the only person who knows what Lelouch is truly like.

Suzaku and Kallen

This is a pretty typical rivalry. Who is the better Knightmare pilot? It’s not as deep as the ones I previously mentioned but it is still an interesting dynamic because of how well these two know each other. Kallen picks up on Suzaku’s downfall before even he himself realizes it. Their on-screen interactions, be it in or outside of Knightmares are always good.

Suzaku and Euphemia

It was Euphy’s death that really accelerated Suzaku’s downfall. And the nature of her death made it even worse. Euphy was the closest Suzaku ever got to having a personal connection outside of Lelouch in the show and she was taken from him in the most traumatizing way possible. I know a lot of people hate Suzaku but after seeing the person he loved die such a horrifying death, I don’t blame him for losing sight of himself. And then he finds out that the man he considered his best friend was indirectly responsible for her death. That’s just… cruel.

Lelouch and Shirley

Just like the previous one, Shirley’s death impacted Lelouch’s character in a significant way. Her death followed by the betrayal of the Black Knight followed by Rolo’s death is what made Lelouch hit rock bottom. I know that a good chunk of people think that her death was meaningless and I don’t think that’s the case. It’s just that her death is overshadowed by the events that follow it. Otherwise, we all know well just how much Lelouch cared about her from the Mao arc. If things were different, maybe they’d be together.

I could go on like this all day. The show has so many amazing character dynamics and how they affect the character development of others. I didn’t even mention Rolo in this article. But yeah, I think you get the point.

That is all for now!

And again, characters are just one part of why Code Geass is so great. There is still all the action and all the politics and mind games and stuff. This anime truly is a classic and I love it. Let me know what you guys think in the comments. I will take my leave here. See ya!

Also, check out my thoughts on the Spice and Wolf Remake so far here!

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