The Reality of Senseless Violence

I didn’t plan on writing yet another post, but real life has struck.  If you haven’t heard, The University of Texas at Austin campus is on lockdown, as one of two gunman is still loose in on the university grounds.  I work five blocks away from the PCL, UT’s main library, where the first suspect shot and killed himself.  It’s mayhem around here – the sound of helicopters and police sirens are a constant outside my office.  Meanwhile, I pray here silently for my friends on campus, including about 20 young people who are students of mine in a prayer class I teach.  This is happening just a few months after another national news story involving Austin, when a man purposely crashed his plane into a building not far from my house.

Christians are often condemned for their seemingly hypocritical views of nudity v. violence, where the first is degraded and the latter often accepted.  Personally, I’m a hater of senseless violence in media, or violence for the sake of art.  Most of all, I hate when violence is used to titilate.  Case in point:

bloody euphemia
art by KL | reprints allowed by artist

I was a huge fan of Code Geass at the beginning.  Sure, it pandered to audiences, but the animation, vast cast of characters, juxtaposition between school life and war and interesting storyline got me hooked.  Then, Euphemia killed a bunch of people.

I’ve never been so angry at an anime series in my life.  Euphemia was built up through the course of the series, becoming a character that we loved.  She would be the peacemaker.  Peace, of course, wouldn’t happen.  Euphemia was put under the Geass ability and became a mass murderer.  Quite a twist…but one done to shock and awe, not to advance the storyline.  In fact, Lelouch was made a bit out of character to lead up to this peaceful-turned-horrible moment.

And what were the consequences?  Lalouch grieved some, but not much, not after the consequences of his actions.  In the end, of course, he becomes the sacrificing hero.  BLEH.

I turned the computer off and proceeded to be angry for days, thinking of little but this episode.  I never did finish the series, and never will.

Code Geass Euphemia
The day my love for Code Geass turned to hate

Right now, in real life, gunmen are on the University of Texas campus.  The student population is among the top 2 or 3 in the nation; when I attended, we regularly swapped the top spot with Ohio State University.  I feel a pit in my stomach, knowing that someone might be killed.  This is the type of scene that may be depicted in anime (though the body count would surely be higher), but it’s real life.  Violence is real.  Death is real.  We know this, but we dont’ feel it, often, until it hits home.  I know I certainly don’t.

I hope that you’ll think about the UT students today.  I hope that you’ll think about those who have lost family members and friends to high school shootings and other senseless violence.  And if you believe in God, please pray for the safety of the students on campus.

Edit:  Thankfully, there was indeed only one gunman.  That solitary person was the only fatality.  There were no injuries related to gunshots.


18 thoughts on “The Reality of Senseless Violence

  1. I don’t entirely understand why Euphie is such a problem, whereas the violence that had been going on from the very beginning of the show was fine. Kids turned into mass murderers, instigators.
    Employed by the government for the sake of killing both innocents and rebels? Working for the rebels to kill innocent government workers and less innocent officials? Mecha vs. mecha and explosive tricks. Those are fine?

    Anyway, the geass is never supposed to play by the rules. It’s not supposed to follow along with characters’ personalities or their regular behavior. For it to turn Euphie into this shouldn’t be a surprise, and it shouldn’t be anything worse than the violence the show already presented. Bombings, shootings in the streets. And then Euphie is affected and it’s suddenly worse somehow?

    She was the peacemaker, but her change and her actions weren’t unexpected for the show. It was a show about corruption. There was never room for a peacemaker to begin with. It’s as fair game for this to happen to her as it is for there to be other fighting.

    It is war. People die. It is war. People fight. Can you really say that’s entirely senseless? Or purely for art’s sake?

    1. Thank you for the thoughtful post!

      You hit the point on the head – there was NO room for a peacemaker. Euphie’s character was created for a shocking mass murdering scene, to lead the audience to enjoy both the surprising nature of what happened and the carnage in the aftermath. That was the point of that episode – any thing lending to the overall theme of the series was incidental. As for character change, I wasn’t speaking of Euphie, but of Lelouch.

      I can understand violence in plot development – bad guys do bad things; good guys aren’t always good; violence begets violence – that all makes sense. But reveling in violence? That, I don’t enjoy.

      Finally, the last series of questions – of course, war is violent. People die. But there’s no such thing as a geass – it’s the central plot point of the show and can used by the creators in any way. War violence is based in realism; geass in fantasy. A fantastical plot development was created for a bloody, titillating chain of events that existed so that it could exist. That I hated.

      1. Oh, I see. Well, I suppose I can understand that. But the geass was a large portion of the entire point of the show. That people can be controlled, manipulated, and made to do horrible things. People are weak, but if you fight it, you can be strong? It doesn’t have just one purpose.
        But your point is still true, I suppose.

  2. Personally, I don’t mind too much gratuitous violence or nudity in anime as long as it’s not too distasteful. Sometimes the ridiculousness and over-the-top scenes add a little bit of fun for me.
    Of course, that does not apply to real life. I saw the news this morning and it really shocked me. Best of luck to you and others in Austin. ^ ^

  3. While I don’t watch Code Geass, I generally dislike any kind of violence in my animes. That’s probably because I tend to lean towards the slice-of-life genre where violence is not really common, but I absolutely hate 2D violence.

    I don’t really know why, but seeing people getting killed or blood splattering around in a 2D environment puts me off…

    Then again, violence in entertainment is something that interests people. Humans, despite being curious beings, wouldn’t want to be engaged in violence regardless of situation, so they turn to entertainment to quench their curiosity. I know it’s a little harsh to put it this way, but who doesn’t enjoy going around in a game beating up zombies anyway?

    Entertainment provide us with the necessary methods to experience and enjoy things that not many of us are actually willing to do due to their own morals and beliefs, but when people bring these “entertainment experiences” to real life… that’s when all hell breaks loose.

    Still, glad to know that no one was hurt in the whole experience. Must’ve been quite an ordeal to deal with the possibility of an gunman running around the Campus…

    1. There’s definitely a schism between the typical anime fan, who rationally decries violence in real life, but enjoys watching it in series, sometimes to extreme degrees. I don’t think it’s something most of us examine – why are we enjoying this? Mostly, we just chop it up to fun entertainment, which we often don’t want to think too much about.

      On another note, as I get older, I’m also liking slice-of-life anime more and more. “Cowboy Bebop” has been replaced by “Azumanga Daioh” and Key productions. I’m not sure whether I’m getting tamer or whether my beliefs and my actions are starting to meet.

      The gunman thing was no ordeal for me, but I’m sure it was scary for some of those involved. I’m just glad it’s over! 🙂

  4. I still don’t understand the problem with this scene. Before the Geass activated, Lelouch had lost. There was no way he could further justify rebellion from the Japanese people. How is it not plot development if the story basically ends if Euphie successfully establishes her plan?

    As stated somewhere above, the mass murder scene is meant to be a juxtaposition of Euphie’s character. Why not let her just kill one person? Go back on her word? The first could just be seen a lapse of judgment and the second doesn’t go much against her character as a politician. Neither really has any impact of a complete destruction of her personality through Geass. Also, neither of these example truly forces Lelouch to kill her. He may want to kill her in these scenarios, but he can still stop himself. When he knows that he has sent her on a crusade to kill all Japanese, he has no choice but to kill her to save her.

    What does killing her do? It extinguishes basically any hope of a peaceful ending for Lelouch. She was the only one willing to compromise with him, so he is forced to shed more blood to succeed. It also motivates Suzaku enough that he will oppose even his best friend. The other things that Lelouch did before, while terrible, were consistent with Suzaku’s knowledge of Lelouch’s personality. Killing Euphie is something he just cannot forgive.

    1. All good points.

      I’m not against killing off Euphie. It makes sense especially in two ways you mentioned: 1) eliminating possibilities of peace and 2) turning Suzaku against him. However, what I didn’t like it how it was done. Basically, the episode functioned as a blood bath for shock effect. Let’s disturb the audience with how horrible this all turns out. It smacked of Elfen Lied. The show grabbed our heart by pushing Euphie’s goodness, episode after episode, only to totally destroy her in the worst possible way. The show isn’t lofty enough to make the case for this being necessary (ex. to express some theme of nihilism).

      And still, I would give the show, which I loved until that point the benefit of the doubt if Lelouch was seriously shaken by the events, but her barely felt any regret about it. This despite his OOC change of heart in agreeing with Euphie.

      1. With that scene, I honestly don’t see many other ways to do it. If you see the scene as pointless, what would you propose happen instead? I’m not saying that mass murder was absolutely necessary (is anything absolutely necessary?), but I wouldn’t call it pointless.

        I don’t really know what to say about this second bit. In the end, it might be a matter of opinion. I prefer Lelouch as someone who keeps his emotions hidden because he is forced to do so. He doesn’t need to mope around about his actions. Leave that to a different type of character. Lelouch is no hero.

        1. “Pointless” is definitely the wrong word. It’s just this – they develop Euphie throughout the first season NOT to create a dividing point between Suzaku and Lelouch – this is accomplished easily enough without Euphie (and probably in a more manner when it isn’t so personal). The creators do so in order to get the audience to fall in love with her so that they can shock us with the manner of her death. It’s the exact same as with the clumsy girl in the opening minutes of Elfen Lied – get the audience to think one thing and then mess with their emotions. Brilliant.

          That Lelouch doesn’t dwell on Euphie (if I remember correctly, in the episodes directly after he maybe ponders sadly upon her death for a second of screen time) demonstrates that the animators intended the mass murder scene to be tortuous to the viewers. Lelouch was QUITE out of character when he agreed to peace with Euphie – I was like, “HUH?” and I bet most of us who were watching were thinking the same. The animators twisted his character for just that one crazy scene before going back to the character they had established all along.

          I just hated being spun around like that as a viewer.

          1. I’m not sure how they divide Suzaku and Lelouch without Euphie. Suzaku calls Lelouch after Euphie’s death telling him that before her death, he couldn’t imagine killing another man because he always thought that there is always a just way to handle evil. I’d say it’s pretty common that love is such a strong motivator.

            I would argue that Lelouch agrees with Euphie perfectly in character. He lost. Always remember that everything he does is to create peace for Nunnally. Euphie offers him a way to bring peace to Japan without having to destroy Britannia. Why would he risk even more bloodshed in the country where Nunnally resides to win it all when this peace lies right before him? I’d say it’s just rational thinking on his end.

            1. You could be right – at the very least, I’ll just defer to you, since I don’t know as much about Code Geass as you. Thanks for all the discussion! 🙂

  5. Like most of Code Geass, this was done merely for shock reaction. I will say that Euphie’s death was necessary to facilitate the “hate” between Ledouche and Spinzaku, but this was too “wtf” for me. It would have been much moar believable if she had been “Geassed” by accident in an intense battle (innocent bystander gets hurt kinda deal). Instead we get this “oh, we’re about to make peace, let me say something random and hey! look at that! my eye is now permanently geassed! woops!”

    As you said somewhere else Charles, Geass has a lot of flash, which is why it’s so popular. If you look beneath that, there’s really little substance. There are so many logical fallacies and philosophical pandering that makes Gundam seem mild. I would finish the show, merely so you can properly evaluate it for yourself. I compare Code Geass to Blake Griffin: he’s popular because he’s got highlight reel dunks, but beyond that, he’s far and away an incomplete player.

    1. Geass is like Blake Griffin? Niiiiice. This is one of the reasons I like your blog/writing – anime, culture, and sports – a one-stop shop (sometimes within the same metaphor!).

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