TangleCast 54: Code Geass and Men Without Chests

TangleCast 54: Code Geass and Men Without Chests

 
 
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Are you fan of Code Geass? Well, Team Anchester is not, and Matthew is ready to explain why, and its not because the series isn’t fun or engaging or interesting—its because Lelouch is “a man without a chest.” Listen in to see what that means in this episode that continues our weeklong theme of loneliness. We also invite your feedback, and especially want to hear from Code Geass fans. Let us know why Code Geass is a better series than we give it credit for!

0:00 Introduction
0:55 Last week’s Cast Question
5:10 Code Geass DiscussionIntro
8:12 Discussion—C.C. and a warped love
10:23 Discussion—Moral inconsistency in Lelouch (and ourselves)
16:28 Discussion—A different kind of scapegoat
21:05 Discussion—Lelouch: alone and fatherless
23:24 New Cast Question and Closing

And we want your feedback as well! Each week we’ll ask a question on the podcast and feature your answers the next time that team rolls around. Here’s this week’s CQ (Cast Question): What do you think of Code Geass? Do you like it? Why? Feel free to inform us using information from Lelouch of the Re;surrection if you’ve seen it.

Podcast Links:

  • The quote from C.S. Lewis that Matthew emphasizes, “The head rules the belly through the chest…”, comes from his work, The Abolition of Man.
  • By the way, our writers TWWK and R86 (from Ask Sensei) aren’t particularly fans of Code Geass either, though their thoughts dwell more on Euphemia than Lelouch or C.C.
  • asdfa Hebrews 2:17-18 and Hebrews 4:15
  • However, guest poster Jeskaiangel use the same Euphie episode to make some excellent points about mind control and abuse.
  • Want to revisit Code Geass or watch it for the first time? You have a few options. You can stream it through Funimation or Crunchyroll, purchase the series on DVD / BD, or purchase the movie trilogy, which truncates the show.
  • Here’s the trailer for Code: Geass Lelouch of the Re;surrection (yes, that semicolon is supposed to be there)—

You can check us out on a variety of formats, including iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, or through our RSS Feed! Please subscribe and leave us a review!

Matthew G

Matthew G is interested in things. Many of them anime-related. He’s also trying todevelop a taste for manga as time allows. Since his start as a long-winded, scatter-brained hobby blogger two years ago, Matthew has become the swashbuckler-in-chief for Team Anchester of the TangleCast, where he can be found taking shonen far too seriously, staring squinty-eyed at modern culture, and harping on the supremacy of God. So, like, your grandpa + anime.

12 thoughts on “TangleCast 54: Code Geass and Men Without Chests

  1. I have the complete set of Code Geass in my collection. Unfortunately, I’m not a big fan of the anime , either. ( I wanted Lelouch to be a straightforward good hero )

  2. I really got a lot out of this podcast. You have a lot of really strong insights into human nature and couch your points very tightly against scripture. I just want a really long crazy straw to consume the knowledge from the font of wisdom you provide each time.
    I’ve never seen Code Geass and it probably isn’t something I’d get a lot out of.

  3. Well, I dislike Code Geass as a series. Since I wrote a whole post ranting about how evil Lelouch is, it’s no surprise that he’s one of my most hate-hate-hate-hate-hated anime villains. Except he’s cast as the protagonist/hero, which makes for quite a grim series.

    Lelouch’s death is fundamentally an act of selfish cowardice merely disguised as self-sacrifice. He effectively commits suicide by convincing his friend to murder him (how can it be noble to make a friend murder you?!), and by going out on his own terms, Lelouch avoids ever admitting to his wickedness or humbling himself by submitting to some other authority for judgment.

  4. It occurs to me that Lelouch’s death has a curiously Gnostic quality to it: in the (obviously false) Gnostic “Gospel of Judas,” Judas is portrayed as Jesus’ truest disciple and handed him over to the Jewish leaders at Jesus’ request. In other words, Judas was Jesus’ friend who brought about Jesus’ death as his own request to further his plans. Makes me wonder if there are other Gnostic elements in Code Geass…

    Also, being in line with ancient heretics like the Gnostics is another good reason to dislike Lelouch. 😀

  5. Instagram

    @justinsayana, MUTUAL: Love the storyline & character development. The struggle, highs & lows of the characters. The issue of politics, culture, moral values, war tactics. The mechas as well!

    Cory (@kokorodaki), MUTUAL: I was kinda enjoying it, until I realised there was far too graphic nudity for my taste. I listened to the podcast though, and it was great

    Lisa (@hellohappycrafts), MUTUAL: It’s a hot mess, but I found it pretty damn entertaining when I watched it for the first time last year. I’ll definitely watch it again.

    @celtic.nerd: Never watched it. 🤷🏻‍♂️

    Michelle (@thathilomgirl), BtT writer: The OPs and EDs were mostly good, but the series was pretty meh for me

    @sukoshikoneko: After all this years Code geass is one of my favourites!!! It reminds me so much of my teen time my first love.. Kind of sad but i love it 💕😻

    @waifuak: Its one of the best anime

    @kwakaflocka27: Was around middle school when i watched so i might be boosting a little, but story was pretty good. Decent twists, not a whole lot of plot armor, character developments were there, likeability and hating characters were easy to do and such. Season 3 here we gooooo

  6. Interesting podcast topic and arguments. I have many things to say, so this reply might be long. Feel free to skip right to my main points and conclusions.

    To provide some background and context, I still like Code Geass and my first viewing was during late college. In that sense, I am not coming into this discussion from the perspective of a teenage fan of the series. I was brought up Catholic and still have a lot of sympathy for that tradition of Christian belief, yet ultimately consider myself as agnostic these days. I am a history major who is currently trying to complete my Master’s Degree and also a citizen of a third world country, one which has not fully overcome a legacy of civil unrest and armed conflict.

    Right from the start, I found it relatively hard to agree with various claims and interpretations. Which is to be expected, since different people will not automatically derive the same exact messages from many works of fiction. That’s inevitable and also part of what makes these conversations possible. If we all agreed, there would be little to say to each other beyond simply reiterating our common belief.

    First, you state that Lelouch acts hatefullly towards C.C. after R2 episode 15, and seem to imply that the entire “love” angle was abandoned by the story. I think it was definitely moved to the background then, because the main plot moved in other directions, but they still share a few interactions that follow up from that realization and it’s arguably still relevant to explain how C.C.’s own character arc turns out (once she is returned to normal within a few episodes). Therefore, what you’ve stated here has never been my impression. He does have a single moment of aggressive outburst during a tense situation in R2 episode 16, where she accidentally gets a tiny cut on her finger, but Lelouch immediately realizes his own action was wrong. Rather than being an action against her as a person, it was more of a response to the stress. More importantly, he never blames her for any of his bigger problems, not then and not afterwards.

    Second, I think there have been a few moments in the political history of humanity where a scapegoat was at least temporarily useful in order to clear the air, so to speak, thus allowing negotiations between rival factions and a certain degree of unity, despite the persistence of varying interests and power structures.

    One example was the so-called Concert of Europe. After the Congress of Vienna (1815), the reactionary monarchies blamed Napoleon for the recently concluded period of continental war and reached a set of written as well as unwritten international agreements in order to oppose any future revolutionary movements. This allowed them to resolve a number of oustanding disputes by respecting the balance of power. By and large, the system persisted for a number of years. Different historians would propose different end dates, all the way from the 1820s to the 1840s, but the reality is that it worked for a time. Did all wars cease at this point? No, there were various regional or border controversies, but at least until World War I there was no large scale conflict comparable to the Revolutionary/Napoleonic Wars.

    Another example would, in fact, involve Hitler. Nobody would deny that he was almost universally blamed for World War II. The Allied powers, including Russia, had joined up against him despite their other ideological disputes. Afterwards, they established the UN as an improved version of the League of Nations with greater powers of enforcement through the Security Council. Various global disputes were handled there and that, one way or another, is a sign of progress. It didn’t stop the Cold War from happening, of course, but the mutual fear of a nuclear destruction as well as the existence of this general diplomatic framework arguably contributed to having a “colder” rather than a “hotter” conflict.

    Third, I do not think the ending of Code Geass ever claimed that the new status quo would lead to a state of eternal peace without any upcoming problems. The epilogue itself briefly mentions there are still various issues, which is also further supported by the fact there are now additional challenges as seen in the new movie, but you could already explicitly tell from Lelouch’s own words that he acknowledges human beings will have the desire to keep struggling towards a better future. Struggle, of course, would be unnecessary in a state of perfect peace, but the protagonist accepts that it will exist. In other words, the ending is meant to represent a better state of affairs, compared to the beginning of the show, but not a perfect or flawless condition. People will join up through new international mechanisms such as the UFN and blame Emperor Lelouch for the last major conflict, but sooner or later there will be new disputes. There is nothing “failed” about a story conclusion that lets the characters enjoy the initial benefits of a period for peace and reconstruction, even if it may prove to be fleeting, partial or incomplete as time goes on. After all, stories can rarely show you everything that could happen after their final chapter.

    Fourth, I would argue that Lelouch is meant to be a Byronic hero. I imagine you’ve heard of the term at some point. I believe it’s actually quite relevant to the discussion, since several of the character traits (both virtues and flaws, exaggerated as well as plausible) of Lelouch can be directly attributed to how well he fits within that figure derived from Romantic literature (note the capital “R” involved). Those individuals are generally far too flawed and cynical to deserve praise from a Christian perspective, but they can be appreciated as part of a work of fiction and entertainment. Whether or not you happen to agree with their views on morality or ethics, it’s entirely valid to create a protagonist that follows such a model. We’ve all seen far, far worse individuals serve as protagonists in other works of fiction and enjoying them does not equal an endorsement of their decisions, thoughts or actions.

    Now, I can absolutely agree that Lelouch is not any kind of “Messiah” because, as even the show itself makes clear, he is full of sins and crimes. In short, he deserves to be punished for his morally questionable actions. It can be debated if the sacrifice he ultimately makes was worthwhile, but it can be interpreted as a form of self-punishment as well as an attempt to improve the world at least temporarily. Either way, I find him to be an interesting character, frankly, but not an admirable individual.

    Ultimately, I do acknowledge that Code Geass is not a perfect series. Yet, if you ask me, I still found it be quite entertaining as well as fairly interesting. Needless to say, I do not take moral lessons from it.

    1. Hey, Cylus. Thank you for responding.

      1. I took the way the C2 x Lelouch angle was handled in that episode as proof that the series was trying to do too much at once. But my biggest complaint about it’s handling is how it was such an obviously pivotal moment in Lelouch’s development and then it’s like a switch is flipped immediately after and the whole emotional build up peters out as though of no real consequence as Lelouch returns to his regular behavior. But, now that you’ve mentioned the hope of an actual heart change for Lelouch in the movie, this doesn’t bother me as much.
      2. (And this is going to address several paragraphs you wrote, starting with the scapegoat topic) I realize that, as you said, we’re bound to disagree on certain things given the direction we’re coming from. I said that I thought the concluding moral made it a failure of a story because, from a Biblical perspective, I believe that Humanism cannot accomplish the ideal peace I perceived the series to be flaunting as a possibility. And, I said so from the same limited perspective of, no doubt, many people who only ever saw the anime without knowing the story was scheduled to be resolved in a movie. It has been many years since the release of the last series episode, making it easy to believe no follow up was on the horizon and the conclusion given was the conclusion intended.
      However, let me also say that the idea of a story ending with a “better state of affairs
      but not perfect” moral of the story is just as much a failure from the perspective of a Christian who believes in true reconciliation of an Ephesians 2 quality. That perfect peace could be acquired through a large enough manufactured scapegoat for everyone to hate in cooperation or that peace is something we will have to perpetually work toward because their is no lasting reconciliation, both are proposals worthy of despair to the Christian who believes in totally efficacious salvation and reconciliation through Jesus Christ. Anything else rings with hollow humanitarianism.
      3. You’re right that there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a Byronic hero, but (I would argue) only when in his proper context. The point I tried to make in the podcast was that the Byronic hero is the naturally occurring self-image of a particular kind of high school aged kid. When transposed to real life, the Byronic hero often looks like someone wrapped up in their own self-seriousness, believing themselves to cut a Byronic figure. I don’t diss such characters because I’m a Christian and seek to impose a squeaky clean standard on all my characters that won’t allow for any grayness but demands cheesy Hallmark flatness of character. I just think they toe an equally difficult line between cheese and insufferability because of sometimes contrived moral complexity, particularly when we try to realize them through imitation.
      Like you, I found the series thoroughly entertaining and it certainly knew how to write cliff hanger episodes. I think we’re in agreement for the most part that the morality of the series was never meant to be prescriptive. It seems we differ, however, on whether or not the series will actually end with a convincing moral message. I can say, though, that your comment on the change of heart Lelouch experiences in the movie has me interested to give it a shot despite my stated reservations.

  7. I will not say much about the movie here, yet I will point out that version of Lelouch is portrayed as a more or less changed man. Which in my opinion makes sense after how the original story ended, rather than trying to be the same exact sort of individual described here. Perhaps the movie might work even out of context as purely a blockbuster experience, for casual viewers, but it might not have much impact without prior investment.

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