“You can’t change the world without getting your hands dirty” – Lelouch Lamperouge
Chess is the ultimate game of logic, and while war may involve a cocktail comprised of ethics, logic, law, fear, and destruction, we see a war played similarly to a game of chess when we look into the madness that is within the mind of Lelouch vi Britannia (or his alias Lelouch Lamperouge). We understand that the point of this essay is to convey thoughts on a causal analysis of a monster, a spoiler warning is necessary. Through fluid storytelling and a frightening drive, this is how a dispositioned prince takes over the world after he is exiled. His methods, though crude and brutal, would be seen as a game of chess, sacrificing many of his own in order to gain success in battle, though managing to remain a positive figure to his own subordinates throughout his time fighting for power.
Lelouch Lamperouge is a 15-year-old boy who watched his mother and sister become casualties to a terrorist attack. His mother, Marianne was killed by rifle fire while protecting Lelouche’s sister Nunnally. After questioning his father for his mother’s death, Lelouch showed resentment towards his father for the death of his mother and the disablement of his sister. As a result of his outright and blatant resentment, Charles vi Britannia, the Emperor, exiled Lelouch and his sister as political pawns to Japan. This was the seed that would inevitably birth the monster. Lelouch would soon swear “to obliterate Britannia” (Episode 1 Code Geass, 2006) After Lelouch and his sister were sent, the Emperor sent a barrage of attacks to the island nation, easily conquering it with the introduction of large, robotic weapons called Knightmare Frames or Autonomous Armored Knights. Japan is quickly conquered and rebranded as Area 11. Lelouch and his best friend, Suzaku Kururugi witness the carnage, and Lelouch vows to destroy his father’s empire. These early events spark what would become one of the most well-thought-out and in-depth plotlines in anime.
Years later, Lelouch and Nunnally, who are presumed dead as a result of the invasion of his father’s empire, are hidden in exile using a different last name. Lelouch remained quiet and took to playing chess and gambling with noble members of Britannian society, while staying living in the dorms of the Ashford Academy. Lelouch would soon meet his partner in crime, after accidentally becoming involved with the “witch” of a girl and a resistance group. The truck suddenly explodes, killing only the driver and Lelouch and C.C. encounter a Britannian military officer, who shows desire to kill Lelouch and innocent civilians, with no regard to humanity. Lelouch is suddenly offered the “Power of the Kings”, also known as Geass. His left eye now has a glowing, bird-like symbol that gives him the power to compel any individual to do whatever her says. He commands the Britannian officer and his subordinates to commit suicide, leading to a few dozen soldiers to suddenly and almost ceremoniously die in front of Lelouch. Suddenly, Lelouch is filled with inspiration, as he had finally understood that he finally had the ability to fight against his father, after hiding for many years. Lelouch now had the ability to begin waging war against the massive, Holy Britannian Empire, and their corrupt government, starting with “Area 11”. He tests his abilities by compelling another military officer to give him their Knightmare Frame, in which he convinces a local terrorist group to comply, in order to win a battle he suddenly put himself into. In the wake of success, Lelouch sneaks into Area 11 Viceroy’s chambers, who is also an estranged brother of his, assassinating him, and claiming the new name “Zero”, leader of the new paramilitary force (to Britannians, terrorists) called the Black Knights, whose mission is to protect the weak and displaced Japanese.
The girl, C.C., gives Lelouch the ability to finally gain vengeance for the nation he believed took his family and happiness. The motions set into effect from his childhood, and coincidentally gaining the ability to control anyone, leads to his guerrilla tactics. In history, we see this occur many times. Prior to exile, Stalin had drive to change Eastern Europe and Russia, even going as far as going against Lenin, who respected, but did not care much for Stalin’s leadership. Stalin, much like Lelouch had emotions for only a few people. It was stated that the only individual Stalin truly cared for was his first wife, and afterwards, became colder to everyone else. This story also relate to Hitler, who rose to power after fighting in a war and fighting through the harsh politics of Germany at the time. Lelouch was also cold and jaded, giving little care about who dies within a large war, and that all of the means to his ends would be justified. His methods for rising to the top as the world’s most feared leader, towards the end, makes his history similar to that of the harshest leaders we’ve ever seen, such as Stalin and Hitler, however the true ends of those two differ from Lelouch’s true legacy in opposing fashion, at least within their intent. With few similarities between these leaders, could categorize him as a “monster that polices the borders of the possible” (J. Cohen, Page 12, Seven Theses).
When Stalin and Hitler died, the world saw relief. Two harsh and cold leaders who’ve orchestrated the genocide of millions each would become a pox lifted from the Earth. Lelouch’s death would be seen as the same, as the two aforementioned leaders, however his death would be unique. Prior to death, Lelouch had gained such power and was feared by all of the world. He planned his own death, having his good friend take his life in front of billions of people who were watching him all over the world. All of the hatred Lelouch gained would be wiped out when he’d be assassinated on live television. The world rejoiced, and it is believed the throne would be given to his little sister, who Lelouch had envisioned in the beginning, to live a life in a world without his father’s rule. He escapes and avoids capture a few times, making him fall into the category of the monster theory, “The Monster Always Escapes” (J. Cohen, Page 4, Seven Theses).
The monster was created by another monster. Charles vi Britannia, Lelouch’s father, ruled his empire with a hard fist, crushing the opposition, and becoming the scourge of the world by other leaders. He is seen as the predominant reason why Lelouch would rise in power, only to eventually triumph over his father. C.C., who gives Lelouch the power to compel anyone to do anything, would be the precipitating cause, as he would be unable to wield his power effectively without her. His true intent was to leave the world in a more pleasant state, so that his sister could live without the injustices, and that’s exactly what he did, albeit at the cost of his own life. Perhaps it would be counterproductive, considering he and his younger sister were close, and his death would leave her saddened, but taking the scandal and hatred along with him would fulfill his promise to her. Though he is seen as a scourge of the world, to only a few privileged members of his staff, he died a martyr. “Fear of the monster is really kind of a desire” (J. Cohen, Page 16, Seven Theses) is my personal favorite to relate this monster to within the seven theses. To initially wield the amount of power that gives the ability to change the world would be wished by many, for selfish or selfless reasons. But what makes the ending difficult to witness is the idea of dying as a ruthless tyrant in the eyes of your subjects, while only few understand the true intent of your own planned death, with his last words being, “I have destroyed the world and created a new”, as his sister watches him pass away.
Cohen J. Monster Culture (Seven Theses). Print. 1996.
Taniguchi G, Okouchi I. Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion. Sunrise Studios. Television Series. 2006.
Hangyaku no Lelouch. MyAnimeList. Information. https://myanimelist.net/anime/1575/Code_Geass__Hangyaku_no_Lelouch
Joseph Stalin. History. Biography. 2009. https://www.history.com/topics/russia/joseph-stalin