Narrative Self-Projection and Hypocrisy: Why Suzaku is a Better Character Than Lelouch

code_geass_kururugi_suzaku_lamperouge_lelouch_wallpaper-41855

If you pointed a gun at my head and asked me what my favourite anime of all time was, I’d probably tell you that it’s Code Geass. It’s not the series I have the most nostalgia for (that would be Card Captor Sakura). It’s not the title that I consider anime’s finest artistic triumph (that would be Neon Genesis Evangelion). It’s not even the anime that’s resonated with me as a person the most (that would be Hyouka). But I’ve engaged with Code Geass on practically every level – as a robot fan, a shipper, a literary nerd, an otaku, etc. It’s the series I’ve gotten the most out of as a fan of anime.

tldr; I could write about Code Geass all day, but today I’ll focus on my single most controversial opinion about this show: I think Suzaku is a better character than Lelouch.

Yes, I’m serious.

Now let me write a whole essay about it.

Warning: This blog post contains Code Geass spoilers, word vomit and slight traces of yaoi shipping.

Let’s get this out of the way first: I love Lelouch, just like I love all of the Code Geass characters. Lelouch’s charisma and his habit of actually getting things done is probably one of the main reasons why Code Geass took off, and why other series which attempted a similar style of storytelling didn’t have the same spark. Code Geass is flamboyant and pretentious and tries to do too many things at once without letting anyone in on its hand, but it’s also oddly compelling – a lot like Lelouch himself. For many viewers, whether you even like Code Geass at all probably depends on how much you like Lelouch as a character.

But what elevated Lelouch? What made him stand out so much? Obviously, it has a lot to do with having Suzaku as his foil, but I think there’s more to it than what’s simply going on in the narrative. Lelouch is an escapist character – he invites the viewer to live vicariously through him. Through Lelouch, you can pretend to change the world through morally dubious means. You can channel a kind of idealistic “I can change the world!” philosophy alongside a cynical “But the world’s a messed up place that doesn’t deserve saving!” philosophy.

Suzaku, however, is different. His character doesn’t invite the same level of gleeful self-projection. Whenever he does something that is morally wrong, the narrative is much harsher in denouncing him.

Who can forget this scene?

Who can forget this scene?

This portrayal merely enforces the position that nobody in Code Geass is morally right, but if you’re going to get your thrills, root for Lelouch. It’s better to be all dark and evil and aware of it than a hypocrite who can’t even see his own shortcomings.

Overall, Code Geass is chuuni as fuck. It’s a show that many anime fans first watch and enjoy in their teens and is much adored by college students in particular. This is the kind of audience that tends to bond with stories they enjoy to such a degree that they respond to the characters as if they are real people. So not only do we get a narrative that casts Suzaku in a negative light, the audience casts their own personal judgments on him too, leading to a hell of a lot of bashing. It’s hard to gauge whether this means Suzaku as a character was poorly written or whether his hypocrisy was so well-articulated that the audience can’t help but respond to him purely as a person.

My view is that Suzaku’s ideals and personality exist outside of the box the narrative and its viewers tend to put him in. Like Lelouch and other iconic fictional characters, he seems to occupy that third space between the story and the audience. However much the plot tends to make him act inconsistently (especially in R2) he seems to retain his own agency as a character. Suzaku is a clever character because there seems to be more to him than what the writers themselves were probably aware of.

(This could have something to do with the loose creative control this anime had. Without changing the core themes or the premise, the plot of Code Geass could have had a billion different endings. The huge number of “what-if?” fanfictions attest to that.)

The Lost Colors PSP game works along the same lines as a fanfic

The Lost Colors PSP game also works along the same lines as a fanfic, as you can very much see

So what makes Suzaku exist as his own person outside of just a tool to be used by the plot? And why does this make him a more interesting character (thematically) than Lelouch?

Suzaku’s character is a modern reinterpretation of an Arthurian knight. He tries to live up to noble, chivalrous ideals but fails to live up to them. I’ll quote jstorming, who has some interesting things to say about Suzaku’s role and how it relates to the themes of Code Geass:

How ironic it is for Suzaku to lower his mask exactly when he dons the mask of Zero?  The assassination of Lelouch, though clearly and intentionally public, is also an incredibly intimate moment between our knight and king. His acceptance of his fate as the new Zero and the conditions upon which Lelouch dictates to him with his dying breath are not unlike the Pentecostal Oath King Arthur commanded all of his knights to take.

So Suzaku’s character journey, broadly speaking, comes full circle and actually makes sense of a lot of his earlier hypocrisy. He realises that his attempts to be just are selfish, so he begins to try and act true to himself, but then realises that this, too, is a lie, and so finally he adopts the mask as truth by literally becoming Zero.

What makes this work, ironically, is that the narrative doesn’t attempt to make the viewer empathise with Suzaku. It only articulates his outlook enough so that you can understand where he is coming from. His guilt and his backstory about killing his father are framed more as explanations than as rationalisations for his behaviour. Nowhere is the story seriously saying, “Don’t you want to be like Suzaku?” Even his ridiculously stupid strength is used as a means of distancing him from the audience, emphasising how the viewer can never be like him.

Suzaku_x_Euphemia_Wallpaper_by_Suzaku_x_Euphemia

The romance between Suzaku and Euphemia comes off as rather flat for this reason

Suzaku’s characterisation becomes a lot less clear-cut than Lelouch’s, and this entire back-and-forth character development I outlined above becomes a lot more open to interpretation when it comes to its ultimate meaning.

At this point, it’s less about what the writers intended (who knows what they were smoking, after all) and how “well” they depicted Suzaku’s character and more about what kind of subjective interpretation we the viewers can make from the limited evidence that is there on the table.

My Personal Reaction to Suzaku

I have to admit that I have personally always liked Suzaku, even when he betrayed Lelouch for a pay rise.

A lot of this has to do with the fact that I really like white knight characters, and in general prefer traditional heroes over anti-heroes. I tend to think cynicism is cheap and promotes a passive outlook. In that sense, Suzaku’s naive ideals do strike a chord with me.

The darker portrayal of Suzaku as a white knight who can’t live up to his ideals isn’t a new trope to contemporary fiction – it’s been dealt with in fiction for almost as long as the concept of chivalry itself has existed. Nevertheless, there’s something very modern about Suzaku’s outlook and the way the narrative, which seems to scorn blind optimism, treats him.

I have always felt sorry for Suzaku and the way he has been received. He is not really a bad person, but the cynicism he is subjected to both inside and outside the narrative warps his character, and the result is tangible. Suzaku is so hypocritical I wouldn’t support any of his actions.

u mad, ragezaku

u mad, ragezaku

Perhaps it’s because Suzaku’s hypocrisy is more frustratingly like that of a real person that he is judged more harshly on those terms. I think this “meta” element to his character makes him inherently more interesting than Lelouch, whose philosophy is clearly crafted to be morally dubious. Lelouch is the entertainer, the audience’s guilty pleasure. Ultimately, it’s not Lelouch’s views that really gets the audience thinking about their own moral philosophy – it’s Suzaku’s hypocrisy. This is what elevates Code Geass above mere popcorn anime.

The other reasons why I like Suzaku are a bit more shallow. He looks like Syaoran from Card Captor Sakura / Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, who is probably my favourite anime character of all time. His spinning kick is more broken than Geass. That’s good enough reason, right?

This remains my favourite Spinzaku gif

This remains my favourite Spinzaku gif

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Note: Is Any of This Relevant to the Current Anime Season?

This post was actually somewhat inspired by recent discussion about Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei and No Game No Life. There’s been some talk about how escapism and stories which encourage the audience to project themselves onto their characters are inherently bad for storytelling.

While I do agree that power fantasies don’t lead to very interesting literary ideas (hence why I thought Suzaku was a better character than Lelouch), I don’t think disagreeing with the worldview within a narrative is enough grounds to criticise it. And there are always times when the narrative slips out of the writer’s own control, anyway. Even Code Geass, which I think was intended to be an adolescent power fantasy along the lines of Mahouka and NGNL, ends up articulating some genuinely interesting ideas along the line, precisely because it ended up transcending the writer’s own vision.

I like to give these stories the benefit of the doubt and take them as they come, so I’m still watching Mahouka and NGNL and enjoying them both. Neither of them are as good as Code Geass, but, hey, what is?

Posted on April 23, 2014, in Anime Analysis and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 35 Comments.

  1. I’ve always felt sorry for Suzaku. He did what he thought was right and tried to change the world for the better in his own way but alas things don’t always work out as planned.

  2. O.o You have this uncanny ability to pick the best Code Geass images.

    I do agree that Suzaku’s character, simply because we know much less about from the beginning, is given more opportunities to grow than our pouty, amethyst-eyed prince. But let’s not forget that Lelouch is just as culpable of hypocrisy. He is perfectly willing to do horrible things to people to achieve his ends. An important difference is that while Lelouch embraces his hypocrisy, Suzaku spends most of his time, condemning it and wallowing in self-loathing.

    If Suzaku is the modern interpretation of the Arthurian knight, I wonder if Lelouch is a modern interpretation of King Arthur himself? In medieval romances, King Arthur, interestingly enough, gets sidelined as a minor character (too many knights to talk about and it’s really all about Lancelot and Guinevere. Oh, and Galahad too) and is typically represented as a well-meaning but ultimately feeble, almost “womanly” monarch. Similarly enough, both Lelouch and King Arthur start off with noble intentions and are witnesses of great tragedies. Plus it can’t be entirely coincidental that Lelouch looks disturbingly good in a dress.

    • I completely agree that Lelouch is also an interesting character who is full of contradictions and hypocrisies. About him being a modern interpretation of King Arthur… that’s an interesting thought that never occurred to me at all. King Arthur is indeed somewhat feeble in the romances and in Le Morte d’Arthur to a degree, and I put that down to the contemporary French influence trying to downplay his early British origins. (Lamperouge sounds a bit French, doesn’t it?) The character of King Arthur has been interpreted and reinterpreted so many times it would be impossible to say just how he’s rubbed off on Lelouch’s character. I definitely think that Lelouch’s character was at least somewhat inspired by European literature, though.

      Also, Lelouch looks good in a dress because CLAMP drew him. CLAMP makes every guy look good in a dress.

  3. Sora in NGNL makes a fine Lelouch. Absolute siscon, expert at mind games. Episode 2 basically had him Geass commanding Steph, while dramatically posing at that. And just you wait for the chess game in Episode 3. But your post did make me realize that NGNL is a bit too one-sided. It lacks a Suzaku to throw a wrench in Sora/Shiro’s plans of conquest. But the series is still young…

    >> less about what the writers intended (who knows what they were smoking, after all
    >> And there are always times when the narrative slips out of the writer’s own control, anyway.
    >> precisely because it ended up transcending the writer’s own vision.

    Am I the only one who thinks these writers were smarter than we give them credit for?

    • GET HYPE FOR NO GAME NO LIFE

      But man, for some reason, I can’t get into Sora like I did with Lelouch. I bet it’s because Lelouch is a siscon- OH WAIT.

      Am I the only one who thinks these writers were smarter than we give them credit for?

      I think the writers were clever and knew what they were doing. The conflict is sound and the two main characters aren’t strawmen. But I also think that the story went far beyond their expectations, and they’ve never been able to create anything so interesting ideas-wise since. Plus, I think all stories transcend their writers in some way. Death of the Author very much applies here!

      • I would have to say part of that is because the writers themselves aren’t the only ones we should credit here. The directors, for example, also play an important creative role.

        In the case of Code Geass, the writer himself admitted in an interview about season one that the director, Goro Taniguchi, made many requests, but specified they had less to do with the course of the story than with the characters. Which is going to be most clearly reflected in Lelouch, naturally, but probably also in Suzaku.

        Curiously enough, the actual director of Geass hasn’t been involved with the other subsequent projects the writer or writers have worked on. Taking this into account, I think that’s not a coincidence, as far as the relative or absolute failures of such unrelated works are concerned.

        Your interpretation is quite valid, as is the concept of Death of the Author, but it’s also worth keeping in mind there is a fair amount of behind-the-scenes information available about the show that can be voluntarily incorporated into such analysis, which may contribute to it rather than being a limitation. Some of your ideas might not match theirs, perhaps, but others may well do so, especially when it comes to evaluating intentions.

        • I completely agree with what you say. Interpretations do gain a lot when the creator’s perspective is factored in. Actually, in this post, I made numerous assumptions about the creative process of Code Geass (that creative control was loose, that it was the result of collaboration rather than single authorship etc.) which was based off some of the interviews I’d seen but didn’t mention. That’s… not good, seeing as it’s the responsibility of the critic to back up their assertions and all.

          There are a number of reasons why I think much of the series, particularly in R2, doesn’t come across quite as intended. There’s the troubled production of R2 and its time slot change, for a start. There were the interviews that stated that the story was originally intended to be much darker. There’s the fact that, as a sequel, R2 was undoubtedly developed with fan reception in mind. As a result, R2 very literally slipped out of direct creative control, which makes the thematic elements in it much more open to interpretation.

          Finally, I’m also going off the track record of the other people involved with the series. While there are too many factors involved in the process of creating anime to say for sure, I’d say it’s not a coincidence that the likes of Guilty Crown and Valvrave didn’t inspire widespread moralising and self-projection from the audience, despite sharing so many superficial aspects. If the Death of the Author doesn’t apply fully to my own reading, it certainly did apply to the fan reception of Code Geass.

          • True, there was certainly a partial change of plans for the second season, R2, due to time slot differences. But the more I’ve researched, especially multiple interviews (not just the one or two fragments that tend to be paraphrased from) and other resources such as the audio commentaries that aren’t really talked about…the more I’ve come to the conclusion that various relevant ideas were always part of the overall production approach, despite the unexpected modifications and the details re-arranged along the way. Thus, it would be somewhat incorrect to assume there’s no overarching method to the madness, regardless of the improvisation affecting some of the specifics.

            For instance, the staff has uniformly stated they always intended for the ending to be what it was. I’m sure the original path to it might have been different, but the concept should be roughly the same. At the same time, even just in reference to S1, the creators have stated that the show had more of a basis in Romanticism and similar sensibilities than on any meticulous attention to realism or scientific reason, while also saying they were aiming for entertainment by employing a combination of genres.

            Perhaps the second series might have been a bit darker, as initially intended, but the show in general was far from being completely dark. It was always more of a mix. with enough levity and craziness to break up any uniformly gloom mood, one way or another.

            I was largely agreeing with you about Valvrave and Guilty Crown being lesser works produced by one or more of the same writers, which I don’t really care for myself, but also indicating that the creative role of a director is also important and helps explain these differences as well, especially in terms of characterization in this particular case.

  4. Di-Dorval (@Di_Dorval)

    Syaoran is an ass that keep stealing Sakura cards and tries to steal her crush.

    On the topic itself I would say that they are both pretty unstable characters though it’s true that Suzaku is the one whose actions I’ve found the less easy to follow because he’s not as one dimensional morally as Lelouch. The show itself doesn’t want him to be the white knight he strives so hard to become. He’s more relatable in his struggle I guess. Never really hated the guy myself.

    • Don’t you call Syaoran an ass! XD

      But yeah, Suzaku’s not as easy to follow as Lelouch, which arguably makes him more interesting. Glad to hear you never hated him.

  5. On the other hand,…Suzaku is definitely an unexpectedly interesting character. Mind you, his idealism isn’t nearly as naive as many people tend to assume it is.

    He is someone who has already killed his dad and found out this experience wasn’t particularly fulfilling, as opposed to Lelouch, a young man who still blindly believes that facing or killing Charles will solve everything. Well, it turns out he was mistaken about that. The narrative is also fairly cynical about Lelouch for a good chunk of the run, both in-universe and on a meta level. The much-maligned cat chase episodes is one of the more harmless examples of that..

    Granted, Lelouch does get a more sympathetic portrayal than Suzaku and we are led to think his ongoing interference with Zero’s plans is annoying, but neither of them was necessarily framed as being absolutely right or absolutely wrong about everything, once you look at the big picture. In fact, the ending arguably has both of them adopt a few traits and practices taken from the other’s book…literally even.

    Admittedly, I’ve always been more of a fan of the “black knight” type of characters, preferring Batman to Superman for example, and thus finding Lelouch a bit more intriguing than just another escapist power fantasy protagonist (he’s more Byronic, irrational and flawed than a spotless genius or a Lucifer stand-in, compared to the likes of Light Yagami for instance).

    But on rewatch I’ve actually come to a greater understanding of Suzaku’s behavior as well, including a few viable explanations for his portrayal throughout R2.

    Euphemia’s death started to break down his prior resolve and forced him to compromise some of his ethical standards, but deep down he still wanted to remain true to his goals, despite giving in to the anger and rage of the moment. Suzaku wished to continue being the White Knight and reformer of Britannia/Japan, as well as someone who would possibly die in a constructive manner to make up for his dad’s murder, just one who had to bend the rules a little bit because of Zero’s crimes. And, of course, because of the Geass command to live.

    Rather than hypocrisy for the sake of hypocrisy, or inconsistency for the sake of inconsistency, Suzaku was fundamentally conflicted throughout R2. This was eventually resolved when the bomb literally dropped and he snapped, in a way wholly undoing the entire psychological progression he had made since the death of his dad, but also removing the last philosophical obstacle that had separated him from Lelouch’s villainous ways.

    Conversely, at that point in time, Lelouch was becoming more conscious of his crimes and of what he had lost, leading him to combine his most destructive and farcical plan with the one that would also punish him the most for not following the right methods in the process. Which is a bit Suzaku-like, ironically enough, including the brief moments where the “Emperor of Justice” enacted a couple of necessary reforms, before putting on the Evil Emperor act.

  6. Interesting post! I always liked Suzaku too, I preferred him over Lelouch who isn’t a bad character either. I’m not a huge CG fan, I saw it more as an entertaining train wreck. The R2 left a bad taste in my mouth so I’ve never re-watched it and don’t remember the details of the story that well.

    “Perhaps it’s because Suzaku’s hypocrisy is more frustratingly like that of a real person that he is judged more harshly on those terms. ”

    Yes, I think this is definitely true and seems to be a common occurrence in anime fandom. I guess other fandoms are guilty of it as well, but I do feel like anime fans in particular tend to lash out against characters that are flawed in realistic ways, while idolizing characters like Lelouch who are flawed in more unrealistic, “chuuni” ways. It can be jarring sometimes when the fans drool over some complete monster who has killed countless people but is cool so it’s okay, while some much more harmless characters get hated for their flaws because they aren’t cool enough.
    Even better example than Suzaku would be Ohgi, who was a normal person caught in a difficult situation and whose only sin really was to not blindly worship and trust Zero/Lelouch (a completely rational reaction imo). The fandom HATED him.

    Suzaku’s idealism was arguably a lot more rooted in reality than Lelouch’s way of thinking – Suzaku tried to work from within the system to change it as much as one person could, Lelouch was a 17 yo boy who decided to take down the most powerful empire in the world by force. It makes sense when you consider Suzaku’s past and him working as a soldier while Lelouch has lived a pretty sheltered life. Lelouch also manages to hide behind his mask of Zero while Suzaku exposes himself to all the hate, discrimination and ridicule he knows will be coming from both sides of the conflict. I think there’s a big difference between characters whose idealism is rooted in delusions about the world and those like Suzaku who are aware of the unpleasant reality but still choose to fight for what they see is right. Like you said, it shows more dedication from the character than lazy cynicism does (however, cynicism can also be portrayed as more self-aware and if I remember correctly this is what happens to Lelouch in R2) .

    • I’m not a huge CG fan, I saw it more as an entertaining train wreck.

      Fair enough! I did enjoy CG on that level too.

      I do feel like anime fans in particular tend to lash out against characters that are flawed in realistic ways, while idolizing characters like Lelouch who are flawed in more unrealistic, “chuuni” ways.

      This is a big problem with anime fandom and implies a really… escapist outlook, I guess?

      Ougi gets hate because he is not good looking. Even Suzaku has fangirls, but Ougi? None whatsoever.

      Honestly, though, the big problem with Ougi is that he took up a lot of screen time but ultimately his actions didn’t mean much in the long run. His frustrating soap opera relationship with Viletta achieved very little. If his role was to show the “everyman” perspective on Zero, he ended up doing very little of that. I have sympathy for Ougi as a person, but as a character he was not utilised well at all.

      I think there’s a big difference between characters whose idealism is rooted in delusions about the world and those like Suzaku who are aware of the unpleasant reality but still choose to fight for what they see is right.

      I pretty much agree with you here, although I still wouldn’t be supporting Suzaku’s actions.

    • I suppose this is destined to forever remain a matter of individual perspective and what expectations were or weren’t met….but personally, I’ve always found the “trainwreck” label to be more or less misleading and not too useful for any real discussion.

      It takes away from:

      a) The fact the creators always wanted to create a series that was larger-than-life, over-the-top and focused on being very entertaining. Which, what do you know, was something the CG series undeniably succeeded at. There’s no need to categorize that as a bad thing, whether explicitly or implicitly, through the use of a label with negative connotations, as if it were somehow wrong to seek and fulfill this objective.

      b) The fact there are some actually interesting and, yes, even pretty well done parts of the show in both seasons that can be appreciated on other levels. Compared to the likes of Valvrave or Guilty Crown, which I found to be universally lacking, there’s a lot more to genuinely appreciate about the main characters and their dynamics here.

      Concerning your other point…the main problematic thing with Ohgi, in my opinion, isn’t the fact he questioned and turned against Lelouch. That was a bit understandable and at least partially justified by both Lelouch’s own previous behavior as well as the circumstances of the moment. What I disliked about it was how he seemed to reach an extreme conclusion far too quickly and the series didn’t really present the best possible case, so the whole act came across as mostly a knee-jerk reaction.

      I’ve already posted my thoughts on Suzaku above, but I tend to agree with that part.

  7. “The other reasons why I like Suzaku are a bit more shallow. He looks like Syaoran from Card Captor Sakura / Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, who is probably my favourite anime character of all time.”
    Shotacon spotted.

    One difference between Lelouch and Suzaku is that Lelouch’s morality can be more easier defined. Suzaku on the other hand, is a bit more complex in a way that he strives to be the “good guy”, to embrace his ideals and beliefs, but the inside narrative shove down contrasting outlooks to such characterization. So it’s a bit hard to define Suzaku’s morals, as he is an existence who was constantly somewhere in the middle ground.

  8. Oh boy, I could also spend long days about Code Geass about I guess I’ll just stick to stuff about Suzaku. One thing that I noticed after fully watching the series, is that if you switched lelouch and Suzaku as main character, with Suzaku you almost get a regular hero story. Suzaka is over powered, is all noble and knight like. He has his ideal set on changing the world through the inside, and he has a back story that does seem contradictory, but I feel that if the story at his point of view, we might sympathizes him as a bad past. Its the fact that we see the events in Lelouch’s view point is the reason why I believe most people hate him. Lelouch and Suzaku to represent the darker side to things, while Suzaku is the knight/figure that people looked up upon and people like to see. That was one I my interpretation of the ending was.and I guess i just feel Suzaku was a good character because of the different perspective that we got from Lelouch.

    Nice Analysis, and I agree with you that code geass is a lot deeper then people give credit for.

    That Gif is amazing btw.

    • Great to see another Code Geass fan who feels as strongly about the series as I do!

      You’re right that Suzaku would be way more sympathetic if the story was told through his point of view. Have you read the Suzaku of the Counterattack manga? I thought it was a neat idea, but it didn’t use it to its full potential.

  9. People hate Suzaku because he’s a terrible [b]person[/b] right? The crazy hatred he gets is because he’s is a “good character” in a certain sense. If he was more shallow people wouldn’t care as much. Compare to Sugou from SAO. He’s a horrible horrible character which many people hate… but he doesn’t get 1% of the hatred Suzaku gets.

    Well I think basically say that as one of your posts, but it seemed like it was half a question.

    • Yeah, you’re pretty right. Corny villains who don’t feel quite real don’t inspire the same hatred as someone whose flaws feel realistic. On the other hand, Sugou really did piss me off, way more than Suzaku did. Ho hum. I guess I just don’t have it in me to hate characters who feel like real people.

      • Sure, he was pretty rage inducing. However, it was somewhat transitory.

        Many people who hate Suzaku will hate him in 10 years time.Sugou? I’ve already forgotten his name (I had to look it up).

  10. I hate Suzaku so much because I think your right! He is so human and his hypocrisy is sadly inevitable that as the viewer we can help but judge him harshly.

  11. I generally prefer characters who persevere with the ‘good’ frustratingly to the so called ‘bad boys’ we see so often in popular friction. But even then I cannot feel anything but hate for Suzaku. I don’t think it is because he keeps foiling the plans of the generally much more loved Lelouch, time and again because even though I like Lelouch’s character I do not feel any particularly strong resonance with him.
    For most part I think my dislike has more to do with his perceived idealism and moral high ground both him and the general fandom seem to attach to his character, which feels strange considering I generally find non-violent activists to be much cooler.
    His idealism, especially before Euphy’s death, is sadly so misplaced that I cannot feel anything but frustration at his stupidity. He wants to change the system from the inside, which is an admirable goal but as in all things the actions taken have to be somewhat relative to the goals expected. If he were trying to reduce taxes I would have certainly supported his methods but here we have an empire that does not even treat the Japanese like humans to the point that they regularly cull the populace including children for no justifiable reason and the right most advertised for the ‘Special Zone of Japan’ is the right to call themselves Japanese.
    How can anyone feel any empathy with this character is just beyond me. Had he even, just once, in the entire series defied his superiors to save innocent Japanese lives or even tried to do anything for the oppressed from his position of power, as in when he was a knight of the round, I would have been happy to rally around his ideals. His frequent rants of morality are even more frustrating, they are like a Jew in the Nazi party trying to chastise the allies for causing so much death and destruction.To make things worse his actions are somewhat vindicated by the writers through a series of dues ex machina’s which lead him to be within reach of the position of knight of the one.
    If he had been positioned as a realist who was trying to do what was best for himself in a truly difficult situation, while trying to do whatever little he could without seriously endangering his position with the powerful, I would again have been able to genuinely empathize with him
    Frankly I think to elevate Suzaku’s position to that of a non-violent struggler against an empire is an insult to people like Gandhi, Martin Luther, Mandela who were actually able to change things non-violently.

    “where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence.” – Gandhi

    • Had he even, just once, in the entire series defied his superiors to save innocent Japanese lives or even tried to do anything for the oppressed

      Umm, he defies his superiors in episode 1 to save Lelouch at the ‘apparent’ cost of his life.

      I don’t think else any you said about Suzaku is exactly wrong.

      • Urgh, I managed to fail at quoting somehow.

      • Yes that is true but neither of them were Japanese. For most part he seems quite content to lay down his life but strangely it is never for the benefit of Japan.
        I am not sure if it deliberate or an oversight by writers caused by lack of time available for development of Suzaku. This is after all Lelouch’s story.

        • “it is never for the benefit of Japan.”

          This brings up an interesting question. Is Suzaku even that patriotic? Sure, he kills his father “for the sake of Japan”, but he never approaches anything like a nationalist mentality by the time he’s introduced into the series. My take is that he wants everyone to sweep everything under the carpet and be happy rather than for the Britannians to face up to what they’ve done.

          Personally, I never argued that Suzaku occupies a higher moral ground than anyone else. He’s pretty selfish, hypocritical and naive. And that’s human of him. Also, he would never have gotten anywhere if not for plot contrivance lol. It’s just like you said.

  12. An impressive article! It has been a while since I last watched Code Geass, so I may be wrong to write these lines:

    The one thing I don’t like about Suzaku is that he was put in too many paradox. His character is inconsistent. He killed his father when he was 8, joined the army,… You should had known what kind of person him would had ended up in real life. No, he had already turned out so the moment he murdered his father. So, the question is: Why could he still clung to his ideal?

    I’d had much prefer if there is a third factor that explained this. With Lelouch, it was his love for Nunnally, the thrill of battle, the glory and arrogant of being the winner, the sweet nectar of vengeance. So, what was it for Suzaku? And not redemption – you just don’t know how horrible for a son to kill his dad. And yet throughout the flashback, had Genbu Kururugi done anything so atrocity to be deserved that?

    (Of course, Suzaku didn’t know the fact that Genbu would still hold the pupet power when Brittania finished the invasion. If he had knew, everything would had changed a lot.)

    Oh, and which Syaoran are you talking about? The Cardcaptor Manga, the Anime, or the Copy?

    • It’s implied that Genbu Kururugi was a pretty terrible dad who beat his son. Not that it justifies killing him, of course, but I think Suzaku had a deep-seated, subconscious hatred of his father, which was half the reason he killed him.

      As for Suzaku’s ideals, I don’t think he does what he does for Japan’s sake, but more for his own sake, in order to make himself feel better for what he did.

      Suzaku matches up pretty close to the TRC Syaoran (so, the Copy), at least appearance-wise. I guess you could say that there’s a similarity in their personalities, too, but that’s stretching it somewhat.

      • Actually, beating children is not that of a problem in Asia, especially east ones like Japan.

        And I think they haven’t really tried to illustrate his desperation and tiredness in R1, especially after various meeting with Zero. It made him more of a blockhead.

        He is CLAMP’s work, after all.

  13. I always kind of thought of Code Geass as one of those anime that lets you wear the shoes of the supposed “villain”(Lelouch) of the story, and sort of see how they go from good intentions and reputation to bad consequences and ruined reputation. I guess in a way, the same can be said about Suzaku too, though. I thought the psychology and constantly conflicting and changing relationships in this anime was pretty complex and interesting.

  14. Though i totally agree with what you said about Suzaku, i just can’t find it in myself to like his character, even now. For me, Lelouch and his creepy/crazy laugh beats Suzaku’s spinning kick every day.

  1. Pingback: Kirito is an Asshole | Fantastic Memes

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