Code Geass R2 – 21: a total failure, or the operative term is hypocrisy

This is a ‘summary’ post of R2 – 21. While I do not usually write summary posts, I have given in to the requests of a friend and promised her to write properly on the occurrences of this episode. While I am in doubt whether the post will come out decently (reasons can be seen later), I shall try my best to write smart and sharp reflections. In the end, it’s not actually a summary post.

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I’ll just be posting pictures of R2 characters

At five in the morning today, I went to the bathroom, spread the last remnants of a once-mighty soap bar into my sponge, took a piss, and returned to the PC. I was ready to sleep, as R2 – 21 had already been released by [gg]. I slept for three hours, washed myself (with the preparations I did with my sponge), and went to school.

Some time after I arrived home, I opened the episode.

The conversation between Lelouch and Charles reminded me totally of Kant; this was also what I was expecting (judging from the preview).

Charles’s statement, ‘You expect the truth from people, yet you’ve come all the way based on lies,’ is totally a Kantian construct: it is, in fact, one of his representative examples in his elucidation of the categorical imperative. One of the fundamentals in the categorical imperative is that the maxim should not be self-contradictory. When one lies, one cannot make it into a moral law primarily because in one’s lies one expects other people to tell the truth, creating a contradiction. Also, when a lie is made into a moral law there will also be a blurring, if not a total dissolution of the idea of truth. This is what Lelouch points out: are there really any ‘true’ masks, for that matter?

This is what makes the central ideas of Kant difficult to understand and bear: he does not admit of any exceptions. As he had mentioned in his Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, he did not seek to explicate on what was; as he wanted to ground morals, he wanted to illuminate what ought to be. He admits of the supreme difficulty of following the precepts of the categorical imperative (there is only one, but it is stated in at least three formulations), but he cannot accept the alternative: in the world of exceptions, what becomes the rule? The idea of the rule or the edict will have lost its meaning.

Kant was a genius. Although his works are of extreme difficulty to read, imagine the mental fortitude one must have in the writing of those tomes! I do not, however, think that this episode was inspired by Kant in any way; on the contrary, I even have doubts as regards the competence of the writers in this series, but Kant’s ideas, even if unintended, are explored to some extent in this episode.

I would be in disagreement with the people who think that the episode was excellent. Allow me to air my concerns and my apology (in both meanings of the word).

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First, I really thought that Jungian psychology was out of place in the episode. I believe, from what I have understood, that the collective unconscious leads the individual to self-actualization, or a self-discovery. It does not, from what I can glean in the subs, lead to a blurring of the past and present identities into an amorphous substance. It will not lead to a coalescence; on the contrary, there is independence instead of that.

Second, I felt that this episode was out of place. Incidents like what occurred in the Ragnarok Connection, in my opinion, should have been located earlier in the series. Although four episodes is still a lot of time to expound on what happened, I don’t think it’s enough time to end the series as well: we are, after all, nearing the series’s end.

Third, why did the characters act less than human? For example, I will never forgive a Judas Iscariot. It seems, however, that was what Lelouch did to Suzaku. He is at first enraged at Suzaku for betraying him and now names him his highest knight? There seems to have been a very irrational leap there.

I’m not nitpicking, but those were major faults (at least to me) in the episode. If viewed with the usual critic’s eyes, this episode had failed immensely.

If viewed as a satire of hypocrisy, however, then this episode is excellent: everyone is base and hypocritical.

In fact, looking back, Code Geass R2 can be taken as a more theatric Catcher in the Rye. Holden Caulfield treasures his little sister most; this is the same for Lelouch. Both of them think that the world is full of phonies, but fail to recognize that they are pharisaical themselves. Perhaps if one viewed the episode like that, one can admire its excellence; also, if one viewed the episode as a modern entry to the theater of the absurd (quite salient if the episode was a satire of hypocrisy), one could perhaps appreciate it.

Other than those approaches, however, I don’t see how anyone could appreciate the plot in the episode. It was jumpy; it was erratic; it was all over the place; it was nonsensical. There were a lot of questions unanswered; while the series has not yet ended, I can only hope that they will be answered before the series ends.

If I wanted a beautiful satire of hypocrisy I would read A Confederacy of Dunces or Catcher in the Rye. But I guess this episode would do.

P.S. If one finds this post incoherent, please note that I have only slept three hours; also, I am going to write a post on the anime series I have mentioned: they simply have not yet finished downloading.

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18 Responses to “Code Geass R2 – 21: a total failure, or the operative term is hypocrisy”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    It’s a shitty show, stop thinking that it has any meaning. They just pull shit out of their ass. Fucking idiot.

  2. lolikitsune Says:

    Wow, just let the poison flow, eh.

    I don’t think they use Jungian philosophy incorrectly, Mike, they just—as the previous poster so eloquently declared—pull shit out of their asses. The fact that it resembles a misguided stab at intelligence does not necessarily indicate that they have failed at something.

    … or something like that.

  3. frey Says:

    It’s not like they derived this episode from Kant, but Kantian ethics are already established (in the modern mind of 21st century people, I suppose) as it is in the secular societies, including Japan (and in the mind the director of this show). I doubt the directors to take any philosophical/ethics course, but it may well be…

    It’s an experimental direction/storyboard. In a modern mind, people expect a story to unfold accordingly to their known convention (or to stretch it, to their own cliche). The Romanticists (well, Kant lives in this era) or the poets on that era did this kind of story progression, far fetched from our usual TV show, with extreme grandiose and hyperboles.

    But to think of it, I guess the director may looked up old 18th c.s books (since there’s Dante’s Divina Comedia, among all things, or maybe he just looked it up while browsing wiki).

  4. jp_zer0 Says:

    @Frey,

    I fear that Kant precedes Romanticism by a good hundred years. I do see some Romantic taste in Code Geass’ story but it mainly relates to Lelouch. Sort of a post-romantic/existentialist. While Charles is more of an old-school 18th century post-kantian.

    @lolkitsune

    I agree with you when you say that “collective unconsciousness” might not have referred to Jung. I don’t speak Japanese in any meaningful way but it could have been a translation coincidence. Or even simply a very loose thematic reference.

  5. Camario Says:

    Not exactly an excellent episode by any means, but I must still disagree.

    I can’t comment on how Jungian psychology was out of place or not, academically speaking, but it can be argued, if you really wanted to go that far, that there will be always be very different but valid ways to interpret certain philosophical ideas, even in (but not limited to) such comparatively lowly things as works of fiction blatantly aimed at non-scholars. In other words, if you really wanted to make it fit through a different interpretation of the concepts involved, you could, just as much as you may nitpick it “going by the book”. Or you might just take it or leave it at face value.

    I think four episodes, or more likely three and an epilogue of some sort, is plenty of time for an abbreviated “rise and fall” of Emperor Lelouch arc. In fact, it’s probably more time than what was dedicated to the events in this episode. Whether that’ll be “good” is another matter (and depends on what standards are in use).

    Lelouch’s and Suzaku’s working together does hinge a lot on the irrational, even within the show itself, but after the events in this episode, if not explicitly then implicitly, the situation has changed enough and they’ve had at least a month to argue about what to do from here on out. Or you could just consider it fangirl fodder and move on, which is alright too if it comes to that.

    Satire, hypocrisy and irony does seem to be quite present in this show, and not always coincidentially, so if that enhances this episode then so be it.

    Finally, this episode wasn’t quite as erratic, jumpy and non-sensical as others…say, last week’s for instance seemed to lack a lot of focus, comparatively speaking. Not all questions were answered, and it’s problematic in that some will never be, but I didn’t RAGE at that even if I did find the Emperor’s psycho crusher laughable in its own right.

    tl, dr: The episode has some has some problems but I think there are ways around them, both straightforwardly and cynically, depending on what you want to see.

  6. Kaioshin Sama Says:

    Now this is a viewpoint I can acknowledge, even if I don’t entirely agree with it. Can’t argue with a post that’s actual stated as an opinion though. Anyway it’s good to see you are back to these kinds of arguments instead of worrying about the shows place on a popularity poll. I kind of hope you’ll keep it that way as thoughtful criticism beats blind raging any day of the week.

    I think I stand closest to Camario on this one, which seems to be the norm. This episode survives purely on the willingness of a viewer to interpret it. If there’s any major fault in the way Code Geass’ story is told it is that. Essentially the show gives as much ammunition to people wanting to bash it as it does to people wanting to enjoy it praise it, all based on the viewers own interpretation. Like I’ve said elsewhere though, I had no trouble interpreting it in a way that made it work out fine, so I enjoyed it quite a bit. Not enough for a 10/10 lol epic, but enough for an 8/10 pretty good, but with some minor flaws.

  7. (Anime - TV) Code Geass: Hangyaku no Lelouch R2 21 - Metareview | Minimum Tempo Says:

    […] anime|otaku… I would be in disagreement with the people who think that the episode was excellent. Allow […]

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Actually I lied. Geass is pretty damn deep.

  9. Michael Says:

    @Anonymous – 1

    While that is highly plausible, it has not yet been established as truth; thus, I still venture.

    @lolikitsune

    lol.jpg 🙂

    @frey

    I have the same doubts. This episode’s overweening theatricality, however, was too much for me to bear. Or, as the two posters above you have noted, they may have been just pulling shit out of their asses

    @jp_zero

    This is correct. Kant was a genius way, way ahead of his time.

    Or, they could also have just been trolling us, in which case they are … simply … wonderful.

    @Camario

    I agree, there are ways. Viewed from a regular, critical perspective, however, it fails in so many levels.

    @ Kaioshin

    Some people are just not that willing to suspend their disbelief to an extreme level. I guess I’m one of those people, which is why I perceive of it to be a bad episode.

    @Anonymous – 2

    Err … okay.

  10. korosora Says:

    you should probably just skip all the talking scenes and just play the ones featuring kallen and CC and Cornelia and random hot skimply dressed girls.

    episode 21 went by really fast for me.

  11. Ryan A Says:

    Illy composed episode, I didn’t like Charles and Marianne’s or idea, was a bit too Eva done wrong for me. And the one shounen moment of the entire series turns the tides on Charles, go figure… I’m should go listen to Millions Living Now Will Never Die… 🙂

  12. karry Says:

    “Also, when a lie is made into a moral law there will also be a blurring, if not a total dissolution of the idea of truth. ”

    I really dont think thats how it will happen. If lie is made a moral law – it magically turns into truth. Presto ! If EVERYONE lie – that means no one does. Its like in some countries you agree by shaking your head, and in others by nodding. The meanings are opposite in their respective countries, but its still the same thing.

    “For example, I will never forgive a Judas Iscariot.”

    Why not ? What did he ever do to you ? It was all in the evil Jew god’s plan in the first place, was it not ? Poor Judas, framed and betrayed by his god…

  13. Michael Says:

    @korosora

    That’s a good alternative.

    @RyanA

    CONGRATULATIONS, LELOUCH!

    @karry

    But a lie can never be the truth. It would be contradictory, thus failing the Kantian condition for universalizability.

    Um, and that was an allusion …

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