Mao foreshadows the "casting off masks" theme and the Instrumentality plan.
Unmasking, literal or figurative, is a recurring theme in Code Geass
- Zero's mask falling off for Shirley and Villetta to see.
- Toudou cutting the Lancelot's cockpit, exposing Suzaku inside.
- Suzaku breaking Zero's mask with a bullet, exposing Lelouch to himself and Kallen.
- Explicitly referenced (represented by actual masks falling off people's faces) in Shirley's nightmares when her memories return.
- Schneizel exposing the truth about Zero and Geass to the Black Knights.
- Culminating in Charles's Instrumentality plan.
- Finally, in the epilogue, Kallen abandons her Ill Girl persona when she returns to Ashford academy.
Charles wants to "remove all masks from the world", exposing people's true selves to each other. By force. Although Lelouch objects for different (and perfectly understandable) reasons, at this point, we might be meant to remember Mao, who used to do the exact same thing Charles wanted to do, just on a per-person basis rather than the world scale. Which only further emphasizes how horrible the idea would be in practice.
Just to drive the point home, a quote from the Mind Rape
trope page: "According to one of the licensed side-novels for the show, an adolescent Mao used his power to manipulate an entire village in China into destroying itself by exposing the skeletons in everyone's closets."
If you haven't been taking the pictures of Suzaku, Lelouch, C.C., heck, even Schneizel
as some kind of religious reference/symbol of theme
, then you are BLIND◊
- The fact that Lelouch's blood trail in the end scene where he dies conveniently lines up perfectly with the Britannian flag as some make-shift cross really makes this all the more true.
- Zero Requiem, Lelouch's final plan, basically involves him dying with all our hate i.e. our sins focused on him; therefore, he becomes a living sacrifice and gives peace to the world, in other words, he saves it from the Catch-22 that it has been continuously caught in. If the fan's hope that he really didn't die is true (unlikely, unless Lying Creator is in play), then Lelouch fulfills the resurrection requirement of being Christ.
- Note that Zero is called a "miracle maker", or a "man of miracles", and he also has the "Power of the King" which can be interpreted as a religious tie-back.
Lelouch makes the ultimate sacrifice, even at the cost of his own reputation, more or less inverting the Messiah's own Heroic Sacrifice
- When Jesus died, he died for the sins of the world, not hating the those who hated him, while not deliberatly engendering that hatred. Lelouch did engender that hatred, yet still died for the world's sins (those being bigotry and senseless warfare)
- He also played up himself as the image of evil, so his Karmic Death would ironically be a Heroic Sacrifice for the world, though they could never know what good he had committed by becoming the greatest evil. Much like The Boss from Metal Gear Solid 3, he offered his good name as a sacrifice for the world inequities, taking them on his own soul. Assuming that the anime creator's were aware of the comparisons to Light Yagami from Death Note, it is also reasonable to assume they were trying to dispel those same comparisons by having his ultimate evil become the ultimate good, whereas Light's ultimate good died reviled as ultimate evil.
Relationship to the Gospel of Judas
As with the above post, Lelouch's behaviour near the end is somewhat like the behaviour of Jesus. In the Gospel of Judas, a non-canon biblical book it is stated that Jesus asked Judas beforehand to betray him (and that Judas was Jesus's greatest disciple). The high emphasis on Suzaku's betrayal and the ending mirror this somewhat, although technically Suzaku actually kills Lelouch instead of telling others his position.
The inspiration of Code Geass's Brittania stems from the real-life British Empire
of the colonial era, with the RL Empire's notable traits (both good and bad) turned up to 11. No pun intended.
Back in England's hayday, the Empire controled a good deal of the world's economic trade routes, ruling countless colonies from a small, well-defended motherland. These colonies held vast resources that could be used to make luxury items, which were then sold to the general populace as well as exported for profit which could be spent on even MORE rescources from forgien nations (metals, gunpowder, etc.) that could be made into weapons, allowing them to furthur dominate the globe, etc etc.
Of course, in both Geass and Real Life, this plan never panned out: Colonies rebelled from the Motherland, forcing the British to decide wheter it was more important to defend themselves or defend their holdings. In our world, the British eventually gave up Imperialism and slowly let go of thier colonies (but not without a fight, see The American Revolution
). But in Geass, the failure of "Washington's Rebellion" allowed the British to relocate their government and power to North America, a wise decision considering the Continental united states has far more resources than plain ol' England did. Of course, there's still the French and Spanish who had already occupied western America, but they run into the same problem of reinforcements and detachment from their mother-countries that England faced in the American Revolution.
Brittania's conquest of Japan is simply a recontextualized chapter in this strategy of Imperialism: While Brittania already has plenty of mundane resources (spices, produce, metals, and oil) from America and their other holdings, the conquest and colonization of Japan allows them to obtain Sakuradite, an exotic material that allows them to build unique weapons (namely, Knightmare Frames). Even thought the situation is different, the strategy and ends (world domination) are the same.
Symbolism and fables within powers of Geass
In three cases in the anime, it is implied that when a contract is entered, the person with the power of geass has their wish fulfilled immediately (the contractor, later). These cases are of course, Lelouch, Mao and C.C. In Lelouch's case, he is cornered and feels helpless and that he has no control. His newly acquired Geass however, gives him total control of any person, albeit with limits. In Mao's case, he was alone and wanted to be closer to people, and acquires the power of telepathy, allowing him to understand people better. In C.C's case, she wished to be loved and had this fulfilled by having the power to make people love her. In all these cases, Geass gives way to life lessons. Excluding "be careful what you wish for", Lelouch eventually learns that he cannot make the world perfect by treating people as objects (the deaths that he causes scar him), Mao (it is implied) learns that he cannot be close to people's thoughts all the time, and (unlike Charles and Marianne) that the masks and lies of people help change the world. C.C eventually learns that love is meaningless if everyone loves you.
The other powers of Geass, however, are harder to analyse due to lack of backstory. Charles's Geass permits him to change the memories of those around him. At first this seems contradictory to his wishes for a "world without lies". However, Charles's real wish may really be for a perfect world without assassination or sadness. In this case, he gains the power to make the world perfect by changing people's inner worlds. The lesson learnt here may be that the truth is better than false memories, however, I am not sure there is enough evidence to support this. The other Geass have no moral value, but may reflect the wishes of their users:
- Marianne can reside inside the hearts of other people. This is a metaphor for her wish to be closer to people.
- Rolo may stop a person's sense of time. This may be due to a wish to be alone, or to be individual, as opposed to being a tool.
- This troper interpreted it as representing his wish for a constant, evidenced in the fact that he seemed far happier when he was spying on Lelouch and pretending to be normal. It was the same for a whole year, which is quite a bit more than what we're led to believe was his previous life was. It also seems that Nunnally, being Lelouch's real sibling and thus a "threat" to his new life, was his Berserk Button. He loved his new life and when Shirley threatened that by reminding him that it wasn't really his life, he snapped.
- Bismarck can see into the future. This may be due to his pride (he desires to continue being Knight of One), and wish to be invincible.
- Jeremiah can cancel other Geass. This may be a result of the loss of pride he suffered as a result of Lelouch's Geass, or possibly the desire to be useful to Lelouch in discovering the murderer of Marianne.
From the three cases that match this theory exactly, one may draw the conclusion that much of Code Geass shows us that some of our deepest wishes may not turn out as we would hope them to in real life. However,the existence of Geass which do not create moral tales may show us that this is not the base meaning of the series.
- This troper agrees, but believes there is another side to it: whilst the Geass does respond to the receiver's wish, it also subverts that wish and, often, their general moral standards. Lelouch, for instance, evidently puts great stock by free will; giving him the ability to override others' free will may be just what he needs in his situation, but it's still against his entire creed, ultimately, which is why he doesn't use the ability to its full effect until he's playing the Card-Carrying Villain. C.C. and Charles are even more obvious; C.C. wanted to be loved, and so gained the ability to 'create' love, but as a result, as we know, she lost all ability to receive or recognise true love. Charles, meanwhile, desperately wanted a world where the demons of the past, the sins of the fore-fathers, didn't come back to haunt and ruin the children of the present, but fulfil that wish, his Geass created the one thing he despised the most: lies.
The others aren't quite so obvious, but we can still come up with some theories:
- Mao, being insane when we know him, is perhaps the hardest to tell, but it's quite possible that, as a slightly lonely boy, he appreciated privacy, even though he wished to understand others better so that he wasn't quite so alone. He ended up having no privacy whatsoever, or others from him, unless he was entirely alone (barring C.C.).
- Marianne is another tricky one, but given how spirited she seems, it's entirely possible she valued independence both in herself an others; her Geass, however, is essentially robbing others of their independence from her. Alternatively, it might be a case of irony: she desired, as you said, to be closer to people, but her Geass could only come into effect once she was 'dead', and therefore unable to be truly close to anyone, especially in the physical sense.
- Rolo, if we take the 'desire to be alone/individual' hypothesis, was cursed to always be too valuable a tool to others to gain such independence; alternatively, he became so alone that it was no longer a virtue; or, alternatively still, because his power hastened his death, it hastened the time when he would rejoin the World of C, where no one is alone. On the other hand, if we take the theory of constancy being his desire, it made him into the one thing in his vicinity that wasn't constant: it made him violate his own wish. note
- Bismarck is given a power that allows him to maintain his pride forever, but which he can almost never permit himself to use, since it feels like cheating. Fairly straightforward compared with the last three, really.
- Jeremiah has the power to cancel Geass... which ironically would mean he'd never be able to demonstrate his loyalty to Marianne through her offspring. note