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Code Geass:

 2301 The Handle, Sat, 6th Oct '12 2:54:48 AM from Location, Location, Loca
[up]Well, in Nietzschean terms, that's the defintion of "weak"; it's not a matter of having riches or powers or even physical strength, it's a matter of being your own person and acting like a free, responsible individual. Fascism is weak, from a Nietzschean standpoint, because it's about people who think of themselves as strong ganging up on the weak. Strong people don't need to gang up, they're self-suiffient.

I think.

But, yeah, this vice is also shared by Gundam and Legend of Galactic Heroes. The Japanese seem to feel some contempt towards democracy, perhaps because it was forced unto them along with their constitution.
I stayed up all night, 'cause I wanted to see where the sun went—and then it dawned on me.
 2302 Iaculus, Sat, 6th Oct '12 3:04:58 AM from England
Pronounced YAK-you-luss
[up]I think you can argue it's less that way with Gundam (well, UC Gundam, anyway), because (a) the theoretically democratic Federation has less and less democratic elements as it gets less and less sympathetic, until it's just a corrupt oligarchy that barely even acknowledges its citizens' existence, and (b) Great Man theory doesn't work out so well either, with the Great Men either failing to exert any influence on the world or demonstrating why a hyper-centralised government with one person in charge is a hideously bad idea. Hell, the defining moment of UC Gundam is ordinary, faceless soldiers banding together to sacrifice themselves for the Earth's survival as it becomes increasinly obvious that what the Great Men are trying to do on their own just isn't working.

It doesn't have nearly the 'people are stupid and must be led' attitude of Geass, both because it questions the 'people are stupid' axiom (well, 'people are more stupid than their leaders', anyway - there's plenty of stupidity to go around in Gundam) and because it casts into doubt whether leading them will actually work.

edited 6th Oct '12 3:08:19 AM by Iaculus

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Revy Gonna Give It To Ya
[up][up]I think you're confusing Nietzschean philosophy with Objectivism. When describing the Slave/Master Dichotomy, as far as I know, he sorta purports it without weighing in on one side being morally superior. Nietzsche's work is pretty hard to interpret from what I understand.

But yeah I can sort of see the thing about democracy; the Japanese have traditional been a very technocratic people. But in recent years that's begun to change as people become more and more of the bureaucratic mismanagement an unchecked bureaucracy can create. My main thing about the Democracy versus some form of Enlightened Absolutism debate, and it's not necessarily a bad one, but, often the case in UC Gundam in particular, this is done very cheaply by just blowing the Democratic side's flaws waaaay out of proportion to draw them as petty, unprincipled, weak-willed assholes, so that then the despotic side is a valid option not by really any of its own merits but by being another option at all.

[up]The advocates of Aristocracy often chastise Democracy, it's just we're not given a clear indication of how Democracy even works in the EF.

With UC there's just this sense of hopelessness because all the soldiers sacrifices are for what? So the EF can continue its decline into impotency and pave the way for new conflict? That's one of the things about UC, it's both too simplistic and too bitter, beyond the original imo. Democracy, at least the Democracy the EF provides, becomes nothing but an oligarchy of the EF Bureaucracy that becomes way more interested in protecting the interests of the one percenters than defending the Federation's citizens, and the Aristocracies are all despotic. I think Geass, even if it's kinda bullshitted, has more hope for the future.

(EDITED because I realized you were only referring to Gundam, sorry)

edited 6th Oct '12 3:22:29 AM by Scherzo09

These are the words that shall come from my mouth. I shall be known for speaking them.
 2304 The Handle, Sat, 6th Oct '12 3:35:14 AM from Location, Location, Loca
I meant Gundam in general, not just Mobile Suit Gundam.

But yeah, Aristocracy is supposed to be the government of the best, but who exactly determines who the best are? It reminds me of Superman: Red Son, where Superman falls into the Soviet Union instead of the US and becomes Stalin's successor; he's just as idealist as the original, but believes Utopia Justifies the Means. No Joker Immunity or Cardboard Prison with him; he won't kill you, but he will lobotomize you if you're evil. On the opposite side, Lex Luthor becomes the leader of the US, which is the only country that refuses Superman's rule, and the only one which still has mass poverty, high crime rates, etc. He does defeat Superman in the end, but it's a case of Esoteric Happy Ending and Meet the New Boss, as he follows exactly the same utopist policies as Superman, except it's presented as a wonderful thing for him to do.
I stayed up all night, 'cause I wanted to see where the sun went—and then it dawned on me.
@Iaculus:

Code Geass is evidently based on Great Man Theory, sure, but less so on benevolent dictatorship. Lelouch didn't have any personal interest in becoming an true dictator or promoting dictatorship as a form of government, sincerely speaking, and merely played that role as part of an act.

Then again, it should be taken into consideration that Great Man Theory is still taken very seriously in certain corners of the world. Just look at Latin America, for example, so I don't find its presence in fiction to be a problem. It's not exactly an accurate perspective, but it exists.

edited 6th Oct '12 5:24:31 AM by Madonis

 
 2306 Drakyndra, Sat, 6th Oct '12 7:27:46 AM from Somewhere
Her with the hat
I'm going to take the apparently controversial stance in this thread that while Lelouch himself seems to indulge heavily in the Great Man Theory (And, for what it's worth, has a heavy bias towards thinking that only Britannians really qualify as "Great" - as much he as despise Britannia, the fact he was raised there is really obvious in how he thinks), this is also fairly overtly Lelouch's downfall.

Pretty much every loss or failing or shock Lelouch suffers is the result of him completely ignoring or underestimating the power of people he considered weak or insignificant. Lelouch plans around big, important people - Charles, Schneizel, Cornelia - but it's the ones he considers weak, either because he is manipulating them or he wants to protect them, that consistantly ruin his plans. And he only ultimately succeeds at the end by acknowledging his "power" alone isn't enough to change the world, and requesting the help of others, most of whom he had formerly dismissed. Hence the "Geass is like a wish" speech.
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Will kill you
@Scherzo

From your ridiculously long winded post I gather that you believe that you believe that Code Geass should be more in tune with it's themes. Also that it should be more influential since it's coasts on that. Dude, it's about entertainment, the themes are more of a side element which are slowly absorbed into Lelouch's goal of achieving peace.
"I don't give a rat's ass about going to hell. I guess it's because I feel like I'm already there." -Mugen
 2308 Deboss, Sat, 6th Oct '12 9:10:14 AM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
Critics and reviews also exist, as is critical consensus.

And critics are chosen by how well they conform to the list. What should be on the list is what popularity decides, unless you decide to do random sampling, which admittedly would be a better way to decide on what we consider quality. In essence, I'm with Raven. A work is good when it entertains me, I can divide things about a work up into tropes that I like the use of, and mention how well it uses those things, but what entertains me is still subjective and personally chosen. For instance, there is no interesting romance activities for me, in any genre, in any way, so the only improvement a work can have is to remove aspects of romance.
 2309 Iaculus, Sat, 6th Oct '12 9:42:21 AM from England
Pronounced YAK-you-luss
Code Geass is evidently based on Great Man Theory, sure, but less so on benevolent dictatorship. Lelouch didn't have any personal interest in becoming an true dictator or promoting dictatorship as a form of government, sincerely speaking, and merely played that role as part of an act.

Then again, it should be taken into consideration that Great Man Theory is still taken very seriously in certain corners of the world. Just look at Latin America, for example, so I don't find its presence in fiction to be a problem. It's not exactly an accurate perspective, but it exists.

That something exists does not make it good. An overemphasis on Great Men has done some really interesting things to Latin American politics.

As for Code Geass's specific example, it's still the case that it's great leaders and strong personalities who get shit done, with little concern paid to the thousands (if not millions) of other people who were also involved in the political struggle du jour. Akito makes it especially explicit, with the heroine's dad nobly sacrificing himself in a doomed effort to replace the EU's corrupt, ineffectual democracy with a benevolent dictatorship.
Freedom of speech includes the freedom for other people to call you out on your bullshit.
 2310 Deboss, Sat, 6th Oct '12 9:56:49 AM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
Fascism is correct in that unity accomplishes far more than being right or moral ever has. That it's independent of whether those accomplishments are good or worthwhile is beside the point.
 2311 Iaculus, Sat, 6th Oct '12 10:03:11 AM from England
Pronounced YAK-you-luss
[up]Though given how massively inefficient and backstabby fascist governments tend to end up being, it's hard to say that fascism is a very good way of achieving and utilising that unity.
Freedom of speech includes the freedom for other people to call you out on your bullshit.
 2312 Deboss, Sat, 6th Oct '12 10:21:51 AM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
True. Creating a governing body that actually doesn't have such problems would likely require such a large rewrite to the human mind that you couldn't really call them the same species as the current hairless ape.
Raven Wilder
While Lelouch is most definitely an egomaniac, the show does portray that as a flaw. Like in the episode where he first challenged Cornelia. He assumed she'd be as tepid a tactician as Clovis, and that the random terrorists he took charge of would execute his orders perfectly. When both those assumptions turn out to be dead wrong, Lelouch is utterly defeated, and only escapes thanks to C.C.'s intervention.
"It takes an idiot to do cool things, that's why it's cool" - Haruhara Haruko
Revy Gonna Give It To Ya
[up]Again it's more of an execution thing than an idea thing. I don't think the show is trying to say that Lelouch is perfect; it just doesn't get across well the idea of being both brilliant and flawed which leads to arbitrary shit happening to him as well as Zero Requiem.

Code Geass itself though isn't as interested in the systems of government as Akito I think; I don't think Democracy is chosen from any sort of Lockean conception of individual Self-Soveriegnty, but more that it's a means of protecting the weak. If some enlightened despotism also could have protected the weak and done it better, he would've gone with that.

edited 6th Oct '12 11:01:56 AM by Scherzo09

These are the words that shall come from my mouth. I shall be known for speaking them.
"Seriously, for a show about the evils of fascism, it can get pretty goddamned fascist at times."

This. I always hear fans of the show talk about the great use of Grey and Gray Morality, but when it gets to the point where I don't want to cheer for either side, we're pushing into Black and Black. To quote something Sophia Lonesoul said to me privately "if both sides nuked each other, I wouldn't care." And I'm unfortunately with Schrezo on that, even when they try to show that Lelouch is flawed, the message they end up sending is so confused, that it comes off as "he's a dick, but we must follow him anyway, for he is a great dick." And in the end, he does magically fix the world all by himself, which lends credence to the idea that the show subscribes to Great Man Theory, and not in a good way. I absolutely believe that sufficently great people (Bismarck, for example) can change the world. But Geass never demonstrates Lelouch to be a Great Man, it just tells us he is, and expects us to go with that.

Revy Gonna Give It To Ya
[up]I believe that it's a compact; the will and intelligence and outlook of Great Men married to Resources, will, and inclinations of their people. You can't have society without charismatic people, but charismatic people are powerless without the resources society gives them.

But I agree with you that it's not so much ambiguity as it is both sides do bad things and one side feels bad about it and the other doesn't. That's not a whole lot of difference in my book.

edited 6th Oct '12 5:58:11 PM by Scherzo09

These are the words that shall come from my mouth. I shall be known for speaking them.
Let me reply to what Ambar said above. The morality in this entire thing was decisively Black (Pro-Britannia) and Gray (Anti-Britannia), instead of Gray and Gray. Only a bunch of specific individuals like Suzaku and Euphemia were Gray or better. That's simplistic but fair because Lelouch wasn't just being a dick to Britannia for no good reason. He had understandable motivations for it. That's why not everyone hates the guy and why it is so amusing to read how this is seemingly difficult to accept. Radical measures and collateral damage tend to be ugly but can be warranted to kick Britannia's ass as they were the single greatest evil.

What makes someone like Lelouch stand out in the story isn't how good or evil he was. It's his record. He was shown to be a good manipulator and often a decent leader of men with and without Geass abuse. I don't agree that he fixed the world all by himself, but his pushing the reset button and letting other people do the less dirty work would also be valid proof of his willing to go far to achieve his goals, even if you think he's a scoundrel and wrong about those methods. You could also make his final plan fail and I would counter that he was bold and ambitious enough to be a Great Man, based on the effort alone and everything else he did up to that point.

edited 6th Oct '12 11:05:45 PM by Souther

[up]Suzaku was grey for about five minutes. For all his talk of reforming Britannia, all he really does is act just like the rest of the Britannians, with perhaps a tad more self-reflection. He never actually tries to implement any reforms after Euphemia dies, he just becomes this enforcer of the status quo.

As for moral ambiguity, and not being able to get it, I'm a Berserk fan. I'm a Darker Than Black fan. I get good people doing bad things. Heck, I get bad people being the only option. My problem with Lelouch is that there was never anything I could like. By the end of the first episode, my attitude on him had pretty much soured. I won't bother bringing up the ending in detail, since I know it and it's ramifications have been endlessly debated on this forum and others; I will just say I belong to the group that thinks Zero Requiem was pointless and idiotic (the world didn't unite and become perfect when Charles was The Big Bad; am I supposed to assume Lelouch was somehow worse?) and that it brought his entire character arc, such as it was, to a monumentally meh end.

I'm not trying to bash the show. As I said before, I liked the ideas in it, and there's some characters I like. Unfortunately, the two leads weren't among them.

Revy Gonna Give It To Ya
[up]Yeah, I mean it's a case where when you the state the concepts of Geass on paper, it sounds like it could be cool, but in practice the execution leaves a lot to be desired. Lelouch doesn't work for me or Ambar because to us his demeanor just feels artificial.
These are the words that shall come from my mouth. I shall be known for speaking them.
[up]Superpowers and mecha? In a complex, morally grey situation? No kidding. It sounds great. I just wish I could have liked it.

 2321 Arilou, Mon, 8th Oct '12 3:42:21 AM from Quasispace
Taller than Zim
Suzaku was grey for about five minutes.

If you by "five minutes" means "The entire first season", then yes.

"No, the Singularity will not happen. Computation is hard." -Happy Ent
[up] Pretty much, but it also needs to be said that Suzaku's intentions of reforming the system from within were always looking towards the long or medium term. His chosen path demanded a lot more personal endurance, tolerance for bigotry and patience in the face of oppression than Lelouch's. I feel the series established this well enough.

In a different kind of story with either a realistic pace and more episodes or even just a bunch of time skips to make up for it, the entire process could have taken several decades and there's no telling that Suzaku wouldn't inevitably become disillusioned with the system first. That's not much of a Code Geass-type of narrative, but I'd still watch it.

The biggest obstacle to his ideals is that as a member of the military and an Eleven, Suzaku has no direct power to enact any changes by himself in the short term. He needs to gain the cooperation of nobles and high-ranking figures, most of which aren't going to give him the time of the day.

After Euphemia's death, which closed the door on an unexpectedly peaceful compromise, Suzaku got understandably angry and just went right back to thinking that the only remaining solution was continuing to climb up to the top of the organizational ladder at any cost. He wasn't going to get promoted into a position of authority if he didn't shut up and enforce the rules, which means there is little room for ambiguity or skepticism left.

Granted, I would have liked to see the series give more importance to these sorts of political topics as time went on, instead of pushing them to the background, because even when Nunnally comes around to mess with Lelouch we never see enough of what she's doing nor of Suzaku's limited non-military activities.

After they controversially reintroduce the SAZ, it's implied that Zero's one million man stunt made such measures look weak or pointless, but there's no elaboration. Suzaku goes around doing a little bit of off-screen paperwork but he -and the show- is more obsessed with the fight against Zero than anything else. The first season wasn't quite perfect in this respect, but I believe it tried to go for a more balanced approach nonetheless (aside from the ending).

edited 8th Oct '12 10:28:38 AM by Madonis

 
Revy Gonna Give It To Ya
[up]It's not that I don't see where Suzaku could be coming from, but its framed in a way to make Suzaku reeeeeally obnoxious. I think it comes from how the show is pretty terrible at showing nuance. A lot of Britannia's atrocities exist to justify Lelouch's rebellion, and that really leaves no room for Suzaku's interpretation because we see no indication that Britannians on a whole are redeemable. As I said before, Suzaku complaining about Zero's methods being 'wrong' is just... disturbing to me, because he seems to blind himself to the atrocities of the Britannians against the Elevens. It just makes him seem, pardon my tongue, like Britannia's house Ni***r, too cowardly to accept the responsibility of the destruction he'd cause to face an obvious evil. If the show had been more nuanced, if the Britannians had shown, on a whole, more of a spark of humanity to them, Suzaku would've had a point and we could get behind him. But as it stands the show is way more interested on Lelouch and justifying his actions, so Suzaku just comes across as... well wrong.
These are the words that shall come from my mouth. I shall be known for speaking them.
 2324 Drakyndra, Mon, 8th Oct '12 11:53:52 AM from Somewhere
Her with the hat
I dunno. One of my first reactions to the end of the first season was how interesting it was that how at the start the Britannians seemed like Complete Monsters and Lelouch was set up as the hero, and yet by the end the Black Knights were holding school children hostage at gunpoint, Lelouch was laughing madly as he dropped a city on top of vehicles full of people trying to evacuate and then running out on the people counting on him while it was Britannians evacuating innocent Ashford residents and the racist princess Cornelia was going on about how Suzaku was a worthy knight.

The role reversal was really interesting to me.
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 2325 vandro, Mon, 8th Oct '12 12:09:17 PM from Little shop that wasn't
Shop Owner
I went all Rooting for the Empire during the whole of it.

edited 8th Oct '12 12:09:32 PM by vandro

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