Before I start I would like to say the following: please, please, please don’t read this blog post if you’ve yet to watch both series of Code Geass, as it contains major spoilers that will ruin the entire franchise for you. For those of you who have performed your civic duty and watched this awesome anime, grab yourself some tissues and proceed!
#25 Whose Is the Saddest Death in Anime?
Lelouch Lamperouge’s – Code Geass R2
I’ve rewatched the scene in which Lelouch dies countless times over since 2009, when I first finished R2 (usually when I need to remind myself that not all anime is trash). However, contrary to what you might expect, it hasn’t lost its ability to move me in the slightest! There are no shortage of upsetting deaths in anime, but this one will forever take the cake for the following reasons…
Primarily, the scene in which Lelouch dies is one of the best directed scenes in anime history. I will fight you over this! Everything about the way this scene looks and sounds is designed specifically to move you. Now, I’m no cinematographer, just somebody who adores anime with every fiber of her being, so forgive my amateurish explanation of the above claim!
- Lelouch’s allies’ and enemies’ soundless cries of surprise direct your focus, not on their words, but, rather, on their faces, which are full of horror and confusion.
- The use of slow motion implies just how important this scene is. It also contributes towards a sense of helplessness. It’s almost as if Lelouch’s guards (obligated to protect him) are wading through treacle in order to save him. You know that they’ll never reach him in time.
- After Suzaku’s sword pierces Lelouch’s chest we are treated to a moment of silence. This allows what has just happened to sink in. You can’t help but feel a sense of solidarity with the onlooking crowd, who were also taken by complete surprise by what they had just seen.
- Lelouch’s life flashes before his eyes as he speaks his final words. This allows us to relive the franchise’s most memorable moments and reminds us of the characters we’ve lost along the way.
- The juxtaposition between the crowd’s elated cheers and Nunnally’s sorrowful screams is physically painful.
Another reason why Lelouch’s death is the saddest in anime is because it’s positively dripping in irony. Lelouch first set out to overthrow Britannia in order to make the world a better place for his little sister, Nunnally. To see her safe and happy was his entire raison d’etre. But, following Lelouch’s attack, Nunnally said that she would have been happy simply by being with him and that she couldn’t bear a future without him. A lot of good came out of Lelouch’s sacrifice, much of which we see for ourselves in the next scene. Nevertheless, if Nunnally felt that life without her brother is not worth living, doesn’t his sacrifice thwart his original purpose?
Also upsetting is the fact that nobody, save a handful of people, would ever know of and appreciate the sacrifice that Lelouch made. He became the focal point for all of the world’s hatred and died with everybody, family and former friends included, cursing him. These people would never know that his sacrifice paved the way for unprecedented peace and prosperity. It’s a heroic, selfless death, to be sure, but one tinged with loneliness, as everybody he laid his life down for cheered over his lifeless body.
On a more personal note, another reason why Lelouch’s death is particularly meaningful to me is that it points me back to my faith. It’s hard for me not to draw up similarities between Lelouch’s death and that of my own personal hero, Jesus. Both became figures of scorn, both were cast aside by their loved ones, and both, through their sacrifice, achieved something great – for Lelouch, world peace, and, for Jesus, redemption for all mankind. Lelouch falling to his death with his arms splayed out to his sides (calling to mind Jesus’ crucifixion) lead me to believe that his acting as a kind of Jesus figure was entirely intentional on the part of Code Geass’ creators.
I might not have agreed with all of Lelouch’s actions and he wasn’t, by any means, my favourite Code Geass character. All the same, the above things make his death, undeniably, the saddest I’ve seen in my 10 year-long anime career!