The events of Zero Requiem had all of us in utter disbelief. It was the first time in the entire series that we didn’t take a character’s point-of-view during a scene, and were one of the many characters witnessing the scene. It was the magnum opus of Code Geass, the moment everything else built up to, or more precisely, the perfect swansong for the anime.
The death of Lelouch VI Britannia, the king as well as the enemy of the world, wasn’t really something that defied one’s expectations, but it’s the fact that his character went to the point that even the audience low-key wished for him to die. His motivations at the end were enigmatic, but the demeanor was only the other side of the same coin. From him marching around with his own disabled sister Nunnally tied on a leash, to controlling all the forces of the world with the power of Geass, Lelouch managed to bring the entire planet under his mercy, which led to even the staunchest of his supporters to take a stand against him.
But what marveled the viewer was more so the entity that killed Lelouch. Of course, the one who performed this act that was perceived as very heroic was revealed to be none other than Kururugi Suzaki to the viewer. Witnessing Zero, the symbol of hope for the Elevens, killing off the ultimate enemy of humanity, was a surreal conclusion to the life of Lelouch VI Britannia. And while the later revelation may not have been unpredictable, it’s something that was wanted at least by the viewers of the anime. The fact that Suzaku had teamed up with Lelouch to pose as Zero and end his life, maintaining the heroic symbolism of Zero, shining as a beacon for all people in the world who sought freedom.
Re;surrection of Lelouch:
Even those who may have refrained from any sorts of spoilers at all cost may have heard of the recent animated Code Geass movie Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection, which was alternative aftermath of the same events, and released in 2019. But those who haven’t yet watched the movie may as well be wondering if Lelouch had died at all during the events of Zero Requiem. The killing occurred for all to see, an evident stab had occurred, but what is it then, that would favor the idea of Lelouch himself having survived the event?
Could it have been an uncanny impostor that Suzaku killed while donning the mantle of Zero? Or could it have been Lelouch’s own immortality that made him able to survive? We did see Nunnally experiencing Lelouch’s memories during his supposed death while he held her hands, and that would at least indicate a metaphorical survival for Lelouch. We won’t get into spoilers for Code Geass: Lelouch of the Re;surrection, but will speculate various possibilities regarding the aftermath of Zero Requiem.
Arguments for Immortality
Even the creators of Code Geass choose to have a pessimistic response regarding the survival of Lelouch Vi Britannia, but some of the hints and hidden details that one can grasp within the very events of the anime are not to be taken lightly, and definitely suggest a deviating set of possibilities for the aftermath. The very statement of the creators can be seen as open-ended if it’s taken literally since it specifies the deceased as Lelouch Vi Britannia, and never suggests the idea of the person himself has died. Maybe it was a statement uttered by taking the point of view of the public that witnessed the Zero Requiem into account.
A further argument can be made with the fact that the two seasons of the anime were titled ‘R1’ and ‘R2’. It’s believed that the pronunciation of Lelouch’s name in Japanese would correlate much more with the letter R than it would with the letter L. With that taken into account, we compare it with established entities like C.C. and V.V., and how it would make sense for Lelouch to be living as R.R. following the event of his possibly staged death, with the R.R being represented by the very title of Code Geass’s second season. But this for one is too extraneously detail-oriented to have such an impact in the storyline, especially when what it suggests may barely have been hinted at.
Another argument would be the behavior of Lelouch during this entire arc. Lelouch may have devoted his life to the Elevens, but prior to that, or even during the very days of him as Zero, he never abandoned caring for himself and managed the two sides of his life simultaneously. It could have been the abstraction of emotions that led him to laugh at the idea of him having to die for the cause, but on a serious note, it could also have been an indication of him finding the idea of an immortal person dying hilariously. Or maybe he garnered this immortality deliberately due to life being too precious to him.
During moments of a central character’s death, moments and decisions made in the past are reflected upon, flashbacks are provided, and never-before-seen sides of one’s sentiments are depicted. But in Lelouch’s case, his classical confidence still manifested while he discussed his plans with Suzaku, and one could say that he even seemed determined for more adventures in the future. This theory can be argued against by believing that one could have misread the cues and that not all the characters may behave similarly prior to meeting their acknowledged doom, but nonetheless adds to some of the stronger indications.
The biggest argument for Lelouch’s immortality, ironically, is the very title of the anime. “Code Geass” consists of the two powers, of which ‘Geass’, the ability to command people through direct eye contact, is inherited by Lelouch, and ‘Code’ was inherited by his father Charles VI Britannia. What favors Lelouch’s cause is the fact that he didn’t kill C.C, the former inheritor of Geass. While C.C. and Charles did kill their predecessors which prohibited them from using Geass. The fact that Lelouch didn’t kill his predecessor may have enabled him to inherit Code after killing Charles too, which could’ve combined the two powers into an immortal result.
Lelouch’s Vow to C.C.:
C.C. is a character who’s had quite a life. And while Pizza Hut may be achieving the job of comforting her, she’s definitely the kind that you would want to see happy on a general note. And at the end of Code Geass, she was among the most prominent characters to have survived. Lelouch, however, promised her that he’d make sure she’d live a great life. And since Lelouch really was the only person, she got very close to in her current life, he’d have to survive to hold to his promise. Around the events of his death, she’s seen praying in a church, which serves as a parallel to her own past life in a church, where she got her Code in the first place. It is more than probable that she was praying for him to have possessed the powers of Code.
It continues further with the scene of C.C. on a carriage, where she bears a smile. It’s arguable that her smile would be her feelings towards Lelouch sacrificing his life for a goal that he devoted himself to, but possible things are foreshadowed in the dialogue that takes place during this scene. C.C. talks about ‘the power of the king’, which is Geass. She adds that it does not isolate people. And she also seems to be talking to the driver of the carriage, who even seems to be wearing a cloaked attire that appears to have the same collar like that of Lelouch’s attire during his assassination by Zero. There also lies an origami crane on top of the carriage, which was given to Lelouch by Nunnally.
The paper crane
The paper crane is a well-known symbol in Japan. Near the beginning of the Code Geass, series, Nunnally gives us one interpretation of the symbol: “If you fold a thousand of these cranes, your wish will come true.” She learns to fold the crane from Sayako, and she then teaches C.C. in a later episode.
Here are most of the things that a paper crane signifies in Japanese culture:
- A wish granted
- Good luck
- Long life
- Recovery from illness or injury
Again, this symbolism is open to interpretation. I choose to interpret the crane in two ways:
- The “granting of a wish”, whether it be C.C.’s mysterious wish, the global wish for world peace, or the desire for a bright future, and
- “Long/Continuing life” in the form of eternal life for both C.C. and Lelouch.
It’d be odd for C.C. to have picked a souvenir of Lelouch that vague because it symbolized Lelouch’s bond with his sister, which is why it would be logical for the souvenir to be carried by none other than Lelouch himself. And what adds further is that C.C.’s statement, if explored within, could also be an indication of the power of Geass bringing people together, of which Lelouch and C.C. could be the quintessential examples. Of course, this could all just be inconsistent writing, and the prayer scene could be representing a contrasting doom that even the strongest powers may not be able to prevent, but with hints this subtle, it’d be criminal to rule out this ideal ending possibility.
My conclusion about if Lelouch survived or died during the Zero Requiem would treat Lelouch as Schrodinger’s cat, and that’s the artsiest premise for the anime itself too. Sure, the creators may have deemed Lelouch Vi Britannia dead, but that’s saying less since the very occurrences in the anime itself suggest possibilities that states otherwise. The optimist’s idea of the ending is as valid as that of the cynic.
Interested in similar posts where I explain anime related questions? Then you can read about everything you need to know about kakashi’s father as well as how Kakashi got his sharingan. Many other similar type posts can be found in the Senpai Explain category.