I wanted to do a quick character analysis of some of the characters in Code Geass. After reading a few reviews of Code Geass, it appears that the show takes a hit in the character department more than anything else. I loved the characters in this anime. Why? Because they are hopeful, egotistical maniacs, just like nearly every human being I've ever known (whether they show it or not). In fact, it's because of these characters that I grew so fond of the show.
When creating a work of fiction, the number one rule of thumb is to hate your characters with a passion. Why do you think Shakespeare is so successful? Even awful books like Catcher in the Rye are remembered through history because of diluted, self-loathing characters. Lelouch, is a great example of a protagonist you love to hate.
(I have yet to watch R2. This is based solely on the first 25 episodes)
When I first started watching Code Geass, I wasn't a fan of Lelouch. I didn't like how uptight he seemed and how he acted like some wanna-be hero. Even his voice was a know-it-all voice. To me, there was no reason why a teenage student should be acting like that. However, the more I learned of his back story the more I could appreciate why he acts like he does. Even though he grew up away from the Britannia throne, royalty is still in his blood. That isn't something you forget about. In a way, he reminded me of Hamlet. Both Hamlet and Lelouch have royal blood, had a beloved parent die, and in some ways were cheated from the crown.
Lelouch is a rebel. No doubt about it. However, unlike his subordinates, he's a logical fighter, not like Kallen or Shinichiro. I think that's why it is so hard for us, the viewers, to relate to him. It's much easier to like a hero who follows his heart and responds to situations with his emotions. However, that is not how a good leader acts. Lelouch is a good leader because even when an average person would be broken down to tears, Lelouch refuses to give in to his emotions and manages to control the situation at hand. Not once did he show worry over the intercom to his loyal knights. Whenever he was questioned, he had an answer, and it was a damned good one.
At the beginning of the anime I was all for Lelouch. I loved that he rebelled against an oppressive government with cool confidence and not like some anarchistic fool. However, as the story progressed, I found myself actually hoping for Lelouch's demise. Not because I liked Britannia, but because it seemed like our hero had become corrupted by vengeance.
Spoilers Past This Point
Midway through the series, Lelouch is presented with a crucial choice. Should he join Euphemia and potentially split up the black knights? Or, should he continue with his original plan and use his Geass on her. In the end, his human ways (so often hidden under Zero's persona) shine through and he agrees to join her. I LOVED that this happened. It seemed like a tactically realistic way to achieve his means. As soon as he shook the princess's hands I had so many theories running through my head as to how he could finally give freedom to the Japanese. Then, less than a minute passed and it was all taken away from him. Unknowingly, Lelouch uses his Geass on Euphemia and forces her to kill all of the Japanese. Now, at this point I was expecting Lelouch to break down and go into a fit of depression. This isn't the case. He uses the situation to his advantage and sparks an all out war.
This is where Lelouch's true character flaw comes through. His flaw isn't that he loves his sister, Nunnally, too much (which I think is the consensus), it's that his ego is too big. Like all tragic heroes, Lelouch just doesn't know when to stop. Like I previously stated, Lelouch is a rebel. Neither he, nor his black knights, are fit to call themselves an army of soldiers. They are rebels, pure and simple.
Looking back, it's easy to dismiss Lelouch because his intentions appear corrupted by vengeance. Although vengeance plays a major role in his conquest, it's apparent by the end of the series that his conquest is dictated by a twisted compassion. He wants his sister to be happy above anything else, and he wants to bring peace to area 11. As an outside viewer, I found myself asking, "What is justice?" Everyone wants to bring justice to everyone else. But in the end, I agreed with Lelouch's form of justice over every one else's for the sole reason that he was one of the only characters in the series not marked with hypocrisy. He never said one thing and did another, and that's what I respected most about him. Although I didn't like any of the main characters in Code Geass for who they were, I loved them for how they were written. It's too easy to create a lovable character like Naruto, Spike Spiegel, Cloud, and nearly 99.9% of the hero spectrum. Tragic heroes like Lelouch are hard to come by and even though you may not like him, you almost have to respect him.