I know it’s pretty late, but let me join the bandwagon and answer the million dollar question.
Note: Spoilers for Code Geass in this post.
So is Lelouch dead or alive?
My Code Geass viewing experience is a bit, well, weird. I watched R2 first before R1 (go figure), and that was long after the series had ended. I swear, however, that I have no prior knowledge whatsoever on what Geass is all about. I never checked any reviews or synopsis beforehand, and nobody told me either. But halfway through R2, I was absolutely certain that Lelouch would die.
Yes, I saw it coming. From the looks of things which I barely understood at that time, the charismatic genius must die.
I want to get cheeky and call myself a soothsayer, but I really just happened to have a grasp of a bit of politics and power relations. If you think about it, a ruler with an ability like geass, especially Lelouch’ kind, would have a monopoly of control. And in Lelouch’ ideal world where the strong does not eat the weak and both instead live together in harmony while continuously searching for happiness, such concentration of power is a no-no.
Absolute power corrupts absolutely, yes. The biggest proof of this in the series is Euphy’s massacre – a very sincere person is turned into a murderer, because Lelouch could not control his power anymore. Even CC succumbed to greed, and that led to her unhappy life. As for Rollo, well, stretching the limits of power led to his death. For this reason, geass must be eliminated, and Lelouch is more than ready to take it with him to the grave.
That’s why I think, as far as the narrative is concerned, Lelouch is dead. Even the creators have said so, but a school of thought says that the author is dead too, so I don’t really care about their word on the matter. It’s all in the story, its storytelling, and its context. So, I very much find merit in the argument that Lelouch is alive.
I will admit it myself – when I watched that scene with CC lying on the cart, my first thought was, “holy shit the guy is friggin alive!” And mind you, I’m not easily convinced by the fact that CC “appeared” to be talking to Lelouch, who, with no one else in there, could only be the cart driver. No, what prompted me to think that way were CC’s eyes – they moved in the general direction of the front of the cart, and if Lelouch is dead, then why would she do that? She could just continue looking at the sky, close her eyes or something, except that specific movement. It’s too convenient to not be noticed and pondered upon.
I also observed the panning and zooming of the screen for that whole scene, and I really found it weird. It seemed that something that was supposed to be there was purposely cut off. I just studied a bit of cinematography back then, so I caught on to that stuff. A few searches later, I stumbled upon this “uncut” scene, which clearly showed Lelouch in flesh. I am too lazy to check if it’s legit or not, but with or without that scene, my observation that something was cut off still stands. At the very least, we can say that the matter of Lelouch’ death was deliberately made to be vague.
But I know, I know, these are not enough to say that Lelouch is alive. There must be something from the story itself that could prove that, and almost every theory ever developed by the fandom is plausible. The problem with Geass, however, is that we know nothing at all – the rules governing code transfer, the ritual of a contract, etc (hell, we don’t even know where geass itself came from!). Sure, we can deduce with what we have seen from the series, but everything is just supposition without the necessary explanation from the story itself. There is not enough material to go with, if we go on about this as detectives using scientific reasoning.
Personally, I say Lelouch is dead. But what is the meaning of death? Isn’t Suzaku already dead from the world, never to live his life again as the honorary Britannian Kururugi Suzaku, the ace pilot of Lancelot, everyone’s traitor, and basically everything that made him who he was? Isn’t death giving up such life? And in the same vein that Lelouch faked Suzaku’s death, isn’t faking his own death to live a life away from Nunnally, the person whom he did everything for, already death? Isn’t being thought of as dead already death itself?
For an immortal like CC, death is a desire. And as the procession of the 99th Emperor of Britannia is taking place she prays, saying that there is a huge price to pay from casting a geass as a gift to the people. Is she talking about death? I don’t think so. If anything, she could be talking about immortality, of seeing all things come and go, of hurting and hurting without ever dying, without end. For what is the meaning of living a life without death?
Or is it that to live is to die, and to die is to live?