The funny thing is, wildarmsheero is right: Code Geass doesn’t have a pretentious bone in its body. It’s the fans who are the pretentious ones. The show is just noise and pictures, and it’s the fans who shove the meaning on it. We’ve been here before, and we don’t need to say anything about Code Geass at all – it can just be enjoyed. Nevertheless, some of us find it even more enjoyable if we do say things about it, so, while we don’t need to talk about Kallen, I want to. It’s viewer’s prerogative time.
As I noted in my last entry on the show, Kallen’s resemblence to Domon Kasshu has become something of a running joke. To briefly run through the main similarities, both have the same hairstyle, both pilot mecha which are the last, best hope for (Neo) Japan, both are attracted to potential partners who have white-haired fathers, both use a burning-right-hand-of-death as a signature attack and both are hotblooded. Indeed, certain /m/en have decided that Kallen is the daughter of the hotblooded King of Hearts and Rain Mikamura, part of Domon’s rather large speculative family (that image is only one version). I’ve no idea if this similarity is intentional or not – though I suspect it is – but then that’s not the issue; we see it and that’s what matters
The key thing, as I see it, is how the hotbloodedness – the shouting, the assertiveness, the red mecha – is out of place in Code Geass. Omo pins Kallen down: she’s ‘[h]ardly a paragon of competence, [. . .] the contrast to that “JUST AS PLANNED” hook some Code Geass viewers dig’. Domon Kasshu’s not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer in G Gundam; much of the show’s plot, such as it is, is built around him not spotting important things. But that’s ok, because the world of G Gundam is one where hotbloodedness and martial skill win the day. (Winners in the hands of a Gundam God, as it were.)
This is not the case in the world of Code Geass. I’m not sure it’s even correct to conceive of Geass‘s conflicts as things which are won or lost, but in any case if they are won they’re won by supernatural powers, preternatural intelligence and pure rhetoric. So, while Domon was the hero in his show, Kallen is the hero’s tool in this one. And I think Code Geass rather points this out with Kallen’s tendency for endearingly o’er-hasty actions, like interrupting a diplomatic discussion while wearing only a towel.
In fact, Kallen provides a lot, though by no means all, of the fanservice in the show – being seen about her ablutions (three times so far), wearing a bunny-girl costume and of course piloting a mecha with a motorcycle seating system and camera angles to match. [According to a biking relative of mine, motorbikes were one of the first spheres in which Japanese engineering really kicked in. This may be relevant to the Guren’s design.] Kallen is the writers’ Mikuru, which perhaps provokes ‘fourth wall moe’, a desire to protect a character from something outside the show itself.
The other thing about Kallen, of course, is that she’s a half. Or a double. Or rather, she’s really neither a half nor a double, just a human being, but as far as her fellow Britannians are concerned she’s a half (hence Milly’s efforts to conceal the fact). Indeed, she has four names; naming conventions being what they are, we could arrange them in a pleasing chiasmus, as Kallen Stadtfield Kozuki Karen. I’m using ‘Kallen’ because of Wikipedia (a good example of said website’s not-always-positive ability to establish orthodoxy) and because it’s what appears on her friends’ phones when she calls.
The ninth episode of Code Geass, ‘Refrain’ is Kallen’s episode, and it focuses on complicity, in the form of Kallen’s mother and the hotdog vendor, both of whom serve Britannians and both of whom turn up later as Refrain addicts. Given how several of the other refrain users are reliving Area 11’s time as a free country (‘Nippon! Nippon!’; ‘Japanese technology is the best in the world!’) I’d say the episode is also jabbing at some people with a nostalgia habit (here in Narnia you’d make a killing selling Refrain at the Last Night of the Proms).
UPDATE: Lelangir’s produced a lengthy essay on the positions Kallen and Suzaku occupy.