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.
Of course I’m right! I’m always right :V
Once could say Code Geass is merely inverting the roles of mecha, making the hot-blooded type of super robots controlled by the cold intelligence that is the epitome of real robots. Then one remembers the Lancelot, and the Tristan, and the Vincent, and all the various other mecha powered essentially by magic minerals that can mow down Sutherlands like toy soldiers, and the analogy falls apart a bit. But you’re right in that Code Geass doesn’t possess any pretentiousness at all, so I think the design for Kallen literally ended at “she needs to look good in a jumpsuit.” It’s an idea that has served the character well.
She needs a Schwartz Bruder and a Master Asia to bring her up to snuff. She even still has no name for her special attack…
Weird question, but very relevant: does she ever bare her nipples at any point in R2?
I’m … just … curious.
Kallen’s not what I would call a particularly deep character, “hot blooded” being the basic definition of her personality, but at least she does have a bit of background and character development, even if the fanservice can distract. Not that I am complaining, on a personal level, but there it is. You can all stop reading this if you choose to do so, I’d understand.
Kallen obviously can’t compete with Lelouch or even Suzaku at this points, in terms of general wits and ridiculous planning specifically. She’s meant to be a fighter, not a thinker, so she has to deal with the consequences of others’ plans, not with their preparation. In short, blowing things up with the Guren Mk. II.
Right now, there’s the issue of her relationship with Lelouch . Yes, she’s probably more infatuated than not, even after the whole “Lelouch is Zero” thing, but they’ve been building up some hints that the key issue for her -and for the Black Knights plus “Zero” as their figurehead in general, to be honest- this season will be “trust”. It could either blow up in everyone’s faces, only to be restored again to a certain extent, or everything will continue as usual for the duration. If Lelouch keeps teasing and hiding secrets from Kallen, that’s probably not too good of a sign, at least in the short term.
As for romantic implications, there’s the whole blatantly obvious “tsundere” angle, but I don’t think Kallen will be the girl who stays with Lelouch at the end, since C.C. is too prominent to not give her the best shot at that…and she’s also pretty “tsundere” in her own right. Some tension may develop, but its resolution is unlikely to be positive.
Michael: No, but it’s not like you couldn’t tell. Barely five episodes in, the kind of fanservice she’s getting is tamer than that. Any such situation would either be slightly censored (see the flying C.C. scene in episode one) or just cut until the DVDs are out. Otherwise, cleavage is okay, and there’s plenty of it.
I’ll say what I said back when Omo did his Kallen post – this is what makes her my favorite character.
@ wildarmsheero: The opening clause of my post begs to differ ;-)
@ Demian: The idea of Code Geass as cold-blooded ‘real’ fare is a bit far-fetched. But Kallen’s role as the hot-blooded tool of the cold-blooded chess player is definitely not the normal way of things.
@ Crusader: I imagine if Master Asia existed in the world of Code Geass the show would only be one episode long; he’d defeat the Emperor, and that would be that.
@ Michael: As Camario says, not so far. Thankfully (in my view) the fanservice has been tame to match the earlier timeslot, though there has been a fair amount of the stuff, sloshing around like a short-skirted CC trapped in a containerful of tomatoes. Yes, that did actually happen.
@ Camario: I like the way you put it – Kallen is responsible for executing Lelouch’s plans, and Code Geass likes its plans, which means her character can basically remain set to ‘hotblooded’ all the time without us complaining too much.
@ 21stcenturydigitalboy: I’m glad to hear she has some fans, at least.
What’s odd is that she is the opposite of all my taastes. I’m a loli fan and I hate big boobs, but I love Kallen’s boobs. I normally can’t stand hotblooded characters, but Kallen is something special. She defies reason both in the show and in my attraction toward her.
No, it won’t just end there…imagine what fun Emperor Asia could have as the head of an Empire. It almost be like the Three Kingdoms, except its Euros vs Chinese vs Anglo-Saxons.
Code Geass’s many possible allusions are shaky at best. Always the question of whether or not they may be portraying a certain group in a certain way, etc. I prefer to just let myself fall into the flow of the show, ignoring such things, lol.
@ 21stcenturydigitalboy: Don’t sell yourself short, I’m sure it’s not a purely physical attraction. I do wonder if some of Kallen’s value, to her fans, is that she’s not morally compromised in quite they way that a lot of the characters are. She’s perhaps not especially bright, and she does work in a terrorist organisation, but at least she doesn’t spend her time plotting death and destruction on a massive scale, like certain others.
@ Crusader: That’s . . . a compellingly good idea. I suppose Master Asia’s aspiration to become ‘Super Asia’ would be granted, but your suggestion of an epic threeway powerplay is an excellent one.
@ Nagato: Just letting Geass entertain you is probably the most valid response. As I said at the beginnining we don’t have to spend our time trying to dig meaning out of the show (just I like doing it . . .).
I don’t know. In a lot of ways I’ve found Kallen to be a kind of foil for Suzaku. And in a lot of ways they really have a lot in common. They’re both people without a real “homeland”. They’re both trying to serve a higher ideal. Granted, I haven’t watched a lot of the second season yet, mostly because I know when I start, I’m going to be really ticked off about stopping.
I’m ticked off about stopping after every episode. But at least I’m more-or-less avoiding spoilers.
Suzaku is a little like Kallen, I suppose. Certainly they’re opponents on the physical Knightmare chessboard. But I think Suzaku’s portrayed as someone who should know better, while we’re never asked to wonder whether Kallen should be thinking what she does through [insert comment about misogyny here].
Whoa man, great job, I think you’re struck something with the “out of place-ness” of Karen. She’s very much a character out of her depth (see: her pretending to be the very opposite of her true nature during the early part of the show, and failing miserably), which leaves her vulnerable to being manipulated by the real powers at work.
I have come to learn that it is not very wise to take my anime too literally. Amen.
@ nomadotto: That’s a good way of putting it. She kind of has the personality of a shounen protagonist, but she’s working for someone who’s a bit like a shounen villain.
@ The Sojourner: Alas, it’s far too much fun doing it for me to stop.
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I found out that the voice actress of Kallen’s mother is the same as those of Rain Mikamura.
Believe me. I know Sunrise had hand in this.
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I almost confused Ryoma for Violence Jack in the family image.
You Sir/Madam are the enemy of confusion evrehwyere!