Nina’s use of a table to express her passion for Euphemia in the twelfth episode of Code Geass remains one of the most startling moments in a show which, whatever else you think of it, certainly has its fair share of startlement. It’s a very brief scene, which incongruously interrupts the Black Knights’ discussion of a possible meeting with some high-level backers (or, in other words, Important Plot Business).
I can’t presume speak for anyone else, of course, but I think Code Geass, a show which is often happy to provide fanservice, works hard in this scene to direct us to disgust. Close re-examination of the scene reveals that the magazine photograph Nina’s using is a picture of Euphemia talking to some children. Despite (or because of?) Freud’s best efforts, we’re not too keen on associating sexual excitement and children: disgust is provoked. The title above the picture is ‘Britannia Imperial Court Communication’: it appears to be propaganda. Perhaps there’s a hint here that Britannia’s use of Euphemia’s image for political purposes is somewhere on the same spectrum as Nina’s action.
Euphemia’s also a Nice Girl, like the person who disturbs Nina in this scene, Nunally. Nunally and Euphemia are naïve, but they’re the closest thing the show has to a moral compass. Picking up on my above remark about children, Nunally’s also childlike, in stature, manners, voice and disability. Given this the discord between naïve innocence and furtive self-stimulation, I’m going to make a wild stab in the dark and suggest that few viewers actually found this brief bout of table-humping arousing.
It’s pretty irrational to run the risk of being caught in flagrante delicto with an item of furniture. I suppose, then, that this all reinforces our conception of Nina as an irrational person, a conception built up by seeing her excessive fear of the Japanese. As a character trait irrationality’s a pleasant contrast to her matchless scientific mind (presumably matchless, seeing as how she split the atom while at school). Can we call Nina yandere? I’m no expert, but myu says we can.
‘It’s nothing’, replies Nina to Nunally’s inquiry. It isn’t nothing, though: it’s a moment of obsession which looks forward to Nina threatening to blow herself and much of the cast up in the series’ finale (it says something about Code Geass that this is one of the finale’s sideshows). Here we’re getting to the reason I like this scene’s positioning between two conversations among the Black Knights about the real plot of the episode.
Most of Code Geass‘s characters want to keep Ashford Academy as a hermetically sealed Camelot, away from the messy business of the Black Knights, but Nina’s incongruous positioning in this episode reminds us how, like Kallen’s distinction between Lelouch and Zero, this separation doesn’t really work. The rebellion’s messy, but things are potentially messy at the Academy long before the Black Rebellion, and Lelouch’s use of it as his headquarters. On a similar note, this is also the episode in which Shirley asks Lelouch out: the potential Shirley/Lelouch relationship is much more conventional than Nina’s obsessive passion for Euphemia, but it ends badly because (again) Ashford can’t be separated from the rest of Area Eleven.
(I still haven’t figured out why Nina’s glasses didn’t fall off, though.)