Meet It Is I Set It Down


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.

All of which is a little unsettling, given how most yuri, however it’s expressed, is widely [NSFW] considered to be A Good Thing.


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.)

22 responses to “Meet It Is I Set It Down

  1. I can’t believe I didn’t pick up on that. My mangekyou sharingan must be going blind.

  2. If I hadn’t been watching it at a friends house, I would have IMMEDIATELY paused the show and gone doujin hunting.

    Actually that’s a lie because i it weren’t for him. I wouldn’t have realized what she was doing XD

  3. Just a thought on the whole Camelot thing (and someone’s probably picked up on this) But have you noticed the color changes between the academy scenes and when they’re showing the ghettos.

  4. While the post is interesting and it does make sense to have some sort of scene highlighting Nina’s obsession as foreshadowing…if anything, I found the specifics of the concept (using a table for self-pleasure) disgusting and the resulting “meme(s)”…boring when not disturbing.

    So, in short, I never took the casual statement that this is “fanservice” seriously. What “service” does this give to “fans”…and what fans are those?

    I would even applaud Adult Swim if they cut out parts of the scene and somehow still got the point across.

    Plus, strange as it may sound, I’m not the biggest fan of yuri (or lesbianism, to go beyond anime) in the world either…maybe because actual yuri has implications that aren’t exactly beneficial for heterosexual males (anime and otherwise), as opposed to what popular fantasies would have you believe. I guess the attraction some people have for yuri is just the thinly veiled expectation that the two female characters are actually bisexual (at least towards the particular spectator), just without any other males getting in the way.

    Oh well…seems like I went somewhat off-topic there. Sorry!

  5. Lesbians can’t love you back. Once I asked a girl out and she rejected me on the grounds she already had a girlfriend. I was heartbroken but we remained friends. And somehow I’ve managed to keep my nosey friends in the dark about who she was, for the sake of her honour.

    I learned that the hard way, but since then the whole “ooh lesbians, hot” thing doesn’t appeal to me. Especially when you know they wouldn’t be interested in dating men in a million years.

  6. Well Nina is after all the creator of the most hated weapon for the Japanese so it was inevitable that Nina would have some problems of one sort another…

    As far as yuri goes I miss Cornelia she could have provided ample amounts of it and in sis-con flavor as well.

    Ah the intricacies of revolution, causing more problems than it actually solves.

  7. Nina is insane and that is why I love her

  8. @camaria: Personally, I don’t trust the concept of bisexualism. I just straight up like lesbians, regardless of desire to fuck me XD Then again, even though I’m 100% straight, I don’t see anything wrong with sleeping with a guy. Just how I think of sex, I guess.

  9. @ Baka-Raptor: Doesn’t the mangekyou sharingan make you go blind in any case?

    @ 21stcenturydigitalboy: From your comment and Baka-Raptor’s, perhaps I should’ve added ‘difficult to spot’ to my list of reasons why it wasn’t arousing.

    @ iniksbane: Not consciously, till you pointed it out. But you’re right. And the Britannian headquarters has towering spires and pennants and things, I noticed.

    @ Camario: Yes, it is disgusting, which may be why it’s there. As for lesbianism (in pornography, rather than in real life, since they’re very different) I have a theory that lots of pornography relies on the viewer’s ability to imaginitively thrust himself into the situation depicted, and the on-screen presence of another man can impede that. Or something – I could be completely wrong on that.

    @ newgeekphilosopher: Wait . . . you talk to girls? You can’t be in my gang anymore :-(

    @ Crusader: I like how you manage to make the Black Rebellion responsible for the lack of Cornelia-driven siscon yuri. Though we never conclusively saw her die, so she may be back . . .

    @ blissmo: There is something compelling about a lot of Code Geass‘s mad(der) characters.

    @ 21stcenturydigitalboy: I remember you wrote that in pornography it’s the woman’s pleasure that excites you, so I see why you might ‘straight up love lesbians’.

  10. i approve of homosexual marriage if both chicks are hot

  11. @Michael – As someone who lives with a lesbian, I can tell you that’s rarely the case.

  12. Nina’s bomb failed, though. xD

  13. Heh. Funny that you people are talking about “going blind”…

    Anyway, she was obviously crazy. And you can be crazy and irrational and still have an awesome mind for maths or physics. The two kinds of logic are not really related, or at least don’t have to be.

  14. Adding onto Teeif’s comment, I think that Nina’s response isn’t “crazy” so much as it is a matter that requires you to read between the lines to get it.

    Nina’s been established early on as a character that defines the quintessential nerd archetype in school — studious, possibly unpopular with the opposite sex, the full monty. Euphie’s presence in her life serves to highlight how much of a sociopath she is, and how Nina might not even have had proper relationships with those of her own sex to begin with, resulting in her mistaking Euphie’s kindness for something more.

    Crazy? Hardly. Misguided? Most likely. But we (the public) never make the distinction between both, so Nina could have had Aspergers for all we know, or have been an austistic savant with a tendency to not cut corners.

  15. @ Nagato: Did it? I thought from the flashback we saw that Cecile managed to take it off Nina’s hands, and Nina commented that she hasn’t been able to make a working one since – I wonder if her yandere state at the close of the first season actually increased her abilities?

    @ Teeif: What Shiri and Owen say. Though I’ve noticed shaky motivation in several of Geass‘s side characters – we know that Diethard, for example, doesn’t like Britannia, and that he likes the drama that Zero provides, but the level of obsession he harbours seems out-of-proportion.

  16. so Nina could have had Aspergers for all we know, or have been an austistic savant with a tendency to not cut corners.

    That’s cause Nina doesn’t cut corners… she humps them!

    This was actually a good read about a scene that was unmatched, even by dog Zero. Perhaps a little bit of Clamp-ish sensibilities about people never being pure is coming through.

    Also, Nina is not looking promising as a scientist. Lloyd and Laksharta never mess up and their stuff is way more complicated!

  17. That’s a nice point, about purity or the lack thereof. It is hard to come up with a Geass character who’s actually good – the closest we have is Euphemia (who was naive, and failed) and Nunally (and there’ some debate about her attitude to the Elevens). In a strange way I’d nominate the Emperor, not perhaps as good, but at least as consistent. He reminds me of Akagi, utterly amoral but pretty honest about it.

    Dunno about more complicated. I mean, a Defjun Disturber (or whatever it was) is one thing, but splitting the atom is quite another. Lloyd and Laksharta strike me as weapons developers more than pure scientists, but Nina spent most of the first season being all theoretical, only grabbing a spanner when the stage collapsed at the end.

  18. That’s cause Nina doesn’t cut corners… she humps them!

    You got the pun! Just as planned. I figured that if IKnight didn’t pick up on that someone else would… hook, line, and sinker!

  19. Speaking of cutting corners, perhaps another element to my list of things which provoked disgust would be aural: the unpleasantly fabric-y sound of this scene always puts me in mind of sanding down furniture in Design & Technology classes at school.

  20. Pingback: 4 Koma: I <3 Yandere « Lostlink ~ Wrong Way To Japan!

  21. Pingback: 4 Koma: I <3 Yandere | Mr. Villaflor


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