There has not been a time in my lifetime where the need to watch a show that would normally be escapism, now becomes a symbol for resistance and hope. These anime stand on their own right during any other time as great examples of storytelling. Now they are more relevant than ever before in their symbolism. The two anime series we will talk about today are Code Geass and Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet. Each covering a different side of the political and moral debates.
The Holy Empire of Britannia conquered the country known as Japan and now call it Area 11. Its residents lost their rights to self-govern and are now called Elevens. The Empire uses powerfully destructive robotic weapons called Knightmares to ensure control, but someone is about to stand up against it. Lelouch, the black prince, has endless ambition and uses the power of the Geass to build a world based on his ideals. Suzaku Kururugi, the white knight, aspires to justice and strives to live an honest and fair life.
The story is a mix of Mecha-focused anime and supernatural with powers that are in many ways godlike. Lelouch’s good conscience and level setting comes from his long time childhood friend Suzaku. Code Geass is a series that has so many subplots and stories to tell. However, it is also a series that flips the typical shonen hero stereotype on its head. Our ‘hero’ Lelouch is much like Batman in the Dark Knight. He is the hero they deserve but not the one they need at that moment.
In order to defeat the ruthless rule of the Holy Empire, Lelouch must take drastic measures. But he has a long game that even his closest friends couldn’t see coming. The success of this uprising and eventual overthrow to a more democratic nation took participation from the entire population of Japan. Each citizen had a part to play in helping bring peace, even as our hero paid the ultimate price to help secure that victory.
The story provides a sense of hope in uncertain times. It shows us that even in dark times, the simplest of events and circle of friends can make all the difference in the world. That your family and your station in life doesn’t dictate where you go. It doesn’t predetermine your lot in life. In the end, the road to peace is never an easy one or without pain or sacrifice.
Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet
In the distant future, a planet covered almost entirely by oceans, known as Earth, grows in space. Ledo, a boy who has known nothing but fighting all his life, saw the sea there for the first time. On its vast, faintly green waters, men organize huge naval fleets and live modest but active lives. Due to language and cultural barriers, Ledo lives as a lonely foreigner… but he’s not alone. Ledo is just beginning his days on this green planet, asking what he must do to survive here, and what he is living for.
Gargantia has a few key themes we could focus on from the environment, and war to the most topical one of 2020 which is propaganda. Ledo has only known fighting and military life. He was ‘grown’ in space in a time when they have only known living in space and being raised for the military and going to war. So when Ledo ends up getting lost and landing on a planet, known as Earth, he quickly learns everything he was told was a lie.
Stuck on Earth with no discernible way to get home he starts to participate in the community he has found on this water world. Ledo runs into the human’s most feared enemy, the Hideauze while on this water world and quickly uses Chamber (his Mecha) to snuff out the threat. He is greeted with disdain and anger from the natives of this world, and he simply doesn’t understand. They are the enemy, that is what he was taught and told all his life. It has to be true.
But much like real life, when your source of truth is a powerful entity and you have no other side to judge from, you end up fooled by the propaganda of that side. As Ledo explores the truth of the Hideauze and this planet he begins to open his eyes to the possibility that everything he knew was not the truth.