Japanese Mythology In Code Geass Naming (A Quick Look)

The Other Suzaku

I often wondered how many people are aware of the symbolic naming that seems to have gone into the creation of the character of Suzaku Kururugi.  SUZAKU GRAAAAAH I HATE THIS GUY! Right?  Well actually I was referring to the fact that his name comes from the Japanese name for the Vermillion Bird which represents one of the four chinese constellations, namely south, and is often represented in art as a bird similar to the phoenix in popular mythology.  To drive this point home in case people think the naming is a mere coincidence, Suzaku’s father was named Genbu Kururugi and Genbu is the Japanese name of the Black Tortoise which represents the direction north.

Polar opposite directions interestingly enough and if we recall, Suzaku and Genbu had polar opposite ideas of where they wanted Japan to go, with Genbu advocating stalwart resistence against the attacking Britannianan Empire and Suzaku wishing for surrender in order to save as many lives a possible and to work from within to overcome them.  If we consider the chinese constellations again we will find that under the Black Tortoise Genbu there are 7 “mansions”, 3 of which are wall, encampment and ox.  The wall and encampment are obviously defensive and offensive symbols of war, something Genbu was spearheading during his twilight, and the oxen often resembles stubborness as Suzaku felt his father was exhibiting in wishing to keep up what he felt was a hopeless and costly resistence against Britannia.  Now consider the 7 mansion under the Vermillion Bird Suzaku, 4 of which are Ghost, Extended Net, Wings and Chariot.  If we consider the order of events leading into the second season we can arguably see that the Ghost of Euphemia has influenced Suzaku to cast an extended net with the acquired assistance of the Knight of Rounds to capture his adversary in Lelouch and he attempts to use his Chariot with wings in the form of Lancelot Conquestor to do so.

The Other Genbu, Often Represented With A Snake Coiled Around It Looking Ready To Strike…..Possibly Representing It’s Own Son.  Hmmmmm…..Naaaaaah

On top of the name choices, there are the symbols for the names themselves that bear looking into.  When we think of a tortoise like the Genbu we often think of a hardy old creature that makes up for it’s limited ability to avoid predators with it’s sheer ability to fend off danger in the innate defensive capability of it’s shell.  This is arguably the exact same thing Genbu showcased.  Japan was of course not strong enough on it’s own to resist Britannian’s superior tecnology and soldiers, but for a few brave men like Todou, but Genbu felt that with the innate pride of his people they could persevere and fend of the empire.  Genbu had as apparently seen his share of warfare according to some backstory material and had through it developed the stoicness necessary to lead and defend his people through sheer rugged almost natural ability.  Much like a torotise.

Now the phoenix as I hope people know is a bird with flaming wings that it is said upon death will burn to ash and be reborn from those ashes with wings that glow even more furiously and brighter, leaving any witness of such an event in awe.  It could be argued that Suzaku Kururgi is also like the Phoenix on two fronts.  One is of course the geass command that Lelouch gave him that commands him to live, giving him an unnatural ability for survival in the very face of death, much like the phoenix’s ability to pull itself from the brink of death.  The other is in his characterization upon the death of Euphemia.  It can almost be said that when Suzaku wept by the death bed of Euphemia that the old compassionate, trusting and hopeful Suzaku died and upon meeting V.V was reborn with a new fury, lack of compassion for those who would get in the way of his desires, and a withdrawn Suzaku was born in his place.

So yeah on that note Sunrise does think through the little details folks and their writers are in many cases far more intelligent and creative then we give them credit for, it’s just up to us to actually realize it instead of trying to find reasons why they suck.  And also on that note, do people feel I’ve missed anything or would they like to add anything.  If so the comment box is open as always.

One more thing before I go:

Happy Victoria Day Fellow Canadians

Yeah this ones actually from Zegapain, which I’m only watching now because I was stupid enough to believe some people when they said it was a generic trainwreck mecha series.  Luckily I’m a little smarter now and know that was just people going through the motions and I’m finding it quite enjoyable.  Anyway enjoy your local fireworks special and the rest of the long weekend fellow Canucks and I’ll be working on catching up on my Code Geass R2 episodes summaries as soon as I get a long stretch of workless days.

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11 Responses to “Japanese Mythology In Code Geass Naming (A Quick Look)”


  1. 1 Owen S May 18, 2008 at 7:22 am

    Excellent overanalysis of a minor detail I would have never noticed. I’m quite familiar with Suzaku, Genbu, Seiryu, and Byakko, but it never occurred to me to make that connection, so mad props to you for that. Funny how everyone’s all over the Britannian names when we’ve got an equally rich subtext in the form of the Japanese ones.

    For the record, what exactly constitutes “trainwreck” in your book? Is the connotation negative or positive? I’m dead curious as to how each blogger uses it, for it seems to differ depending on the person, and I’d love to hear what your take on it is.

  2. 2 Kaioshin Sama May 18, 2008 at 8:01 am

    Ahem, well I do pride myself on overanalysis so thank you very much.

    As for what constitutes a trainwreck, to me it’s when a plot loses any semblance of coherency, becoming a muddled mess of unfinished or mishandled concepts and as such the only thing to look forward to in a show anymore is it’s inevitable disastrous end and even then only to see just how big a clusterfuck you end up with. It’s pretty much the ultimate disaster that can befall a series and as such I find myself more then a little annoyed when certain people start calling a show I’m watching a trainwreck before it’s even started airing or when only about a quarter of it has actually aired. It’s just bloody stupid to assume something like that as a lot of things have to go wrong before you can end up with a guaranteed trainwreck and even during one it’s possible to pull out by the end if things pull together and it turns out the viewer was mistaken about some things.

    The short version is anything containing an abundance of loose ends, immense leaps of leaps of logic in writing, underdeveloped characters or ones whose actions are unexplained, plotlines that never went anywhere or seemed to indicate a different direction then the one ultimately taken, lack of any real closure and unexplained leaps in the narrative throughout a series among other things.

    Today though as I’ve hinted, I feel it just seems more like a buzzword then anything (kind of like the now defunct term “epic”, whose original meaning has been so raped by internet denizens that the Oxford Dictionary might as well just change it’s meaning from “Surpassing the usual or ordinary, particularly in scope or size” to “Anything deemed cool”), like when dealing with Jason Miao and his bizarre unfocused rants about Sunrise and Gonzo where he just throws the word out at random without going into any real detail.

    I also can’t personally see how the term trainwreck can be seen as positive. Having actually witnessed a real one I can say for myself that there’s nothing positive about the experience.

  3. 3 Owen S May 18, 2008 at 8:17 am

    Thank you. That’s really interesting, for if we assume that the majority of those using the term do indeed follow your definition of the term, they’re DOING IT WRONG, and failing massively in the process.

    One would have to be packing some crazy head trauma to term Code Geass a “trainwreck”, considering that we’ve already established that it always ties up loose ends neatly. To some extent this also makes a mockery out of all those who say that School Days was a trainwreck — how on earth did that show qualify? Even Myself;Yourself would be a better choice, IMO.

  4. 4 Kaioshin Sama May 18, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Well if we say that all the plot points that would have been past the point of no return have been dealt with then yes, but there are still some open plotlines that are story critical. What is there to make one assume that they won’t ever be dealt with thus resulting a trainwreck? Nothing other then people’s own guesses based on nothing.

    That makes me think that the new definition of trainwreck is “Any plotline a viewer does not appreciate or comprehend”….which of course somehow makes it the fault of the writing staff because god forbid something could ever go completely over the average persons head and they know what’s best for every show quite clearly. Fans these days have this problem with shifting the blame onto the writing staff these days for things that are essentially not even a problem or really just their own misgivings.

    Well I guess that’s where I come in these days and heck if it doesn’t make for an interesting post university passtime. Arguing it out with anime fans using the lost art of methodical logic and reason…..

    And I can’t really speak from experience for School Days or Myself; Yourself as I never watched them, but I heard that the ending for the former was actually one of the legitimate endings from the actual game so really the only argument is that they didn’t like the story. Not liking a story and it being a trainwreck are two entirely different things.

  5. 5 Unentschieden May 18, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    CG does have some very “ugh” moments, for example the conclusion to Nunallys phone call. So you might add using “deus ex machina” to the trainwreck status, often even weak executions of plotpoints are “nominating”.
    But being a trainwreck doesn´t mean a show is bad, actually they can be enjoyable for that very reason.
    C.C. getting her cheese-kun doll back on one of the busiest days in the school for example would be very stupid, yet it is entertaining for this very reason.

  6. 6 Kaioshin Sama May 18, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Okay, but I don’t use the term like that as I said above.

  7. 7 ZI May 18, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    So you discovered Zegapain.I think it’s a very good show.Unfortunately the mecha design didn’t really help.I never got past the first ep, the first time I saw Zegapain.It’s only 6 months later that I really watched because some blogger said it was good.

    I had the same problem with terra, the moral of the story is “never judge a book by its cover”.

    On Trainwrecks,

    You have a very precise definition.For me a trainwreck is just a spectacular disaster which is a rather subjective definition.But I am like you concerning jason miao, every time he calles CG2 a trainwreck I get irritated.

  8. 8 deathkillz May 18, 2008 at 3:01 pm

    I’m sure that you asked me a while ago whether Zegapain was a good series and I replied that it was. Well, took you long enough to actually go ahead with watching it ^^

    Looking forward to read what you will write for the upcoming CG entires (*nudge nudge*).

  9. 9 Kaioshin Sama May 18, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    @ZI: Yeah there’s more then one definition probably and it can be applied to different things, but it’s a term that is more then a little worn out these days. Mostly by Jason where it seems to mean anything that has a plot. Oh and yes Zegapain is very enjoyable so far. I especially like the opening and ending themes.

    @Deathasaurus Rex: Tonight.

  10. 10 CCCP May 27, 2008 at 3:41 am

    So then, to try to get a better idea of your standards, would you consider the last half of Gundam SEED Destiny a trainwreck? I know when I was watching it, it seemed like it met all your criteria.

  11. 11 Kaioshin Sama May 27, 2008 at 4:12 am

    @CCCP: Gundam Seed Destiny was definitely a trainwreck.


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