He was chosen the most popular male character of 2006, 2007 and 2008 at Animage magazine's annual Anime Grand Prix. His seiyū Jun Fukuyama also won the "Best Actor in a Leading Role" award for his portrayal of the character at the first Seiyū Awards in 2007.
Character Planning History
While first designing the concept art design for Lelouch, the series's original character designers CLAMP had initially conceived of his hair color as being white. Ageha Ohkawa, head writer at CLAMP, said she had visualized him as being a character to which "everyone" could relate to as being "cool", literally, a "beauty". During the early planning stages for Lelouch's alter ego, Zero, CLAMP had wanted to create a mask never witnessed prior in any Sunrise series. While developing the character during the initial planning stages, the series' core staff at Sunrise, director Gorō Taniguchi, writer Ichirō Ōkouchi, and the production team discussed numerous possible influences for the character with CLAMP, such as Kinki Kids and Tackey and Tsubasa.
Character OutlineLelouch is the son of the Emperor of Britannia, Charles zi Britannia, and the late Imperial Consort Marianne, making Lelouch the Eleventh Prince of the Holy Britannian Empire. He was in line to be the seventeenth heir to the throne prior to his mother's assassination and his sister's crippling in the same incident. A ten year old Lelouch confronted the Emperor afterward and accused him of leaving his mother defenseless, even going as far as renouncing his entitlement to the throne. In response, his father banished him to Japan, where he was used as a political hostage in the Sakuradite conflict.
It was during his stay at the Kururugi household that he first met Suzaku Kururugi, with whom the young Lelouch did not interact initially in a friendly manner, before later becoming friends. However, when Britannia finally developed its Knightmare Frames fleet and decided to invade Japan to seize control of the Sakuradite mines, consequently discarding Lelouch's use as a diplomatic tool, Lelouch, fearing for his and his sister's safety, hid their true identities and sought the help of the Ashford family, who were his mother's allies.
His mother's death and his father's apparent lack of concern in regards to it were huge blows to Lelouch. He always felt that it was unfair for both his mother and sister, and therefore made it his goal to pursue a better world for Nunnally. He also seeks to discover the true reason for his mother's death, as she was murdered in the Aries Imperial Palace, a place terrorists would be unlikely to penetrate successfully without being noticed, if at all.
Shortly after gaining the power of Geass from C.C., Lelouch assumes the secret identity Zero, a mysterious, masked revolutionary dressed in a black helmet and cloak. The helmet has a retractable plate over the left eye so Lelouch can use his Geass. In this guise, he forms the Order of the Black Knights, initially composed of the members of Kaname Ohgi's resistance group. The goal of this vigilante group is a campaign against powerful individuals who oppress the helpless, which he eventually expands into reforming Japan as an independent nation.
Lelouch is willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish his goal, even if it means lying to his followers and using people as bait for the outcome he desires. However, he has trouble putting those he is close to in harms way for the sake of his goal, which is a weakness as a commander but a remnant of his humanity and sanity. His feelings for Nunnally in particular often hinders his plans, particularly at the end of the first season, where he abandons a massive war with Britannian forces to rescue her, and early into the second season, when he has trouble believing Nunnally is willingly waging a campaign for peace that interferes with his plans. Gradually, however, he has come to embrace the fact that he has to destroy before reconstruction can occur, even if it means harming those he cares about.
Originally, Lelouch is motivated by the desire to avenge his mother's death and construct an ideal world where his sister Nunnally can live in peace. After Nunnally becomes Viceroy of Area 11, and her wishes conflict with his goals, his friends help him to realize that his rebellion is no longer just for Nunnally, but for all the people of the world.
Lelouch is introduced in the first episode of the series to be a student of the Ashford Academy high school, where he is a member of its student council. A brilliant thinker who is quite talented at chess, he lives with his younger sister, Nunnally, and their maid, Sayoko Shinozaki, at a house situated within the compounds of Ashford Academy, where they are looked after by the Ashford family.
Lelouch is soon swept into the conflict between the Britannia Empire and the pockets of resistance which oppose it when he accidentally boards a truck being used by Japanese resistance operatives. Within the truck is a capsule holding C.C., who sacrifices herself to save him from the military forces trying to recapture her. When it seems as if her sacrifice was pointless, C.C. suddenly touches his hand and offers him the "Power of Kings", the mythical power of Geass. The Geass manifests itself in him as the power of absolute obedience, which allows him to make people obey his orders without question. He uses this power to order the Britannian soldiers to kill themselves in his real name.
Lelouch in the middle with the Order of Black Knights. With his new power, Lelouch begins his rebellion against the Empire, starting by killing his half-brother, Clovis, after extracting information about the murder of his mother, Marianne. He later forms the The Order of the Black Knights and takes up the identity of Zero to lead them, becoming a revolutionary and gaining popular support amongst the people.
The turning point in his rebellion comes when Euphemia li Britannia declares the region under Mount Fuji the Special Administrative Zone of Japan, giving the Japanese people their name and country back, albeit in a much smaller area. This effectively destroys any possibility of the Black Knights' rebellion; acceptance would render them powerless and refusal would make them pariahs. Lelouch confronts her at the opening ceremony and tries to have her shoot him, hoping to make himself a martyr. When she says she plans to give up her title, he surrenders and agrees to work with her. However, at this moment his Geass permanently activates, and an offhand comment about ordering her to kill the Japanese forces her to do just that. Lelouch is forced to kill Euphemia to end the ensuing massacre, but in doing so becomes a hero of the people. Using this newfound support, Lelouch announces the creation of the United States of Japan and is able to lead an attack on the Tokyo Settlement. The attack goes well at first, but when Lelouch learns that Nunnally was kidnapped, he abandons the battle, leaving his forces helpless against the much better organized Britannian forces.
Lelouch and C.C. make their way to Kamine Island to search for Nunnally, where Lelouch is confronted by Suzaku Kururugi. Lelouch attempts to broker a truce, but Suzaku is distraught over the death of Euphemia and refuses to listen. An angered Lelouch draws his pistol and both Lelouch and Suzaku attempt to shoot one another. A single gunshot is heard as the screen fades to black at the end of the first season.
One year later, Lelouch is once again a student at Ashford Academy. He has had his memories rewritten by Charles zi Britannia, revealed to possess a Geass power of his own, making him believe that he was never a prince and that he has a younger brother, Rolo Lamperouge, instead of a sister. Lelouch's memories are restored by C.C., and he resumes leadership of the Black Knights. Initially, Lelouch makes his base in the Chinese Federation's consulate, using his Geass on the High Eunuch stationed there so they will be welcomed. They are eventually forced to abandon it, however.
When Nunnally is appointed as Viceroy of Area 11, and announces her plans to reestablish the Special Administrative Zone of Japan, Lelouch falls into depression since he would be impeding her wishes by continuing his rebellion. He nearly begins taking Refrain before Kallen stops him. With the help of Kallen and his friends at the Ashford Academy, Lelouch realizes that his mission no longer revolves solely around Nunnally, but concerns the rest of his friends and the Japanese people as well.
Lelouch engineers the legal exile of the Black Knights by getting the Britannians to agree to exile Zero in exchange for bringing one million participants for Nunnally's new Japan. By having them all dress as Zero, he forces Suzaku to exile them and The Black Knights escape to the Chinese Federation, where Lelouch begins forging an alliance with the other world powers to create a force that rivals Britannia. He starts by destabilizing the Chinese Federation, returning control to Empress Tianzi from the High Eunuchs.
During his time in Area 11, Shirley is killed by Rolo after her memories are restored by Jeremiah Gottwald, an assassin for the Geass Directorate. Unable to retaliate against either, as they are now his allies, Lelouch instead wipes out the Directorate, in the process learning of C.C.'s wish to die and that the Emperor has become immortal. C.C. would have had Lelouch kill her and take on her immortality, but instead spares him by placing him inside her memories while the Emperor kills her. Lelouch refuses to let her die unhappy and convinces her to live on, but her memories of her life after gaining Geass are erased during their escape.
Once Lelouch's new alliance, the United Federation of Nations, is formed, their first act is to liberate Japan. To insure Nunnally's safety, Lelouch meets with Suzaku in an attempt to convince him to help. Lelouch takes full responsibility for all that he has done rather than admit the truth, but Suzaku agrees to help since he recognized what Lelouch is doing. Prince Schneizel's troops, having been ordered to follow Suzaku, then move in to arrest Lelouch, convincing him that Suzaku sold him out. Lelouch escapes with the help of Guilford, having used his Geass to make Guilford see him as Princess Cornelia, and begins his attack on Tokyo. Rolo and Sayoko are sent in to retrieve Nunnally and Kallen.
The battle initially goes well, but the hostilities are cut short when Suzaku fires Nina's F.L.E.I.J.A. bomb under the influence of the command Lelouch placed on them. Nunnally is apparently among the dead, which leaves Lelouch heartbroken. This is only made worse when Schneizel convinces the Black Knights to betray him using recorded evidence from his meeting with Suzaku. Rolo evacuates him, but dies in the attempt. Lelouch comes to terms with his feelings for Rolo and buries him properly.
Following the betrayal of the Black Knights, Lelouch focuses on defeating the Emperor, Lelouch confronts the Emperor in the Sword of Akasha, where he learns the truth about his mother and Charles' plans. He denies their attempt to create a new world and kills both of Charles and Marianne. One month later he installs himself as the 99th Emperor of Britannia and appoints Suzaku as his Knight of Zero.
As Emperor, Lelouch abolishes all the oppressive laws and class systems of Britannia, frees every colony (thereby abolishing the concept of "Numbers"), and puts down all resistance to his goals. However, the seemingly benevolent acts are a smokescreen for his intention to take over the world, which he calls the Zero Requiem. He announces that Britannia intends to join the U.F.N. At the meeting, Lelouch takes the council members hostage after it is revealed that Britannia's large population would give him a majority voting block. This brings him into conflict with Schneizel and the Black Knights, the former bringing his F.L.E.I.J.A.-equipped floating fortress into the battle. The biggest surprise comes when Nunnally is revealed to be alive and declares herself to be his enemy. Though initially reluctant, Lelouch is convinced that he must fight her for the sake of his plan.
Lelouch began to leave when Damocles continues to fire F.L.E.I.J.A. Shortly afterwards, Lelouch saw C.C and says to her that he is worried about her but then Kallen attacks Avalon and is saved thanks to C.C. Using Nina's countermeasure, Lelouch and Suzaku disable the F.L.E.I.J.A. and the two proceed to board the Damocles. He manages to place Schneizel under his control, then goes to confront Nunnally, who has regained her sight. Lelouch uses his Geass on Nunnally to get her to hand over the F.L.E.I.J.A. launch button and takes over Damocles. With no one left capable of opposing him, Lelouch becomes the ruler of the world.
Lelouch arranges the public execution of the Black Knight leaders and the U.F.N. representatives. Suzaku, disguised as Zero, interrupts and kills Lelouch, the culmination of the Zero Requiem as they had planned. By directing all the hatred of the world onto him, Lelouch's death will serve to facilitate peace. He dies smiling, saying he is the one who both destroys worlds and creates them. Suzaku is left to play the role of Zero. Lelouch dies in the arms of a crying Nunnally, who then succeeds her brother as Empress of Britannia. The aftermath is narrated by Kallen, who ends up forgiving Lelouch and explains how the world is much better off with all the energy being focused on reconstruction. C.C. makes one last remark during the final scene of the series. Director Goro Taniguchi states that it's up to the viewers to decide how they want to interpret the ending, but that he himself likes to see it as a happy ending. Writer Ichirō Ōkouchi agrees, saying that while some may regard Lelouch's end as a tragedy, he too likes to think of the ending as a happy one because Lelouch created a better tomorrow for those left behind.
Super-intelligent and arrogant on the inside, Lelouch puts on a more affable personality amongst his friends. At school, he has a normal life: a close female friend named Shirley who has a crush on him, a love-hate relationship with Kallen who was also serves him in the Black Knights, several other friends, a role in the student council, and excellent grades. He is particularly protective of Nunnally, and saves his most sensitive and thoughtful self almost exclusively for her.
As his alter-ego Zero, the masked leader of the Order of the Black Knights, Lelouch is demanding and issues orders without always explaining their purpose. As such, some of his own soldiers don't always trust him. He is a decent mech pilot as well as being a spectacular strategist, but his own physical abilities are minimal at best.
In the end, he realizes that he must play the role that his father never really intended but nearly achieved: enemy of the entire world. Although he seems cruel and selfish, this is perhaps the most selfless act he committed in the entirety of the series.
It is important to note that, Lelouch never attempts to justify his actions, even when presented with prime opportunities to do so (such as explaining what actually happened concerning Euphemia to Suzaku, or telling the majority of the Black Knights, other than Kallen, that he did not use the geass on them when they confront him about it). He willingly accepts responsibility even for things that he did not do.
He also has his soft side, especially with his dealings with Shirley prior to her death, and with Kallen, when he lies to save her from being killed along with him.
Lelouch's Geass, bestowed upon him by C.C., gives him "the power of absolute obedience," allowing him to plant commands within a person's mind upon eye contact in a manner comparable to hypnosis. Activation of his Geass is visually represented by the manifestation of a Geass sigil in his left eye. Commands dictated in this state are written into the minds of the designated targets once the sigil projects from his eye to theirs. Lelouch could initially toggle Geass activation at will, but subsequently loses this control to an affliction known as Geass runaway. In the second season, C.C. gives Lelouch a contact lens that blocks his Geass, but indicates that his Geass will eventually grow powerful enough to render it ineffective. Lelouch's Geass evolves to cover his other eye in episode 21, but he receives a second contact to cover it. Of all the Geass abilities in the series, Lelouch's has been explored the most, and also seems to have the most restrictions and side effects of any Geass introduced:
- Only effects the nervous system.
- Commands must be issued verbally.
- The victim must make direct eye contact for commands to be issued. The maximum effective distance is 272 meters. Line of sight via a reflective surface is sufficient for the effect to occur. After his Geass evolves, he can give commands to the victim without maintaining direct eye contact. The effective range has also been increased.
- Commands may be issued only once to any given individual, but any number of commands may be issued at initial application so long as eye contact is unbroken. Since Jeremiah's Geass Canceler negates all Geass effects, those exposed to it may be commanded once again.
- The victim will not perform any action disallowed by their physical or mental capabilities, though they will try to carry out the command to the best of their ability. For example, a victim will not be able to correctly answer a question they don't know the answer to, but will direct the user to someone who can if they are able. However, commands that affect the mind or consciousness, such as telling the victim to forget something, will take effect despite the fact that the victim could not normally force themselves to do so.
- An action will be carried out for as long as dictated in its command, or upon the indicated conditional circumstance. Eye contact does not need to be maintained for command execution to occur. No upper limit has been established, but the conditional command Lelouch gives Suzaku is still in effect more than a year later.
- The victim's memories for the duration of command issue and execution are sealed and cannot be recalled.
- As demonstrated in Princess Euphemia's response to the command that she kill the Japanese, a victim may resist a commanded action to some degree if it is utterly repugnant and morally incomprehensible to them.
So long as the above conditions are met, commands may be issued to anybody besides those that had gained immortality and to any number of individuals at once. Those under the effect of Geass have a red outline on their pupils, presumably a visual cue for the viewer since the characters never point it out.
Even without his Geass, Lelouch is a formidable opponent. He is highly intelligent, possessing a genius-level intellect, and is capable of devising and executing strategies with incredible speed and precision. The series repeatedly demonstrates Lelouch's mental acuity; ranging from his superb skill in playing chess, to an incident in Stage 14, when Mao says C.C.'s name, Lelouch instantly comes up with fourteen different possibilities for Mao's identity - including the correct one. In the audio dramas, Suzaku says that, when they were children, Lelouch devised a secret sign language containing over 500 words. In Stage 17, Lelouch proves his tactical ability by predicting the Lancelot's actions exactly thanks to his study of past battles, allowing Kallen and the Four Holy Swords to almost defeat the Lancelot (only Suzaku's reflexes saved his life). His intelligence is also parodied in one humorous Sound Episode, which has the Student Council members acting suspicious, and Lelouch racing through possible explanations and cover-ups with increasing speed (though it turns out that they were acting strange because he had some rice on his cheek from his lunch).
Physically, Lelouch is underwhelming. He possesses the physical prowess of a teenager who engages in little to no strenuous physical activity. Thus, one of Lelouch's traits is the inability to run very fast or for any substantial period of time. Within the series, this is usually played for comedic effect, as Lelouch is constantly outpaced by his classmates in every situation, and even the most simple tasks requiring manual labor exhaust him before he manages to accomplish anything significant. This joke is taken to its logical conclusion in the second season, where it is revealed that Lelouch is supposed to attend remedial physical education classes, but skips them as often as possible. This creates problems when Sayoko poses as Lelouch: she is a master of martial arts, and hence far more athletic than Lelouch himself. Lelouch laments the problem and decides to have Sayoko attend his gym classes to fix it.
Lelouch is also shown to be very talented at most domestic skills including cooking and sewing; it has been stated that this comes as a result of his taking care of himself and Nunnally for seven years. He has been shown to be an excellent cook, and is usually the one cooking the food for parties held by the Student Council, both because the others (except Milly) are terrible cooks and nobody else can meet his exacting requirements (such as measuring ingredients to three significant decimals).
Lelouch also has some skill with firearms, usually brandishing a Britannian pistol when threatening someone. His Knightmare piloting skill has been shown to be proficient but not exceptional; he is a capable pilot by himself, though he tends to be overwhelmed by Suzaku and other pilots with more advanced Knightmares at their disposal. When Lelouch pilots a standard Knightmare on the battlefield, he is typically accompanied by Kallen, who is an elite Knightmare pilot and the leader of his personal squad, Squad Zero. After commandeering the Gawain, Lelouch co-pilots it with C.C., controlling the weapons and command functions while C.C. handles navigation and flight. After the Black Knights are exiled from Japan, Lelouch pilots the Shinkirō, which has the most powerful defense of any Knightmare. He also shows a level of ambidexterity as he is able to control either side of the Shinkirō's keyboard-based controls with both hands. Though he could not defeat them, Lelouch managed to hold his own against the Knights of Rounds during the second battle of Tokyo.
- "If the king does not move, his subordinates will not follow."
- "The only ones who should kill, are those who are prepared to be killed."
- "Yes, I am Zero, the man who leads the Black Knights, who challenges the Holy Britannian Empire; The one who holds the entire world in his hand."
- "My name is Lelouch vi Britannia, I am the eldest son of Empress Marianne, the prince who was abandoned by his empire. If anyone wishes to stop me, let them try, if there is anyone who can go beyond my despair."
- (To Charles zi Britannia) "That ... I ... I reject you, and I reject everything you believe. Why do people lie, it isn't only because they struggle against each other, it's also because there is something that their seeking. You now want a world without change. How stagnant, you could hardly call it life. The same as a world of memories, just a world that's closed and completed, that's a place I wouldn't want to live in."
- "But forcing your good intentions on others is no different from an evil act."
- (To Schneizel) "... Life without change might be called anything except life, its nothing more than experience. ... Yes Emperor Charles sought the past, you seek the present, but I seek the future."
Appearances in other media
In Code Geass: Lost Colors, the video game for the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable, there are a few endings and clips of Lelouch that involves the main character, Rai. If the player decides to use Rai's Geass on Suzaku to make him join the Order of the Black Knights. Lelouch becomes angry at this as he wanted Suzaku to join him of his own free will and uses his Geass to put Rai into an eternal sleep, and resulting in a game over.
Nightmare of Nunnally
Lelouch receives a different Geass ability in the Nightmare of Nunnally spin-off series as a result of his near-death during the Britannian attempt to recapture C.C. Instead of the ability to control others, he receives invulnerability granted through a suit of black armor, transforming into a more heavily armored version of Zero. In the armor, Lelouch can fight on par with multiple Knightmares in single combat. As in the original series, C.C. often serves as his body double, but here is able to manifest the same Geass ability and fight on the same level as Lelouch. With his new abilities, Lelouch forms a different Black Knights and leads them directly in battle instead of planning strategies from the rear, though his fighting ability allows him to achieve the same ends. Lelouch's fighting skills are impressive as his fighting style matches that of Suzaku's. The ability of Lelouch's armor functions almost the same as a Knightmare Frame, such as his cape which can create multiple sharp black whips similar to the Mark Nemo's Blonde Knives. Another ability it possesses is a system called D.O.M Hostia or the D.O.M. system, which has the ability to control and disable a Knightmare. He also has the ability to summon his own personal Knightmare Frame, Gawain.
This the story continues upon a similar vein anime series until its revealed that Lelouch had a twin brother named Rolo who is the Cardinal of the Geass Order. After revealing himself, Rolo takes Nunnally captive and prepares to burn her as a witch. In order to save her life, Lelouch, Suzaku and Alice join forces to free her. At the conclusion of the story, Lelouch inherits C.C.'s name and immortality, becoming C.C. The Demon King and goes forth to spread Geass and to promote conflict around the world.
Suzaku of the Counterattack
In the manga spin-off series, Lelouch obtain his geass in the same way as in the anime series, except that his Geass symbol is slightly rendered. Although Lelouch appeared as the villain of the series, he is not the series antagonist, but an anti-hero instead.
When Suzaku enrolls as a student at Ashford Academy, Lelouch becomes angry at the teachers and student who look down at Suzaku for being an Eleven. Growing more annoyed at Suzaku preventing him from help with the latter, fearing that his reputation could be affected and his identity as a Britannian Prince exposed.
After becoming the masked man Zero and forming the Black Knights, Lelouch is responsible for a terrorist attack that was specifically aimed Mariel Lubie and her father when a Black Knights faction had gone renegade without following his instructions. He later comes across the mysterious Lancelot, later discovering to his shock that it was in fact Suzaku.
He later kills his father in this series and wounded his stepbrother, Schneizel, before having his identity known by Suzaku. However, it is later revealed to be Schneizel's scheme to get Lelouch executed and take to C.C.'s Code.
Code Geass: The Manga
The manga follows the same basic plot as the anime, but with several differences. For one, Knightmares do not exist. As for Lelouch's character, he is still the same as he was in the anime. He takes on the identity Zero, but largely focuses on his activities with the Black Knights. He shares the same relationship with Kallen in the anime with her admiration for Zero and disgust for Lelouch. Also, when Suzaku brings Lelouch before the Emperor, the Emperor only erases the memories of C.C. and Geass; he retains all his other memories and is aware that Rolo is only posing as his brother. As such it is often considered an alternate universe due to the extreme differences.