Li Xingke (黎星刻, リー・シンクー, Rī Shinkū) is a fictional character in the Sunrise anime series Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion. He is voiced by Hikaru Midorikawa, and by David Vincent in the English dub. He is ranked 5th in the 2008 Newtype Character Poll for Code Geass.
Xingke is a tall young man with a lean body, he has brown eyes and long black hair that reach to his knees donned with a red back headpiece. He wears a blue short shirt similar to a men's qipao and a long white shirt with two cut leg slit underneath. He also dons a red sash with his sword attached to it, black pants and brown boots.
Xingke is an incredibly hardened individual with a strong sense of duty to his country, albeit only in the ways he believes it can be improved. He is very willing to go against orders if it means improving the country, including murdering Gao Hai and staging a coup de'tat to prevent his empress from getting sold away. He always keeps a stoic disposition unless provoked in some way. Additionally, he appears to have a fondness for Knightmare pilots, based on what he told Kallen Kōzuki when they first met.
Li Xingke, 24 years old, a member of the Chinese Federation and part of a faction fiercely loyal to the Empress Tianzi, a trait not shared by any of his superiors. It seems that part of his goal is to re-establish the throne of China as the clear authority, as the current Empress is the head of a puppet government with Eunuchs holding actual power in the country, as well as help the many impoverished citizens living in China.
His devotion to the Empress stems from a past encounter where she spared his life after he was caught giving medicine to a prisoner. Years later, Li is forced to leave the Forbidden City to attend a military academy, and Tianzi confides in him her desire to see the outside world. Li promises Tianzi that one day, he will help Tianzi leave the Vermillion Forbidden City and they can both see the world together. This promise shapes Li's actions and agenda.
Li briefly appears in episode 23 of the first season, his back turned to the viewer as Zero makes his speech about reforming Japan.
His proper debut is in the first episode of the second season. He serves as a bodyguard for the influential Eunuch Gao Hai, who is sent by the Federation as a consul to the Britannian colony Area 11. They arrived right as the Order of the Black Knights' operation to recover Zero begins. The Black Knights succeeded in their mission and Zero orders the Knights to head to the Chinese Consulate for protection. Gao Hai, under the influence of Lelouch's Geass, agrees to harbor the fugitives, which troubles Li as it is not part of their mission.
While the Black Knights stay at the consulate, he meets Kallen and is impressed that someone of her age is the pilot of the Guren Mk-II. When the Britannians threaten to publicly execute the imprisoned Black Knights, he sets his own plans in motion. The Consulate is suddenly attacked, starting with an explosion near the entrance, and the Chinese military are blamed for the attack. From the direction of the explosion, Li suddenly emerges and knocks out two Black Knights, then forces a third to the ground, declaring their destruction if his demands are not met.
As it turns out, the section of the Chinese military that attacked the Consulate was beaten back fairly quickly, and despite the destroyed wall, things calm down at the Consulate enough that the Black Knights' two leaders, Kallen and C.C. at the time, idly chat about their previous misadventures in Aomori.
In that moment, Li arrives in the room with Kallen and C.C., who notes her surprise at Li not being at Gao Hai's side. When Kallen wonders why Gao Hai attacked his own Consulate if he had already recognized the Black Knights, Li informs them of his intent to kill Gao Hai, also threatening the Black Knights' destruction if they do not allow him to do so. Kallen aims her rifle at Li, but C.C. talks her down, having caught onto his goals. Despite Gao Hai being under Zero's Geass, C.C. reaches a deal with Empress Tianzi's best warrior. C.C. allows Li to assassinate the High Eunuch, but in exchange, Li agrees to continue providing cover for the Black Knights as they plan to save their old leadership from execution.
Li confronts Gao Hai about having recognized the United State of Japan without confirming it with higher officials in the mainland, including the Empress. When he finds out that Gao Hai, who is still affected by the Geass, cares more about Zero than the Empress, Li summarily executes Gao Hai for committing lèse majesté. C.C. realizes his ambitions, and that his agreement to aid the Order of the Black Knights is only in return for the Black Knights being used as a tool to aid his own plans for China. She commends him for astutely playing politics nonetheless.
When Zero does return to save the Black Knights, Li expresses disappointment at the masked revolutionary deciding to use a riot shield as part of his duel against the acting Viceroy of Area 11, Gilbert G.P. Guilford, who arranged for the public execution if Zero did not face him in an honorable duel. As he watches on, Li admits he owes Zero a debt for giving him a way to finally kill "that parasite" of a High Eunuch, but he makes it clear that if Zero doesn't succeed, he'll just turn over the remaining Black Knights to the Britannians. Zero asks Guilford if there is an evil that cannot be defeated by justice. He wonders "do you stain your hands with evil" to destroy evil, or "do you uphold justice even if you must surrender to evil," prompting C.C. to note that evil remains in either case. LI is bemused at the contradiction and wonders what Zero's motive is. Once he sees Zero using the very executive platform and settlement against Guilford and the Britannians, Li announces any further actions taken by the Britannian military would be seen as an act of war.
Li and his aide Zhou Xianglin fly back to China as the opening ceremony for the Special Administrative Zone of Japan is held. He tells Zhou that though he has to return to the Chinese Federation if the new Consul General is decided upon, he sees what's currently going on as a good opportunity. He coughs up a bit of blood, but he tells her not to worry because he only needs a little longer. When Zero engineers the exile of the Black Knights, he comments on how Zero plans to move to their stage. With a marriage of convenience set up for Prince Odysseus of Britannia and the Empress, Li doesn't hesitate in staging a coup, which Zero interrupts by taking Tianzi hostage.
After Zero escapes with Tianzi and easily defeats the predictable Chinese forces, the Eunuchs enlist Li's help in retrieving her. He is given the Shenhu Knightmare Frame and command over their troops. Li is able to predict Zero's strategies and counter them, easily putting the Black Knights on the defensive. The Black Knights manage to escape and take refuge in the mountain housing the royal tombs. At this point, the Eunuchs turn on Li and have his forces surrounded, having turned to the Britannians for aid instead. Li attempts to fight back, but cannot beat Gino Weinberg. He resorts to asking for help after being forced to act as a shield for Tianzi, which Zero answers. The two become allies after parts of the Chinese Federation revolt against the Eunuchs.
After the United Federation of Nations is formed, Li is appointed as General Commander of the Black Knights. He leads the initial attack on the Kagoshima coastline as a distraction for the infiltration of Tokyo Bay, and engages the Knight of One, Bismarck Waldstein, in combat. He is wounded by Bismarck while defending the fleet's command ship against a Brittanian vessel set on a collision course by the Knight of Ten. Following the Black Knights' betrayal of Zero and their announcement that he died in battle, Xingke joins the armistice negotiations with Kaguya and Tianzi. When news of the attack on the Emperor's flagship reaches them, both Kaguya and Xingke immediately suspect Zero is responsible. Kaguya decides to follow Schneizel, postponing their meeting until they can confirm other details. When Lelouch is crowned Emperor, Li and the rest of the Black Knights are visibly stunned.
After Lelouch enacts sweeping changes to the way Britannian society works,
such as abolishing the nobility system, breaking up the conglomerates, and liberating the Numbers, the Black Knights have mixed opinion about him, but Xingke remains suspicious of Lelouch's motives. His suspicions are confirmed when Lelouch takes the U.F.N. council hostage. Xingke prevents the Black Knights from fighting back, knowing that Lelouch is likely ready to kill the hostages.
After the Black Knights align with Schneizel against Lelouch, Li is horrified to learn that Lelouch is keeping the U.F.N. hostages, including Tianzi, on board the Avalon. He refuses to allow Schneizel, who considers the hostages expendable, to simply destroy the Avalon with a F.L.E.I.J.A., and is forced to give Schneizel command of the Black Knights as a concession. He takes the Shenhu out and leads the attack along with Tohdoh and Kallen.
He successfully enters the Avalon to rescue the UFN hostages, but they are already freed by the time he arrives. He is later seen along with the rest of the UFN representatives captured and being prepared to be executed until the timely arrival of Zero (Suzaku in disguise) and assassination of Lelouch. He does not appear in the epilogue though his Knightmare appears in the background during the meeting between Nunnally and Ohgi; with the world united, and at peace, it is possible that Li Xingke could have extended his life with the medical support from every major country, which included Britannia, much like how Jeremiah's life was saved when he was enhanced with various cybernetic devices.
Li is exceptionally skilled in close combat, especially with swords. He is capable of drawing his blade, striking, and sheathing it without his victims perceiving the blade being drawn or Li moving. He is also a skilled Knightmare Frame pilot, able to pilot the physically demanding Shenhu Knightmare Frame, which no one before him could effectively control. In addition to his physical skills, Li is highly intelligent, using the chaos from the Black Knights presence in the Chinese Federation Consulate to discreetly assassinate Gao Hai. He is also able to anticipate Lelouch's strategies and counter them. C.C. comments that he is not only a skilled soldier, but possesses political skill as well. Li Xingke's strength and intelligence is said to rival that of Suzaku Kururugi and Lelouch Lamperouge respectively, to which Lelouch himself acknowledges in the tenth episode of R2; this ultimately made him second-in-command of the Black Knights, and later first-in-command after Lelouch lost his leadership of the Black Knights. Even the Knight of One, Bismarck Waldstein, notes that Li's skills are those of a prodigy, commenting on his strategy of accepting his sword strike in order to manoeuvre himself into position for his next attack.
However, despite his talents, Li suffers from an unidentified, though apparently terminal, illness. One of the symptoms is coughing up blood. Because of this, he is described as "the man who was blessed by the Heavens with the gifts of intelligence and heroism, but, unfortunately, wasn't blessed with enough time".
Appearances in Other Media
Code Geass: The Manga
Xingke's role in the manga is slightly different from the anime. He doesn't appear until the Chinese Federation dispute in volume 6. Similar to the anime, he is involved in the High Eunuchs Betrayal and he executes them as well as forming an alliance with Zero to form the United Federation of Nations resulting him as a general commander of the Black Knights.
Xingke is an optional leader for Dragoncraft decks.
- Xingke's name (黎 星刻) is comprised of 黎 (Li), which is a common Chinese surname meaning "black" and 星刻 which are xïng (星) meaning star and kè (刻) meaning cut or carve. Together it might mean "carving his way through the stars", noting his determined nature, but it should be noted that Empress Tianzi's name is 天子 which means son/child of heaven.