Kururugi Suzaku is one of the lead characters in the Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion and Code Geass R2. Although he does have a following of fans in the anime community, they are usually quiet and under the radar compared to the vocal crowd who hate Suzaku’s guts. Nothing gets me fired up to write more than people relentlessly hating on a character with whom I empathize or sympathize. That being said, this post is a character analysis, but may also contain defenses of the value of Suzaku’s character and actions in the show. Warning: spoilers will be present.
History and Hypocrisy
In the beginning of Code Geass, Suzaku is established as the best friend of Lelouch, the main character. He was Lelouch’s only friend until they were separated around age 10, when Britannia declared war on Japan. The details of the situation are not clear, but we know that Suzaku killed his own father, who was the Prime Minister of Japan, and made it look like a suicide. The motivation behind this crime was to save as many Japanese lives as possible. Countless would be slaughtered in the hopeless war with Britannia, especially after the Prime Minister declared he and his whole country would rather die and go down fighting than surrender.
To keep more of his countrymen alive, young Suzaku decided the means justify the end, and murdered his father. However, the experience completely changed him. He was overwhelmed with guilt and the desire to punish himself by dying. Soon, he joined the Britannian army and became an “Honorary Britannian.” Though he is reckless and heedless of his life in real time, Suzaku did have a plan besides dying. He wanted to climb the ranks, eventually become one of the Knights of the Round, and then create a Special Zone of Japan where his countrymen could live free of Britannian oppression. Suzaku hoped to change the system from within.
This plan required overlooking the evil of Britannia for many years and letting it go on right in front of him. This is constantly painful for Suzaku, and yet he keeps doing it. Like Lelouch, he decided the ends (helping the Japanese) justified the means (serving an evil empire). Unlike Lelouch, who lies to others and stays true only to himself, Suzaku lies to himself and is a hypocrite. I mostly mean with regards to not joining Zero, the terrorist and self-proclaimed knight of justice seeking to liberate Japan with violence and clever schemes. If Suzaku was true to his desires, he would have joined the rebellion. Instead, he says he can’t serve Zero because the ends don’t justify the means.
Nobody is saying that Suzaku isn’t a hyprocrite. But what’s interesting about hypocrites is that they don’t usually realize how deeply they are decieving themselves. I love Suzaku because his psyche is effed up, he’s masochistic, he has suicidal ideation, and he constantly lies to himself without even fully realizing. That being said, from Suzaku’s perspective, Zero was evil because he was inciting a rebellion that would cost many lives of people who didn’t need to die if things went according to Suzaku’s slower, less radical plan. In as far as saving the most Japanese lives, Suzaku is actually “right” here. The rebels, though, don’t think it’s worth it to live in a society so cruel, racist, and oppressive. That’s perfectly understandable, too.
Later on, Suzaku comes to hate Zero because 1) he used Geass on him to order him to live when he wanted to die, and 2) he killed Euphemia, the person Suzaku loved and wanted to spend his life protecting. The psychology of Suzaku goes downhill from here. He absolutely hates Zero/ Lelouch, and forces him to face the Britannian Emperor, assisting in wiping his memories. Suzaku abuses Lelouch and comes close to murdering him in the Akito the Exiled movies. Then Suzaku really loses it when the Geass power forces him to fire a FLEIJA (basically a nuke) on Tokyo, killing several million people. It’s not too long after that he finally agrees to join Lelouch in the Zero Requiem, the epic plan to conquer the world and then free it from oppression.
If you’ve seen the end of R2, you know that Suzaku ultimately got what he wanted: a punishment for killing his father and all those people in Tokyo. His punishment is that he must keep living. He must stay alive and play the role of Zero, after publicly assassinating Emporer Lelouch. It’s also a sentence to keep acting in a way that causes him pain. As the new Zero, Suzaku has to act like a hero of justice when he knows he is anything but that. He also must take action from the perspective of the means justifing the ends, should the world ever be threatened again.
Suicidal Ideation and Bitter Grief
What drives Suzaku to do the things he does and be the person he is? He possesses a strong sense of justice and the desire to serve others. He’s instictively protective of his friends and loved ones. He wishes for redemption for himself and the world, and peace for all. However, those positives are not the only factors motivating Suzaku. He also is driven by bitterness, lust for revenge, and the desire to die an “honorable” death. I briefly mentioned that the girl Suzaku loved was Euphemia, who was shot and killed by Zero. I’m bringing it up again because it can’t be said enough how important Euphie was in Suzaku’s story.
At a time when Suzaku was only seeking death, Euphemia gave his life a purpose, the optimal reason for living for someone like Suzaku: that is, protecting Euphemia as her knight and lover. He was genuinely in love with her, and she was his first love. It was too much for Suzaku to have all this potential for a happy life suddenly and tragically taken away at once. He suffered a terrible and cruel loss, and never truly got over it, as far as fans can tell. The one responsible for Euphie’s death was Zero/Lelouch, so Suzaku becomes driven by bitterness and hatred toward him.
In addition, because he killed his father, and later the people in Tokyo, Suzaku is always half-way hoping to die. He doesn’t value his own life in the slightest. Instead of taking his own life, though, Suzaku hopes to die in battle or in the service of his friends or his country. That’s still a form of suicidal ideation. Suzaku is a tragic character.
MBTI Type: The Defender
The MBTI or Myers-Briggs Typology can help us understand the personalities of different characters. There are 16 types, each with four letters. I is for introverted, which means people get their energy from time alone, and E is for extraverted, for those who get their energy from other people. N stands in for intuitive, and refers to being more of an idea person and than a practical person. Sensing (S) is for the more practical and down-to-earth individuals. T and F are thinking and feeling, and refer to how you make a major decision– with logical thought process (T) or with what your gut tells you (F). Judgement and Perception are the last two letters, J and P, and they refer to being either the premeditated type (J) and the spontaneous type (P).
To give you an example, I’m an INFP: introverted, intuitive, feeling, and percieving. Once you know your type, you can read online articles or books describing some generalities for each of the sixteen types. For example, the INFP types are usually good at writing and learning/speaking different languages. When they are healthy, they have an amazing sense of imagination. Sometimes, popular websites give titles to the sixteen types; the INFP is often called “The Idealist” or “The Mediator.” With my knowledge of the 16 types, I like to guess what a character’s MBTI would be if they were a real person. I believe Suzaku would be an ISFJ.
ISFJ types are often called “Defenders” or “Protectors.” Though they are introverted, they love people and strive to create harmony between them. The Sensing dimension gives them a practical side and helps them size up situations and understand what drives others. ISFJs are feelers, relying on their personal ethics and gut feelings to make decisions, sometimes disliking impersonal analysis. They are usually warm-hearted, friendly, polite, and understanding of others. J (judging) versus P (perceiving) means the ISFJ thinks ahead, makes plans, and manages their time and resources wisely, all for the purpose of protecting or supporting others.
A few strengths of ISFJs are outlined here. They have good practical skills that often come in handy to help others. (For Suzaku, this would be his incredible piloting ability.) ISFJs are loyal and always do their best, working hard for the people they love. They are supportive, always ready to lend an ear or a hand who whoever needs it, but especially to friends and loved ones. (Remember that Suzaku was Lelouch’s only friend after his exile to Japan.) When it comes to doing what they believe is right or protecting people, ISFJs are enthusiastic and reliable.
Now take a look at some ISFJ weaknesses. They can take things too personally and get upset or angry easily. Most are reluctant to change their ways, and some can be extremely stubborn. ISFJs tend to overload themselves, taking on way more responsiblity than they can emotionally and mentally handle. They may also repress their feelings, shutting away their true thoughts and emotions, only to have them boil over later. The ISFJ can be too altruistic for their own good, and will even turn down help when they need it most.
I think this all sounds a lot like Suzaku. He is the knight, protector, and supporter, extremely loyal to his friends and loved ones. But under stress, he also has serious personality flaws like stubbornness, repressing his emotions, and not accepting any help.
Why Do I Love Suzaku?
Alright, let’s keep this brief. (1) Suzaku is an interesting case of human psychology. (2) I have struggled with suicidal ideation, so I know how it feels to always be hoping to die. (3) I was a hyper-moralistic and preachy hypocrite during my teens. I can understand how easy it is to lie to yourself when you believe with all your heart you’re doing the right things. (4) I have lost the person I loved and idealized most, just as Suzaku lost Euphemia. That person didn’t die, but was stolen away by someone else. And like Suzaku, I am still bitter, angry, and grieving over the loss. I don’t think the hatred or sense of betrayal will ever get better.
There is a lot of depth to Suzaku’s character just by itself– I didn’t even get into discussing the fascinating interactions and dynamics between Suzaku and Lelouch! Suzaku is a flawed character who believes in his own lies, but I usually love characters like that, depending on how they are presented. They are so much more interesting than perfectly moral and consistent main characters. I hope this analysis was enjoyable and informative. Jya, ne!