This will contain Code Geass and Re:Creators spoilers.
In Code Geass, the very first episode sets the main theme of the rest of the series with a single line: “The only ones who should shoot are those prepared to get shot.”
Initially, the full meaning of Lelouch’s assertion is obscure to us; even if we take it literally, does it simply mean that what comes around goes around, or is there more to it? As the series progresses, the theme becomes clearer as we come to understand what it means to wield power. Through the deaths of Shirley’s father, Euphemia, Shirley herself, supposedly Nunnally, and Rolo, the series asserts that power is nearly indistinguishable from the ability to hurt others, that it is truly distinct only in theory.
Finally, just as Lelouch ascends the throne as what appears to be an evil despot, he stands to face judgment for his crimes. As he falls before Nunnally in a pool of blood, he remembers all those he hurt, all of the people whose worlds he destroyed in creating the world anew. “The only ones who should shoot are those prepared to get shot.” Those with power must be prepared to atone for whatever evils they commit with that power, unconditionally.
What, then, is the main theme of Re:Creators?
Mamika questions the common sense of the world that she once knew; Meteora comes to terms with the death of her creator by playing the game she is from; Alicetaria questions her existence and the meaning of her and her entire world’s suffering; and Souta answers her with an impassioned speech, that we write characters whose virtues we aspire to, whose actions give us hope.
But before Souta made his response, I had been losing hope in Re:Creators. Because while each of these questions are asked using the premise of fictional characters entering the real world, none of them truly embody it the way the Geass embodies power. As it stands now, they’re still just a series of one-offs that don’t tie together all that well, and in the case of Mamika, might never get the chance to.
It’s pretty evident, especially with the latest episodes, that this series means to interrogate why people tell stories and what it means to be a storyteller. But at the same time, the characters from those stories almost feel neglected by comparison. They are the physical manifestation of stories that have grown beyond their creator, the physical representation of the power those stories have to move the hearts of people in the real world. So why does it feel like sometimes they only exist to move the plot forward?