Friday, March 30, 2012

Infinite Dream Struggle Arena X: Black Knights Vs. Celestial Being

Yet another month has passed and I still have no progress to report on anything. While I have plans to work on some stuff in the near future, I don't want to make any promises because whenever I say I'm going to do something I usually end up doing the complete opposite.

So to pass the time I decided to start this strange little feature; I'm going to try my best to answer the age-old question of "Who would win in a fight" between our favorite fictional characters and organizations.

Now I know this isn't exactly a new idea, it's been done many times before, and I'm not bringing anything new to the table. But hey; it's all in good fun.

So without further ado, let me present...

Tonight's matchup...

Celestial Being 
(Gundam 00)
The Black Knights 
(Code Geass)



Now the way that this is going to work is that we're going to do a point-by-point comparison of the two factions in terms of Technology, Manpower, Battle Tactics, and Long-Term Strategy. Note that these assumptions rely on the assumption that the fight is going to be between these two factions alone; the existence of other setting-specific groups like the Britannian Empire or the A-Laws are not directly taken into account. Also keep in mind that I'm focusing on the show themselves, OVAs, Movies, and other spin-off material are not being counted.

But before we begin, lets formally introduce are two contestants so that those of us who aren't huge anime fans can figure out whats going on.

The Black Knights

The Black Knights from Code Geass are a group of Japanese terrorists freedom fighters dedicated to freeing their homeland from the clutches of the Holy Britannian Empire. Their leader; a mysterious masked man known as "Zero", who leads them to victory through a combination of charisma, wit, and implausibly successful (and occasionally brutal) tactics

Unbeknownst to them, their leader is actually Lelouch Vi Brittania, an exiled prince with a serious grudge against his father, the Britannian Emperor. After his mother was gunned down in an incident that left his little sister blind, Lelouch swore to make the world a kinder place. Assisting him in this task is a mysterious power known as "Geass", which lets him issue a single absolute command to anyone he makes eye contact with. 

Oh and did I mention there were giant robots? Because they totally have those. They're called "Knightmare Frames" on this show, and while they start out as simply "semi-realistic giant robots on roller skates with grappling hooks", as the series progresses they continue to grow more and more advanced until we get... well, this:

Celestial Being

While the Black Knights are simply a group of rebels under an incredibly competent and charismatic leader, Celestial Being has a deeper history and a much more ambitious goal. It's kind of a complicated story, but the simple version is that the group was founded by Aeolia Schenberg, a man who pioneered a source of cheap, limitless power in an effort to stop war but figured that humans kept on fighting each other anyway. Thus he founded Celestial Being an organization that, 200 years later, would embark on a quest to end war forever. By killing anyone who tries to start a war (yeah that makes perfect sense).

Did I mention these are supposed to be the good guys? Yeah. It's that kind of show.

Anyway, the reason that these people think they can literally take on the world is because their Moble Suits are installed with "GN Drives", special technobabble-powered engines who's exhaust has the convenient side effect of disrupting radar and lets the main characters Mobile Suits use amazing weapons that other characters can't. It also looks really cool to boot.

Okay, so now that introductions are out of the way...



One important distinction between the two settings is how technological progress is handled. In Code Geass both the Black Knights and the Empire are locked in an arms race, continuously one-upping each other by producing more and more elaborate Knightmare Frames. This leads to each side having their fair share of "notably overpowered" mecha, though the scale is tipped a bit more in favor of the Brittannians. 

In contrast, Celestial Being's Mobile Suits in Gundam 00 start off leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else, and much of the first season is spent with the rest of the world trying to catch up. Now there are a number of huge plot twists regarding this, but I'm going to try to avoid spoilers here so I won't mention them. What I will say, however, is that while Celestial Being's Gundams have occasionally been reworked, most of their "upgrades" are simply them revealing powers and abilities they were hiding as an ace in the hole or clever use of something they could already do (and in one case, a power that they weren't even aware of).  

That being said, while they don't get too much more powerful than when they first started, I feel that even the Gundams at the beginning of 00 are roughly on par with the Knightmare Frames at the end of Code Geass. Why do I say this? I say it because almost everything Code Geass' Knightmare Frames learn how to do, Celestial Being's Gundams were already doing from the beginning. Flight? Barriers? Laser Swords? You name it, and there's a good chance that the Gundams were doing it from the beginning of the first season. Combined with Celestial Beings' head start in the field of space travel, and it's not hard to see how Celestial Being wins in the technology department.


At first glance you'd think that the Black Knights have the clear advantage. In addition to their strategy of manipulating public favor and Lelouch's Geass being able to theoretically provide them with limitless resources, they have more men on their side. After all, while it is implied that Celestial Being is more larger than it first appears, the "core" team that the series follows seems to consist of about a half-dozen people, only four of which are combat personnel. 

Yet in spite of this I really have to give the edge to Celestial Being, because as we all know it doesn't matter how many mooks you have in a mecha fight; all that matters is the Ace Pilots. Yeah, maybe it's a copout to ignore most of the soldiers and just focus on the important guys, but lets face it; that's what these shows do 90% of the time. As for individual skill levels, one could make the argument that Kallen and Li are at approximately the same skill level as any one of the Meisters, maybe a little higher, maybe a little lower, but still hovering around the "ace pilot" level. Keeping this in mind, Celestial Being has the advantage beacuse they have more ace pilots than the Black Knights: At their best the Black Knights have Kallen, Li Xingke, and maybe Todoh if he's being backed up by the Four Holy Swords, while Celestial Being starts with Setsuna, Lockon, Allelujah, Tieria... and that's not even including the people who join up in the second season.


It's here that things get a bit more fuzzy. Both sides have a tendency to pull off incredibly ballsy schemes, sometimes knowingly wandering into traps in order to pull off impressive comebacks. For both groups, this is due in large part to their tactical commanders; Lelouch Vi Brittania for the Black Knights, and Sumeragi Lee Noriega for Celestial Being. But while both are amazing strategists, if I had to pick between the two ultimately I'd have to go with Lelouch for three reasons; his Geass, his willingness to use underhanded tactics, and he's less distraught by setbacks.

So yeah, I should probably talk a bit more about his Geass. This is the reason why Code Geass is often described as "Gundam meets Death Note"; Lelouch goes to great lengths to find the limits of his power; using it to perform espionagesabotage buildings, and even setting really specific commands to trigger much later down the line in case he gets cornered. Even keeping his "one command" limit in mind, the mind reels with possibilities.

But more important than his mind-control ability is the fact that he's willing to use it at all. Even though his enemies aren't exactly the paragons of moral decency, some of the stuff he ends up doing is downright cruel; blowing up bridges, causing landslides, manipulating the media, he even blows up a strategically-important mountain near the end of the series just to prove a point. That isn't to say that Celestial Being is all rainbows and butterflies, but they're honest and pretty straightforward about what they're trying to do. True, they have some "connections" and do a bit of manipulating, but as far as the rules of war are concerned they look like saints compared to the Black Knights. 

Finally, let's compare the mental states of the each group's tacticians. While Lelouch is admittedly kinda crazy, he doesn't seem to worry about his plans too much and recovers from defeat surprisingly fast. Sumeragi, on the other hand, has a tendency to fixate tactical mistakes and avoiding "no-win" scenarios. At first this seems like a good thing, since it means that she's checking her plans more thoroughly, but her resolve turns out to be much weaker than first thought, and by the end of the first season she spirals into a drunken depression that she only begins to work through in the second season. Now, this doesn't mean she's bad at her job, far from it; it's just that every setback (and believe me, there are a LOT of setbacks in both series) makes her worse and worse at her job. When Lelouch gets a setback however, his tactics just get more aggressive... which is still a bad thing, but it's better than becoming more depressed.

Long-Term Strategy

It's here that I think Lelouch and the Black Knights would get a chance to shine. Assuming that Celestial Being doesn't know about Lelouch's Geass (which is a good bet, given how nobody else figures out his Geass until near the end of the series), it would be child's play for Lelouch to track down the people responsible and control them with his Geass. Better yet, as an exiled prince who hates his warmongering father, Lelouch is exactly the sort of person Celestial Being would want to recruit, so he probably doesn't even need to look too hard to find them. He just needs to bluff his way onto their space station, and before you know it they would be indirectly under his control.

Even if Celestial Being prevents this from happening, you can expect Lelouch will find a way to trick Celestial Being into doing his dirty work for them. Perhaps he Geasses some Britannian bigwig into declaring war on CB, or perhaps simply laying low and then forging a deal CB once the rest of the world has them cornered... or vice-versa. Note that these are not new strategies; similar things happened in Gundam 00 to far less successful effect. But Lelouch only has one target: the Britannian Empire, and I'm confident that Lelouch could cover his tracks well enough to get away with it if he acts on his own.

And the winner is...

...Light Yagami, because everyone did exactly what he expected, leaving noone to stop him from becoming the god of the new world.


Okay just kidding.

If such a fight were to occur, the actual winner would probably depend decided on which what kind of battle it was, and when in the timeline the battle occurred. If it was just a straight up fight near the beginning of both series, Celestial Being would win hands-down due to their superior technology. And even if the Black Knights were were from a bit further on in their own series, the battle would be closer, but ultimately Celestial Being would prevail. But for a more drawn-out conflict (perhaps a year or more in length), Lelouch's Geass would make it easy to infiltrate Celestial Being and take it down from within, or at the very least trick Celestial Being into working doing exactly what he wants. 

Welp, that concludes our first episode. If you have any questions, complaints, or suggestions for the next episode, feel free to leave them in the comments. Just don't direct your attacks at me personally; I'd much rather hear a well-reasoned argument against my article or some tips for writing the next one rather than a lengthy tirade comparing me to an illiterate hampster.

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