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Are those her limbs? Let's Read Elfen Lied
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Are those her limbs? Let's Read Elfen Lied:

Going by another request in the Liveblog This thread, I'm going for one I've been interested in for a while, but stayed away from because I'd heard the anime cuts off at a very depressing part of the story. Hopefully that won't be a problem with the manga.

By the way, the thread title comes from That Dude in the Suede's video on the 11 best anime theme songs, which features a skit of him being lured in by Elfen Lied's sweet, gentle opening sequence and then being progressively more squicked out by the show itself, including a horrified "Are those her limbs?"
 
 2 Tzetze, Sat, 23rd Jan '10 5:47:42 PM from a converted church in Venice, Italy
DUMB
Have yet to finish this series even though it's sitting right there on my computer. >_>
"This series may contain strong language, excessive violence, nudity and/or lots of blood and gore. Parental guidance is advised." Let the fun begin!

Chapter 1: Elf

We open with glamor shots of a helicopter landing at a seaside building and various character closeups, though it's just throwing faces at me at this point. A pair of security guards discuss a big event tomorrow, for which security has been weakened. There's a lot of noise in the room, and they're guarding a girl who isn't human in a big tank. One of them notices he's dropped a pen inside the tank, and screams to run. Very Silence of the Lambs.

It's the day of the transportation, and everyone's cautioned that they'll be killed instantly if they get within one and a half meters of the girl, and also to keep an eye on anything loose; that guard who dropped the pen was killed. A "vice minister" has been called in because they're running short of tax funding, and a scientist looking guy insists even the massive security they have isn't really enough, so they're moving the girl. The vice minister then acts as The Watson in a rather gratuitous Infodump: there's a genetic defect among humans that occasionally produces a mutant, which usually die off early but she didn't. Now there's a fear that these mutants will eventually take over as Earth's dominant species, like man did to apes. I think Stan Lee's going to sue somebody. The official name for them is Diclonius, which doesn't have any real meaning as far as I can see. The girl's main difference to humans is her number of arms, though the scene ends before we get to see what that means.

Time to meet someone I guess will be a major character, who helpfully Infodumps straight to the reader about his backstory: he's barely gotten into college on his second try, and is now living with his nearby cousins while he attends. He then meets a girl he hasn't seen in eight years; his name is Kouta and she's his cousin whose name is Yuka. They look over the ocean, which Kouta is apparently seeing for the first time. Riveting. Can we get back to the mutant girl, please?

Hey, wish granted, though we still don't get to see her as she's in a giant restraint that puts that thing Misa was stuck in to shame. Not even Fetish Fuel vibes off this. There's metal bars around it denoting the safe zone of two meters, which is what that guard's pen rolled into. We also learn that the noise from earlier is her kicking the floor, which is why she's being moved. Good luck with that, given the whole instant death thing.

They go upstairs, where the scientist's assistant does a gratuitous pratfall and panty shot. Please don't make that a thing with this series; I kind of picked it to get away from that stuff. Ugh, then it happens again, and the scientist exposits that she's a university graduate and isn't used to this kind of job. Yeah, that would totally cause you to constantly trip over your own legs. Honestly, don't make this a thing, guys.

The girl is brought up on an elevator with two guards. One of them is handed the Idiot Ball when his phone rings depite being deep underground, and she kicks again, causing him to lose his grip on it and reach into the bars. She telepathically pulls his arm off, but it doesn't really matter since his whole body is then yanked into range. Two arms somehow come out of the restraints and twist his head off, and then the other guard notices the keys coming out of the body's pants. His attempts to shoot the girl are deflected somehow, and the keys jump into the lock. I'm still a little unclear what's going on here, but still, Crowning Moment Of Awesome and Nightmare Fuel combined there.

In the secretary lounge, we learn the scientist is named Kurama and his secretary likes him despite the others being scared of him. She gets a bit creepy about it, saying she wants to become the best secretary in the world for him. I sense a Yandere in the making.

The elevator arrives and we see the girl for the first time. She's nude except for a helmet, and I don't see any more or less than two arms. Oh yeah, and there's a big bloody mess of body parts around her. But hey, boobs!

Kurama shows the vice minister brain scans of the girl, with a highly enlarged pineal body which is thought to control a sixth sense. I don't think telekinesis counts as a sense, but you keep going. That one difference is enough for Kurama to get What Measure Is a Non-Human? on us, prepared to restrain and dissect her to help wipe out the emerging mutants, and I now have him pegged as the Big Bad. The alarm sounds and they see the girl walking around the halls; seems her name is Lucy.

Lucy walks past the secretary, and Kurama shouts her name: Kisaragi. Lucy grabs her as a hostage to make the others open the outer door, and holds her exactly in front of her own body to give no target to the numerous guards that have arrived. Nice to see that kind of attention to detail. He tells Kisaragi she'll have to be sacrified, which she's fine with as she'll be helping him. I really wasn't expecting a Tearjerker this early, especially from the villains, but there you go. But then Lucy decides to spite them all by yanking Kisaragi's head off (that's going to happen a lot, isn't it?) and the guards open fire, all just hitting her corpse. Lucy sends a bunch of pens I guess she got from those two guards in the elevator through their heads. And then we get an explanation of the arm thing, as she puts a spectral arm through one guy's chest and rips his heart out. Lots more appear and take care of the others, while Kurama goes into complete denial on who has the advantage here. Lucy shoves things home for him by opening the door herself, and laughing that Kisaragi's death was pointless. Kurama has a bit of a breakdown over it, though I can't quite call it a Villainous Breakdown given recent events.

Lucy goes to a cliff, preparing to dive into the ocean, as Kurama tells another guard with a machine gun that this is their last chance. We learn her Achilles' Heel is the back of her head, but before the guard can shoot, she notices them and it hits the side of the helmet, knocking it off. Lucy's long hair still keeps us from getting a good look at her face as she falls off the cliff. Kurama heads back inside where the vice minister says he underestimated this situation, and he swears revenge over Kisaragi's head. It's always nice to have villains with these kinds of complex motivations.

Hey, remember Kouta and Yuka? They're now walking along the shore as Kouta has some trouble remembering his childhood fun with Yuka. Lucy walks in front of them, still nude, and turns out to be your typical doe-eyed waif...with cat ears. I'm guessing Hilarity Ensues.

I'm not quite hooked by the story yet, but it definitely has an interesting setup. I love the moral ambiguity; Kurama's clearly the villain with his horrific designs for Lucy, yet her own actions are so horrific I can't help but sympathize with his desire for revenge, despite his likely being responsible for her being this way. And with Kouta and Yuka as the naive innocents thrust into the middle, there's lots of potential for their stories to evolve in any direction, though I'm guessing it'll involve lots of Break the Cutie. My one real criticism is the clumsy exposition, though hopefully the world will be established enough after a few chapters that we won't need it anymore.

edited 23rd Jan '10 6:53:16 PM by Eegah

 
Chapter 2: Nyu

Kouta and Yuka react to a naked woman with cat ears about as you'd expect, then Lucy runs and trips over...a soda can. I realize the options are limited on a beach, but how the hell do you trip over a soda can without just kicking it away? They try to ask who she is, but she just cries and says "Nyu." Kouta gives her his shirt, and finds that those ears are actually horns. That could have been drawn less ambiguously. She's also bleeding from that bullet, which they take as the cause of her behavior. With few other options, they decide to take her home. And Hilarity Ensues!

Kurama gets information on the tides that gives him the location where Lucy washed up, and figures that a naked girl will get people talking. His new secretary tries to cozy up to him, but he's having none of it. Always the possibility of another Yandere! He crushes his coffee cup and slices up his hand, but insists he doesn't need help. I think the whole series is going to be one long Villainous Breakdown for this guy.

Kouta sees his new house for the first time; it's an unused inn that Yuka's mother is letting him use free as long as he keeps it clean. Hey, there's a nice Running Gag potential! Lucy's still saying nothing but "Nyu" so they decide to call her that, right when she slips and pees on the floor. Let the running gag begin!

Nice Fanservice shot of Yuka and Lucy showering together, while Kouta's stuck cleaning the floor. He estimates Lucy's fifteen, which gets him thinking about a dead girl named Kanae who would be the same age. He chose a college far from his hometown to stop being reminded of her, but now can only think about her wish to see the ocean. Hello, Mood Whiplash. Yuka comes out, having given Lucy more of Kouta's clothes with nothing else available. Yeah, she's got you there. Kouta's gotten out a seashell Kanae gave him right before she died, which Lucy takes an interest in. She promptly breaks it in half and smiles, which hits Kouta's Berserk Button; Kanae was his sister. Lucy runs out while Yuka theorizes she thought the shell was making him sad. The sun's gone down and it's started raining since they came in, so they have to go look for her.

Kurama gets the news about where Lucy is, though the source assumed Kouta and Yuka were a couple so that might buy them some time. He figures something must be wrong with the situation or Lucy would have just killed them, and assigns another group to the area: SAT, Special Assault Team. In other words, Red Shirt Army.

We meet one member of that team, Bando, who's going through a drill and noted to be the best member for solo missions. But he's also tired of not being able to do real jobs, so he's quite happy when the Lucy job comes in. He's only told that she escaped from prison, which will probably be his downfall, but until then say hello to The Dragon. And no time like the present for him to cross the Moral Event Horizon by backhanding a female employee who startles him, then showing no remorse as he lectures her about that.

Kouta finally decides to join Yuka in looking for Lucy, when two goons show up claiming to be cops. They show him a sketch of Lucy complete with horns, and Kouta denies seeing her. They tell him she's an escaped serial killer, as elsewhere Lucy stands despondent in the rain. Things are shaping up nicely now.

This chapter's mostly set aside for character development after the action heavy opening, and nicely introduces us properly to Kouta and Yuka. Kouta's an average guy with deep personal issues that can make him fly off the handle, while Yuka's more maternal and willing to give the benefit of the doubt. That distinction should develop nicely with their being caught in this situation, and I truly have no idea how Kouta will respond after this cliffhanger. Kanae also gives some nice possibilities; it's hinted that she just died of an illness but it could always be more than that. And Bando as the Complete Monster villain to contrast Kurama's revenge-driven motives is always a servicable setup.
 
 5 Sabbo, Sat, 23rd Jan '10 11:43:56 PM from Australia Relationship Status: Baby don't hurt me!
Umm... Can you call her Nyu (or Nyuu) while she is as she is now? It's kinda confusing for me to see you use the name Lucy when you're talking about Nyuu. :/

Didn't realize it would be a problem, so sure.

Chapter 3: SAT

Kouta's thrown for a loop, until the other goon says the serial killer thing was a joke and she's just missing. They walk away as he yells at the other one for saying too much. Kouta's left behind to pretty much just think "So, that happened."

SAT is flown to the area by Chinook, with Bando getting even more excited when he learns the target is a teenage girl. He begs Kurama to let him lead the assault, and threatens the others if they shoot Lucy before he can. That's probably going to bite them too.

Nyu wanders through the downpour, where it's suddenly much more crowded than before. Funny how that works.

Kouta continues to ponder what he was told, and finally decides again to go after Yuta. Just like he had already decided. More Filler, yay.

The helicopter lands and the different groups get their assignments, with Bando bullying his way into searching the beach. They have clearance to kill Lucy without request, but are ordered to avoid harming civilians, which Bando is outraged about. Not exactly a subtle character, here. They're also warned about the two meter thing, so that won't be an issue after all.

Nyu has gone back to the ocean (Oh Crap) and we get a gratuitous ass shot before a wave smacks her face.

Kouta meets up with Yuka, neither of them having had any luck. And Kouta doesn't even have an umbrella, which seems like kind of poor planning for that inn.

Bando has one other man searching with him, who asks why he wanted the beach. He replies he just likes to check the last place a target's been seen, though I definitely suspect there's more to it. He spots something and we go to Nyu, who seems to have a flashback to someone yelling "Get out" (at least, that's my best guess on what that panel is about) when Kouta and Yuka find her. Kouta sees that she was looking for more shells, to the point where her fingers are bleeding. He gets a bit Jerkass yelling about how stupid she was, but it's clear that his own guilt plays a part of that so I'll let it go. He says he'll treasure the shells, for which Nyu hugs him and knocks him over. Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, I'd say. But time for Mood Whiplash as Bando runs up and whacks Yuka in the face with his gun. She falls unconcious, bleeding from her forehead. Bando laughs about all the people around to kill, like, do you think he's evil or something?

The material with Kouta and Yuka continues to build nicely, and their little moment at the end is quite touching. However, Bando's really starting to bug me. It seems like Okamoto is severely underestimating our ability to tell when someone's a really bad guy, so he has him Kick the Dog if not rape it in every single scene. A little of that kind of stuff goes a long way, and doesn't bode well for the characterization of the others.

edited 24th Jan '10 3:19:16 PM by Eegah

 
Chapter 4: Loss of Memory

Bando laughs on seeing that Nyu really does have horns, while Kouta tries to attack him and is quickly knocked out himself. Good effort in the face of these scary looking guys, though. With practice he could become quite a Badass Normal. Bando is surprised that Nyu hasn't done anything, and when she checks on Kouta he whacks her on the head too, despite his partner's warning about the two meters. This goes on for a few more pages, and I get it already! He's not a nice guy. He finally tires of the Curb-Stomp Battle and leaves his partner to finish the job; the partner's hesitant that they have the wrong person but is pressured into it.

Kouta wakes up to find paramedics loading him and Yuka into an ambulance, with no sign of Nyu. He tells the cops about the men with automatic weapons, and suddenly remembers that Nyu can back him up. Yuka isn't any help with how quickly she got taken out, so the cops assume his memories of movies and real life have been mixed up but still make a token investigation of army cosplayers; hee. Then it becomes clear they're working for Kurama when they ask Kouta if Nyu had any abnormal features; he denies it again and insists he can go home now.

While they're driven home, Yuka reveals that she thinks she fainted. Kind of a severe injury for falling onto sand, don't you think? Kouta pieces together the conversation between Bando and his partner and realizes they were specifically looking for Nyu and were going to kill her; nice to see a hero with logical deduction skills. Kouta enters the inn, thinking that maybe he did dream this up, but then remembers the broken shell. He's not getting out of the upcoming Nightmare Fuel that easily.

Yuka doesn't come off too well here with being easily convinced she just fainted, but Kouta continues to develop well. The way he's able to figure out the situation from the pieces of conversation he heard is impressive and he seems to have developed some attachment to Nyu, even if it's just to prove his story at the moment. And from Lucy/Nyu's actions, it seems that head injury did have a big effect on her memory, so she's now got some potential as a protagonist as well as she's hunted down for reasons she can't remember and learns about her powers (no way I'm buying that she's dead with how important she's been).

edited 24th Jan '10 3:19:49 PM by Eegah

 
Chapter 5: Self-Defense

Flashback to Bando telling his partner to finish the job, where it turns out that sound effect was the partner getting a hole blown through his chest. This quickly gets More Dakka as despite this easily fatal wound he's still telekinetically ripped to pieces. Nya, or should I say Lucy, stands up with an Evil Laugh and displays her bullet deflection trick as a terrified Bando fires at her. The spectral arms come out again, but it seems she wants to play with her food, as it were, as she just knocks Bando away and lets him hide behind a boulder. She throws a rock at his hiding place, and he realizes the two meters is the limit of those arms. But no sooner does he figure out this chance to live than Lucy's snuck up next to him and sent her arms through the boulder. Bando narrowly dodges them, and then she sends the whole boulder at him only to split it in half around him. Bando hides again and realizes having his life on the line for once is fun. This guy has issues.

He decides to shoot a grenade on his partner's corpse when she walks near it, but the problem is not cluing her in about it, so he'll have to run around distracting her first. He waits for the right moment, jumps out...and Lucy has picked up his partner's machine gun and is pointing it right at him. I've been laying off on the Crowning Moment Of Awesome since I have a feeling Lucy's every appearance is going to be one, but that definitely counts for me. Bando dives back behind his cover, but finds Lucy stradling his head. She asks, "Is it fun?" Bando's a bit at a loss.

Now things are really getting fun. Usually I'd object to the Conservation of Ninjutsu given how easily Lucy took out all those people at the lab, but I think it's reasonably justified here. Not only has Bando been well established as a Badass Normal a cut above the usual Mook, but it's easy to fanwank that Lucy's just toying with him through much of the fight from her last comment. I'm about ready to name her one of the best Dark Action Girls I've ever seen already; I can't wait to see what she gets up to in the rest of the series.
 
Chapter 6: Transformation

Bando realizes he's still holding onto his machine gun, and Lucy probably won't be able to deflect the bullets from her current angle. Turns out he didn't quite think it through, as the recoil literally smashes his arm off, one of the biggest pieces of Squick so far if only because it's more realistic. And the bullets still don't do anything either. Lucy telekinetically breaks his other arm and just walks away, with Bando swearing revenge. So she blows up his eyes too. Come to think of it, it's actually kind of nice right now that he's such a thoroughly hatable character. She's then distracted by some kind of sound, and after attempting to choke Bando with a spectral arm she just covers her ears and screams. When it's over, she's Nyu again. Damn, it's like Harumi and Maria Beyond the Impossible.

I'm beginning to have some reservations about this series. Spending an entire chapter simply on Lucy systematically demolishing Bando, then several pages of nothing but her screaming really seems like a waste. The character of Kouta is strong enough that I don't think the series was created entirely for gorn but that's exactly what it looks like right now. I hope it finds a better balance between that and actual storytelling as it goes on.
 
Chapter 7: Destination

Absolutely shameless cover pages of Nyu and another girl in bikinis, then nude. It would really be nice to see some effort in this thing again.

The girl from the cover huddles from the rain in a wood stockpile, holding a puppy. Nyu runs past, so she walks out and comes across Bando, who's still screaming that he'll kill Lucy. She tries to talk to him but he's not really in the mood. And in addition to his other problems, his legs won't move. The puppy seems to have vanished, so I'm not sure what the deal was there. The girl puts a torniquet on Bando's arm stump and goes to call an ambulance, grabbing Yuka's abandoned umbrella on the way. After making the call, she notices the insignia for the inn on it.

Nyu is waiting for Kouta when he gets back home, and gives him the shells again. This gets Kouta to invite her to stay, so she tears up and smiles. One personality's walking Nightmare Fuel/Crowning Moment Of Awesome, the other one's walking Crowning Moment of Heartwarming. Nice setup. Kouta gives her more of his clothes, and awkwardly realizes he'll have to help her change. More hilarity potential!

Yuka's still in the cab on her way home, where she flashes back to her and Kouta's seperation eight years ago. It's the standard sentimental childhood parting, where Yuka promised to wait for Kouta and asked him not to forget about her. Well, that's a real slap in the face. More naked exposition that the two households became estranged after Kouta's father died, though that isn't expanded on. She goes a bit Yandere herself, wanting to make Kouta pay for forgetting her; is this kind of thing more normal in Japan? She realizes she forgot to give Kouta the keys to the inn so they have to go back, even though we've already seen him inside.

And now we see it again, as he tries to help Nyu dress with his eyes closed as much as possible. Called it! After accidentally squeezing her boob, he yanks her shorts off, which is right when Yuka walks in. Crowning Moment of Funny time!

At the lab, Kurama watches an experiment with another horned girl, who's nude and covered in blood. She's deemed a failure, whatever that may mean. And with that, the story's back on track.

Despite that horrendously gratuitous cover, this chapter is a welcome return to form. We get more nice scenes with Kouta, Yuka gets some interesting developments of her own, and even the Fanservice and Accidental Pervert material emerges completely naturally from the situation. And I'm definitely intrigued by that ending; I think it's safe to say I'm now hooked.

edited 24th Jan '10 3:34:43 PM by Eegah

 
 11 Clarste, Sun, 24th Jan '10 4:01:55 PM Relationship Status: Non-Canon
Three Steps
Well, from the anime it seemed like it was just Gorn. I consider it my personal Most Triumphant Example of that trope. I'm honestly surprised that you had a good impression of it before starting. Everyone I've talked to just thinks of it as Gorn, with some clumsy melodrama thrown in every so often.

Well, for the most part it's similar to my reaction to Ikki Tousen, where I couldn't believe the creator had come up with such a cool idea but had no ambition for it beyond a lame fanservice show. Thankfully this series hasn't sunk that low, and the gorn scenes are still pretty engaging on their own.

edited 24th Jan '10 4:38:29 PM by Eegah

 
Chapter 8: Yuka's Memories

We get the inevitable aftermath to the little scene Yuka walked in on last time; she handles it pretty well, all things considered. She drops off the keys and leaves, but Kouta runs after her. After Kouta can't remember the carnival they went to as kids, she slaps him and breaks down for real. She runs off while Kouta slumps to the floor, wondering himself why his memories of that time are so bad. "What a day. Got hit three times, and girls ran out on me two times." Heh. Nyu makes her regular comment on the situation.

Yuka sits at her desk and flashes back to the carnival. Kouta showed her up in carving out animal figurines, which she swore she'd be good at the next time they met. Back in the present, she pulls out a box of all the perfect figurines she's made after practicing hard, but are meaningless now. She crushes them all and calls herself an idiot. I do really admire this series' ability to move naturally between moods; we're straight into another Tearjerker now.

Bando's back at the lab, but the doctors tell Kurama they can't do much for him. You don't say. Kurama offers to tell him, while Bando just keeps yelling at anyone who might be around. So now he's got extra motivation to go after Lucy too. Joy.

Even with what's ostensibly a gorn series, it's nice that it takes this time after the big Lucy/Bando Curb-Stomp Battle to slow down and let us get to know the heroes more. Yuka's put into a potentially very dark place by the end but I still definitely sympathize with her, despite her creepy cousin love. The question of Kouta's memories is also officially made into something that's a series mystery we can expect to get answers on, with a nice subtle buildup before that.
 
Chapter 9: Lost Memory

Kurama has just told Bando the results, and that they need to do some kind of operation for him to survive. He's not happy about it, but Kurama goes on that if he doesn't stop Lucy, humanity will go extinct. Bit of a stretch, but I'll take a Well-Intentioned Extremist villain to offset a Complete Monster like Bando. He also explains to Bando the whole mutant thing we heard already, but thankfully the scene ends before it just becomes an excuse for more Filler.

Kouta hasn't been able to sleep the whole night, and has been thinking more about his memories. This includes his father being killed in a car accident at the same time Kanae got sick; I predict that's not a coincidence. It seems he also caught a cold while out in the rain, and there's a pretty funny bit where Nyu crawling around with her bare ass sticking in the air makes him worry his fever will go up. Funny, titillating, and completely natural for the scene. That's a tricky combination, and this isn't the first time it's been pulled off in this series.

Later, Kouta still isn't doing well, and asks Nyu to get him water. She repeats the word, and gets a determined look on her face as she runs out of the room and brings back...slippers. I think I see where this is going. Yuka comes by with more clothes for Nyu, and finds her yelling about water. Yuka gets it, and remarks on the various knickknacks that Nyu has brought to the room in her attempts to figure out what water is. Is this the inspiration for a certain Avatar: The Last Airbender scene? It's funny either way. Kouta apologizes and explains his search of his memory, but Yuka says his father didn't die in a car accident. I did not see that coming. Instead, the train back from the visit eight years ago crashed, and his father was decapitated in front of him and Kanae. Mood Whiplash strikes again as Yuka realizes he must have blocked everything else out as well, though I still suspect there's more to his memory loss.

I continue to be impressed with the various moods the series is able to hit. The funny, sad, and scary (and even sexy) bits all feel like a natural part of the story and don't detract from each other at all. It's honestly one of the best attempts to balance all those emotions that I've ever seen. The time is also split well between Kouta and Kurama, so that I'm no longer wishing one or the other would come back like in chapter 1.
 
 15 Sabbo, Sun, 24th Jan '10 10:49:53 PM from Australia Relationship Status: Baby don't hurt me!
Ooo, it's not that long until you get to my favorite part of this. Or maybe it's a couple dozen chapters; I forget. >_>

Although I must say, you're great at describing why Elfen Lied was good - I don't think I'd've been able to put into words why it was good back when I read it.
 16 Haven, Mon, 25th Jan '10 1:24:23 AM from Radiance
Planescape Hijack
You've inspired me to read along. I meant to look into this series when I first heard about it...a bit more compelling than I'd expected.

Is it just me or is Kanae's death—at least, the glimpse we get of it there—extremely comical?

edited 25th Jan '10 1:24:53 AM by Haven

Productivity is for people without internet connections. -Count Dorku
Yeah, the way the head bounces in front of them could easily seem like Narm. But IMO it's saved by how the series isn't trying to see super serious all the time, so it appears to just add one more bit of black comedy to the scene in a "laugh to keep from screaming" way.

ETA: I also checked out the Eye Scream page, and realized the reason Lucy destroys Bando's eyes is that he said he'd kill her the next time he saw her. That just makes it even better.

edited 25th Jan '10 7:54:01 AM by Eegah

 
Chapter 10: A Sudden Visitor

Kouta wakes up to the rather scary visage of Yuka's huge eyes right in his face, and sees Nyu in the clothes she brought over, including a double stocking cap for some reason. They agree it's not a good idea for just Kouta and Nyu to live together, so Yuka's decided to move in too. And with that, she sets him to work on cleaning duty, during which he considers that he has to work hard but also gets to live with two hot girls. Seriously, does the cousin thing just not matter to the Japanese? Nyu seems to want to help, but as soon as Yuka leaves to get more supplies, she pushes Kouta's hand onto her breast. His reaction is great: "Right off the bat? So...soft..." She keeps crying at him, so Kouta decides a bit too quickly she wants him to squeeze it. It doesn't work, and this is when Yuka comes back. Good grief, it's a running gag. Cut to outside, and the Crowning Moment of Funny line "Thank goodness she only used her palm."

Yuka heads out for groceries, and makes a point to tell Kouta not to try anything else. Right afterward, the girl who saved Bando finally arrives, and her puppy is back too. She confirms that what happened that night was real, but then we cut to Yuka arriving back and getting quite surprised at the appearance of another new girl. Nyu heads off to clean the floor, but knocks her bucket over and slips on the water. As things are getting cleared up for Yuka, Nyu cries a bit and then returns to the others. They may be about to meet Lucy, though I suspect a Pseudo Crisis.

Nyu's developing some...interesting needs of her own, and I note we still don't know just what she wanted Kouta to do after grabbing her breast. It could even be another piece of Nightmare Fuel in its own right. This new girl appears set to become a member of the heroes with how much she knows already, though we know so little about her that I can't say I'm very enticed by it.

edited 25th Jan '10 8:31:25 AM by Eegah

 
Chapter 11: Female Visitor

It wasn't a Pseudo Crisis after all; good for them. Lucy is now standing in the room, and sends her arms toward Kouta until she sees a vision of Kouta as a child telling her to stop. Buh? She just laughs and leaves the room again, but the others are remarkably unaffected by it and move on to the new girl's dog. Lucy goes outside, sees the dog, and does...something to it. Definite Moral Event Horizon there if that was what it looked like.

Yuka suggests they have lunch, causing the new girl to stare at her hands and freak out a bit. She loves the food, while Kouta and Yuka discuss their financial situation. Yuka decides to take charge of Kouta's money, and when Kouta says it sounds like they're already married she throws a salt shaker at him. The new girl is mighty amused, and Yuka finally asks what her name is. It's Mayu, and she's also confirmed to be homeless, after which she runs out of the house.

Outside Mayu calls her dog, which is named Wanta. Did they let Tsugumi Ohba make one of these names? There's a brief scary moment when she sees his broken leash, but then he runs up to her from around the corner. Oh thank god, I can't stand to see dogs get hurt whatever the circumstances. It seems Lucy just saw something tied up and wanted it to be free, giving her a bit more character development beyond kickass psychopath.

Kouta and Yuka have run out of things to talk about with Mayu gone, so Yuka finally asks how Nyu's breast felt. Kouta reacts about as you'd expect, and then she takes it up a notch by asking if he wants to feel her up too. And believe it or not, that's our cliffhanger this time around.

Mayu is now a much better realized character, with her embarrasment at living on the street and accepting charity quite endearing and making her an instant Woobie. But the really big development here is Lucy's vision of a young Kouta that gets her to stop attacking him. It appears she has something to do with his childhood and why he can't remember much, which makes their meeting again at the beginning a major Contrived Coincidence but I can get past it for now, and it may even end up justified at some point. Though I'm just weirded out by that ending; it seems Okamoto really overestimated how big the relationship between Kouta and Yuka would seem in relation to everything involving Lucy/Nyu.
 
Chapter 12: Messenger

Back at the lab, that other mutant from before has been through more experiments and now looks pretty much like Rei in her first appearance in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Unlike Lucy, she's only known as "number 7" but we do learn those spectral arms are called vectors. She's never harmed anyone, but Kurama is still unsure she'll help them due to, you know, whatever they did to make those scars all over her body. He goes in to see her, and she calls him "Papa" and herself Nana, so I guess she does have a name. The new secretary acts as The Watson, as we find out Nana was brought here right after she was born and took to thinking of Kurama as her father for some kind of emotional attachment. Sort of a pre-broken cutie, as it were.

Kurama gives Nana a rather frumpy, maternal dress that she's very happy about, and says he needs her to kill someone. Apparently "dicronius" is both the singular and plural form of the term, which is really irritating since it was made up for this story. After hearing about Lucy, Nana says she can find her, but can't kill anyone. Kurama accepts that, and gives her a radio so she can call them when she does. She cries over being able to help him this way, and suddenly I'm getting a real Mayor/Faith vibe from these two, though Nana's certainly more likable and I hope she snaps out of it soon.

Nana gets in a helicopter, asking for Kurama's tie before she leaves. He tells her to run if she gets in trouble, and do whatever it takes to come back to him. That's surprisingly moving on its own, showing that Kurama's also formed an attachment to her even if he won't refer to her by name to his colleagues. Another scientist notes that Lucy will be able to sense Nana coming, to which Kurama replies she's only a scout for the real forces. He wishes to himself that she'll return safely, confirming that he really does care about her. Aww.

Back to the oh so enticing breast feeling cliffhanger, it turns out that if Kouta does take the opportunity to feel her up, it'll confirm to Yuka that she shouldn't forgive him. She hears him coming and whirls around to punch him, but gets slapped in the face with a slipper; Kouta figured out what she wanted and was going to slap the back of her head with it. So naturally she hits him and runs off in tears. Something's not quite right about that girl.

Lucy sits on a long outdoor staircase when Nana walks right up to her and asks her to come back. This will not end well.

Nana's perhaps the most promising new character so far, much like Ty Lee in being a good-natured person who's helping the villains because she's allowed one of them to have undue control over her life. I can only hope she ends up in a similar fashion, realizing she's playing for the wrong side and living through her Heel-Face Turn. Though Kurama's genuine love for her also adds a great twist to the situation, almost moving him into Anti-Villain territory.

edited 25th Jan '10 10:30:20 AM by Eegah

 
Chapter 13: One Strike

Nana tells Lucy she's already called the lab, to which Lucy stands up and gives her a Death Glare, then says she's never killed one of her own kind before. She walks away, and when Nana tries to follow she presses vectors into various spots on Nana's body that can kill her with just a bit more pressure. She starts to go again, but when Nana still won't give up Lucy smacks her into the rock wall next to the stairs. This finally gets Nana good and pissed, and she sends out some vectors of her own and shouts that it doesn't hurt at all. And they have more range than Lucy's, so Nana's easily able to throw her around and then hold her against a tree while Lucy's vectors flail around just out of reach. She declares she won't kill Lucy, but will make her suffer for what she did to Kurama. Beware the Nice Ones, I guess.

These action heavy chapters always seem to end too soon, though I guess that's better than the other way around. And for once it doesn't seem like filler as we get a much better look at Nana and her own powers that make her an even more formidable Dark Action Girl than Lucy if she's made angry enough. It doesn't even suffer from The Worf Effect as given her longer-ranged vectors there really isn't much that Lucy can do if she's caught off guard before she can gather things to throw.

edited 25th Jan '10 11:56:58 AM by Eegah

 
Chapter 14: Clash

Lucy gets the advantage back by ripping up the tree she's backed up against and dropping it at Nana. Or not; Nana's surprised at her strength, but still easily vector-whacks her before she can do anything else. Lucy claims Nana would be dead three times over if she was being serious; whatever you need to tell yourself.

Mayu gets food for herself and Wanta from a shopkeeper she has some kind of arrangement with, and decides to eat it at "the usual spot." I think I know where this is going.

Lucy rips some big pieces out of the concrete sidewalk behind her and throws them at Nana, then runs away while she's dodging. She reappears behind Nana in midair; apparently they can walk on their vectors too. This time Lucy truly gets the upper hand and manages to whack Nana around having gotten inside her own range.

Sure enough, Mayu's usual spot is right next to the fight, and soon Lucy walks right past her. Both are injured now, and Nana decides she needs to end it by blocking a nerve in Lucy's leg. But Mayu screws things up by yelling at them to stop fighting. Nana tries to run and protect her, but once she moves her leg falls the hell off. Both she and Mayu are suitably Oh Crap about it.

As fun as it was seeing Lucy curb stomp Bando, this really takes things to a new level. It's a very neat setup to see two people with similar but subtly different powers fighting each other, and the strategies they both have to adopt to make use of their strength or range advantage. And Mayu as the Spanner in the Works will definitely move things to a new level as things continue, but until then I'll settle for asking what the hell Lucy did to rip off Nana's leg.

edited 25th Jan '10 12:49:03 PM by Eegah

 
Math guy
Yeah, definite Contrived Coincidence on Lucy/Nyu running into Kouta again.

Also, Nana doesn't really have a name. Just that number.
Pronounced "shy guy."

I have spent 4 months of my life outside my home country. Paste this into your sig with your data!
Chapter 15: Reinforcements

Things don't get off to a good start here, as we spend entirely too long on Nana simply falling over after losing her leg. There's usually a good pace for this stuff, but here it just screams filler. She thinks about how much it hurts but tells Lucy again that it doesn't hurt, which isn't such a good idea as her arm goes flying off. Her last two limbs quickly follow, and there's no way she's keeping the pretense now. Lucy goes for the killing blow, but that's when Kurama and some soldiers show up. This gives Nana an opening to use a vector for the same pressure point move Lucy showed her, but Lucy rips off her head anyway. Or not as it immediately appears attached again. Lucy realizes her vectors aren't working due to whatever Nana did, a definite Crowning Moment Of Awesome for her. The soldiers move in, as Kurama tells Lucy he'll never forgive her even more now. Not the best line there.

Despite that early filler and the mysterious disappearance of Mayu, the fight takes some interesting twists here. Adding to the intrigue is that I still can't quite figure out what to make of Lucy. Is she an Anti-Hero, Anti-Villain, or Complete Monster? Kurama's own moral complexities just add to this, making their rivalry quite a bit deeper than I was expecting from something I'd heard was just a piece of gory fun.
 
Chapter 16: Thus The Girl Died

Another scientist suggests Nana is done for, but Kurama proves quite a Papa Wolf when he walks right past Lucy to go up to her. Even with her vectors disabled, that takes balls. The others are appalled and wonder if he's trying to kill himself, and we also find out that Bantou is now that official spelling of that name. Looking at the series' page here that seems correct, so I'll be sticking to it. Lucy wonders why they haven't attacked yet, while the scientists' conversation reveals they're trying to figure out the best move to make to reduce their casualties. Kurama reaches Nana and they have a moving conversation about how she got blood on his necktie and just wanted him to be proud of her, and there's another Tearjerker for the ostensible villains of this thing. Lucy pipes up that his real daughter's already dead, and Kurama acknowledges that he killed her. That certainly puts another piece of the puzzle into place. He then gets his own Crowning Moment Of Awesome as he spins around and lays Lucy out with one punch, sending her flying back a couple feet. Again, even with Lucy disabled that's quite a feat for a regular human. But he's also really screwed things up, as Lucy takes the opportunity to run into the woods. As the soldiers head after her, Kurama and Nana talk again for another Tearjerker as she appears to die, though the jury's still out given how much potential the character still has.

Lucy can feel herself regressing back into Nyu, but it's too late to do anything about it. Nyu returns and finds herself lost in the woods and badly injured. Now that's how you do a cliffhanger.

Kurama continues to wow me with how quickly he's gained so much sympathy despite basically wanting to commit genocide. I'm almost ready to just label him an Anti-Villain, with the one thing holding me back being the circumstances of his real daughter's death. Depending on how literal that line is, it could still send him either way. Not to mention, scoring a Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu? without any real fighting skill that we've seen earns him definite badass cred.

edited 25th Jan '10 9:21:00 PM by Eegah

 
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