Every time I read a new volume of the manga Elfen Lied, I become slightly more convinced that this series is going to leave me an emotionally scarred, broken shell of a man. Sweet lord this story is disturbing. I feel like there’s going to be some variation on that phrase in every single post because in every single volume thus far, Lynn Okamoto manages to outdo himself in the “how miserable can the lives of our heroes be” department as well as “how cruel can the villains be” section as well. In this volume, I also finally began to see where Okamoto introduced some of the more philosophical and outright psychological themes that lead to this series’ regular comparisons to Neon Genesis Evangelion, and while the shoddy translation that’s at the core of the copy of the manga I’m reading still unfortunately interrupt and distract from the over-all experience, Elfen Lied has quickly turned into one of the most outright disturbing pieces of fiction I’ve ever encountered whose shock value seems to only be matched by the copraphagia and orgy scenes in Gravity’s Rainbow (note that I am in no way saying Elfen Lied is half the work that Gravity’s Rainbow was).

After they both ran away last volume, Nyu and Mayu both make their way back to the Kaede residence. Nyu has reverted back to her docile Nyu personality after going on a roaring rampage of violence against Big Bad Karuma’s Diclonius daughter Nana, and Mayu (who was injured during the fight) was picked up at the hospital by Kohta. After enjoying Kohta and Yuka’s hospitality for the evening, Mayu (who has repressed the memories of Lucy’s fight with Nana) goes back to being a homeless street urchin with her dog Wanta as her only companion. We learn that Mayu ran away from home after her mother’s new husband began to sexually molest her and when Mayu told her mother, the mother hit Mayu for trying to cause problems. Now, Mayu takes shelter in a firewood shed and lives off the scraps from a bread shop that a kind clerk gives her. However, the clerk leaves the bread shop (which means Mayu has no food) and Wanta’s owner turns up to take Wanta away (it’s real name is James) and tells Mayu to stay away from the dog forever. Eventually, Mayu returns to the Kaede residence because she has no where left to go, and Kohta and Yuka begin to take care of her. Cue a time skip of sorts and Kohta and Yuka are finally attending college again. They drag Nyu along with them because she can’t be left on her own. Nyu can also say “Kohta” and “yes” besides just “Nyu” now.

Nyu runs into Bando on the college campus but thanks to something that apparently didn’t translate very well into my comics, other people using “nyu” as syllables in other Japanese words makes him unable to be sure that he’s run into the same Lucy that maimed him. Bando is at the school to find out if there’s any way he can avoid castration which Kurama has sentenced him to face after being infected by Lucy. It turns out this infection happens to any man who is pierced by the vectors of a Diclonius. If they were ever to have children, the kids would be Diclonius. The scientist however isn’t all he seems to be and he offers to not castrate Bando as long as he is able to go around and impregnate as many women as possible so the scientist, Dr. Kakuzawa, can study the effects of letting the Diclonius into the human population to wreak havoc. Yeah, he’s not suspicious at all. The volume leaves it vague on what Bando decides to do but somehow I don’t see him picking the greater good over emasculation. The scientist is also one of Kohta’s professors and he finds Nyu next to Kohta and Yuka in his class and takes her away pretending to be her uncle. He, is in fact, a male Diclonius although he lacks any of Lucy’s powers because his bloodline has been diluted. He wants to impregnate Lucy to retake Earth for the Diclonii, but Lucy returns when he puts Nyu under anesthesia and she doesn’t like to be used by anyone. She decapitates Kakuzawa just before the anesthesia wears off and she becomes Nyu again. At that moment, Kohta and Kakuzawa’s assistant arrive to find Kakuzawa’s headless body.

This volume really upped the number of plot threads (I even left off where Nana learned to use artificial limbs with her vectors to replace the ones that Nyu ripped off) and added something really important to the mythology of the series, mainly the existence of who knows how many other weak Diclonius in the world and the virus that will result in the birth of stronger, purer Diclonii. However, honestly, at this point, the most impressive thing was how it made one character seem more whole and well-rounded than even Kohta and Yuka after only a couple of issues. Mayu has to be the most damaged and scarred person in this whole series and that includes Nana whose father regularly does evil Mengele-esque experiments on her for the sake of who knows what. We learned a lot about Mayu’s backstory and how this is affecting her ability to function in the Kaede residence, esepcially after she walks in on Kohta and Nyu taking a bath together. Nyu seems to be in love with Kohta in some odd way that only her underdeveloped mind can really comprehend. We’re also learning that Nyu’s vectors are growing so this could prove to be especially fatal for anyone that attacks her when she’s in Lucy mode. I’m curious to see exactly what the consequences are going to be if anyone discovers that she’s the one that killed Kakuzawa (and Kohta already suspects this to be the case).

I always read these volumes of Elfen Lied incredibly fast because I have to know what happens next. The chapters are very short and they almost without fail end on some sort of a cliffhanger so there’s an immediate urge to know just how deep this rabbit hole goes. However, I’m also thankful that I’m also reading Bleach at the same time as Elfen Lied because if I didn’t have decent breaks between volumes of this comic, I think it would just break my soul. There are almost no moments of happiness in this series. Even when they do occur (such as Kohta and Yuka throwing a birthday party for Mayu), they are almost always a prelude to something absolutely terrible happening. I’m not sure if I’ve encountered an author with such an eye for how to construct horrific situations since George R. R. Martin, and at least his terrible moments weren’t always as unsettling as what happens in Elfen Lied. Well, it’s time to begin a short break from the macabre world of Lynn Okamoto and into something a little lighter like Tite Kubo’s urban fantasy and the adventures of Ichigo Kurosaki.

Final Score: B+

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