What in the good lord’s name am I reading? I finished the fourth volume of Elfen Lied last night before I went to bed, and it is only by divine providence (even though I don’t believe in anything divine) that I wasn’t wracked with nightmares brought forth by the horrendous scenes that were occurring at least once (if not twice) an issue in this latest volume of Lynn Okamoto’s horror opus. I finally get what all of the big deal is about Elfen Lied. We can officially say that Volume 4 was the moment where the series “Grew the Beard” if you will (Star Trek reference that means essentially the opposite of “Jumping the Shark”), and I am now hooked. I really wish I wasn’t hooked though because I regularly feel like I’m treading down some dark, voyeuristic path of Hell that no normal person would keep on reading. Yet, I press forward because this world’s mythology and its cruel and inhumane cast of characters (whether because of their actual non-humanity or the blackness of their hearts) rigorously compel me to see what could possibly happen next. I’m guessing nothing pleasant.

I think I finished this volume on Friday and for god knows what reason, I’ve sort of delayed doing my actual write-up. So, if the details of the events of this volume are a little foggy in my mind, I apologize. I had actually gotten better these last couple of weeks of not letting myself fall behind on my blogging. Essentially, the gist of this volume is that we finally learn the tragic backstory of Lucy (though not how she came to be captured by the government) and her connection to Kohta as well as the origin of Kohta’s amnesia. As Lucy is wandering around after murdering Professor Kakuzawa (and slowly returning to her Nyu personality), she recollects on the last time she was in Kamakura. Lucy was an orphan who was abused and bullied at her school as a small child because of her horns (she isn’t yet aware of her powers). The only friend she has is a puppy in the woods that is eventually brutally murdered by her classmates at which point her powers awaken and she kills every single kid in her class room. As she’s wandering around the forest, she runs into a young Kohta and the two strike up a friendship. Kohta generally cares about Lucy but she’s slowly succumbing to her madness. Kohta is only in town for a little while and he spends his last day at a festival with Yuka. Lucy sees this, gets jealous, and kills a bunch of people at the fair. Kohta and his family see the massacre and decide to leave town. Lucy ends up on the bus they take to leave town and murders Kohta’s father and little sister at which point Kohta’s mind snaps. Back in the present, Lucy/Nyu arrives and addresses Kohta by name (who’s beginning to remember what happens) and asks him how he’s been. Ruh Roh Rooby.

I pretty much skimmed over the plot (because like I said, I read it like four days ago), but let’s just say that this was by far the most emotional and psychological volume of the series so far. This was Elfen Lied‘s Neon Genesis Evangelion moment and then some. Honestly, the shit that happens to Lucy and Kohta in here makes everything that Shinji Ikari went through (at least to where I had gotten in the anime [which is admittedly not very far]) seem like a day where you wake up on the wrong side of the bed. This volume explored social alienation, the cruelty of humanity, young love, unrequited love, sexual awakening, and plenty of other issues in a manner that was far more mature than I would have expected to be possible from a manga. This was heavy shit, and Elfen Lied more than did the material justice. Not only that though, but it was also the most legitimately disturbing material of the series yet as well. There were several massacres in this volume alone, and at no point has the series begun to desensitize me to the violence that I regularly witness in its pages because each act of gruesome violence and cruelty is given the proper weight and importance that it deserves. This isn’t meant for exploitative purposes. It’s meant to scare the hell out of you but also make you think, and on all fronts, Lynn Okamoto succeeds.

I’m going to keep this review short because I have to finish doing laundry today (it’s my day off). There have been clothes drying in my basement on the clothes line for a couple days now that I’m sure are ready for me to fold and put away. But seriously though, I’m addicted to Elfen Lied. I almost want to put my reading of Bleach on hold so that I can keep reading this series, but I know that if I stick too long in Elfen Lied world, it will probably kill my soul (not that I believe souls exist). I felt emotionally depleted after I finished this volume, and I had to actively fight off desire to sleep so that I wouldn’t have nightmares filled with visions of Lucy killing schoolchildren or schoolchildren bashing her puppy to death. So, breaks are probably good. Plus, I’m still enjoying Bleach and I want to stick with that series for as long as I can before its quality implodes on itself. On that note, you really should read Elfen Lied if you’ve managed to get this far in this spoileriffic review.

Final Score: A-