Wow. That volume was surprisingly tame by Elfen Lied standards. Except for things occurring in flashbacks that we had already witnessed, I don’t think there was a single instance of dismemberment, torture, rape, or murder this whole volume. I guess we can call this a breather volume. There were still plenty of disturbing things and the introduction of one new character (as well as bringing another established character into the Kaede residence). I think it’s finally beginning to dawn on me that one of the reasons for this series’s existence is that it’s trying to deconstruct a lot of the tropes at the heart of the harem-manga/anime genre. And it’s doing it all pretty well. This particular volume was heavy on seeing how these characters interact with each other when there isn’t some murderous force out to get them all, and while I was initially shocked that there wasn’t something genuinely traumatic happening every other page (though there are still moments of considerable personal dysfunction), it was interesting to learn a little bit more about the burgeoning group dynamic in the Kaede home.

The last volume ended with Lucy (as compared to Nyu) running into Kohta and Yuka after she had murdered Professor Kakuzawa. While the series teased the possibility of Lucy revealing to Kohta all of the terrible things she had done to him as a child (i.e. killing his sister and father), she reverts to being Nyu at the last second (as I’m assuming the anesthetic finally wore off that had caused her to become Lucy in the first place). Despite Kohta and Yuka’s growing romance (which we saw last time at the temple), Nyu still has something resembling feelings for Kohta (it’s complicated since she’s so childlike) and she crawls into bed naked with Kohta and then Yuka walks in and then Nyu tries to seduce Yuka (maybe…). Only Mayu’s arrival stops it from happening when Nyu tries to grope Mayu and realizes how much Mayu disliked it (because of what happened with her pedophilic stepfather). Eventually, Yuka invites a friend over to the house, another girl her age with an amazing singing voice named Nozomi. However, Nozomi suffers from crippling anxiety that has resulted in her having little control over her bladder and she has to wear a diaper (which is accidentally revealed to Kohta along with other mishaps). Back in evil scientist-ville, Karuma is ordered by his boss to dispose of Nana but Karuma instead decides to help her escape. Though she is almost killed by Bando who discovers her when she arrives in Kamakura, they decide to team up to take out Lucy. Nana befriends Mayu (who helped her learn about money and didn’t judge her because of her horns), and Mayu brings Nana back to the home where she meets Nyu and proceeds to beat the shit out of her. When she realizes that Nyu won’t fight back (and after Kohta hits her and tells her to leave), Mayu is confused because she can’t feel Lucy’s presence as she should. However, the head trauma is causing Nyu to become ill and then as the manga ends, Nana suddenly feels Lucy awaken.

For once, I think the series might have crossed the line into gratuitous nudity in this volume. There’s always a ton of nudity in this series, but all of those shots of a completely naked Nana (who is supposed to be like a pre-teen I’m pretty sure) didn’t really serve any purposes that I can think of and were maybe just really awkward attempts at fan service for weirdos. Also, it’s getting to the point with Nyu’s indiscriminate sexual groping of everyone that it’s starting to be used more for humor than for drama (at least I can’t wrest any dramatic overtones from it except when she molested Mayu) which is to me a problem. I also don’t really know how I feel about Nozomi. She seems like the series attempt to add a yamato nadeshiko to the mix (except one with incontinence because no one is allowed to be semi-normal in this show). I did appreciate the job the series took to show perhaps the softer side of Karuma who has up til now been the series’ Big Bad. However, he no longer has that title since we’ve met who I assume to be the real big bad in the chief who apparently was also the father of Professor Kakuzawa (which means he must be infected with the Diclonius virus). Unless I’m confusing the chief and this new villain because they were both drawn very similarly.

I’ll keep this review to a minimum because I still have a lot of writing to catch up on from this weekend. I didn’t do any extra writing yesterday because I wound up playing Xenoblade Chronicles almost the entire day. Damn is that game addicting. It’s pretty much everything you could possibly want in a modern JRPG except for good graphics (cause it was several years old when it finally came stateside and it’s already on the Wii which has pretty awful graphics). So at the moment (and by the moment, I mean apparently the last month and a half or so), I’m going through one of my patented “into Japanese shit” phases which I’m sure will eventually wear off. Now that Lucy has woken up again, I really want to know what’s going to happen in this next volume because Kohta is slowly remembering what happened all those years ago and Lucy seems to be losing her patience with his amnesia (and Yuka’s continued presence in his life). There could be a bloodbath of violence awaiting us, and I have to assume that this especially calm volume means that things are going to get pretty terrible for everyone soon enough. However, I must take my break for Bleach which is also getting to an interesting point. I definitely think I chose the right two manga to read.

Final Score: B+

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