Why am I reading this series? I’m essentially volunteering to need massive amounts of brain bleach before I’m finished with Elfen Lied. Yet, after every detour I make into the far more family-friendly (and significantly less fucked-up) Bleach (didn’t even realize the joke I accidentally set up there), I always return to Elfen Lied like a woman suffering from battered-wife syndrome. The story at the heart of Elfen Lied is fantastic but there’s something wrong with me for voluntarily reading a story that I know is going to wind up as fucked up as this one, and in ways that I didn’t even think were possible, this particular volume of Elfen Lied really upped the “fucked up” quotient. I mean, Jesus H. Christ! Lynn Okamoto, what the hell is wrong with you? What is wrong with me since I’m still reading this whole damn thing? I’ve been reading this series since April 3 (when I first reviewed Vol. 1) which makes it a month now that I keep returning to the dark and depraved and horrifying universe that Okamoto has crafted. Still, it’s one of the most engaging (if not necessarily enjoyable) manga series that I’ve ever read so I’m in til the end.

Six months have passed since the beginning of Vol. 8 and the end of the Vol. 7. Women are becoming pregnant with horned babies en masse thanks to Kakuzawa releasing the Vector Virus over Tokyo, and it will only be a matter of months before waves of Diclonius are born into an unprepared populace. Back at the Maple Inn, our group has settled into a normal return and in the wake of Lucy losing her horns, Nyu hasn’t experienced a personality shift since. In fact, she has completely learned to speak like a normal human being and has forgotten most of her actions when she first arrived in Kohta and Yuka’s life (even though she still has an occasional uncontrollabe urge to grab someone’s breast). At the government facility, Director Kakuzawa has been biding his time since the explosion to try and find Lucy so his plan for world domination can come to fruition. It turns out that the “God” of Diclonius beneath the pond is actually his daughter, Anna, who he’s turned into a mutant with a brain 100 times the size of that of a normal person. However, she’s now forced to live in the amniotic sac of the pond for the rest of her existence. Her heightened brain power gives her the ability to (mostly) accurately predict the future based on patterns and human nature. Based on her information, Kakuzawa truly believes that he can uproot humanity in less than a year as long as he can get his hands on Lucy, a task he assigns to Professor Kakuzawa’s (his son) female assistant, Arakawa, and an unknown man in a cowboy hat who can easily be described as possibly the most monstrous person in this series yet.

In their own ways, both Arakawa and the Unknown Man stumble upon the Kaede nakama. Arakawa is the one who actually runs into Lucy (as Nyu) with Yuka and Kohta at the university though they are able to escape before Arakawa can capture Lucy. There is little damage done (so far) there as they get away and Arakawa doesn’t know who they are (though she puts bad ideas in Nyu’s head about what all Diclonius are like). However, shit really hits the fan when the Unknown Man uses a Diclonius (#28) that he’s placed in perpetual agony (and it’s implied he raped her) to locate any Diclonius in the Kamakura area. Of course, you can’t find Nyu with it because she doesn’t have her powers any more (though there are signs that her horns are growing back). But, it can still find Nana, and the Unknown Man shows up at the Maple Inn when just Nana and Mayu are home. He shoots Nana (twice!) with a crossbow gun that shoots spiked balls that secrete an unimaginably painful neurotoxin to disable Nana’s vectors and then he proceeds to attempt to rape Mayu. Mayu is able to fight him off long enough to call Bando who shows up fights the Unknown Man away (though he escapes). However, at that moment, Bando’s mortal enemy, Lucy, walks in the front door with Kohta and Yuka.

I thought the show had really explored the depths of despicable villains (even when it turned some of them like Bando and Karuma into both villains and heroes [or at least considerably less evil people than the main big bads]). I was wrong. For a dude that doesn’t even have a name at the moment (I’m calling him the Unknown Man for lack of a better name), the Unknown Man is the most effective and bat-shit crazy/evil villain yet. Sadism is the name of the game, and he doesn’t even have the excuse that the Diclonius have (which is that all of the people around them are torturing them and trying to kill them). This guy just seems to take a sick delight in causing as much pain and suffering as he possibly can. The scene where he’s trying to rape Mayu and she’s running away was some of the harshest material of the whole series. I nearly couldn’t finish it because I knew there was a serious probability that he’d succeed in his f***ed up plans. I love the way that the series plays ping-pong with who the villains are because even though Bando just saved Mayu’s life, there’s a serious probability that he’s now going to try and kill her and everyone else in the Maple Inn to get a shot at Lucy.

I could write more but for some reason, my heart really isn’t in my writing right now. I’m returning to WV in two weeks from tomorrow, and I’m not looking forward to it. I’ve just got this empty feeling in my chest that I associate with when I came back to WV after I spent the summer in Italy. I’ve actually got something to work towards in life now so hopefully it will keep me from falling into the same dark depths of depression I landed in when I returned from Florence, but I know it’s still a possibility. Anyways, I just need to do something not mentally exhausting today because I’m just feeling sad. I’m really not ready to go back home.

Final Score: A-