The view from Igirisu:
I mentioned last week that Elfen Lied was already giving us an anti-military message, and this week that widens out to anti-authority. The police show up to try to track down Lucy, and they are clearly corrupt and in cahoots with the military and the scientists. By the end of the episode we are getting a better idea of the moral corruption that really involves, when we see another victim of the scientists for the first time: Number 7 is chained naked and covered in blood and her one word, “Papa”, can only be indicative of two possibilities; either her father is subjecting her to torture, or she has been indoctrinated into believing a sick father/daughter false relationship. We will have to wait to find out which it is.
On the public fringes of this unholy mess are the police, who warn Kouta off of asking too much and tell him to just forget about the assault he has suffered. They also come across as extremely stupid, failing to pick up on Kouta’s reactions, which betray him when he sees the photo of Lucy, among other occasions. So the authorities aren’t coming across all that brilliantly, but that’s nothing compared to Bando as a representation of the military. He is so sadistic that the prospect of killing a girl isn’t enough for him. It delights him to the extent that he licks his lips when he sees her (a yucky moment) but that doesn’t satisfy him. He wants to play with her first, like a cat torturing a mouse.
“This has been a little too easy. Let’s make it fun, shall we?”
Pride comes before a fall, and what a fall it is, with Lucy breaking off his arms and gouging his eyes. As much as the episode takes us to a point where we hate Bando, it’s still hard to watch that happen to anyone. The full extent of his psychopathic nature is revealed, when he suffers such terrible injuries and is still belligerent. He’s never afraid, only angry. But he’s not the only monster here. There is also a quiet monster, the friendlier face of evil: the colleague who is “just carrying out my orders”. Hiding behind that line of defence doesn’t save him from having a hole ripped through his middle, and the unquestioning killing machine forfeits his right to life even more surely than the psycho who is at least honest about his blood lust.
We learn more about Lucy during this episode. Firstly, the nature of her powers are confirmed beyond a doubt as “two meter long invisible hands”, so this series really is a twisted version of Mr Tickle. She also appears to have a split personality. Nyu knows nothing of Lucy, and it takes an extreme situation to snap her back into a murderous rage.
This episode is a thriller almost from beginning to end, with just a little breather after all the high drama. For the first time, the nudity becomes fanservice rather than being quite so intrinsic to the plot, but it provides a much-needed comedy moment after all the gritty and gruesome drama. Nyu is unable to look after herself, so Kouta has to help her to change out of her wet clothes. Keeping his eyes closed is gentlemanly, but it has consequences for where exactly his hands might go. Yuka walking in at just the wrong moment was hilarious, and a welcome change of pace from all the violence.
Even on second viewing I was so engrossed in this episode that I forgot to take any screenshots for this article, apart from one near the beginning of the episode that you can see above. This might not be comfortable viewing, but it demands your whole attention and doesn’t let go. RP
The view from Amerika:
The second part of Elfen Lied opens with cops searching for the mysterious Nyu and finding themselves at the restaurant where Kouta is living. Having run off at the end of the last episode, the cops find nothing and move on. Meanwhile, the special forces are about to arrive to eliminate the “minor”, Nyu. Let’s rewind for a second to remind the newcomer that these episodes list as 25 minutes each, but that includes a fairly long (if lovely) opening piece of music, closing credits, and a preview. So, we probably get more like 20 minutes. To say the episode started off uneventfully means we probably spend a quarter of the time in simple dialogue and cops not knowing where to look for the “missing person”. But when the Bando arrives things suddenly change and any sense of “slow moving” is booted out of the viewers mind and an incredible powerhouse episode emerges.
When Bando is stalking and kicking Nyu, which is difficult to watch anyway, he realizes she’s not the threat he was lead to believe and turns to walk away, leaving his colleague to do the dirty deed of killing an innocent girl. This is one of those moments that the viewer knows could be amazing but the execution is the key. As Bando tries to light a cigarette in the rain, the lighter fails a few times before it finally connects. There’s a brief snap sound, and Bando turns to see his colleague standing there with a huge hole in his chest. Nyu is now the ultra-powerful Lucy and able to use her five foot invisible hands to lay waste to everything in sight in an attempt to kill the sadist, Bando. It’s an action packed sequence that is amazing to watch and, to a certain extent, I appreciate the genius of Bando. Like Thrawn in the Star Wars universe, he’s a brilliant tactician and that allows him to evade the psionic powers of a superior foe. While I hate this guy in almost every respect, there’s that one element that I appreciate and a clear reminder of what we need in fiction: more brilliant villains. (Not more of the Doctor Who model of maniacs with ludicrous plans! One is scary, the other is caricature…) This does not stop Lucy from slicing off an arm, breaking the other and gouging his eyes… it just made him a scarier villain. After Lucy forgetfully looks in her hands and sees something, she snaps back to her Nyu personae and departs, leaving Bando a broken fighter left to die in the rain. But along comes a young girl who ties his wounds shut and calls for help. We’ll undoubtedly learn more about her next episode.
There are a few subtle touches that really enhance the episode too. I love the focus on Nyu’s single red eye as it peeks out from the fringes of her hair. (Both eyes are red, but only one seems to peek out…) It’s cleverly placed because, like her personality, there’s two sides to her and the single eye hidden under the hair represents the dangerous side hidden behind her childlike personality. How soon before that comes out when Yuka and Kouta are around? I also love the use of a different voice when she’s in Lucy-mode. Perhaps it’s the same voice actor, I can’t tell because all she says as Nyu is… well, “Nyu”. But the clarity of her voice implied a clarity of character and that was impressive. Lastly, while I found the invisible hands initially a little goofy, I am coming to respect them. They may not actually be “hands” but the artistic interpretation of what she can do with her powers. They certainly offer an explanation of the 2-meter rule.
Then came another thing I love in good works of fiction: the proper use of comedy. After Kouta gets Nyu home, he realizes she’s soaking wet and wants to get her out of her clothes, but he’s a respectable young man; this is not a chance to be all perv-y. He closes his eyes and does the best he can with only minor slip ups. But when he realizes he has to get her shorts off too, it’s an even greater challenge. As he works on this problem with his eyes closed, Yuka walks back into the house and the stare-off is worthy of any gunfight. It is evident that she has feelings for him and this won’t go over well. The scene is stunning in its simplicity and would have ended the episode but the writers knew this was no cliffhanger, no matter how titillating it was! We flash to the lab where Nyu was created and a big reveal comes: there is another psi-powered killer in their employ.
We’re in early episodes so I expect it to have a slow start, but this was powerful. The question is, if we’re this good already, can they really sustain that momentum? If the first two episodes are anything to go by, I’d say the odds are in our favor… ML
Read next in the Junkyard… Elfen Lied Episode 3