“Herzenswaerme (Innermost Feelings)”
The view from Igirisu:
After the trauma of the last couple of episodes, which were a barrage of abuse and dismemberment, this is the closest Elfen Lied gets to a breather episode. We even get time for one of the old rom com favourite scenarios: the boy and the girl caught in the rain and taking shelter at a shrine. Kouta and Yuka come close enough to confessing their love for each other and share a couple of kisses, so I suppose they are a couple now (despite being cousins, apparently), but that doesn’t stop Yuka getting jealous of Nyu again when a hug goes on for a bit too long. Disappointingly, Kouta gets a couple of comedy punches from Yuka yet again.
Definitely not getting punched just for a cheap laugh is Mayu, who meets up again with Bando. Mayu seems to veer between being very silly and very clever, as if the writer hadn’t quite pinned down her characterisation. When she sees Bando again she greets him like an old friend, bizarrely, and then just blurts out about Nyu. On the other hand, calling in the favour Bando owes her by asking him to protect her from himself is a really smart move.
Talking of people who just blurt things out, we have the assistant to Professor Kakuzawa, now an assistant to a severed head. She really doesn’t work very well as a character. She has been working with him on some top secret stuff, and has knowledge of the Diclonii, but when Kouta turns up she just tells him everything and answers all his questions. Weird. Interestingly, the trauma of seeing the dead professor gets blanked out of Kouta’s head, so that is how his brain is handling shock. The question is, what has been blanked out from his past, something that seems to involve Lucy but he cannot remember?
“I can’t blame him for being shocked. No-one should have to see this.”
…as they showed a close-up shot of the severed head for the third time. At times this has been a series that doesn’t quite know where to draw the line between what is necessary and/or justifiable by the narrative and what is simply gratuitous. It might seem counter-intuitive, but going too far with that kind of thing actually lessens the impact in the end, and verges on silliness.
I mentioned how this is something of a breather episode, but it is also an episode that ends a run of misery and despair and instils a little hope at last, something that is much needed at the halfway point of the series. Nyu is back with Kouta, and those who have lost limbs get replacements. That’s not such great news when it comes to Bando, who is now a loose canon with a vendetta, but seeing Nana emerge from her escape pod while a recording of Kurama’s voice explains that he has disobeyed the director’s orders is a lovely moment. We have had a whole episode without her since her apparent death, just enough time for that to feel final and tragic before the twist in the tale. But all of that will count for little if she is just another killer with a vendetta, coming back for round two. I suspect Bando is beyond redemption because he really is a monster, but Nana is an unusual mix of a character, caught in the grip of Stockholm Syndrome even after her escape, a girl with a vendetta who has an aversion to killing. This one could go either way… RP
The view from Amerika:
Episode 6 opens with Bando. He’s back and has been augmented with cybernetic limbs and eyes. Just when you think there’s no way the bad guy can get back on his feet, he does so with added power. He immediately uses it to incapacitate the doctor who fixed him up, which should have come as no surprise considering the lowlife Bando is. Later we’ll get a hint that there’s a human side to him when he promises to help Mayu so he wouldn’t be indebted to her… but then he immediately starts smacking her around making her lip bleed because, no, he has no soul. (And he’s not a ginger!) Even his language when speaking to the 14 year old girl is about what you’d expect. It’s only Mayu’s quick thinking that she shows Bando the very phone number he just gave her that stops the abuse. I hate him.
Meanwhile Kouta goes out looking for Nyu and finds the beheaded doctor; the son of the mysterious director. (This was from last episode when Lucy ripped his head off for wanting to play Adam to her Eve.) Kouta seems to have a minor break with reality as he realizes Nyu might be responsible for this. We see this happen again later when talking to Yuka about it; he’s utterly traumatized but then switches off, forgets what he was saying, and then accepts Yuka’s invitation to go searching for Nyu together. Clearly something is going on here, and I suspect we’ll learn more soon. (There are hints at the end of the episode when they find Nyu that something happened 8 years ago and Nyu was around for it. Damn this series, making me wait!)
Meanwhile the “chief” responsible for Nana and the other Diclonius is asked about his family. Again, this series plays with us, so his answer that he murdered his daughter with his bare hands which lead to his wife’s suicide sounds pretty bad, but I think there’s going to be more to it. Time will tell, but I’m guessing she had some medical condition based on the incubation chamber she appears to be in.
While all the heavy stuff is going on, Kouta and Yuka get some private time while wandering around looking for Nyu. After Yuka falls, Kouta pulls her close and warms her up, in more ways than one. I was actually pretty pleased with this, because frankly, Yuka needed a “win”. (Though I did think the series started off with them being cousins, but whatever… no one’s doing a DNA test on anime characters, to the best of my knowledge!) This also leads to some really funny moments. When Yuka slips and falls and her underwear are visible, Kouta mumbles “they’re striped!” She hits him again, and he asks “but why!?” In a way, the smacking is very funny, and rightly kept offscreen. We’re allowed to know it’s happening, but we don’t need to actually see it. (Violence is best shown as a thing bad people do, not two people who may potentially like one another!) When Yuka slips on the stairs, Kouta tells her it’s because the stairs are wet. Casually she says “thanks for pointing that out”. I love the comedy in this show.
I also am coming to love the art and the episode ends with some great shots on the beach but now and then, there are drawbacks. Another Diclonius shows up in an escape pod. This is where anime fails while live action would have worked better. (Don’t worry: in Erased, we saw where anime worked while live action would have failed; so it’s not a one sided solution. Some situations call for one thing; others, something else!) Here it took Roger pointing it out to me that this “other” Diclonius was Nana, who we believed to have been terminated. Now, I did think she looked like Nana, but last I knew, Nana was limb-less and dead. Two key features that this character lacked. I should have realized as she stumbles around with new limbs but I can’t be Sherlock all the time! Nevertheless, I’m glad to have her back. After she listens to a message from “papa” (the chief) who tells her to be free, she turns only to find Bando pointing a gun at her. What is it with this guy? Does he just wait at the beach for mutants to swim to shore? Maybe I need to spend more time at the beach myself.
The episode ends, like all of them so far, whetting my appetite for another episode, but making me wait to see what happens. Well, we’re making you wait from week to week… is my torture any worse? ML
Read next in the Junkyard… Elfen Lied Episode 7