“Zufaellige Begegnung (Confrontation)”
The view from Igirisu:
After Mayu’s confrontation with Bando last week it’s time to see how Nana fares. Despite Bando’s special gun and choice of location, with nothing to grab as a weapon, he is clearly still punching above his weight, but in his favour is Nana’s promise to her “father” to be “a good girl”. She is eventually driven to fight back and says something that illustrates the potential danger she represents:
“If there’s no room for me in this world it’s my duty to make room.”
And to do so, all she has to do “is kill everyone”. But importantly she is being driven to make such statements by being forced into a corner. She has been brainwashed and tortured all her life and now she is being made to fight when she doesn’t want to, by a fanatic who is trying to kill her just because of what she is, and that’s her only experience of the world. She is not the monster here. The monster is the one who says this:
“All I’m doing is exterminating a pest.”
After some rather silly arm throwing, the two of them realise they share an enemy, and then Nana heads off and finds Mayu. Nana’s lack of knowledge about how the world works is both cute and tragic, especially when she fails to buy some food because she doesn’t realise that coins and paper can both be money, and later starts burning her money to keep warm. Like the arm throwing and the limbs falling off, it stands on the border between comedy and tragedy, and that’s always an interesting line for drama to play with. The best comedies tend to have a flavour of melancholy, and the best dramas often have moments of comedy, but this episode really blends the two to the point where the viewer doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry. It’s a bit awkward and a bit uncomfortable to watch, perhaps deliberately.
A running theme of Elfen Lied is the power of friendship. That’s nothing particularly new. Many drama series run with that theme and do it well. It’s not difficult. But this is something quite different because the friendships that develop here save people’s lives, give them hope in the darkness, and thrive despite almost insurmountable odds. Nana is clearly a broken individual, and I don’t mean her limbs. Her whole life has been spent in a laboratory as a captive, and the only relationship she has ever had is a twisted Stockholm Syndrome paternal one. She has about as much knowledge of what it means to have a friend as what those bits of paper are in her bag, and yet she manages to strike up a friendship with Mayu almost immediately. Maybe it’s just a universal instinct, but it seems almost effortless. Of course, it’s only natural for Mayu to take Nana to the people who have shown her kindness and been her salvation, in the hope that they will do the same for Nana, but with Nyu also living in the same house I guess we are about to find out whether friendship really can conquer all. RP
The view from Amerika:
What the actual hell! I knew Confrontation was going to give us a confrontation (because I’m clever like that) but to leave me hanging on a cliffhanger was mean spirited! Ok, ok, let’s be fair. Can’t talk about the ending without covering the start. We’re just past the mid-point of the series and that means we’re due for a lull. Not a waste or unneeded, but we are due for a little lighter fare by this point, surely. We don’t really get it. But what we have is a surprising amount of time with Nana while Nyu is back at the house with Yuka and Kouta. (Though now is as good a time as any to say how funny it was watching Yuka do dishes while Kouta is laughing in the other room with Nyu. Her quaking was magnificently funny.)
So we have two big scenes with Nana to talk about. There’s “Bando on the beach with Nana”. This is an interesting parallel because Nana is “always good”. Bando is always bad. Both have been heavily dismembered. Both have been given replacement parts. One tries to do no end of harm with his augmentations, while the other can’t even lift the bad guy out of the sand with hers. It struck me how similar these two characters are, but on opposite ends of the spectrum. And that goes right down to Bando’s fall when Nana tries to lift him up because he would have dropped the person out of hatred, while she accidentally drops him while trying to help. Both characters are lethal but only one wants to be. They are very alike and yet they are completely opposite. It’s fascinating to watch. Something like this happened to me once before while following two other shows: Dexter and Breaking Bad. I point it out because I watched the final season of both during the same period and it was fascinating watching Dexter, a monster trying to become a man and Walter White, a man deteriorating into a monster. That dichotomy fascinated me then, and I find it no less fascinating in anime characters. Perhaps we’re all a bit… dual.
The second important scene for Nana is “Nana with Mayu”. Mayu is still convinced what she saw was a dream but when Nana’s leg falls off in front of her, she faints. (Hilariously illustrated with the camera point of view behind her.) When she wakes, they become friends. They talk and discuss money. There’s an interesting moment when Mayu lies to Nana to see just how much she really does know about money which, if nothing more, illustrates how perceptive Mayu really is while simultaneously flagging Nana’s naivety. Nana mentions being hungry and Mayu decides to take her back to the house to meet her friends and get some food. Kouta, meanwhile, goes out to find what’s keeping Mayu. When they meet up, Kouta ultimately invites Nana in for food and, of course, the door is stuck. When it springs open, a hyperactive Nyu is on the other side calling out his name. “KOUTA!” This leads to some amazing still frame images of the brief beatdown Nyu experiences at Nana’s many hands. And a cliffhanger that has me reeling. How can I stop there?
Well, tell you what, I won’t! But before I go on, I had a few observations. When Nyu is Nyu, she’s cute, diminutive, squeaky of voice. When she’s Lucy, she’s taller of stature, cold, and her voice is that of a woman. The Jekyll/Hyde quality of this can’t be overstated but there are reversals. Hyde is the shorter of the two personae. He’s less refined. These elements are reversed with Lucy. But the duality of this series is interesting too because in this one episode we’re seeing duality between Nyu and Nana, Nana and Bando, and of course, Nyu and Lucy (technically the same person, of two very different minds). But that’s not all. Kurama is seemingly a cold blooded killer, but clearly he’s not: he’s responsible for Nana’s escape. We learn in the last episode that he killed his daughter with his bare hands, while here we confirm my belief: she had a virus (the vector virus, we learn). So even in him, there is a duality. For that matter, to a far less painful extent, we see it too with Yuka: happy with Kouta’s glee one minute, angry about it the next because his glee is not focused on her. And Kouta himself was in two minds with the last episode because he was clearly realizing Nyu beheaded a man, but he also ignores it and forgets what he was thinking about.
I’ve always loved stories about duality, so I’m anxious to see where this one will go. Or maybe I’ve always hated them and have no interest in where this goes!! Which version of me will triumph, I wonder?
HINT: I’m about to watch the next episode… ML
Read next in the Junkyard… Elfen Lied Episode 8