“Regenschauer (In the Passing Rain)”
The view from Igirisu:
This OVA episode of Elfen Lied takes place between the 10th and 11th episodes of the main series, but don’t watch it in that context. It is much better to watch it at the end as a coda episode that provides some further insight into the character of Lucy. The reason I say that is it will really stick out like a sore thumb if you watch it as part of the main run of episodes. For the only time, chibi versions of some of the characters are used: blushes that extend past their actual cheeks, impossibly stretched mouths, eyes doing funny things to convey extreme emotions, etc. I have watched dozens of anime series now with that kind of thing so I have to say that I’m used to them, but I still don’t like them and I don’t think I ever will. The main series did a great job of portraying emotions without doing this, so it seems unnecessary and cheap.
The other problem if you watch this in sequence is that the comedy/drama balance is skewed and the comedy is much more slapstick than the main series. Nana chopping vegetables so furiously that her arm flies off is very funny, and there are a couple of laugh out loud moments: Nana cleaning so fast that her limbs fall off, and then retrieving them like a character from a horror movie, and then scrubbing the glass so hard that she goes right through it, only to discover the dirt was on the other side. This is all good stuff and you’re probably wondering why I think it is a problem in terms of watching this as episode 10.5, but I think the main series does a very good job of selling its horror and fear despite some concepts that might seem superficially silly. Right back at the start of the series I made a cheap joke about Mr Tickle when talking about Lucy’s vectors, but those extra, invisible arms are only ever used to do horrendous things, slicing people up and ripping them apart. So an idea that could be seen as a bit absurd is always convincing, simply because the concept is executed with such conviction by the writer and animators. But as soon as you start having a character use her vectors to reach something from a high cupboard then the spell is broken, and we are firmly in Mr Tickle territory. That’s why this episode should be kept until last. It undermines the fear factor of the series, by going a little bit too big with the comedy.
The second half of the episode is a different kettle of fish altogether, filling in an important gap in our knowledge about Lucy. It flashes back to the point in her life just prior to her capture, and introduces a previously unseen character: Lucy’s friend when she is on the run. I haven’t read the manga yet, but apparently this is Aiko Takada, whose own backstory is fully explored in the manga. Here the friendship has to be established within a couple of minutes and then feel real enough that her fate matters to the viewer. The whole sequence is a masterclass in economic storytelling. We finally get to see how Lucy was captured, and it makes sense that the only way Kurama could get her would be for her to surrender willingly, in the hope of saving her friend. He keeps his word and tries his best, further reinforcing our understanding of Kurama as a character: he is far from being a heartless monster, like so many of the scientists/soldiers. The episode even has time to answer a question that has been left hanging right since the start of the first episode: why didn’t Lucy kill Kurama when she escaped?
“I won’t kill you. But one day for sure, I’ll make you suffer the same fate. I will kill everyone that matters to you, one day for sure.”
At the end of this bonus episode, that’s a little reminder of how amazing this series has been, because she never followed through with that threat. The person who mattered to Kurama more than anyone else in the world is Nana, and in the end she became a part of Lucy’s family. Friendship conquers all.
And that’s it for Elfen Lied, but if you enjoyed this series then there’s another you will definitely want to watch: from the same studio, and covering a lot of the same ground, Brynhildr in the Darkness. Made ten years after Elfen Lied, the studio had honed their craft and produced something that I think transcends their previous effort and is by far my favourite of the two. We will be looking at that series on an episode by episode basis, starting next Saturday. I hope you will join us for another adventure… RP
The view from Amerika:
I almost watched this episode in order, but Roger suggested I wait. While I prefer chronology, having watched Babylon 5, I know how to “slot in” where an episode belongs. But within the opening seconds, Mayu and Nana are cooking and Nana burns the food. Instantly, I remember the line in the closing credits of the final episode where Mayu comments that she won’t burn the food and Nana says she was being mean. Yeah, sure, super small point, no doubt. But it let me know right away that we were dealing with something that was part of the series. See, the Babylon 5 movies can be watched almost any time after a certain point. A line like this tells me this episode, the outstandingly (and comically) titled In the Passing Rain or, Just How Did The Young Girl Arrive At Those Feelings, was supposed to be watched before the end.
But I sure am glad I listened to Roger anyway. This is largely because the story doesn’t have anything major going on and it probably would have felt like a bit of a letdown with all the action that had been building up at the point that this actually takes place. At the heart of the episode, Nyu and Nana go out for a walk. Nana intends to lure Nyu to her death at the hands of Bando, the beachside murderer. But when Nana realizes Nyu isn’t the bad person she thought, she can’t go through with it, especially when Nyu collapses. During the collapse we see the one thing that had plagued me all season: with Lucy being so powerful, how did they capture her? And I finally had my answer: when her friend is shot while trying to take Lucy in, Lucy agrees to come quietly so they can try to save the girl. Of course this fails but she isn’t to know until later. When Kurama tells her, after she has been placed in captivity, that the girl died anyway, Lucy makes the promise that one day, she’ll hurt him too. We also get a quick fill-in about why the photo Kurama kept was broken; it’s not that big a deal. (Sort of like whose elbow was injured in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy…). So that’s the main point of the episode. But that doesn’t make the episode.
For me, the comedy of this story had me pausing to jot down some lines. Some of them would take too long to setup to explain why they were funny, but the episode had me in stitches. It started with Nana’s overly enthusiastic chopping of the lettuce that almost killed Mayu. Nana’s crying eyes, done in an art style that reveled in the childish, was hilarious. Yuka’s hair actually starts twitching when Kouta makes a comment about seeing Nyu and Nana getting “always closer”. (The twitching hair actually made me hurt from laughing so hard!) And when Kouta shares an observation about other horned girls, Yuka’s “Somehow, I don’t think that’s relevant” was all it took to crack me up again. (It was so simple a comment and yet so perfectly delivered!) The cleaning scenes are astounding and watching everything fall apart for Nana… that was just brilliant! And at the end of the episode, the reaction Bando has to being stood up with his random, manic shooting… marvelous. I even chuckled when I saw him at the beach harassing a litterbug! (I mean, if nothing else, this guy sets up shop and sticks with it – he never left the beach once he arrived there. No wonder he died there… or did he?)
It was a nice way to wrap up the series. The series actually ended with a deep and heart wrenching episode on #13 but I do believe there was a happy surprise waiting at the gate. Alas, since that was never shown, I have only my imagination to make that a reality. So coming back to this little cast of quirky characters to share in a few laughs was the best way to end it; not with a bang, but with a hearty guffaw! ML
Read next in the Junkyard… Brynhildr in the Darkness Episode 1