Sunday, January 27, 2008

Elfen Lied: Episode 9

We open on the music box, playing the melody of the theme song. Li'l Lucy gives Li'l Kouta the stink eye and the two stay quiet for the moment. Li'l Kouta closes the box and Lucy admits that she likes the song. Kouta seems pleased that she's pleased at things, but is distracted by her horns. Lucy starts to get angry and considers killing everyone. Really, everyone. Her vectors hover across the ground, but before Lucy can get a kill-shot, Kouta practically attacks her with giddiness. Her horns are the best things he's ever seen. Kouta extends his hand in friendship, saying he's staying with family and has to go home in few days, but would like to hang out until then. Lucy gets a flash of the Random Girl from last episode who sold out Puppy of Imminent Doom, and scoffs at Kouta's friend request. She walks off with Kouta yelling that he'll be back to meet her the following day at the same spot.

News Lady on the TV reports that there are no clues regarding the child murders that took place that morning/last episode, and they're looking for a child believed to be 'involved.' Li'l Lucy is taking a shower, with the sun, apparently:

She calmly walks out, turns off the TV, and heads to the 'fridge, revealing in the foreground three dead bodies on the floor. This... isn't her house.

The next day, Li'l Lucy stands in the rain at the path where Puppy is buried and looks to the sky. Either the bird she sees sounds just like Li'l Kouta, or she's remembering how Kouta said he'd be back to see her. Either way, she doesn't see Kouta. Suddenly embarrassed by her icky feelings, Lucy looks down at Puppy's grave and tells him that she just, "wanted to be by [his] side." Aw. Before she can add, "No, really!" two police officers walk out of the forest. They talk about how it sure does suck that there was another murder and all. One of them even adds, "This is no time to be looking for a missing girl..." It isn't? I know we know the missing girl and the murderer are one in the same (Li'l Lucy), but the police don't. Isn't "crazy, child murder on the loose" a great time to be looking for missing kids? If only to use them as bait, even. One officer stops as if he's found Lucy off to the side of his peripheral vision, and Lucy raises a vector. But, it's science-fiction, so no one really has peripheral vision. He was only stopping to note the rain was started up again, and they walk off.

Li'l Lucy sits in the rain and Li'l Kouta appears from nowhere to place a ski cap on Lucy's head. "If you don't like those horns, then just keep them hidden." I guess murder was a little drastic. The two go to sit in a mountain-side shrine to get out of the rain. Li'l Kouta tells Li'l Lucy that he happened upon her after sketching a landscape in his sketchpad, and, well, she was looking all sad and stuff. Then when he found out she liked the music box melody, and oh, it was like it was meant to be! The two listen to the music box for a while in silence. Again.

Out in town, Li'l Kouta tells Li'l Lucy they'll play again and runs home. Li'l Lucy actually looks a little happy for once. But that can't last, so two more police officers ride up on bicycles and tell her to go home because it's dangerous outside this late. "And hey, you wouldn't happen to know the whereabouts of a little girl who looks just like you and is suspected of being involved in that child killing, would you? Nah. Go on home unescorted." As Li'l Lucy walks off, she realizes that if the police know there was another murder, then they've found the last place she was staying, and can't go back. She comes to a house with a happy family talking and playing inside. It physically hurts her to hear it. The mother inside the house tells the kids to behave and wait for their father to come home.

Cut to: Father's home! He notes that it's quiet and dark inside the house, possibly because his family's been murdered. Then he sees Li'l Lucy, shadowed in the hallway and assumes it's his daughter. He starts to ask why it's so dark inside, but --

-- his head falls off. The camera pans down to show the mother dead on the floor. "This will stop the noise for now," adorable Li'l Lucy says to the bodies.

Behatted Li'l Lucy stands in the woods, waiting for Li'l Kouta, and mentions that it's 'been three days,' presumably, since she's last seen him. Just as she starts to doubt he'll ever come back, we hear gasps as Li'l Kouta jogs up the path. Li'l Lucy's happy to see him, until he tells her that he came by to tell her goodbye, but they should play all day. Li'l Lucy seems confused by this human word... 'play' is it? The two start the day off with a bus ride. Inside, Li'l Kouta has to explain what zoos are. "I really like looking at strange animals," he says. Oops.

The two walk through the zoo hand-in-hand, again, unescorted while a murderer is running around killing children and families. As Li'l Kouta tries to decode the zoo directory, Li'l Lucy overhears a couple talk about a new murder. She gets a little annoyed upon hearing this, and very matter-of-factly, voice-overs, "I need to kill someone again and find a place to hide." Realizing that she just calmly thought about homicide as a normal part of her day, Li'l Lucy freaks out, retreating into a dream world. Apparently, the same one Yuka visited in Episode 4, because the mannequins are back, this time with glowing, blue eyes. She asks herself why she's been killing, and she responds to herself, "Because you like killing people." There's some back and forth between herself and she tries to reason with the voices, embodied by Li'l Lucy doppelgangers wrapped up like mummies, but Li'l Lucy finally snaps out of it. She tells Li'l Kouta that she spaced out due to the heat, and he suggests they find a cooler place. If they were older, and this was a slightly different media, the muted porn-guitars would kick in right here.

They find a stream... somewhere, and the two start splashing each other almost immediately. After a short, yet spirited water battle, the two sit in the sun, back to back and naked, letting their clothes dry off. Lucy turns to Li'l Kouta and tells him that today was the most fun she's ever had. She even starts to tear up. He tells her that she must be exaggerating, but she responds, "I'll never forget about being with you today," and puts her head on his shoulder. It's actually kind of sweet. However, being the show that this is, you have to know that the happier and sweeter a scene is, it only means more badness will come later.

On the bus ride home, Li'l Lucy asks about a festival Li'l Kouta is going to tomorrow. After the festival, he's headed back home, so it would be the last time the two could meet up. But, Li'l Kouta already promised to go with his cousin, which for some reason means no one else can go with them, I guess. She tries asking him if his cousin is a girl, getting a little jealous, but is interrupted by a bump in the road. Too embarrassed to ask the questions again, the voices fill in for Li'l Kouta. They tell Li'l Lucy that he's probably going with a girl. and imply that it's because he loves someone else. As she starts feeling sorry for herself, the voices add, "If you want to stop these feelings, all you have to do is kill." She insists that she'd never be able to kill Kouta, but as she comes out of her hallucinatory state, she's on top of Li'l Kouta, both hands wrapped around his throat. She stops, of course, and while still confused, Li'l Lucy asks Li'l Kouta, "If I ever kill a lot of people... will you kill me?" Reasonable question from a little girl. Li'l Kouta just sort of stares at her, and the bus driver apparently didn't notice that one of the only two passengers on the bus almost killed the other, because the bus doesn't even slow down.

The two stand on some steps watching the ocean, the attempted murder forgotten. Li'l Lucy starts to sing the melody from the music box, and Li'l Kouta joins in. The two look back at the ocean and the light from the setting sun just barely makes it into frame. I'm not sure if it's the shot itself, or the fact that song has been engraved in my skull as that creepy song Lucy sings in the first episode, but this scene is both beautiful and creepy as all fuckout.

A street light kicks in overhead as the two say their goodbyes. Li'l Kouta says that he'll be back next year and that they should get together again. Li'l Lucy finally forces out the questions again, asking if Li'l Kouta's cousin is a boy or a girl. He tells her his cousin is a boy, understanding what's going on for one of the few times in the series, because we should all know the cousin he's meeting is Yuka. She tells him that she'll come see him off at the train station, and before he can protest, she runs off. To kill, most likely.

The next day, Li'l Lucy stands over the grave of Puppy and tells him that she finally met a person she can confide in. More to the point, if she sees him before he leaves, she'll tell him how she really feels about him. Get ready for badness.

At the festival, she finds Li'l Kouta, but before she can work up the nerve to talk to him, Li'l Yuka comes in and starts crying. She doesn't want Li'l Kouta to leave, either. Seeing that his cousin is really a girl, and that Li'l Kouta is comforting her, Li'l Lucy starts to tear up again. As she's staring at the cousins, a drunk bumps into her, knocking her to the ground. Laying in the dirt, she says aloud, "He already had someone he liked." The voices produce a Kouta clone to tell Li'l Lucy, "There's no way I would like a girl with such weird horns." He's only into normal-horned girls. She asks him why he was being nice to her, and he tells her again, "I like looking at strange looking animals." She reels back, having a physical reaction to his words. Looking back up, she sees Headless Li'l Kouta taunting her. Even Dead Puppy falls from the Heavens in front of her and bleeds all over the dream world's floor. Random Girl shows up, not only to taunt, but to show off the gaping wound in her face that Li'l Lucy had given her. Feeling really overwhelmed, Li'l Lucy turns to vomit. I hope she remembers to crack a window in the dream world. One of the Li'l Lucy doppelgangers walks in and tries to comfort her. She tells herself that she's only going to keep feeling like this until she admits she's right, "This world is not a world that I should be in. Change the world... into my world."

Back in the real world, another drunk walks up to Li'l Lucy and complains that she's in his way. Onlookers start to gather to look at the unconscious girl to ask what's wrong with her, but without really helping. She stand up, and says goodbye to Kouta. The drunk demands she move, and the hat Li'l Kouta gave her comes off. Not unlike Clark Kent taking off his glasses. Everyone in the crowd around Li'l Lucy is cut in half, with one swift movement of a vector. Everyone else nearby starts to scream and run off, thinking a bomb just went off. Li'l Lucy shows no emotion as she walks off towards where she saw Li'l Kouta and Yuka. A woman, noticing Li'l Lucy is covered in blood, stops to ask if she's okay. Then her head falls off. She's out to kill everyone. Kanae, Kouta's sister, is hiding just out of Lucy's sight.

We cut to the train station later that night, where Kanae is trying to convince her family that a little girl with horns was responsible for all the blood and screaming at the festival. Li'l Yuka stands close to Li'l Kouta during the explanation, clearly believing at least a little bit of the story. Nearby, Li'l Lucy is watching. With a voice-overed, "Liar!" we're thrust back to present day. Lucy wakes up to hear Yuka and Kouta talking about rice porridge. Mmm. We zoom in slightly on Yuka. Obviously, the main target of Lucy's rage, at the moment. Could be a can of Red Bull in a second. As long as Lucy's mad at something, she's happy.

Outside, Nana and Mayu have arrived back at Hotel Runaway. Nana's sure Lucy is back and notes that it's too quiet. Lucy may have already killed the cousins. Mayu doesn't like that idea, and runs for the door before Nana can stop her. Before she can get to the door, Lucy slides it open. She gives Nana the death stare and we cut to the end credits.

If I can ramble on for a moment, one of the things that really bothers me about fiction villains (and for the sake of argument, I'm considering Lucy a villain), is that they are often just 'the bad guy.' Big handlebar moustache and a maniacal laugh, tying any dame he sees to railroad tracks. They often serve no purpose but to be against the main character. But Lucy is very different. She's a 'true' villain; you can empathize with her on certain levels. Maybe not the severing heads level, but the parts about feeling ostracized for something she can't help, feeling powerless, alone. Twisted as her motivations might be, they're there, and they have a very basic theme to them. A villain can never just be the bad guy; they have to be humanized in order for them to feel real. In order to make them truly terrifying. This episode and the last are here to humanize Lucy and make you care for someone who can kill a dozen people with batting an eye. And, as far as I'm concerned, they did an excellent job.

No comments: