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Elfen Lied episode 12: Quagmire

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Wow...just umm...wow. This was a powerhouse episode if ever there was one. I always talk about how shows start to ramp things up for the finale and this one did that in spades. It brought everything to the table and the result is kind of mind blowing.

As it turns out, the fight between Nana and Mariko isn't so much a fight as it is a brutal torture session. Even the scientists tell her to put Nana out of her misery, but Mariko enjoys inflicting pain on her "sister" and doesn't want the fun to end. Oh, yeah, Mariko is more than a little creepy here. You almost wish that they didn't wait so long to bring her out as a villain because she really has a menacing air that makes her stand out compared to some of the other antagonistic characters.

Things only get better when Kohta enters the fray. Nana tries to protect him, and even one of the scientists tries to find a way to get him out without having to kill him, but Mariko isn't too pleased with the idea of letting him live. As Kohta arrives, Nyuu isn't too far behind. Oddly enough, while the other scientists recognize Lucy, Mariko doesn't and, for some reason, her arms stop working and she needs to be carted back to the lab.

I have to admit, this plot point puzzled me as Nana was still able to sense Lucy, so why Mariko can't is beyond me. Her sudden inability to use her vectors is also bizarre. The only thing I can figure is that the writers needed to sideline her for a while to get to some of the other plot stuff. For what it's worth, the plot stuff is important and very worth it.

As the soldiers threaten to kill both Nyuu and Kohta, Lucy re-emerges and shows them why it was a very bad idea to attempt this. It's a nice callback to the season opener when Lucy unleashed her fury as we see her tear people apart with little sense of regret and an eerie calm demeanor.

Kohta, not surprisingly, freaks the hell out at the sight of this. While seeing a person get brutally torn apart is traumatic enough, it turns out this goes deeper than that as he starts to remember things about his past and, more specifically, the death of his sister. The "big anime" eyes come in handy here as you can see his mind snapping as everything unfolds around him.

We then start to see flashbacks to when Kohta was a child. It turns out that Kohta's sister saw Lucy when she went on her rampage after discovering that Kohta's cousin was, in fact, a girl. When she tries to tell Kohta about it, he dismisses her claims and even insults her for it. Things only get worse when they bump into Lucy on a train. For some reason, I was under the impression that his sister had drowned. Maybe it was a false memory to cover up the more traumatic one, but as it turns out, Lucy tore her apart...and decapitated his dad. Yeah, can't blame Kohta for covering that up, I guess.

I did love the bit where Kohta rips on Lucy, saying that they were friends and that she had no reason to do this. She simply responds by saying that their friendship is what kept her from killing him. On the one hand, you could see it as a weird sort of mercy, but she did take away everyone he cares about and even threatens his Yuka rather nonchalantly. Lucy has some sort of moral code, but it's kind of a messed up one.

As the episode ends, Bando shows up again to try and kill Lucy. Even though I feel like she could take him rather easily, she runs off and tells Kohta to meet her by the stone steps.

Like I said earlier, this episode brought everything. There were big revelations, character development across the board, a healthy dose of ultra-violence and the score, as always is fantastic. The theme song continues to be amazing, but that creepy organ music that played while Lucy fought the troops was also very effective. Great stuff all around and this could be my favorite episode so far. There really wasn't anything wrong with it and it really raised the bar for the finale.

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