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Why? Why has it become like this? I just wanted to hug Kouta...that's all.

Child Lucy, not quite grasping how her own actions got her to this point

A journey of atonement first requires that one realizes the need to atone. For Lucy, this realization was neither immediate nor consistent, yet it remained a part of her, revealing her dreams and her flaws as well. For all its fits and starts, there continues to be one inescapable conclusion: It was a struggle at which she ultimately succeeded. Those same fits and starts mean a hard look at this miracle could reveal quite a bit about the entire series.

For this article, Lucy will be considered to be the character's name from the time she departed the orphanage, even though she was not named this for another five years, and was never a name she or those close to her used.

Young Lucy expressed no regrets at all about her first four murders since the other orphanage children were responsible for killing her puppy in the act of deliberate cruelty and perhaps even a staged betrayal. To her pup's grave, she apologized for not being robust enough to protect it. Some element of conscience may have still have been at play, though, since two of these children showed up in her fevered imagination as taunting, mutilated specters. For the most part, she seemed to think little of what had happened, save for how it reinforced her negative view of "normal" humans.

During her brief time with Kouta, bare instances of regret crop up as Lucy finds places to stay by killing the families residing within. Either when a too-casual decision to kill another family shocks her (manga) or overhearing a conversation about the murders she committed (anime), Lucy begins to feel revulsion at the disconnect between her current actions and what she once believed to be right. But these feelings are briefly shown and seem to fall away at least somewhat for her survival and comfort. When her murderous feelings, embodied by the DNA Voice, nearly end up taking Kouta's life, she exacts from him a promise he considers very odd: to kill her should she ever end up killing many people. Perhaps in a demonstration of the mental defense mechanism he would shortly be forced to use, Kouta seemed to push himself away from thinking both about this promise and her attempt at strangling him. At this point, young Lucy appears to be desperately hanging on to what she sees as her humanity and decent feelings. She may not care for humanity, but killing is not something she wishes to do--at least for that moment.

It is not too difficult to infer that, during those days when Kouta kept inside because of his father, young Lucy realized on some level that it was her criminal actions that caused this, a thought redoubled when Kouta confirmed this. But enthralled by strange ideas of acceptance and love, deeper introspection would not be her priority, and more, it would be discouraged for fear of losing what she described as a beautiful dream. Young Lucy was quite prepared to take on the world actively, yet she was massively unprepared for what the world could throw her way in a passive, uncaring manner.

Also alien to her was nuance. The idea that Kouta's lie even could have been anything other than another attempt to harm her was not even a consideration. Her mind, possibly aided and abetted by the DNA Voice, immediately assumed the very worst when she saw Kouta with Yuka, perhaps also failing to remember that Kouta had promised to take his cousin to the festival, gender aside. Then again, once Kouta's truthfulness on one subject was in doubt, she perhaps now saw him as incapable of telling the truth. One thing is clear, that night her fears and doubts swallowed her whole, leaving as many as twenty people dead when all was done, among those the first two she deliberately targeted out of calculated malice. Kouta's lie, meant to spare young Lucy, would not save his younger sister and their father.

Understandably, Lucy's emotions are all over the map during this horrific event, and her following descriptions of it vary, even within the same version. In the scene itself, she responds to Kouta as though she still considers them to be or have been friends, perhaps indicating a view that killing his family was transactional, a lesson he needed to learn about the price of crossing her. On the other hand, her rage at him for lying does not seem at first to leave room for him to be left alive as well. One idea emerges later on that she wished Kouta to be as isolated as she was, and that killing his family, even to Yuka (and perhaps her mother) would leave him in this state. Another statement was that she wished to cut her ties to humanity entirely, again a notion that speaks against her leaving Kouta alive. It is unclear (perhaps deliberately in a narrative sense) whether Lucy views her friendship with Kouta as having once been genuine and salvageable, or even if wrong there, she now wishes to punish him as she later promised and did do to Kurama. Either way, her various efforts to detach from what she had just done would come to a crashing halt.

At her threat to Yuka, Kouta arose in a frenzy, pouncing on Lucy and holding her to the ground. He shouted no invective, no insult, no racial (or species-related) comment about her appearance. Far from the taunting trickster of her fevered imagination, the real Kouta demands she stop killing, a plea that seems as much for her as for Yuka. Whatever the source of it, Lucy quickly realizes that she misread Kouta, and now has caused him unforgivable harm. Like Javert in Les Miserables, a world of grays is too much for her to bear, and she flees the murder scene. Unlike Javert, her goal is not suicide but to one day find the means and courage to apologize to Kouta. It would be tempting to say her atonement begins here, but several problems remain before she can even realize the need for this.

Her view is still that of a transaction. Kanae and the siblings' father do not matter in and of themselves, only in that their murders hurt Kouta. This limited idea of penance is proven by the next five years of her life, as she obeyed the wishes of the DNA Voice, reaching the point where the Voice and Lucy herself are nearly one and the same. It is perhaps the desire to have Kouta stop hurting where the dovetail ends and begins to shatter.

When Lucy meets Aiko Takada, she again finds someone who just accepts her and finds her intriguing, and who may be in almost as bad a position as she once was, and ignores the Voice's urging of suspicion. Again, though, her caring is directional, but she apparently did learn enough from Kouta's tragedy to avoid killing Aiko's abusive father when she has the chance. But in zigging where before she zagged, Lucy sets up the next tragedy in her life. Sparing Aiko's father and his girlfriend leads to the frenzy that gets him killed and the girls accused of his murder, in any event, then fleeing to the spot that isolates them and has Aiko die at the unwitting hands of Kurama. In turn, his defensive and provocative posture towards Lucy about the whole matter seals in her hatred for him when she learns of Aiko's death. While Lucy's efforts at even understanding atonement will see a three-year interruption and a deepening contempt towards Humans, her goal to reach Kouta and apologize for stays within her even as she stews and again, in essence, becomes the Voice's surrogate.

By the time the reader/viewer first meets Lucy, during her escape from the Institute, ideas of redemption and atonement are pushed well aside for vengeance and carnage enacted for that lowest of all reasons--because she can. The deaths of the guards help aid her escape, but she could just as easily have disabled them. Certainly, the cold-blooded and gruesome murder of Kisaragi was not the act of a penitent. But her first chance of seeing things a new way soon struck her like a bullet.

While it seems that later on, the existence of the Nyu personality was a choice that Lucy made, at first it was born of trauma-induced amnesia. Given Diclonius healing in general and her durability in particular, any physical reason for Nyu's continuation should have in theory passed quickly. But even after Lucy reemerged and laid down one of the worst tortures she could inflict, all it took was a small reminder of Kouta to bring Nyu back, almost against her will--or perhaps her will to be with Kouta was greater than her desire for carnage. In a telling moment, when Lucy emerges again soon, Kouta's presence spares not only himself and Mayu (who Lucy would not have cared about one way or the other at this point) but even Yuka. This restraint perhaps falls under the idea that hurting them in front of Kouta would, of course, hurt him further. While Lucy again is not concerned about Mayu, there are subtle ways she could make trouble for Yuka, who she likely still wishes removed after all those years. Kouta awakens in her the part of her that cares, and even if functional and transactional, the desire to not hurt Kouta again drives her to the starting line of concern for others. It is a line she can still only see in the distance and has not yet crossed.

Lucy's practical concerns, even for her kind, seem only lightly at play when she encounters perhaps her first other Diclonius, being Nana, the daughter-in-affection of her nemesis Kurama. At first, willing to let her leave because she has not hurt one of their own before (perhaps indicating she has encountered another before this), this passes very quickly and soon begins a vicious struggle. That conflict ends with Nana devastated, though much stronger than the arrogant Lucy had allowed for, and still able, with all four limbs gone, to disable Lucy's powers. During the height of one of her most vicious moments in both versions of the series, Lucy's functional/transactional caring kicks in. While she still barely knows Mayu, her presence during the fight with Nana is one she could easily resolve by killing Mayu; she had at this point at least twice shown even a willingness to use a victim's corpse as a weapon, shield, and a tool with which to demoralize. But while hardly gentle, Lucy merely knocks her away. Arguably, the fact that Mayu loves a puppy could remind Lucy of the girl she once was, but perhaps the idea that killing this girl would somehow hurt Kouta was in play. As will be shown later, this idea would not always be a perfect shield for Mayu.

Nana's retaliation kicks Lucy out of play for several chapters or almost a whole episode, but when the innocent Nyu is found and held by Professor Kakuzawa, his actions quickly bring Lucy out again. His offer of alliance rejected and his life ended, perhaps some of Lucy's broader problems come out here. While she does not wish discovery by the forces loyal to Chief Kakuzawa, she kills his son in a way that almost marks it off as being her work. Like the less savage and more likable Son-Goku of Dragon Ball fame, Lucy's incredible battle savvy does not always translate to daily life, beginning to point to one of her deepest flaws, final explanation for her actions and best excuse, if there can ever be one, for her atrocities.

But flawed though she is, Lucy recognizes the hurt she inflicted on Kouta in the past and tries to remove out of his life when her first instinct is to try and destroy Yuka after the pair finds her. To her credit, she attempts to end his attachment to her --or Nyu-- by way of confessing her crimes and thereby awakening his memories. This debatable effort to rise above her nature falls flat when her persona again withdraws for Nyu. Even in the failure of this moment, she has avoided a chance to eliminate her rival and tried to aid Kouta in moving on. Though her attempt at morality is still Kouta-centric, the holistic demands of this idea have begun to infect her ruthlessness to the core.

The two versions vary on how much restraint Lucy shows in the time just before Mariko. In the manga, Nana's attack overwhelms Lucy, leaving her at the mercy of her memories of being unwanted at the orphanage. In the anime, she recovers enough to confront Nana but ends up stopped by Mayu, whom she either starts to care for in this version, or again sees as protected by her affection for Kouta. Lucy does seem to realize that she as herself cannot be around Kouta, and in effect allows Nyu to predominate. While Nyu's efforts to give Kouta closure over Kanae seem as simple-minded as her efforts with the broken seashell earlier on, perhaps some of Lucy's guilt bleeds through. It is still, in the end, a very selective guilt; since Kanae presented no threat and her murder was a matter of mere petty vengeance, Kanae is part of her feelings for Kouta. The series-opening murder of Kisaragi, on the other hand, is connected to Kurama, whom she hates, and no regret ever surfaces there.

To save her life, Lucy emerges when Kurama shoots Nyu, and this Lucy is at her worst, most unrepentant state. Surrounded as she is by threats, the hated and nuisances (to her view), she is ready to kill Kurama and Nana finally, and indeed does so to Shirakawa and Mariko. Indeed, she takes the most sadistic pleasure in murdering both those two and any hope for saving Mariko she has since dismembering Nana. In an odd way, when Mariko's sacrifice takes Lucy out for six months or better, it causes the greatest change in Nyu, one that non-manga reading fans would likely be shocked to see. In effect, it seems like Lucy becoming thoroughly and unapologetically murderous caused the Lucy persona a great retreat when snapped back on by Mariko's explosion.

In the anime, of course, the deaths of Mariko and Kurama are among the events that end the series, perhaps never to be resumed from exactly this point. The marked difference in battles between the two versions has her set-to against Mariko leaving Lucy without a moment to breathe, taken out nearly as brutally as she has done to others. Whereas the manga's closing moments suggest that either she and Nyu have merged or are now both fully active at the same time, when Nyu departs in the anime (where Lucy awakens in a similar way), Nyu is in essence not heard from again. The awakened Lucy is slightly less sadistic, even if Shirakawa meets her end here as well. In Shirakawa's case, her death was likely the result of once more being associated with Kurama, or being seen as leading the soldiers who were a definite threat to her. She does not bother killing Bando, and even saves Nana, who as in the manga, she directs to go back to their family and watch over them. In the alternate finale, this indirect well-wishing would even have extended to Yuka, who she rescued from the Chief's forces. Kouta's reaction to her final apology and explanation is softer, but ultimately no less forgiving than in the manga. He admits his affection but states that the barrier of her murdering his family is insurmountable. While Lucy's fate is the last great mystery of the anime, her soul and resolve seem cleansed by this effort, and many feel it is Nyu minus Lucy waiting for Kouta outside the house gate as the series ends.

But the events which follow in the manga or a version of them likely still awaited the residents of Maple House, and once more Lucy's path to atonement would wander as it went.

Essays like this one are limited by what is in the series. Extrapolation has limits that run the risk of writing opinionated fiction. But some things are evident from the existing, unvarnished information, and at a basic level, offer an opportunity for reasoning out what lies just below the surface, perhaps what was likely always intended by the author, or an unintended reveal of their point of view. One of the central decisions Lucy made around Manga Chapter 50 was to be Nyu whenever possible in order simply to be near Kouta. Maturity and clarity of mind at this point gave her a strategy the sad, lonely child she was failed to consider. Slaughtering Kouta's new family was out, for several practical reasons and perhaps for another; they are becoming like her family as well. Her connection was still tenuous; this action or lack of it is still mostly practical. These people are important to Kouta. They are important to Nyu, her other self, which she needs to be anywhere near Kouta. This dichotomy was Lucy, she of a sharp strategic mind capable of improvising and with the power to make the elimination of an obstacle as clean and invisible just as she quickly could make one all too visible. Somewhere in her need to co-exist came the actual start of Lucy's atonement. It is not unreasonable to say that, were it not for Lucy's desire to be absent, the mere lack of horns would not have kept her away as long as she was.

As the manga once and for all leaves the events of the anime behind it for a more definitive conclusion, readers find that Nyu has matured, leaving her baby-speak (if not all of her comical habits) behind along with Lucy. Nana, ever watchful for the monster's return, cannot feel or see a trace of her in Nyu. Lucy could even be said to have committed the ultimate atonement for one disgraced - death, oblivion, non-existence. But this death is sleep, and while not easily roused, nor is it impossible. Twice in this time of peace, her false death is undone by the threat of real death, and with each awakening, her wrath is that of a dead thing repeatedly roused against its will. Having wished for atonement by erasing herself, Lucy ends up deleting many others, for a variety of reasons and motives.

Returning from a comical yet potentially terrifying encounter with Arakawa at the University, Nyu, Yuka and Kouta arrive at Maple House and meet the departing Bando, who had just rescued Mayu and Nana from the vicious Unknown Man. Knowing his enemy (even with filtered sight), Bando proceeds to shoot Nyu, only to awaken Lucy and draw the pair to a final battle on Yuigahama Beach. For most of this fight to come, any idea of a repentant or atoning Lucy will end up put aside, but another notion may be in play to explain her unexpected journey.

In typical fashion, Lucy reacts to the fawning offer of alliance and protection from the Unknown Man by killing him and then proceeding against a Bando never more prepared to negate her each and every advantage, or at least make an attempt. If Lucy is not yet repentant of her actions, Mayu is and feels her debt to Bando, who she repeatedly lied to about the girl she knew as Nyu. Despite her worldliness earned through hard lessons, Mayu does not take in the evidence of her eyes and ears and approaches Lucy/Nyu, demanding to know if the things Nana has told her were true. Realizing that Mayu can fatally compromise her secrets to Kouta, Lucy acts with regret but shows no indecision as she decides that Mayu must now die. Her attempt to kill Mayu is widely seen as one of her lowest moments, possibly made worse because of a seeming regretful statement and the connections this girl has to Lucy's other self. Only Bando's sacrificial intervention saves Mayu, and if he took the fate meant for her, then while Lucy's very desire to atone is in serious question, another factor may finally be in focus.

Lucy, cold, calculating and utterly ruthlessly strategic in her thinking, shown by finding the few holes in Bando's planned counterattack, is not on display here. She could make no more foolish decision than to kill Mayu, especially in the same manner she did to Kanae. If Mayu were to vanish, then Kouta, for all intents her father, would be driven to pain and distraction while searching for her. If her corpse were to be found, particularly in the same state as Kanae was, his memories would likely awaken, as they did less than a week later when Lucy/Nyu killed the Mariko clone, Cynthia. Knocking Mayu out or fooling her into leaving would have been chancier, but either the attempt, the successful murder while hiding it, or while failing to do so would have ended all she was doing that for immediately. If Nana escaped or died, she was also in the same perils. Lucy's Kouta-centric viewpoint has reached its limit as an aide to her cause. How can it be that one so sharp and dangerous can't see the simple ramifications of her actions?

Her attempt to kill Mayu, who has been no threat to her, the instant she poses even a potential threat, shows that cold hard Lucy is in fact still a child, maybe now less savvy than the matured Nyu or the girl she tried to kill. Her reactions, now hard wired to killing as a default, are not the razor's edge of a perfect killer, but that of a child who has made a mess and wishes only for that mess to not be seen, even if this process creates an even greater one. Lucy, who had tried to be emotionless since before Tomoo killed her pup, is in fact regularly ruled by her emotions, leading her to actions that bring the scrutiny that always undoes her. Her blood-simple reaction to Mayu's questioning is only the most visible of her failings in this regard. While a child's ignorance can also be a child's innocence, Lucy's wrongs run too deep to give her that complete a pass. She is still in need of atonement, and still in greater need to realize that the first need even exists.

Lucy's actions once more immediately harm an innocent, and that innocent is Lucy's other self, Nyu. Restored after the dying Bando once more removed her horns, Nyu overhears Nana tell Mayu about Lucy, the killer, and her reaction is beyond repentance into despair. First trying to take her life, she then attempts to have Nana kill her, an act which disgusts Nana, who shows pity by telling Nyu that she is not Lucy after all. Nyu, created by Lucy to have everything she could not, also possesses the knowledge of good and evil and all it means. Lucy has succeeded only too well, but soon Nyu would also have something Lucy never wanted her to.

Guided back home by the dogged efforts of Wanta and Kouta, Nyu, Mayu, and Nana are barely able to enjoy the moment when they and all the other residents of Maple House endure a military assault, meant to recapture Lucy once and for all. Even the peaceful moment this shatters was something of an illusion. Kouta, whether dense or addled by his amnesia, finally has hit his limit. Too many unanswered questions have piled up, and he seems set to press Nana and Nyu as to what they know of their pasts. Given that Nana has at this point in the manga (versus a much earlier point in the anime) told the full story of their past, it seems a reckoning of some sort would have come, even if Kouta had detected and avoided Arakawa.

The assault is pure bedlam, even by the standards of the series. Seeing loved ones, even to Wanta, being brutally struck and restrained, Kouta tries once more to protect his makeshift family, this time by seizing the arrogant Doctor Nousou, leader of the assault, as a hostage. Responding to threat assessment, the Agent who oversaw the attack shot Kouta, possibly also to keep Nousou alive for her real masters in the Japanese government, now seeking to take Chief Kakuzawa down. Whatever the case, the shooting horrifies all the ladies of Maple House and causes Nyu to break down. Re-growing her horns once more, she notably does not immediately shift into Lucy. The one who begins to tear apart her family's attackers is not the would-be heartless killer, but the one she created to live the life she never could. At some point as the defense of Maple House grows more complicated, Lucy takes over in full, but though she brings down the attackers nearly to a one, she has failed in one of her original missions. Nyu has become like her. While the battle and its aftermath are too chaotic for much introspection, this would have to hit home for one who suspended her existence so that Nyu could be around Kouta.

Wilier and savvier than almost all of Lucy's other foes, it is the Agent who brings her down and returns her to the custody of Chief Kakuzawa, though not before she and Kurama share a moment of reflection regarding the late Aiko Takada, a time which began their unceasing vendetta against each other. Shown no remorse or regret by a Kurama who sees Lucy as the focus of why his life has gone into ruins, Lucy shows none, in turn, a lesson that has never aided her. In the underground grotto where Chief Kakuzawa plans to remake the world, he introduces her to three things that, far from tempting her over to his side, may have pushed her on the road to redemption.

The first is the knowledge, likely meant to disorient her, that her mother was not a party to her abandonment, and had in fact spent the rest of her free life searching for her child. Oddly, Lucy never reacts in any meaningful way to this revelation, or at least never does so directly. Her next actions may well still be colored by this, especially to her, shocking truth.

The next is the reveal of how the Chief knows this. In this case, it is in the most horrific way possible, for he was the one who ended her mother's freedom. Forcing her into birth slavery, heavily implying that he raped her, which ended up producing a son, Lucy's half-brother, and in the Chief's mind, a mate for Lucy, the Chief tells his tale without caution. The boy's existence is quite brief. So brief, in fact, Star Trek's David Marcus could feel sympathy. He is also part of the path to the atonement of the sister he barely recognizes in his controlled state.

The final detail comes when she has, in true Lucy fashion, disposed of both the Chief and her little brother. A battle with Anna Kakuzawa ensues, wherein her seeming death confirms the Chief's words about caring for his daughter, despite everything. The audience does not yet know what the late Chief did, or what Lucy somehow sees through Anna's monster body. The young girl is alive and well and unmutated inside the shell she thought was her transformed body.

Now, cynical Lucy finds herself armed with the knowledge that Kouta (and perhaps by this point, the other members of their 'family') is not and never was the only decent Human being on Earth. Her mother loved her as a mother should, and only the monster Lucy just killed ended her quest. Now, she accepts that the world she wants can never be and that whoever rules it, her little brother would be merely a pawn, suffering as she suffered, and perhaps becoming too much like her as he goes. Now, she knows that even the delusional maniac who orchestrated all this pain and misery had one piece of light in his darkness. With this, we see an almost merciful act on Lucy's part. For while the girl is still stranded and unconscious on a hidden part of a doomed island, Lucy does not kill Anna Kakuzawa, when she easily could. The world, so often presenting Lucy its hind quarters, now shows her an opened hand and a smile. But she knows her life cannot continue, for either the forces that want her destroyed or her power will soon take her. So with a bit of light in her quiver this once, Lucy leaves to do what she always meant to, seek Kouta and try to make amends. Becalmed, Lucy responds to Arakawa's question about the Chief's fate, when a long-distance strike was at least possible.

Once more on Yuigahama Beach, the star-crossed would-be lovers find each other, and all is not well for either of them, physically, mentally or spiritually. Kouta has risen from his hospital bed far too soon and showed it. Lucy is showing the first signs that her power will kill her, though exactly how soon is still in question. Long a source of conjecture by fans, the often grim speculation about how young Lucy would have reacted if immediately told the truth about Yuka has a much better outcome here. When Kouta spurns her apology and explanations, she takes heart from the fact that at least she got to offer the apology before either of them died. A better speculation for this time would be whether or not a Lucy not struck by the proof of parental love would be so forgiving of her life's goal not being met. While impossible to say precisely, this revelation has had some impact on her. As William Dozier once said of much more innocent adventures, the worst was yet to come.

Kouta offers terms for her continuing to stay at Maple House that may have seemed harsh to him, but to Lucy, willing to cease being before this, are likely entirely acceptable. Kurama, ever alternating between Valjean and Javert, stands in the way, trying again to finish the threat his late former employers began. Lucy, willing to die to keep her promise, finds that the devil inside her she once dealt with is in fact not merely the taunting advice giver she regrets but sees as needed. The Diclonius DNA Voice shows that it is capable of seizing full control of her body, and acts against Kurama as Kouta watches. Enraged that her new promise cannot last past the hour, Kouta spurns her and states outright that he hates her. While Lucy combats the DNA Voice's urging to accept the inevitability of this as a reason to give up, again fate intervenes.

Kouta, long seeking his redemption for his last hateful words to Kanae, refuses to let his proclamation to Lucy be their last words, and stands between the wounded Kurama and Lucy, taking a bullet meant for her, putting him much closer to death than before. The Voice seemed to have won, but perhaps in this, it also overplayed its hand.

The Voice, during its handful of appearances in the two versions of the series, is shown as a twister of words and meanings. No helpful individual is to be trusted, for the betrayal, they could bring. But Kouta's angry denunciation is stated outright, and Lucy knows full well why he says it. Faced with a truth that is harder to insinuate about, the Voice also shows its desperation. On the one hand, it has shown Lucy it can bypass her entirely. On the other, it has demonstrated that same thing to perhaps have always been possible, making Lucy question what choices were hers, and how maybe the Voice she has depended on was not a rough-hewn truth-telling friend, but as much a manipulator as Kakuzawa. In this unspoken realization, Lucy once determined to break the world in her rage over Kouta's impending loss, turns instead to repair his life. Here, she perhaps spurns not just the Voice, but the cruel world that has continually pushed her away. She will not permit either one to win by ridding themselves of the irritant to evil that is Kouta's decency and love.

By methods guessable but not confirmable, Lucy gives up her remaining life to restore Kouta, and while this can seem atonement all by itself, she achieved real atonement by rejecting the mindset that made killing and destroying her go-to choice and option.

In the distance, even Kurama accepts how far he has fallen, and strangely stands away as Lucy dies, when once one imagines he would rather die than not be there to see it. His path is a story for another day, but the crossing and juxtaposition are worth noting.

Lucy chooses not to destroy the world because while the world produced people like those at the orphanage or the Institute, it also produced the mother who always loved her, the boy who loved her no matter what he said, and the people who had found their way into her suspicious heart. The world of Elfen Lied perhaps deserves Judgment Day more than some others; the one into whom this power fell chose not to use it because she realized these two or more people made it worth sparing. Some of Lucy's crimes have to measure up against the wrongs done to her and the manipulations and atrocities endured by her species in its brief existence. Others stand against the tender age when her powers emerged and indeed the age of which she died, in many respects below the age of maturity, and developmentally, not too far past gaining reason itself. Many others must be taken directly to her; she knew what she was doing and understood it all. There is no forgiveness for the lives lost there just by saving her almost-boyfriend. They cannot be forgiven only for not committing planetary murder. Our affection and sympathy for Lucy aside, how still to reconcile the second chance she is given, including reunion (though likely not romance) with the one she loved best of all?

Atonement is earned, in the end, by the fact that while it would be understandable for Lucy to destroy a corrupt world, she not only chooses not to, she rejects the idea that this even should be an idea. Lucy's last victim is the mentality that killed Kanae, and Kisaragi and nearly killed Mayu. Her redemption does not follow a smooth path, and it is hardly symmetrical with all her sins. In many respects, it is what many a character redemption arc ends up being: a gift of the writer/creator/mangaka. But perhaps, in this case, Lucy needs only a small plot coupon to earn her happy ending.

Nonetheless, being by myself is lonely, and above all, I have people to protect, even if it costs me my life.

Mature Lucy, choosing life over death and finally grasping unselfish love in a world she still considers unworthy