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Room Monitor Kurama is an antagonist/anti-hero/anti-villain in the anime series Elfen Lied. He is voiced by Osamu Hosoi (Japanese), and Jay Hickman (English). While he is the sworn enemy of the series anti-hero/protagonist, Lucy, he is the subordinate of the series' main antagonist, Director Kakuzawa, whose plans he is initially unaware of, and against whom he ultimately rebels.
Doctor Kurama was a young up-and-coming scientist who was drawn in by the talk of his college friend, Doctor Yu Kakuzawa, promising the challenging study of the next wave of man's development. Recruited to the National Institute on Human Evolution, Kurama found himself hating the place, which mainly seemed to torture and experiment on young horned girls called Diclonius, who possessed telekinetic abilities that manifested as unseen 'arms'. By and large, these girls manifested these abilities after their third birthday, at which point they looked more like they were six due to doubled aging, and attacked those closest to them. Despite this, the cruelty the horned girls were subjected to made Kurama doubt his mission and his colleagues. His expressed sympathy caused one of these girls to seek him out before she was killed, an act that would change his life forever.
He is the husband of the late Hiromi and the father of Mariko. He and his wife were overjoyed when she was able to carry a child to term, this after many miscarriages and false starts. To his horror, however, Kurama saw that his daughter was also born a Diclonius. He also realized at last how the infection was spread, by the 'vectors' or invisible telekinetic arms the girls possessed. He attempted to kill her, but was persuaded by Hiromi as she died from birth complications to instead keep her alive, no matter what. Kurama, who had always fought Director Kakuzawa over policy at the Institute, now instead vowed to do whatever he was told, if only Mariko were spared. But this literally proved to be a devil's deal ; Kurama got Mariko spared from euthanizing, then the standard policy for Diclonius births, but he was not permitted to raise or be anywhere near her. Grieving and lonely, he became the surrogate father to the girl in Monitored Room Number Seven, who gained the room number as a name, Nana, in Japanese. There are varying accounts as to whether Nana once believed herself to be Kurama's biological daughter.
Eventually, he and Yu Kakuzawa came to the conclusion that the Diclonius outbreak meant there was an original infecting party, a Queen who laid low and passed the infection rather than staging ultimately futile attacks. Finding a photo of a horned girl whose age and known activities pre-dated all other known encounters, the pair set out to track her down and capture her, in hopes of both studying the outbreak and stopping it once and for all. Sadly, once they had cornered the young Queen in an art exhibit in, Kurama took the shot he had an opening for, but ended up killing Aiko Takada, a human girl who had befriended the Queen, in the process. The queen surrendered in exchange for getting her friend medical help, and came to be called Lucy by the staff at the Institute, a reference to the then-oldest Proto-Hominid DNA 'Mother' of Humankind (in reality, just an example of a female of that primal period). Perhaps feeling a mixture of relief over the capture and grief over the life he had taken, Kurama was extremely defensive when informing the grieving Lucy of her loss, accusing the dead girl of being a murderer (which she might have been, although with deeply extenuating circumstances) and accusing Diclonius of utterly rejecting coexistence with Humans. This grim talk forever sealed the enmity between Lucy and Kurama, with the former telling him that, while she would let him live, she would kill everything and everyone he cared for, just so he could see how it felt to lose someone. For the next three years, Kurama ran the Institute himself, answering only to the Director.
During the visit of a Japanese Minister, Lucy staged a bloody escape, killing many soldiers and starting to fulfill her vow against Kurama by brutally executing his awkward secretary, Kisaragi. Despite a head wound, Lucy made it to the mainland and was found by two young college students, who found her reduced to an infantile state. Kurama immediately called for the elite Special Assault Team to pursue and kill Lucy if found. Lucy for her part mostly remained as the child-like Nyu, in the care of Kouta and Yuka, the former who had once been her childhood friend but also suffered from amnesia, owing to Lucy's killing his family. When a panicked Nyu ran back to the beach where she was found, SAT agent Bando tried to have sport with what he saw as a worthy target; he paid for this with his partner's life and a maimed body when Lucy awakened. It was up to Kurama to inform him that he would also have to be castrated, as it was implied Kurama himself was, after Mariko's birth, since the encounter with Lucy had also infected Bando.
Knowing through research that Diclonius could sense one another, Kurama sent Nana out to find and kill Lucy, but his lessons to her had run far deeper than he thought, and she refused to kill, even for him. Sent out as a scout instead, she disobeyed orders in an attempt to impress her 'Papa' and sought to disable or capture Lucy. This proved to be a horrible mistake, and Nana lost all four limbs to Lucy's counter-attack. Upon reaching the scene, Kurama vowed vengeance on Lucy, who belatedly realized Nana had a special power, this to disable others like her. Not knowing this either, Kurama cold-cocked Lucy, fully expecting to die. When Lucy fled instead, neither he nor the soldiers with him, scared by her reputation, reacted quickly enough. Back at the Institute, Kurama faced two pieces of bad news. One, he was ordered by Director Kakuzawa to euthanize Nana, who the Director now saw as useless. Two, the Director revealed a grandiose, megalomaniacal desire to mate with Lucy and become the God of the new species. Kakuzawa may have been playing a mind-game with his subordinate, but in any event, Kurama made plans to both save Nana and to defect. At some point, it seems he contacted members of the Japanese government who were investigating the Institute and its Director; this may have been aided by his assistant, Shirakawa, who was secretly an agent for the government placed inside the Institute.
Faking his euthanizing of Nana, he instead sent her to Kamakura, with money and instructions to hide until he could join her. Instead, she encountered Bando, who she sought common cause with against Lucy, and then Mayu, a young girl who was the ward of Kouta and Yuka, two college students who had also taken in an amnesiac horned girl they named Nyu. Suspecting that Nyu might be Lucy, Nana followed Mayu home, and after learning that Nyu both was and was not Lucy, Nana decided to stay with all of them at Maple House, to keep an eye on Lucy for her Papa.
It remains uncertain exactly when Kurama bolted the Institute entirely, but it seems Director Kakuzawa had foreseen this, and told Kurama's assistants to send Mariko to the mainland, to kill Nana and at last re-capture Lucy. By the time Kurama was seen again, Nana and Mariko had been in a one-sided fight, with Mariko throwing Nana around like a rag doll, until Nana disabled her vectors just as she had done to Lucy. Also unclear is whether or not Nana ever believed that Kurama was her true father, but his appearance at this battle confirmed that she was not. Telling his two daughters of his past, he resolved to at last kill Mariko, so she could neither present a danger nor be used as a weapon. Despairing not only of his choice but his closeness to Nana, Mariko regained her powers and threatened to kill them all. Her father's new alliance with Bando turned back some of this, but ultimately, it was his choice to tell his child of his love and especially her mother's love that turned the tide. Yet still this could not have a happy ending.
Shirakawa, once Kurama's assistant and now technically in charge of Mariko's oversight, found Kurama and revealed two disturbing truths : That she herself had suggested bombs be placed inside of Mariko, and that the Chief's mad plans were set to be activated at any moment. This plan involved a false satellite launch, with the payload being a weaponized version of the virus that caused men to sire Diclonius children, thus fulfilling the Kakuzawa's ambition of replacing Humans as Earth's dominant species.
Both a danger and an opportunity presented itself when the childlike Nyu rushed the barrier put up by local police, while seeking Nana. Kurama knew that Director Kakuzawa would need Lucy as one of the pillars of his plans, and so took her hostage to try and prevent the launch. But by this time, it was far too late, and Kurama resolved to remove Lucy once and for all by killing Nyu. This attempt had the effect of awakening Lucy, who then took a grim situation and made it impossibly worse.
Mariko, deciding she loved her father no matter what he had done, fought on his behalf and Nana's against Lucy, briefly besting her with the superior range, power and number of her vectors. But as Shirakawa attempted to disarm the bombs, Lucy simply murdered the woman and also managed to disable Mariko, who was now also doomed by the bombs inside her. Mariko, despite the agony of losing two legs, grabbed onto Lucy as her bombs went off, forcibly changing her back to Nyu, who Nana persuaded Kurama not to kill. With his mission and life in utter ruins, a despairing Kurama tried to kill himself, but was stopped by Bando. In the intervening months, as Nana settled in at Maple House, Nyu stopped being Lucy entirely, the Director's plans began to bear fruit, and Kurama slowly lost his grip on reality. Nana's friend and housemate, a girl named Mayu essentially adopted by the college students who found Nyu/Lucy, brought food to Bando and Kurama, never knowing Kurama was her friend's 'Papa'.
The situation began to change when the nearly deranged Kurama saw a despairing Nyu down at the beachfront. It seems possible that Kurama at this time also aided the mortally wounded Bando, and disposed of the body of the hateful Unknown Man after their battle with the revived Lucy. Staggering towards Maple House after seeing Nyu, Kurama came upon the home invasion ordered by Director Kakuzawa to retrieve Lucy. There, he came upon the dying Cynthia, a clone of the daughter he lost and loved, only to be ripped apart again inside when she succumbed to her wounds. After being taunted by Lucy about this loss and her loss of Aiko Takada, Kurama fled with Cynthia's corpse. Nana, who was now being pressured to leave by Yuka's Mother (the true landlady of Maple House), went down to the beach in Mayu's place to deliver food to the man who turned out to be the Papa she loved so much. But Kurama turned on her in a fury, declaring that he never cared for her, and that she was nothing but an experiment to him. Despite this, Nana guided him away from the now-scrutinized beach and to some nearby hills, where she persuaded him to bury Cynthia properly. Yet before too long, another (now-free) clone of Mariko, this one named Barbara, showed up and wanted to kill Nana for consorting with Humans. Barbara openly disdained Kurama, who embraced her as Mariko reborn. Despite her vow to kill them both, Barbara hesitated and Kurama, accepting that Mariko was dead, killed Barbara to save Nana. The two reconciled, and decided it was time to hunt Lucy down once and for all.
Much like most every other intention in Kurama's life, this one would prove complicated and fraught with peril. The plans of Director Kakuzawa to become 'God Of The New Race' died with him during his final confrontation with Lucy, who had returned from the fallen Diclonius Research Institute to say her goodbyes and finally apologize to Kouta, the only one she had ever truly loved. Kouta, wronged by Lucy when they were children, had as much reason as Kurama or Nana to hate Lucy, and so they at first sought him out from his hospital bed, where he was recovering from the same home invasion that took Lucy captive. But Nana found Kouta had gone to the beach, somehow sensing Lucy's return. As the two ascended a metal lighthouse in the area, Kurama, Nana, and the other residents of Maple House also headed towards it. As the Japanese military panicked, Lucy and Kouta began to come to some kind of terms, which finally ended with Lucy persuading him to let her get someone to look at his unhealed wounds. On her way down, Lucy encountered Kurama, and tried her best to keep a promise to Kouta not to use her powers anymore. But as Kurama fired his gun, Lucy's demonic third persona, the supposed voice of her Diclonius DNA, took control of her body and severed Kurama's arm. The wounded Kouta came upon this scene, and seeing the wounded Kurama, castigated and denounced Lucy as being incapable of keeping her promise, and causing him to say he hated her. Despite his wounds, Kurama grabbed his gun and used the confusion to fire again at Lucy. To both their shock, Kouta jumped in the way of the bullet, proclaiming that he could not let Lucy die while they had matters unresolved (When young Lucy had killed Kouta's family when they were children, he and his little sister had just had a bitter argument, ironically over Lucy being a killer). Kurama's horror at again shooting an innocent in his quest to kill Lucy was quickly followed by being cast bodily from the exploding lighthouse, as Lucy's rage over Kouta's impending death rose in a manner similar to that of Dark Phoenix.
Falling to his doom, Kurama was caught by Nana, and the two watched as Kamakura was torn apart, along with many military assets sent against Lucy. Suddenly, the carnage stopped, and Nana said flatly she sensed that Lucy was dying. Kurama sent Nana to be with her friends, and shrugged off his lost arm, saying that, in Nana's honor, he could take the pain of one limb being gone. Later he would learn that Lucy had healed Kouta's mortal wounds at the cost of her body's integrity, causing her to melt. Kurama's vengeance, if he wanted it any longer, was denied him when Kouta, out of equal parts love and hate, mercy killed the dying body, now only inhabited by the demonic DNA voice.
In an epilogue, several things were revealed. Among those relating to Kurama was the speculated survival of Aiko Takada, Lucy's friend he supposedly killed, but this is only hinted at and not confirmed by series' mangaka Lynn Okamoto. Another was that he and Nana were now finally living together. Nana's final fate in the series is one of many left unclear. It is not told whether he and Nana had their own home, or had overcome Yuka's mother's opposition and were staying at Maple House. At Mariko's grave, observed by Mayu's dog Wanta, Nana again proclaimed her desire to stop being Kurama's daughter (as she felt that it was improper to be a substitute for Mariko) and instead be his wife, and have his children. Kurama appears to dismiss this idea, but his final answer is cut off, and he is not seen again in the series. Nana is seen later on without him, attending the Kamakura late summer carnival with her friends from Maple House, who it seems she at least kept in touch with, as Kurama had stated that he had to make certain that all those in and out of the Japanese government paid for sponsoring and aiding the mad plans of the Kakuzawas. Kouta describes in narrative a war between Humans and the Diclonius the Director seeded, but it seems like Nana survived the extinction of her species, likely with the protection of her 'Papa'. Even if the romance Nana (who aged twice as fast as Humans) wanted eventually came to pass, it was stated that Diclonius Silpelits (the secondary type like Nana and Mariko) could not reproduce, unlike Primary/Monarch Diclonius (like Lucy and her short-lived half-brother) and it was implied that, after Mariko's birth, Kurama had himself made incapable of siring children, likely through castration. It is unknown if Kurama ever met Nana's friends at Maple House, but it is likely through his efforts that Bando survived his near-death at Lucy's hands.
Most of Kurama's story remains the same, but just as with others, his fate diverges as the anime concludes.
In the final episode of the anime, in one of the series' most emotional scenes, Kurama and Mariko meet, and she realizes that he is her father. Mariko tells him that during her entire life at the institute's prison, she dreamed that one day he and her mother would come to take her home and live as a real family. She then demands to know why he abandoned her. Kurama raises his gun to shoot her but is unable to do so, and instead walks over to her and hugs her tightly. He reflects on the fact that he killed dozens of Diclonius girls in their cradles but left his own daughter to suffer in a dark prison her entire life. He then picks her up in his arms and promises they will never again be apart. He tells Nana that they can no longer be together and that she must try to have a happy life without him. As he walks away, Kurama signals an assistant to detonate the remaining bomb inside of Mariko's body. Kurama then tells Mariko that he never stopped thinking about her for a moment and that her mother loved her until the moment she died. The assistant hesitates, wondering if Kurama had been planning this all along, then activates the bomb. Hearing the bomb about to detonate, Kurama and Mariko tightly embrace; Kurama then has a brief vision of what their lives might have been like if Mariko had not been born as a Diclonius (he and his wife with Mariko after her birth, feeding her in a highchair, comforting her, carrying her on his shoulders, and her first day of school). The bomb then detonates in a massive explosion, killing both of them. Lucy witnesses this, but gains no satisfaction and even saves Nana, who she urges to go back to Maple House. In the name of her deceased Papa and her possibly dead sworn enemy, Nana does just that, mourning them all over a meal, blessing the wonderful things they will never know. The anime seems to conclude with Lucy's possible survival, and some speculation has Mariko somehow saving Kurama from the explosion, but since a concluding anime series has yet to be made, this cannot be known.
Nana's Everyday Life
If there is any medium in which Kurama is a true villain, if not in fact a Complete Monster, it is in this popular but disturbing fan-series done in the form of a newspaper strip. In it, Nana is disabled as in the canon main series, but in this case is treated as useless and discarded by a scientist known only as her Papa, and looking very much like Kurama. Throughout the grimly humorous series, Nana is mistreated, even by an alternate of her dear friend Mayu, sometimes reaching the dark levels of Robot Chicken Season 5. The Papa scientist taunts and pranks Nana, and at the end, even dissects her, while still leaving her barely alive before her lonely final death. He is also a Karma Houdini, and fans vary between admiration for the series' risk-taking and utter repulsion at the lines it crosses. If the canonical version of Kurama is a complicated character, the one in this fan-series is a one-dimensional jerk.
- Kurama is not his first name, as evidenced by his daughter (Mariko) that has Kurama as her surname.