|“||I still love that lonely little girl I met so long ago.||”|
Kouta is the main male protagonist and the deuteragonist of the Elfen Lied series, second only to Kaede in central importance, born and raised originally in Hokkaido. He is the most important person to Kaede, and the tragic love of her life.
Shortly after his arrival, Kouta decided to walk around the Tanzawa mountains around Kamakura. (The Tanzawa mountains are a mountain range in the Kanto region of Japan and are present in the Kanagawa Prefecture. See Wikipedia) In the mountains he encountered a mysterious horned girl, whose name was not given (to either Kouta or the story's audience), as she buried a puppy she had adopted.
Noticing the horns on her head, Kouta, unlike the children of the orphanage, was ecstatic over her unusual appearance, finding the horns "cool". He quickly offered her his friendship, against the initial mistrust and reluctance from the girl; she had been deceived, before. A persistent Kouta made a promise that he would come back to the same patch of wilderness the next day, at the same time.
Unfortunately, Kouta wasn't able to fulfill his promise; his father wouldn't let him outside because of the recent murder of a group of orphans in the area. Some time later, Kouta was able to sneak outside to meet the girl, again. He arrived to find her having seemingly-waited for him in the rain the whole time. Remembering her distaste for the attention her horns brought her, Kouta presented her with a wool hat to cover them up. They agreed to meet up and play together the next day.
Again, due to the recent, unexplained homicides (by now, entire families were being killed in their homes), Kouta's father refused to allow him outside. Three days later, on the last full day of their holiday, Kouta begged his father to let him go out to meet his friend. Kouta's father allowed him to leave, taking into account the lack of murders since the ones that initially concerned him.
Kouta went to the usual place where they met and there he met up with the girl, who had been waiting for him all that time, having almost given up hope. Because it was the last day he could stay with her, Kouta decided to take her to the zoo and spend all day with her. Her fascination with animals she had never had the chance to know of (such as elephants and giraffes) surprised Kouta, and he took delight in her joy from this. They enjoyed themselves all day and this created a strong bond between them. Both of them were sad because of the little time they passed together. What Kouta didn't know was that he was so important to her and his imminent departure crushed her heart.
When she learned he was going to a nearby festival, she begged to go with him, but he said that he promised to go with his cousin. At nightfall, as they were returning on the bus, the girl, in a trance-like state arguing with an inner voice, began choking Kouta. When she woke up, she apologized, then startled him again as she asked him, if someday she couldn't stop killing, to kill her. Kouta was unable to connect this conversation to the recent murders, and soon after forgot about it.
When they had returned, the girl inquired Kouta as to his cousin's gender. Not wishing to hurt her feelings, Kouta lied and said his cousin was a boy. Kouta then went to the Kamakura beach with his cousin, Yuka, and his sister, Kanae, to play. Kanae collected shells to show her brother, but Kouta denounced how "pretty" they were, prompting Kanae to kick him, swearing that she would seek better shells.
Upset about his impending return to Hokkaido, Yuka, developing a crush on Kouta, asked Kouta if he wanted to say anything to her before he left. Naturally ignorant of when girls are attracted to him, Kouta simply annoyed her by being unable to answer it and was promptly scolded. It was at this point that Kanae returned with shinier shells, finally earning his praise.
Night came, and Kouta and Yuka went to the festival together as they agreed. During the festival Yuka began crying over her inability to cut out shapes at a modelling stall and hugged Kouta, begging him not to leave for Hokkaido. Kouta embraced her as well, in order to console her, unaware that was being watched by the girl from earlier. Moments later, people began to panic and run away, saying that a bomb attack was occurring. Concerned, Kouta's father panicked and called for the children, finding Kouta and Yuka quickly but becoming worried over Kanae's absence. Kanae appeared soon after, terrified and covered in blood, saying that a number of people had been killed in front of her by a horned girl. Kouta immediately thought of his friend, and denounced Kanae's tale as being utterly fictitious. Saying goodbye to a tearful Yuka, Kouta promised that he would come visit her the next year, before setting off for Hokkaido on a train.
On the journey, Kanae kept insisting to Kouta that her story was true, even as the girl emerged in their train car, with Kouta surprised and happy to see her. Kouta angrily denied Kanae's account that his friend could be responsible and slapped her, reducing his little sister to tears when he said he hated her. As she pleaded for him not to, the girl tore Kanae in half with an unseen weapon, and soon after beheaded their father, before telling the horrified Kouta that Yuka would be next. Her intention was to get back at him for lying to her about Yuka, allowing him to live as a reminder, with her feelings for him also playing a part. In a mixture of grief and rage, Kouta began assaulting her, demanding that she stop killing. The girl then ran away, leaving the traumatized Kouta alone and covered in blood, surrounded by the bodies of his sister and father.
A mix of grief, guilt and regret over the last things he said to Kanae placed Kouta in a mental ward for over a year, his memories of that summer repressed and the details of how his family died altered to preserve his sanity. His father had instead died in a car accident, while Kanae had been ill for some time before finally passing. He forgot about all about the girl and having met his cousin, Yuka. He came to treasure a collection of sea shells given to him by his sister, and became very protective of young girls facing trouble. Presumably, other family members cared for him in the period between his release from mental care and the start of the series.
Returning to and reunions in Kamakura
Eight years later, he returns to Kamakura in the Kanagawa Prefecture to attend college, having previously arranged to stay with his cousin and childhood friend Yuka while at school. To her dismay, he does not seem to recall either those childhood times or her. Yuka's Mother rents him a closed down restaurant - Maple House - as long as he maintains it, and begins living there while going to a university. While walking on the coast beach (where they used to play many times in their childhood with Kanae), they encounter a young woman, with long reddish pink hair, nude in the surf and completely amnesiac, with a childlike personality and horns on her head. When Kouta touches her horns he as a short flash of his obscure past. Instead of taking her to the police, they take her to Kouta´s new home at Maple House. They decided to name her Nyu after the only word she seems able to speak.
At night, in his new house while Kouta is unpacking his stuff, the seashell falls out of his bag. Yuka recognizes the shell from the last day of their summer-vacation, the day his family was killed. Kouta gets a sad expression when looking at the shell, which gets Nyu's attention. Thinking the shell is something bad, Nyu picks up the shell, and promptly cracked the it in half, much to the two cousins' shock, especially Kouta's. Kouta instantly gets mad, and begins to shake her, demanding to know why she did that. Nyu, sad and terrified because of Kouta's reaction, runs away from the house, but is followed by Yuka, who goes searching for her, but not before suggesting that Kouta honor Kanae's memory with something other than grief. Beyond the memento of the seashell itself, the method Nyu used to destroy it may have reminded Kouta of how Lucy killed Kanae.
After some time, Kouta decides to go after her as well. When leaving, he encounters two policemen, who show him a picture and ask if he saw the girl in it, who is apparently Nyu. Asking what she's accused of, Kouta is told by the younger policeman that she is a dangerous serial killer, though the second policeman claimed his partner is merely joking, and that the girl was just missing. Nevertheless, Kouta lies to them, refusing to believe ill of Nyu.
He finds Nyu at the beach in the freezing water, afraid that she will catch a cold. In that moment Yuka arrives, and they realize Nyu fled there to get shells to replace the one she broke. Suddenly, Yuka takes a blow in head from a soldier searching for Nyu, that leaves her and then Kouta unconscious. After a stay in the hospital, the pair are reunited with Nyu, unaware of where she was, or what she did, while away. After some awkward encounters with the grope-happy Nyu, Yuka decides to stay with them. When Nyu briefly disappears once again, Yuka and Kouta search for her again and encounter Mayu, a young homeless girl who also eventually comes to stay with them. Like Kouta himself, Mayu has witnessed Lucy's brutal nature and repressed the memories.
Kouta's amnesia concerning his childhood is eventually revealed when he states how his father and sister died, statements Yuka knows to be false. Also, it slowly becomes apparent that he and Nyu have met before, without having a clue that she is actually his other childhood friend and the murderer of his family. Unbeknownst to no one, Nyu sometimes recovers her memory and true personality - Lucy - now a powerful killer with an agenda to replace the Human race with beings like herself. And as Kaede/Lucy, she still remembers Kouta and continues to love and adore him.
Life at Maple House
Still largely ignorant of Nyu's past with him and her hidden nature, Kouta, Yuka and Mayu continued to live at Maple House, where they were joined by Yuka's friend Nozomi and Nana, a Diclonius girl like Nyu, who was the first to assert the danger Lucy presented. Though she attacked Lucy in her Nyu persona and was also wronged by her, Nana obeyed Kouta's directive that she apologize and not attack Nyu again. During the battle with Mariko, Nyu and Nana disappeared, leaving Kouta depressed and worried. When they returned, Nyu had lost her horns and began to develop a more mature personality. Events outside continued to build as the people who once held Nyu continued to seek to regain custody of her.
Through all this, Kouta, according to Nana's journal, continued to try and play protector to Maple House, his results mixed but always appreciated. His relationship with the girls often meant him fetching them back and telling them how sad he would be if they left. Even Yuka began to calm from her anxious state, realizing his not remembering her was from trauma, not coldness, while still worrying that he really loved Nyu. When the Unknown Man attacked Maple House, the group was dispersed for a time, once again reuniting in large part due to Kouta's determination that they should remain together and safe.
When Nousou and the Agent, backed up by clones of the Diclonius Mariko, led a full paramilitary assault on Maple House, Kouta boiled inside at seeing his loved ones hurt. Managing to take Nousou hostage, Kouta was shot by the Agent, sending Nyu into a nuclear rage that brutally ended the assault. Seeing Cynthia, one of the Mariko clones, split in two at last awakened Kouta's memories of how his family died and who was responsible. Nyu was taken away by the Agent, and Kouta was taken to the hospital, which he left prematurely upon sensing that Nyu had returned, and swearing to take vengeance on his family's behalf.
As they meet for the last time, Nyu offers her apology for murdering Kouta's family, and explains that an inner voice drives her to kill. Kouta states that he can never forgive her and dismisses her explanation as something all people must deal with. But to some extent he considers Nyu innocent of her more violent half's actions. Because both Nyu and Lucy share a body, he cannot bring himself to carry out his vengeance and instead offers her a peaceful life at Maple House so long as she promises never to harm anyone ever again.
Although Lucy initially agrees, a chain of events lead to her instincts betraying her and Kouta is once again mortally wounded. She almost destroys the world in her despair, but manages to subdue her violent instincts upon deciding to save his life in return for hers. Upon regaining consciousness, Kouta finds that Lucy is literally melting away from her last act of selflessness. Unfortunately, the violent personality once again breaks through and starts assaulting the world once more. Kouta shoots and kills her at both Lucy and Nyu's urgings, thus stopping Lucy's violent rampage once and for all. He names his (and presumably Yuka's) daughter Nyuu Jr. in her memory and is seen visiting Lucy's puppy's grave over the years in order to honor a promise he'd made to her in their childhood. He then discovers a heartfelt note Lucy had written and signed with her real name - Kaede - with Nyuu's help, buried near the grave marker, along with a jade stone Kouta had given her as a gift. Kouta finally can fully forgive Lucy for the slaughter of his family upon reading it. As he is crying, Nyuu calls to a girl named 'Kaede' and two twin girls with ribbons in their hair appear, heavily implied to bear some connection to Lucy and Nyuu. One states that they've been waiting for their special friend, to which Kouta finally turns around, smiling with tears of joy in his eyes.
It is only through Kouta that we learn of the war that followed Lucy's death.
Kouta's personality drives the series as much as Kaede's. It is easy to say that the loss of Kanae drives him to try and be a protector and helper of young women in need. But he was compassionate and friendly towards Kaede even before this, and his greatest mistake derived from trying to spare her feelings by lying. The girls in his life tend to be a bit jealous and protective of him as well, generated by the feeling of his being there for them. Kouta's kindness in the series can be seen as the counterpoint not only to the orphanage bullies, but to every cruel person seen during the Elfen Lied story.
He is a helpful, compassionate, protective, brave, loving, innocent, accepting, cheerful, generous, loyal, and despite his sometimes harsh and conflicting words, forgiving young man. In the end, even when he says he will never forgive Kaede, he takes a bullet meant for her, all so she will not die with his feelings unstated or unresolved. The fact that so few people in this series are anything like him shows off just how grim a series it is. For if the majority of the people in Elfen Lied were like Kouta, the dark tragic events of the story would never have happened.
- Kouta's name is sometimes Romanized as Kohta
- In the anime, Kouta's repressed memories are triggered when Lucy kills a whole army in front of him, afterwards singing Lilium, the song that brought them together. He is also more forgiving in the anime, effectively stating that Kaede/Lucy/Nyu became a monster because everyone treated her like one, even kissing Lucy and stating that he still loves her and her Nyu persona though he proclaims that he cannot bring himself to fully forgive her for the murder of his family. However, once he gets his memories back in the manga, he is truly unforgiving towards her for killing his father and sister, at least on the surface. While he does not forgive the murder in either version, his approach in the anime is a great deal more tender.
- The manga for a time plays up Yuka's vengeful feelings about Kouta's amnesia, causing her to hit him, and sometimes making their relationship seem more like a traditional harem manga. Later on, she calms down once his feelings for her are plainly stated.
- Kouta appears by himself on only four manga chapter covers, a surprising number for the series' secondary lead. However, male characters appear only a total of five times on these covers, excluding the cast shot cover of the final chapter.