|“||If I come back with her, will you pat me on the head and say 'Good Girl'?||”|
Nana's Family is one of the most wide-ranging in the series, from the wholly unknown, to broadly referenced, to much of the main cast.
Even by the standards of the series, nothing is known of Nana's birth parents, even to whether or not she was given up willingly when the personnel from the Diclonius Research Institute came to claim her. A timeframe for her birth can be nailed down, at least to some degree, as her birth would at least somewhat predate Chief Kakuzawa's following order to euthanize all future Diclonius births when these exceeded the facility's capacity. Besides their mere existence, another implicit fact exists about Nana's parents; the father must have encountered Lucy, who infected him with the Diclonius virus. Whether Nana ages regularly or, as stated in the manga, is half the age of her apparent teenage appearance (roughly 12 or 13 versus 6 or 7 actual years), this leaves a tight and hard to negotiate timeframe for her birth. Both versions of the series have Kouta leave Kamakura for seven to eight years after Lucy's murder of his family and have Lucy wandering the Kamakura area for four to five years, infecting males who then sired Diclonius children, this before her three-year captivity at the island facility. These loosely-stated facts suggest that Nana was born soon after Lucy began her wanderings and that her father was even perhaps among the first infected. But if Nana was born at or about this time, it raises questions about some of the other possible information about her family.
Unconfirmed post-series information indicated that the Silpelit Diclonius called Number 3 was, in fact, Nana's older sister. An article covering various points supporting and pointing out faults (including timeline) with this information is here. For the sake of this section of the article, it is considered correct, to explore the implications of this scenario. For this Wiki, this assertion as regarded as possibly true yet unlikely, due to circumstances listed in the above-linked article. All efforts to confirm or disprove this information, as well as its true origins, have (as of 2015) met with failure. Even direct contact via Twitter with Lynn Okamoto has not yielded a final answer.
In this scenario, Nana's father would certainly have been among the initial wave of infectees, if Number 3 was three years old or so when she escaped, infecting Kurama and Oomori with the Diclonius virus. The next we hear of Number 3 is a discussion between Kurama and Professor Kakuzawa that Number 3's mother has now given birth to twins, both Diclonius. This information led to the confirmation by the two scientists that it was a factor in the parents of Diclonius births that led to this mutation. This information, in turn, led to the realization of the existence of Lucy, and therefore her subsequent capture. Again, if treated as true, this would in effect place Nana from birth at a nexus of events related to the Elfen Lied universe at least as high as Kouta's place in events. In short, Nana's older sister was one of the first to make researchers realize that Diclonius can 'play possum' with their power growth. She was therefore also responsible for the events that led to Mariko Kurama's birth, and for a continuity of evidence resulted in Lucy's discovery and capture, including her grudge against Kurama. While not planning any of this or being directly responsible for it, Nana by this theory touches nearly all the lives in Elfen Lied just by existing. But even if this theory is correct, Nana's potential twin sister is never brought up or referenced, and in any event, this relationship appeared nowhere during the series itself, whatever the validity and origins of the post-series assertion.
Apart from who Nana's birth family may or may not have been, her adopted family includes most of the major characters in the series, still broken up into two groups. The first one is that of the man she calls 'Papa,' Doctor Kurama, the development of which raises non-critical questions that the series does not answer. Addressing these story elements here is not to call the series out, but merely to record the known and the unknown about the characters.
The manga and anime differ on whether or not Nana knew that Kurama was not her true father, but Shirakawa and Isobe state this outright during her first appearances in both. Also never addressed is just when Kurama came to view Nana as something more than an experiment, but in this case, there seems less need, as the backstory revelation of Kurama being kept away from Mariko would directly indicate his need for a substitute child to replace the one he protected but could no longer have. Whether either version of Nana ever thought of Kurama as her biological father, there is no evidence indicating whether or not she thought that the late Hiromi Kurama had been her mother, or even knew her name. She certainly knew nothing of Mariko's existence.
Another unknown is why Chief Kakuzawa, who seemed to keep an eye on his employees and most especially Kurama, allowed this relationship to develop. It appears to have played a part (never expanded upon) in Nana's social development, in particular, her reluctance to kill another sentient being, Human or Diclonius. In this case, it again is possible to extrapolate from existing plot and see this allowance as the Chief intending to use Nana as a leash on Kurama's behavior and a gauge of his obedience. One thing does seem clear: it was Nana's devotion to and love of Kurama that enabled her to keep her sanity amidst a life of pain and deprivation. While much of that misery correctly falls at the feet of Kurama himself, the question of why he failed to protect Nana more falls under hard logic. Protecting her more than at a bare minimum could have cost him his position, with his impartiality seen as fatally compromised, thus keeping him from protecting Nana at all, and losing Mariko forever, in violation of his promise to the dying Hiromi.
Once on her own, Nana rapidly encounters her third and final family, though meeting with a few setbacks. When Mayu, once an eyewitness to Nana's savage dismembering by Lucy, brings her home to Maple House, her attack on Lucy's unaware alternate personality, Nyu, brings the wrath of Kouta, and to a lesser extent Yuka as well, with Mayu unwilling to remember Lucy's assault on Nana. In short order, Nana becomes protective of these people when she finds happiness in their home, and Kouta, bound by his repressed guilt, is immediately protective of any young girl. In the anime, this short-term bonding becomes explicit, with each attempting to protect the other, despite recent hard feelings. In the anime, the animosity between Mariko, Kurama's real daughter, and Nana, the child of his heart and affection, is only cut short by Kurama's choice to die with the daughter he wronged. In the manga, it is wholly set aside when Mariko, doomed by the bombs inside her, directs Nana to care for their Papa, almost finally becoming sisters indeed and in acceptance. In both versions, it is only by Nana's urgings that Kurama relents on his first desire to kill Mariko, as he feels he should have done long ago since in his view, exempting his child from the fate he dealt so many other Diclonius births began their nightmare. Mariko's age raises the timeline problems with Nana again since Nana's apparent age of 13-14 years and Mariko's of eight to ten years brushes up against or exceeds Lucy's active time of infecting males. Whether in the manga timeline, where rules of Diclonius aging and infection are explicit or in the anime, where they are mostly implicit and open to interpretation as to whether any of the manga rules apply in this instance, the timeline is a bit of a jumble.
After the tragic events leading to Mariko's death, both versions of Nana are left with only the residents of Maple House to call family. In the anime, this is direct and quite final, with Kurama's decision to die with Mariko, followed by a tearful Nana dragging herself up the steps to Maple House, calling those within her family in the English dialogue. The Japanese subtitled dialogue refers to 'where everyone is,' but this also reads as 'where everyone important to me is.' In the manga, Kouta finds Nana and Nyu, who has lost her horns and at least at the time, her tendency to once more become Lucy. Carrying Nana on his back when she is tired, Nana comments that he is not peppering her with questions, as he did earlier, a fact for which she is grateful.
The anime concludes with Nana a full part of Maple House, and among those who will potentially welcome back Nyu or Lucy as she possibly re-enters their lives. The manga resumes six months after Mariko's death with a similar situation, altered mainly by Nyu never being missing and in fact maturing from her infantile state. Nyu is so different in this new state, Nana explicitly thinks of her as someone different from Lucy, although she keeps watching for Lucy emerging once again. The depths of Nana's fondness for Nyu is evident when she chooses to lie to Nyu about her identity as Lucy, this after she attempted to kill Mayu to obtain her silence regarding her secret. That the people at Maple House were now her family is fully demonstrated when Chief Kakuzawa's forces invaded their home. Nana makes a futile effort to defend it from mind-controlled clones of her 'sister' Mariko and ends up charged with protecting their home by Lucy herself, as she departs for what will be the final time. Nana is also challenged for her place in her home by Yuka's mother, the landlady of Maple House, who sees her as a potential danger like Lucy proved to be. The outcome of this challenge is unknown.
Nana makes a painful and important leap in her family relations with Kurama as she inadvertently locates him, lost to madness and grief over Mariko. It is also one of the most controversial leaps in the series.
Given her freedom by Nousou, who immediately came to regret this, Mariko's clone Barbara decided to seek out Nana, despising her for living with Humans. Like her clone sister Diana, the uncontrolled Barbara seemed a distillation of Mariko's qualities, which chiefly seemed to manifest as blank aggression, in this case towards Nana. Nana, for her part, stood by the side of Kurama, even when he, in his rage and grief, dismissed her as nothing more than an experiment to which he grew too attached. Barbara's attack upon them (just after Nana convinced Kurama to bury another of the clones, Cynthia, whose remains he cradled as Mariko's) led to a tense final confrontation, with Barbara declaring Kurama not only meant nothing to her but declared herself repulsed at a connection to any Human. Kurama made a telling point when he emerged from his madness and shot Barbara dead, saving Nana, while wondering if Barbara allowed this, her words aside.
Nana, wishing to be the substitute for the many-times dead Mariko no longer, declares her intent to become Kurama's wife instead. Kurama does not respond to this at the time, and in fact, one of the series' more infamous unresolved questions is how he now views their relationship. Equally off-putting to some is the idea of such a relationship. A full entry on the subject is found and explored here. Whether Nana is a little girl lacking an understanding of what such a relationship means or more mature and ready than her few years would indicate is left up to the reader. Since Kurama's views are never learned, instead a look at what this desire means for Nana is in order.
While Nana never addresses Kurama as anything other than Papa, if she now no longer views him as a father, then perhaps she then held another to this title. While Nana and Kouta frequently clashed when they first met, their affection and acceptance grew, and indeed when Kouta is shot during the military home invasion, she is as shocked and upset as anyone else. While Mayu's parental views on Kouta and Yuka become implicit in the manga and explicit in the anime, Nana merely seems grateful for their efforts on her behalf. If in her mind Kurama ceased to be her father, it is not impossible that Kouta took that place, however unofficially, in her mind. The ending of the manga series does state that Kurama and Nana are living together, but whether this is in their residence or at Maple House is not made clear, and again Kurama's views on Nana's aims are not resolved. It can perhaps be extrapolated that since in the anime, Nana is left without Kurama entirely, Kouta becoming more explicitly a father figure to her is at least a real possibility. Since Nana never knew a mother figure, it is harder to ascertain her relationship with Yuka, though as the eldest woman in the household, her authority might hold much of the same weight. Likely, she viewed Nozomi and especially Mayu as her sisters. Finally, if Nana survived the war described at the end of the manga series, the possibility at least exists of her encountering her birth family and finding some answers for herself.
As with the other main characters, the unknown in Nana's world well outweighs the known, in regards to her families. But also unlike the others, some necessary information is at least more easily discerned.
|“||Hey, Papa? I have someone I want to bring along. I'm sure he will be useful in capturing Lucy.||”|
–Nana, in Chapter 91, showing her now-expanded view of those closest to her