( NOTE: Despite the name of this article, there does exist evidence of Aiko surviving the end of the series. However, this article will treat her as though she is deceased, since her being believed to be dead drives a significant portion of the plot in relation to Lucy and Kurama's tempestuous relationship and the people said relationship effects. )
|“||It's Alright. I will make sure you meet your mother.||”|
–Young Lucy, making a promise she could not keep
Though she only appears posthumously in a long flashback, Aiko Takada was a person of great importance to Lucy and her death leaves enormous aftershocks in not only Lucy's life, but the lives of those Aiko herself would never meet. Her death sparks the deep and bitter hatred Lucy holds for Kurama, and it is due to this hatred that Lucy inflicts suffering upon not only Kurama, but those he cares for.
Reaching out to someone and becoming their friend is a staple of childhood and adolescence. For the lonely, it can be difficult and nerve-wracking, as you can never tell if the peer you wish to befriend will agree or just laugh awkwardly and say no. For Aiko Takada, this was just such a case. She watched the odd girl with pink hair from afar before finally reaching out to help her one day, but the bridging of the gap between them toward friendship would lead to tragedy. Lucy, though wary, didn't take this friendship lightly. After losing her first friend to senseless violence and the horror she inflicted upon her last friend, Lucy was willing to forgo her DNA Voice's directions and attempt to help Aiko however she could. She retaliated for Aiko's sake when Mr. Takada was about to beat her, sought to reunite the girl with her mother so she could have a better life, and later was willing to take the blame for Mr. Takada's death so Aiko wouldn't have to be locked away, alone, in jail or possibly even face the death penalty for murder (in Japan, Aiko unintentionally killing her father would be seen as murder and not manslaughter). Due to the isolation, bullying, and torment she'd faced in her life until that point, Lucy would have done anything to ensure her friend would have a happier life, a life better than her own. Helping Aiko would prove she was more than just a murderer, that even she could touch someone's life and give them something other than pain.
After Aiko's accidental killing of her father (again, evidence for her culpability cuts both ways), the two girls stole away to the department store where Aiko's mother, visiting home from abroad, would hold her art exhibition the next day. After seeing some of the woman's paintings, realizing she must have never truly forgotten her daughter, they were content to wait in a warehouse section of the store for morning to arrive. Unfortunately, they were found out by Kurama and Kakuzawa, who had been searching for Lucy. Though Lucy held off the solders' bullets and threw as many obstacles at them to keep them away from her and Aiko, she forgot about the possibility of an attack from the side. A gunman aimed at the two, Lucy to be precise, but Aiko noticed him at the last second. She shoved Lucy out of the way, taking the bullet through her back, and fell to the floor.
In the manga, Lucy's despair sends her vectors surging through the roof and leaves a gaping hole in the building. When the dust settles, she's taking Aiko away, further into the building, and continues to try and rouse her before Kurama catches up to her. In the anime, Lucy cradles her friend right then and there, begging her to stay awake and telling her she'll save her. As she laments her inability to protect even one beloved person, Kurama fires at her, telling her she has no place in this world. As Lucy pleads with him to save the girl, Kurama realizes Aiko is a regular human girl caught up in the crossfire. In either version, he offers Lucy a deal: he'll save Aiko's life if she surrenders to them. It's not a deal Lucy needs to think long about. Her freedom in exchange for the life of an innocent person who only wanted to shower her in kindness and friendship. She gives herself up, and Aiko is taken away to the hospital for treatment. Lucy is quickly shackled, and it is shown that this was not done gently.
Much to Lucy's dismay later on, after she's been locked in the apparatus that will be her container for the next three years, Kurama arrives to tell her Aiko has passed away. To rub salt in the wound, the manga has him telling her it's essentially her fault since she should have cooperated or tried to coexist peacefully with humans. He even intimates Aiko's own guilt in the matter. Overcome with both sorrow for her friend's demise and fury at Kurama's lack of care, Lucy swears she will someday tear his life to pieces. She will ruin his life before his very eyes, kill everyone who matters to him, and make his feel the same suffering he's inflicted upon her.
In the end, even kindness and love can beget hatred, directly or indirectly. Though she was thinking only of saving a dear friend, Aiko's sacrifice led to Lucy's capture. She was the unwitting bargaining chip Kurama used to lock Lucy away in the Diclonius Research Institute. Lucy's burning hatred toward Kurama for, as far as she knew, probably just letting the girl die was one reason she kept living, the other being her wish to apologize to Kouta, wherever he might be, for having ruined his life so terribly. By proxy, Aiko and her untimely death became the motivation for Lucy to later kill his secretary Kisaragi and brutalize Nana and Mariko, all for the sake of making Kurama suffer. Whereas before, Lucy killed indiscriminately for the sake of furthering her race, Aiko's death provided a focus for her rage. Instead of killing mass amounts of people without a care, she mainly focused on killing those Kurama cherished, those who chased after her, and sometimes the random passerby. If the speculation based on the series' ending is correct and Aiko survived, then Kurama's choice to misinform Lucy (assuming this was his choice, and not kept even from him) makes this moment and the resulting vendetta seem all the more tragic.
Aiko's death is a sign to us all that even the smallest kindness we extend toward others can save them, and our deaths, which we can sometimes believe would affect only few, can leave aftershocks that touch people we've never even met.
|“||It would have been good if you, the Diclonius, had chosen a path where we could co-exist.||”|
–Kurama, rashly sealing the fates of many he cared about