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Nancy Makuhari

Viewers of the Read or Die OAV know there are actually two Nancys (only one of which survives to the end of the series). If you don't want any more spoilers than that, STOP READING NOW and click the happy "back" button.

I will (eventually) address each character and their personality in depth in separate pages, but here are a few mini-essays concerning the backgrounds of both characters.

Would the Real Nancy Makuhari Please Stand Up?
Viewers often forget a small tidbit of information shared by Wendy in Read or Die: Nancy Makuhari was a real British Library agent who died in India. The original I-Jin Mata Hari (a.k.a. Nancy1) took on this woman's identity to infiltrate the British Library. The name and identity was purely meant to be a cover (and thus was meaningless when she told Yomiko her "real" name).

One of the things I have therefore never understood about the R.O.D universe is why Yomiko and Joker, among others, continued to call the I-Jin Mata Hari "Nancy" even after her cover was blown. What is even more incomprehensible is that the second I-Jin Mata Hari is also called "Nancy," even though is also apparently told that she has an "older sister," whom Yomiko would probably also refer to as "Nancy." It's not even her "older sister's" real name, so why are they calling her that and furthering the confusion?

My guess is that I-Jin Mata Hari (either of them) never had a legal identity, and so for the British Library to arrange treatment for her, it was simply easier for them to make papers for her under the assumed identity. Likewise, Nancy2 is probably considered "officially" to be the same person as Nancy1 (especially since only Yomiko encountered both of them at the same time), since it would make the paperwork easier. It makes keeping the two apart, though, very confusing! And must not be helpful for Nancy2 in determining her own identity, separate from Nancy1. And, come to think of it, Yomiko might want to continue calling Nancy2 "Nancy" in Nancy1's memory--but again with the identity issues.

Of course, there is also the issue that "Nancy Makuhari" was the name of the character all through the Read or Die manga, so they probably didn't want to change too much around. Still damned confusing though.

Yes, the First Nancy is Dead
I've seen some debate on this, so I'll throw my hat in: the Nancy we see in the TV series is the Evil Clone Nancy in the OAV. Some people like to believe that it's really the first Nancy, and that Evil Clone Nancy is dead, but if you pay very careful attention, you will see that it is quite plainly Evil Clone Nancy who has survived (much as we would all like to believe that the much cooler and sexier Nancy is the one who is alive).

If you listen to the R.O.D the TV DVD commentary, ADR director Taliesin Jaffe states something to the effect of, "The creators of the series wanted us to be clear on the fact that the Nancy we are seeing here is Evil Nancy. The original Nancy died in the OAV." See? Taliesin Jaffe said so. And Taliesin Jaffe got it straight from the creators.

Here's what happened, by my recollection:
Nancy1 infiltrates the British Library, befriends Yomiko. Yomiko gives her a bookmark.
Yomiko gets kidnapped by one of the Nancys (there's some indication that her kidnapper may have been EvilNancy, aka Nancy2).
Yomiko is introduced to Nancy1 and Nancy2 simultaneously. She is led to believe Nancy1 is killed before her eyes.
Nancy1 and Nancy2 fight. One of them falls face first into a pool of water.
Surviving Nancy rejoins Ikkyu. We are led to believe this is EvilNancy, but then this Nancy rescues Yomiko; this Nancy can only be Nancy1 because Nancy2 does not know Yomiko and would have no reason to rescue her. This means that it's Nancy2, aka EvilNancy, who was left to drown.
It is therefore Nancy1 who pushes Yomiko out of the rocket and sacrifices her life to die alongside Ikkyu.
Yomiko finds in her hand the bookmark she gave Nancy1. Written on it is "Please take care of my younger sister." This would indicate that Nancy1 thinks Nancy2 has survived. Nancy2 would be the younger sister because she was created by Ikkyu after he suspected Nancy1 of having divided loyalties.
Yomiko asks Joker, "How's Nancy?" Joker indicates she is suffering brain damage from asphyxiation. You asphyxiate when you drown--Nancy2's fate--not when you blow up in a rocket with your ex-lover--Nancy1's fate. (Some people say that Nancy1 would be too strong to commit suicide, but she was pretty badly messed up and confused and perhaps had been exposed to Beethoven a little too long.)
At the end of the story, Yomiko wants to tell the surviving Nancy about her "heroic older sister." Again, Nancy1 has to be the older sister, and moreover, would certainly be seen as heroic in Yomiko's eyes. If it were Nancy1 who had survived, Yomiko would be far more invested in helping her restore her old identity (whereas she would not want to restore EvilNancy's old identity).

In R.O.D the TV, Yomiko states something to the effect of, "I promised someone I would look after [Nancy]," while looking at the bookmark. This means she is taking care of Nancy2 because she promised her friend, Nancy1, that she would do it. If it were the other way around, it would make no sense. Nancy2 would not want anyone to look after her sister (she was very willing to kill Nancy1).

Once Nancy in the TV series begins to recover her memories, she says she has "Done a lot of bad things I need to atone for." Although Nancy1 could also legitimately say that, Nancy2 has clearly an even more evil, if shorter, past. Moreover, Nancy1 has a discernable and developed enough personality that it would start to resurface after memory loss, but TVNancy's personality never resembles Nancy1's even after she recovers.

From Mata Hari to Makuhari
Both Nancys were created using genetic material from the famous World War II spy, Mata Hari. Surfing the Web you can find a number of stories of Mata Hari, many of which are quite different, based on varying degrees of what is the legend of Mata Hari and what is the person. Like these stories, the Nancys seem to be a mixture of legend and reality.

Mata Hari was an exotic "Javanese" dancer in Paris in the early twentieth century, and when she was older, she was trained/volunteered to become a spy. Originally believed to be working for France, she was caught at being a double agent for Germany, and eventually tried and executed for treason. Legend has it she refused a blindfold and blew a kiss to the firing squad.

Behind the mask of Mata Hari was a woman named Margrethe "M'greet" Zelle (I've seen this name spelled a number of ways); she was Dutch with some Javanese ancestry and thus looked darker and more exotic than her peers. She failed an early attempt to become a teacher and married an English soldier named MacCleod, who was, in short, an abusive git. Assigned to Java, she began to study her roots. She had two children. Her son, Norman, was poisoned to death by an angry ex-employee of MacCleod's (who in turn blamed and beat Zelle for the death). Her daughter Jeanne who Zelle called "Non") was also poisoned but survived. After returning to Europe, Zelle managed to divorce her husband--not an easy thing for a woman to do at the turn of the century--but could not get child support from him, and moreover MacCleod made an effort to defame her so she could not gain monetary support in any other fashion. Unable to feed Non, she was forced to give him custody. She fled to Paris, where she created a new identity for herself, putting together a claptrap autobiography padded with myths and stories from Java and advertised herself as a "Javanese dancer." She was enormously popular, and was supported herself well as an exotic dancer and courtesan (translation: high-class hooker). As she got older and her looks began to fade somewhat (though she was never unpleasant to look at) she decided to join (or was asked) the war effort and trained as a spy. Her specialty, of course, was seducing officers and getting them to tell her secrets. What happened after that is described differently in a number of accounts--some say she acted as a double agent, giving French secrets to a German officer she was supposed to be spying on. Others indicate that the Germans were on to her, they gave her bad information and set her up to look bad. Most scholars today believe she was more likely somehow set up than actually a German spy, and was executed as a easily recognized scapegoat (France was doing poorly in the war)--especially since most of her alibis were airtight and her trial likely a farce. Interestingly from an R.O.D perspective, her body was given to medicine for study, as she had no living family willing or able to claim her.

Though none of Mata Hari's history is delved into much in the R.O.D-verse, it is interesting to note that both Nancys seem to have Mata Hari's tragically bad taste in men. Some stories of Mata Hari indicate she was also of a gentle, gullible nature, which contradicted her public image of the sexy seductress--something we especially see in Nancy2. And of course, Nancy1 is the ultimate misunderstood double agent--in this case she really was a double agent, but switched sides again due to her loyalty to Yomiko. The Nancy's obsession with guns seem to be her own; I've seen nothing to indicate Mata Hari was known to be a particularly good shot (although she probably was trained in the use of firearms). Perhaps the biggest ironic difference between fact and fiction is that while Mata Hari was the World War I era's answer to fanservice, she had very small breasts and made great efforts to keep them concealed at all times, despite her line of work. ;)


Death Quaker's Realm All original creative materials © 2005 R. Pickard. Read or Die, R.O.D. the TV and all related concepts were created by Hideyuki Kurata and are ©2003 Aniplex/Studio Orphee.
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