Image source: TVアニメ『エルドライブ』公式アカウント on Twitter

Have you ever had an imaginary friend? Have you ever had an open conversation with said imaginary friend? Has anyone ever overheard your conversation with said imaginary friend? Welcome to Awkward Town. Population: You.

[Note: This article contains spoilers for ēlDLIVE.]

The protagonist of ēlDLIVE, Chuta, has lived his entire life with the nickname, “Murmuring Chuta” due to his constant talking to himself. Since as long as he can remember, Chuta has heard a voice in head that no one else is able to hear.

In the first episode, it is discovered that the voice Chuta has been hearing is really a symbiotic entity, named Dolugh. Through a series of events, Dolugh gains the ability to physically manifest as a sort of guiding chestburster.

Crossing Zelda’s Navi with Alien’s Chestburster

Dolugh’s existence is a great relief for Chuta. After all, he has spent his entire life with a voice in his head that has been the cause of trouble, trauma, and grief for him. A voice that he couldn’t prove existed to anyone. Even though by joining the ēlDLIVE space police force, Chuta must continue to keep Dolugh’s existence a secret from his friends and family on Earth, he can now move forward, secure that he is not crazy. He is happy.

Unfortunately, we know this only because, as viewers, we have been given access to Chuta’s point of view. We’re following Chuta’s story. We can hear Dolugh’s voice, and so we can understand what’s going on. For Chuta’s friends, however, nothing has changed. Chuta’s still that awkward kid who keeps talking to himself.

Realizing that, if you watch ēlDLIVE and put yourself in the shoes of the people around Chuta, things change drastically.

From an outsider’s perspective, Chuta seems like a high-functioning schizophrenic. Watching a conversation between Chuta and Dolugh, if you ignore everything Dolugh says, you end up with a half-conversation by a mentally broken junior high school student. From the perspective of a bystander, not only does Chuta talk to himself, but the phantom voice he professes to hear actually convinces him to do things… Sometimes, it’s even against his will… And then there’s the talk of aliens…

If it were real life, it’d probably be horrifying. You’d wonder why his obvious mental disorder hadn’t been diagnosed long ago and he wasn’t either on some form of medication, seeing a regular therapist, or institutionalized. As it stands, it’s an anime series, so it actually starts getting funny, almost like reading a Deadpool comic, or reading a comic strip where one of the protagonists communicates primarily through thought bubbles and then erasing the thought bubbles completely

Chuta is a good kid. He’s got good moral fiber and the budding will to act upon said morals. As the rookie officer of the ēlDLIVE space police, he’s quickly becoming a central member. Still, all of that is a secret life, and to the rest of the world, he’s still a bizarre kid who regularly has conversations with nobody. And it’s pretty entertaining.

Image source: TVアニメ『エルドライブ』公式アカウント on Twitter

ēlDLIVE can be viewed with English subtitles on Crunchyroll.

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