Background and PowersEdit
An agent for the British Library Special Operations Division. In the ROD novels Joseph Carpenter originally recruited her in China, but in the ROD OVA her pathway to British Library service is somewhat different (see below). In the novels, Nancy manages an antique shop in Australia between missions for the British Library.
Her special power is the ability to become intangible and pass through solid objects; this ability is known in the TV series and OVA as "phasing." She later remarks to Yomiko that she has a distaste for her codename, claiming it makes her sound "like a porn star" (in the original Japanese script, she says that she dislikes the name because "it isn't cute").
Nancy's phasing ability is apparently at least partly genetic, since her son Junior posesses the same power. Remarkable though it is, Nancy's power is not unlimited. She can pass through objects (and let them pass through her) without suffering physical harm, but only if the "phasing" is of relatively short duration--or at least so it seems, this due to the fact she can't breath as air phases through her body as well. Thus, when Nancy recives a violent but quick blow through her chest from another "deep," she bleeds profusely but recovers very rapidly and without any apparent after-effects. Yet when she holds an opponent's combat staff in her chest for a prolonged period she suffers serious internal and external injuries, and requires hospitalization in order to recover.
According to information given by Wendy Earheart, Nancy was born in Japan, attended Cambridge University, and served for a year with the British police before joining British Library Special Operations. When first encountered in the OVA, she is said to be 26 years old. If her name and her British police service are reliable indicators, Nancy may be of mixed Japanese-British parentage, like Yomiko Readman.
In the OVA and TV, her last name is heard as "Makuhari".
Some online sources say that Nancy is also known as Nancy McHarry, Makuhari being simply being the Japanese version of her British surname. This information, however, may not be canonically accurate.
Nancy's Japanese surname says a good deal about her character and powers. The element "maku" appears as both a verb and a noun. As a verb it can mean to roll, twine, or thread something, or to outflank, avoid, or get around something or someone. As a noun, "maku" can mean a membrane or webbing, or the curtain used in a theatre. The second element, "hari", is used as a noun. It can mean a needle or a sting (as in a "stinging" remark). In a second sense, "hari" can also mean intensity, willpower, spirit, pride, or a proud expression.
Nancy's surname is also a clue to her secret or alternate identity, as revealed in the OVA.
Appearance and SkillsEdit
Nancy's appearance is striking. She is tall, with bluish-purple hair, piercing reddish-brown eyes, and a slim, athletic build. Nancy has a very prominent bust, and she is often cited as the leading example of fanservice in Read or Die. Her hair is fairly long in the ROD OVA and the ROD novels, but is cut shorter in the TV series. Nancy is usually seen in a revealing gray-black catsuit of leather or vinyl. One of the ROD novel covers shows her in an even more abbreviated version of the same costume. For casual wear, she favors low cut tops, canvas trousers, and shorts. She often leaves her trousers and shorts unbuttoned. When appropriate, Nancy wears Chinese or Indian costumes. In the TV, Nancy wears a long dungaree-style overall skirt and a purple-pink top. She is skilled at disguise, and British Library photographs show her in a wide variety of wigs, hairstyles, and outfits. As a young girl, Nancy's appearance was rather different. Her hair at that time was a light brown. In the TV, she wears neither makeup nor earrings and her overall appearance is much less stylish and sexy than in the OVA.
Aside from her skill at disguise, Nancy has other qualities that make her an excellent agent. She has great strength, and can recover from physical and psychological traumas that would kill or permanently cripple others. Nancy is a master of martial arts, and her long legs are especially good for kicking. She is clearly familiar with a wide range of firearms. Nancy uses a Glock 18 machine pistol as her standard weapon, and she can fire full automatic bursts one handed--a considerable feat with a machine pistol. She also uses an M16 rifle with a telescopic sight in the OVA. The OVA opening sequence shows Nancy with a Liberator pistol, a one-shot .45 assassination weapon issued in large numbers to resistance movements during World War II. An ROD novel cover shows her using what appears to be a Colt M1911 .45 automatic pistol, as well as a "knuckle-duster" revolver with a knife attachment. One of her favorite methods of killing is to use her phasing powers to crush an opponent's heart or drive her fist through their chest. Nancy can fly a helicopter and handle a speedboat. When on assignment, she is focused and serious, a thorough professional.
Nancy's personality is complex and contradictory, especially in the OVA. Initially cold and strictly official towards Yomiko, she soon shows a warmer side and the two become friends. Nancy is not easy to know or to get along with, however. Nancy can be foul-mouthed, her wit is harsh, and she has a violent streak. She spars with Drake Anderson, and makes a number of cutting remarks. Of all characters, Nancy's appearance and mannerisms are the most overtly sexual in ROD in terms of suggestiveness, though her nature is still mild and reserved on the most part. Still, due to this, other characters refer to her at different times as a "bitch" and a "tease." Nancy accepts such descriptions without protest, or at least she blows them off as she really doesn't seem to care about the labels and opinions others tend to cast over her. In the English script of the OVA, she refers to herself as "a pain in the ass." Nancy's toughness and sensuousness cannot mask an inner sadness, however. The reasons for this become apparent as the story progresses. Her personality in the TV is signficantly different (see below).
Nancy's Role in R.O.D.Edit
In the ROD OVA, Nancy is revealed to be a clone of Mata Hari, a spy during World War 1. However, her lover Ikkyu became suspicious of her loyalties and created a second clone who was completely devoted to the I-Jin. In the final episode the two Nancy clones fight each other; the older Nancy wins, but decides to die in space and leaves Yomiko to take care of her 'younger sister'. This younger Nancy, who was last seen floating in a pool of water, suffers from oxygen deprivation of the brain and reverts to a more innocent, child-like persona with amnesia.
In the ROD TV series, the younger Nancy is revealed to be alive along with Yomiko in the National Diet Library in Japan. After coming under the British Library's care, Nancy was discovered to be pregnant with Ikkyu's baby. Soon after the baby's birth, the baby was taken away; Yomiko told Nancy for several years that the baby was dead. Instead, it turned out that the baby was alive and being used by the British Library, Junior. The younger Nancy is gentle, fearful, in mourning for the presumed death of her baby, and recalls little of her past. This change in personality, however, is due more to psychological trauma and the softening influence of Yomiko than to any permanent brain injury. The younger Nancy is otherwise competent and soon regains much of her original toughness and bravery.
Nancy also appears in the ROD novels. These are not yet available in English, but according to reports in the fandom the relationship between Nancy and Yomiko Readman is not as close in the novels as it is in the OVA-TV continuity. Since the I-jin do not appear in the novels Nancy's backstory is somewhat different, and her phasing powers are apparently more limited. In the novels, Nancy helps Yomiko infiltrate Dokusensha's Chinese headquarters. When Nancy and Yomiko are captured, Nancy uses her phasing skills to escape. Nancy then joins with Drake Anderson to lead a British Library strike team against Dokusensha.
Nancy, Young Nancy, and the I-jinEdit
There are many controversies and questions about Nancy in the fandom. Her backstory is somewhat obscure. In the OVA, Wendy Earheart reports to Joseph Carpenter that the original Nancy (here called Young Nancy) died "years ago" in a hospital (in the English dubbed version) or "in college" (in the subitled version). This did not happen in Japan, since Wendy shows Joseph Carpenter a document in English about the matter. A screenshot shows that the document is a death certificate from Los Angeles County, which implies that Young Nancy had some American connections. "College", in the English context, can mean either a college at a university or the equivalent to the last two years of an American high school. The date of Young Nancy's death, then, is not certain. The Nancy who appears as a British Library agent apparently assumed Young Nancy's identity, though exactly when and how is unknown. Wendy's information obviously casts doubt on Nancy's "official" biography, and it is not known how much of the information given about her earlier (her attendance at Cambridge and Scotland Yard service, etc.) is accurate and how much is simply a "legend" or cover story concocted to deceive the British Library.
While Nancy is an I-jin, she differs in some respects from some of the others. Unlike the I-jin creations of Jean-Henri Fabre, Genjo Sanzo, and Ludwig van Beethoven, for example, she does not need any sort of artifical organs.
Which Nancy is Which?Edit
When it is revealed that there are two Nancies in the third episode of the OVA it leads one to wonder which Nancy is which during the various scenes in episodes 1 and 2. "Nancy 1", the good Nancy, is the Nancy befriended by Yomiko Readman, who finally kills Ikkyu and commits suicide afterwards by riding to her death on Ikkyu's rocket. "Nancy 2", a clone of Nancy 1 (though just when she was cloned is not known) is the Nancy who serves Ikkyu loyally. She survives her sister's death and is cared for by Yomiko. In the OVA, Nancy 2 is harsher and more violent than her sister; indeed, she tries to kill Nancy 1 on two occasions. She has clearly become Ikkyu's favorite, and he has chosen to impregnate her rather than Nancy 1. Nancy 2 hates her sister, but Nancy 1 still has some compassion for her sibling; she shows this by asking Yomiko to look after Nancy 2.
The 2 Nancies switch places a few times during the OVA, but some of these swaps are the subject of debate. The best indicator to tell which Nancy is which is that Nancy 1 fires her pistol with her left hand, while Nancy 2 fires with her right. Even this indicator may not be infallible, however, since at least one of the Nancies uses her 'wrong' shooting hand in order to conceal her identity.
It is hard to say for certain which Nancy is seen first at the Tokyo bookshop because her appearance is brief. While many argue there are unlikely to be two Nancies at this point (and thus she must be Nancy 1) it can also be pointed out that she reaches for something in her jacket, possibly the pistol we see in the opening credits, with her right hand (pointing to her being Nancy 2). Nancy is also very, very briefly shown standing in the crowd behind Yomiko at the crosswalk before Jean-Henri Fabre appears, and we can only guess that this is the same Nancy as before. In the first proper meeting at the Library of Congress we can tell it is Nancy 1 because she fires at Otto Lilienthal with her left hand. In the aerial battle above New York it is still Nancy 1, as again she fires her pistol with her left hand before jumping into the Statue of Liberty (however, that Nancy 1 does not fire Drake's rifle with her left hand as you would expect).
In the begining of episode 2, it is Nancy 1 who talks to Yomiko about love and books. This is made clear by the conversation and Nancy's kind behavior toward Yomiko. Later Nancy 1 lies in her bunk and suddenly takes a surprised breath. This was probably intended as a subtle clue that a swap was going to take place. Afterwards Nancy is cold and distant to Yomiko in the hallway, suggesting it is Nancy 2. This is confirmed when they arrive at the Indian bookstore and we see Nancy 2 firing at Genjo Sanzo with her right hand. The editing at the end of this scene implies that Nancy 2 intentionally allowed her com device to get damaged in the fight (so as to not arouse suspicion for the upcoming swap). This would also explain why Nancy 2 is insistent on Yomiko leaving the bookstore. When Yomiko trips over a cow in the street Nancy appears and jokes with Yomiko, suggesting this is Nancy 1. This is confirmed during the subsequent battle with Genjo. Nancy fires at Genjo with her left hand (and of course only Nancy 1 would selflessly risk herself to save Yomiko).
Finally, in the airplane when Nancy pulls a gun on Yomiko during Ikkyu's broadcast we can tell it is Nancy 2 since she holds her pistol with her right hand. Yomiko also later says "It was you" to Nancy 2 when remembering this incident. When the 2 Nancies are about to fight at the end of episode 3, Yomiko has no problem figuring out which Nancy to stand alongside before Nancy 1 tells Yomiko to complete her mission.
Nancy and Yomiko ReadmanEdit
The biggest controversy about Nancy (or rather the 2 Nancies) concerns the nature of her relationship with Yomiko Readman. As Nancy says, initially the two have "strictly a working relationship". This develops into a deep friendship, possibly with romantic overtones. The bond between the two is certainly very strong. There are several intensely emotional scenes between the two in the OVA. In one of these Nancy 1 braids Yomiko's hair tenderly, and seems depressed when Yomiko scarcely notices. The two then discuss the nature of love, and Yomiko gives Nancy a bookmark as a keepsake. Before she escapes and returns to Ikkyu, Nancy 2 kisses Yomiko on the neck. Nancy 1 attempts to save Yomiko after Ikkyu has captured her, and Ikkyu chides both Nancies for their sentimental attachment to Yomiko. After Nancy 1 dies, Yomiko not only cries but runs at the nose--a sign of extreme emotion in Japanese culture.
The relationship between Yomiko and Nancy 2 in the TV is equally close. Nancy 2 is completely fixated on Yomiko and cannot bear to be parted from her for very long. She touches Yomiko frequently, comforts her when she is distressed, and says that Yomiko means more to her even than her own son, while Yomiko says that nothing matters to her so long as Nancy 2 is happy. Not surprisingly, Junior criticizes his mother for her selfishness.
Some ROD fans see Yomiko and Nancy as at least potential lovers, and they are often considered to be a canon couple by fans of shoujoai and yuri in anime. Some official ROD artwork tends to support this view of the two (see the image gallery, below), though it is possible that such art is merely ordinary fanservice without relevance to the characters. The controversy cannot be definitely settled one way or the other. It is possible to interpret the relationship between Yomiko and Nancy as merely a strong emotional friendship, and many fans do so. In the TV series, the relationship between Yomiko and Nancy is as much mother-daughter as anything else.
It should be pointed out, however, that many fans find Yomiko's relationship with Nenene Sumiregawa equally ambiguous. Mata Hari's history may also be relevant to the question. Mata Hari was a well-known prostitute and had many male lovers; yet she also associated with a prominent circle of lesbians in Paris. This group, led by the American expatriate Natalie Barney, also included the writer and nude dancer Colette and the actress and prostitute Liane de Pougy.
Nancy and JuniorEdit
Nancy 2's relationship with Junior, her son by Ikkyu, is a difficult one. The child was taken from Nancy 2 soon after birth, and the two never really knew one another. Junior never knew he had a mother, and he nearly shoots Nancy 2 when he meets her again--a fate Nancy 2 seems willing to accept at his hands. Unable to tell Nancy 2 the truth, Yomiko at first told her that her baby was dead, and Nancy 2 believes this while she and Yomiko are in hiding in the National Diet Library. She is clearly very sad about losing her baby, but Yomiko is the center of her emotional life. This continues to some extent even after Nancy 2 and Junior are reunited. Nancy is anxious to have a closer relationship with her son, and she attempts to do him some small kindnesses. Junior is more strongly drawn to Michelle Cheung, however, and he is very bitter towards his mother. He is apparently jealous of Yomiko for her hold on Nancy 2's affections. He also blames Nancy 2 for falling in love with the power-mad Ikkyu, his father, whom Junior hates. After Nancy 2 rescues him at the end of the ROD TV series, however, Junior forgives his mother and the two are happily reconciled.