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Elle Ragu (エレ・ラグ)Elle Ragu is the 59th Sevalle of Kuruda, a warrior kingdom with a history stretching back over 2,000 years. Though she is not the only female Sevalle in history – a title roughly equivalent to a "high warrior", as an ordinary warrior is known as a Valle – she does hold the distinction of being the youngest female ever to be awarded the title of Sevalle, at age 14, 3 years prior to the start of the series. Her fighting nickname, "Shadow Skill", is also the name of her martial arts style, which Elle is a master of.
Kuruda-style Kōsappō (交殺法, lit. "combining kill methods", translated by ADV as "Annihilation techniques") has two general divisions: Hyōgi (炯技, "open skills" or "bright skills"), which emphasize punches and throws, and Eigi (影技, "shadow skills"), which focus on kicks and the user's footwork.
In the Shadow Skill OAV, it was revealed that the Kuruda style arose centuries ago from the combat skills developed by slaves, who were often forced to fight for their lives in gladiatorial arenas. Open skills were developed by the male gladiators, focusing on their upper body strength, while Shadow skills were created by the women. Targets of scorn and rape, women's hands were often bound or otherwise denied them the use of, and so they were forced to learn to utilize their legs and smaller, lither bodies to their fullest extents in order to survive. For this reason, Shadow skills gained a more fearsome yet respected reputation than its counterpart.
The color of Elle's hair is considered to be somewhat in question. In the OAV, her hair was shown as being two colors, blonde on top, but with the hair of her braid and the back of her head a different color (bright red in the movie, a darker shade of blonde in the OAV). In the anime, her hair was a uniform orange color, and can be interpreted as being either a redhead or a strawberry-blonde.
Elle continues to train in the Shadow Skill style, along with her adopted younger brother, Gau Ban. Gau's parents and village had been killed by bandits; when Elle met him when he was 10, he had been spending the last year training himself and fighting against those same bandits to avenge his parents. Elle decides to take the boy in, although both of them later admitted to somewhat selfish reasons for originally doing so. Gau had wanted to use Elle in order to become strong, and Elle had wanted to see how strong a person who was raised by her can become.
Elle also has an older brother, Diaz Ragu. A blacksmith and a Valle of Kuruda, Diaz' nickname was the "Black Wing", for the blackened-steel boomerangs that were his creation and trademark weapon. His skill was such that many people believed he would someday rise to become a Sevalel, including several other Sevalles themselves. In fact, becoming a Sevalle was his dream.
Elle and Diaz' parents both died from a rampaging disease when Elle was still young, and she too contracted the same illness. Diaz immediately set out on many dangerous missions in order to raise the money needed for his sister's medicine. Elle was saved, but Diaz' body was severely weakened by his ordeal, to the point that he had to give up on being a warrior, instead devoting himself to crafting his Black Wing boomerangs. Elle continues to feel guilt for this fact to this day, believing it should have been him to win this title, and not her. Though Elle is a fighter first and foremost, and so has difficulty opening up to other people except through battle, this is especially true of her older brother.
Elle also has a reputation as both a heavy drinker and a brawler, often acting without considering the consequences. A running joke throughout the series is how deeply in debt she is, and how any windfalls of money she might come into, always immediately go into either paying off the damages to her surroundings, or else into debts accumulated for the same reason. Partway into the series, she gains a job as a waitress and singer at the Green Octopus Inn to help pay off her remaining debts.
Another aspect of Elle's character is that she will not hesitate to challenge someone, or to accept a challenge toward her. She has gone through many battles, and so made a lot of both rivals and enemies. Because of this, there are many rumors throughout Kuruda and beyond about her, ranging from highly confidential ones about her battle with the Kishulanna swordsman Zel Zakulet, to rumors such as the one Kaila Lu Luka said about the 59th Sevalle having a brain that is all muscles.
As Sevalle, Elle has met many enemies who would not hesitate to kill her. She was once a mortal enemy to Faurink Maya the Plasmatizer and her Sui Rem clan. The northern city of Kishulanna, too, does not hold her in the highest of regards, as it is said that Zel Zakulet died during his duel with Elle. (While this is indeed true, Elle is not directly to blame for his death. She did, however, appeal to his warrior's spirit to continue fighting until the very end, which resulted in his death.)
Others consider her an enemy for being the latest (and least-experienced) Sevalle, and so consider her an easier target compared to other Sevalle such as Crimson and Scarface. Many think that by challenging her, they would have a better chance of claiming the title of Sevalle from her. She is also often criticized for "wasting her time" by training Gau, rather than improving her own skills, though of course Elle ignores all this.