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Elfen Lied (エルフェンリート, Erufen Rīto?) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Lynn Okamoto. It was originally serialized in Shueisha's Weekly Young Jump from June 2002 to August 2005, with the 107 chapters collected into twelve tankōbon volumes.
The series' title is German as well as Dutch for "Elves' Song" or more formally "song of the elves'" and takes its name from the song "Elfenlied", which is featured in the story. Elfen Lied involves themes of social alienation, identity, prejudice, revenge, abuse, jealousy, regret and the value of humanity. It is also noted for the graphic violence, emotional themes of how the characters change through, and the overall transgressive subject matter of the whole story. A 13-episode anime television series adaptation was produced by the studio Arms and broadcast on AT-X from July to October 2004. The anime began airing before the manga was complete; as a result, the plot differed between the two, especially the ending. The anime series has been licensed in North America by ADV Films and in Australia by Madman Entertainment. ADV Films said the series was one of their bestselling and "most notorious" releases of 2005. The Anime Network is streaming the series in English, German, and French.
Elfen Lied takes place in the coastal areas surrounding Kamakura, Japan. It focuses on a new evolution emerging from the Human race - called Diclonius, due to the two cat-ear-like horns atop their heads. With an outer physiology very similar to ordinary Human beings, they differ deeply at the genetic level and possess psychokinetic powers in the form of invisible energy arms that can move objects, destroy them and kill, as well as causing Human males to sire new Diclonius children. One such Diclonius, called Lucy, is the main character of the series, and is in essence the 'Queen' of this new species. When we first meet her, she stages a bloody escape from an island facility built to experiment on and contain her kind, located off the Kamakura coast in Kanagawa Prefecture. After killing many facility personnel, she is injured while making her way out.
Washing ashore near Kamakura, she is found by two childhood friends, reuniting to go the nearby university. Kouta, the young man, is returning to Kamakura after a long absence and the death of his family years before, and is amnesiac as to that time, something that frustrates his cousin Yuka, who has had a long-standing crush on him. Seeing that the injured Lucy, who has suffered amnesia herself and become the childlike 'Nyu', is helpless, they agree to take her in. This leads to the pair becoming involved in her world, including the danger that the 'Lucy' personality will reassert itself. As the story later reveals, in fact all three have childhood connections, hidden at first by the mutual amnesia suffered by Kouta and Nyu.
The story also centers on the efforts of those who once held Lucy to recapture or kill her. Some, like the scientist Kurama, honestly want her taken down to deal with the danger she poses to Humanity. Some, like the elite Special Assault Team member Bando, relish the challenge she poses and want revenge for her savagery. Another Diclonius girl, named Nana, thinks of Kurama as her father and pays a heavy price for her decision to try and bring Lucy in by herself. Two more girls, Mayu and Nozomi move in with Kouta, Yuka, Nyu and Nana, fleeing homes that were either unsupportive or nightmarishly abusive. It is eventually shown that Kurama's boss, Chief Kakuzawa, charged by the Japanese government with containing the Diclonius threat, has a conspiratorial agenda all his own that threatens everyone. Characters run the gamut from mostly innocent to conflicted to complete monster. We also learn that Lucy didn't simply start life as an uncaring psychopath, though her actions still push the reader's sympathies to the breaking point. Very few characters have a happy backstory, especially the Diclonius.
The anime features a 'localized' ending that allows for a second season that has yet to emerge, departing from the manga about forty chapters away from its conclusion. In this version, Lucy is forced to leave her friends and Kouta, whom she loves, facing down an army sent to kill or capture her, with strong hints that she survived. In the manga, the plans of Chief Kakuzawa end up threatening the whole world. In both versions, Kouta's childhood memories return, leading to his confrontation with Lucy over her role in his past. The conclusion is firmer and darker, but allows for some hope on several fronts.
- w:c:ElfenLied was created May 30 2009, has 99 pages and is in German
- The Elfen Lied Wiki was started in 2008 and has 401 pages, in English.