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There, in this house, the girl in the bottle plays spin the astronaut

I Dream Of Jeannie's Season 1 narrator, reminding viewers that having a magical girlfriend may not be all fantasy

Introduction

Elfen Lied is often called a Deconstruction of several manga and anime tropes, both in the overall series itself and in the characters. This essay's aim is to show the various genres, themes and character types that are deconstructed within the series, and perhaps even in-series deconstructions of the primary characters by characters introduced later on. A deconstruction can be humorous, but just as often shows how some elements may not be humorous at all. It is not a satire or a parody, though the focus on certain elements can be taken that way.

This essay will use the ten or so primary characters as the basis for this extended analysis. In order to avoid overanalysis on future edits, one useful idea is to recall a story told about Sigmund Freud.

In his later years, the father of modern psychology had grown sick of his once-breakthrough notions being misused, overused and simply interpreted wrong as people latched onto style more than substance. This was especially true of his work with dreams and sexual imagery. When Freud was smoking a cigar, a friend saw this and humorously commented that this could be seen as a phallic symbol. Fed up, Freud briefly stopped smoking and looked at his friend. He commented that "Sometimes A Cigar Is Only A Cigar!". Whether that story is true or not, its wisdom holds up : The Bakery Merchant who kindly aids Mayu is more than likely simply a nice woman who helps out a kid in trouble. Some things just are, and need no further checks. This essay is about those elements that do.

The Magical Girlfriend

Just as the 1940's Fleischer Studios Superman cartoons are a prototypical influence on anime in general, so is another Western source considered the start of the Magical Girlfriend genre. That source is I Dream Of Jeannie, a 1960's sitcom created by page-turner-novel bestseller Sidney Sheldon, who incidentally also created The Patty Duke Show, wherein two young women who looked exactly alike had vastly different personalities (Actress Patty Duke is an award winning performer and the mother of Sean Astin). While the genre often veers as far away from it as anime in general does for those ancient Superman cartoons, it is where the rules are laid down and to an extent, codified, to be followed, subverted or rewritten entirely as suits the need of a mangaka. While 'Bewitched' may also fall in here, it is somewhat different enough to not be in focus. From the start of that latter series, Darrin Stephens enters the world of his once-secretive bride, and very begrudgingly accepts (or usually not) that her world will impact on his. USAF Captain, later Major, Anthony Nelson tries his best to keep the world of his secret house-mate just that, while slowly accepting that the girl in the bottle means quite a bit to him. Unlike nearly every protagonist in manga/anime, though, Tony Nelson is already living the dream life of a pilot and astronaut in an age of discovery, and is very much pursued by other women. Yet as we will see, Tony and Kouta meet up more often than one might think, and while blonde, Jeannie has more than a little Lucy in her.

While far apart in terms of their views on Humanity, both series feature immensely powerful, socially awkward young women who become massively intrigued by a young man who is nothing like those they have known before. For Jeannie, the idea that Nelson would not want her company and a lifetime of wish fulfillment is an impossible one to take in, leading to her following him home even after he frees and releases her. For Kaede, the idea of this boy who wants to have fun with her and is not repulsed by her horns is sadly alien to her. In an early, discarded storyline, Jeannie is said to have once been Human but made into a Genie/Djinn, her parents two millennia gone. Lucy never has that luxury, and she is never permitted it, outright told as well that her parents abandoned her to die of exposure in a field. Both Tony and Kouta have their dreams interfered with by these beautiful, determined, powerful women. In Tony's case, it is a series of comical mishaps that threaten his status as a pilot and astronaut; in Kouta's case of course, it is the very deadly serious matter of his family's murder. Both Lucy and Jeannie are prone to either ignoring their intended man's wishes or badly misinterpreting them. For Jeannie, this means strange foods and happenings ; for Lucy it is her fateful choice to go to the carnival and see Kouta--which tragically, she did.

While Kouta and Tony are both victims of many comical misunderstandings, for Kouta one misunderstanding, while minor and straightforward, tears his life apart, never to be rebuilt as it was. Both men directly and otherwise, eventually admit they are in love with the one who has turned their lives upside down. Yet while Jeannie gains her goal in the series' last season, it is in the final chapters that Kaede/Lucy must accept that she never will.

Tony and eventually Jeannie have Doctor Bellows and his wife as well-meaning busybodies, and Tony's friend Roger Healy. The consequences of their exposure would have been (and almost was, but for an averted series finale) at the very least the loss of Tony's coveted status as an astronaut, scrutiny by a curious US government and unwanted fame, though with Jeannie's powers, some form of escape was at least possible.

Kaede, Kouta and all they hold dear had far deeper scrutiny which was not averted, and in fact held several levels of the deepest danger imaginable. Ultimately, their pursuers included a true megalomaniacal madman with ample resources and the entire Japanese government, interested mainly in covering up its ties with the former foe. Summary execution, lifetime imprisonment, torture, organ harvesting, home invasion, rape - there is almost no fate that the residents of Maple House are not threatened with or end up suffering at the hands of these grim forces. In their case, unlike the comical (if potentially disaster-causing) friends of the Nelsons, they are all brought low : Chief Kakuzawa fails long-term, and the Japanese government would almost have to change hands at the ministerial level.

Even allowing for vastly different censorship standards (The network executives did not want audiences to see Jeannie's navel; while Nyu holds no secrets, modesty-wise), Elfen Lied does everything in a more extreme manner than its remote ancestor could ever hope to. The disruption to Tony's life is awkward, while the disruption to Kouta's life is seismic. Jeannie's wrath, when awakened, has lethal potential, while Lucy's wrath almost always means instant, painful death. Many an episode of the fifty-year-old sitcom focused on Jeannie simply not understanding the ins and outs of the modern world, like supermarkets, credit cards, salespeople. reporters and the like. In that, she is much like Nana, and her devotion to Tony can be compared to Nana's for Kurama. For Lucy, the problem is never not knowing what money is, or moving around without being noticed. Her disconnect is with Humanity itself, both its good and its bad side. She understands neither, her perceptions forever colored by the spray of her puppy's blood. It is inconceivable to her that Kouta's lie about Yuka's gender was anything but another vicious trick. In a further twist of irony's knife, it is only his rage and confusion over the slaughter of his family that even tells her she did the wrong thing. Even as he attacks her, Kouta does not insult or belittle her, or drop an expletive bomb. Somewhere inside her, she sees that he is questioning and demanding a friend, or one he saw in this manner. Even her decision to flee, based on pure survival instincts, damages him further, as a survivor of such horror is at least briefly also a suspect, when there is no apparent explanation for the carnage. But the girl who is now Lucy in all but name cannot make the leap that decency might not be unique to Kouta. Kouta to her was a freak, an abberation in his gentleness and kindness. Even when, much later, she comes to see all those who dwell in Maple House as ones she holds dear, it is still an abberation, and her view is not so complete as it might be. While Jeannie comes to treasure all of Tony's friends as her own, for a long while, Yuka, Mayu and Nana are disposable or even targeted at times. Still beyond her is the consequence of thinking this way. If she had killed Mayu on the beach while fighting Bando and Nana, and especially if she had split her in two as seemed likely to be her intent, somehow Kouta might well find out, and see that his surrogate daughter died in the same way as his little sister. In both the anime and the manga, seeing Lucy do this is in fact the trigger that awakens his lost memories.

In the final season of the sitcom, and in the final volume of the manga, both Tony and Kouta make angry declarations towards their magical girlfriends. Both are in frenzied moments. But while Tony is simply fed up with the accumulated chaos his life and career have seen, Kouta is enraged and states flatly that he hates the murderer of his family, and that he will never forgive her. Yet again the two meet up ; Tony instantly regrets losing Jeannie, and risks flying over the Soviet Union to reach her homeland and get her back. Kouta takes a bullet for Lucy, with the vague excuse of not wanting her to die with things unresolved between them. Yet while Jeannie's gamble has paid off (and likely ended the series by killing its driving premise), Lucy must undergo a painful death, almost literally giving up her life for Kouta's. Yet it is in that sacrificial moment she finally understands that she needs people, rejecting the DNA Voice once and for all.

It should be noted that I Dream Of Jeannie had a little dog as well; but it was a Genie dog. Suffice it to say, little Djinn-Djinn, hater of military uniforms on a USAF-NASA base, was not as well-behaved as Wanta. Mistreated by the Sultan's Palace Guards as a pup, he is humorously incapable of seeing past them. At least they do better than guards and military faced down by Lucy, and at least this pup got his own revenge.

The Kaede-Sou Vs. The Hinata-Sou

WARNING   *SPOILERS FOR ALL OF THE LOVE HINA MANGA SERIES*    WARNING


If there is an easy and obvious comparison to be made in manga and anime proper, it is between Elfen Lied and the manga series that ended just one year prior, Ken Akkamatsu's Love Hina. Indeed, some of the characters seem a direct lift, albeit twisted by the far grimmer world Lynn Okamoto creates. Others require a stretch or two, but this Wiki's series having part of its basis in Love Hina still shows through even in disparate places.

The Male Leads

As both series begin, a young man of roughly college age returns to a place he has not been since he was much younger. It is implied or stated that potential seen in that earlier time has somehow fallen away. Keitaro Urashima  still believes that he can get into Tokyo University, though this has cost him his room in his parents' home. Kouta is lucky to have gotten into a 'safety school' in a seaside resort that he has not been to in eight years. Keitaro desperately wants to remember the name of a girl he made a sacred promise to attend Tokyo University, or "Todai" with. Kouta has worked so hard at supressing all memories of his past visit to Kamakura that he risks offending his cousin and one-time crush Yuka. Kouta has the seeming aid of his aunt, Yuka's mother, who ends up netting a free groundskeeper for an old tavern and inn in disrepair in exchange for his living there. Keitaro has the seeming indifference of his Aunt Haruka (really his older cousin adopted by their grandmother) who yet secretly likes having her 'nephew' around, at least to keep things lively and to pay back the girls who live there for being such a pain to her.

Unknown to them at the time, both young men encounter the girls who shaped their past. Both girls are nude in these encounters, leading to awkwardness. One is seemingly dangerous but is also capable of being compassionate and understanding, and is actually openly supportive of his college ambitions. The other girl is seemingly harmless, yet a great many of Kouta's misfortunes, including lowering his sights on college, come from a side of the girl that even she herself worries over.

Keitaro not only has to worry about the wrathful Naru Narusegawa and Motoko Aoyoma, but also the wild and unpredictable Kaolla Su, who is secretly a member of her nation's royal family, and who kicks him in the head for fun - literal fun. She means no harm by this - a genius on many levels, Su likely reasoned out Keitaro's durability early on. But her violent fun is no comfort to him, and her young age convinces the others to keep an eye on Keitaro to see that he doesn't abuse her obvious affection for him. Just as Yuka later adjusts her suspicions of Kouta against the sheer invasiveness of Nyu's antics, so does even Naru astonishingly (though in a consistent, logical manner for her character) not punish or chastise Keitaro when, during one of their study sessions, Su finds her way into Keitaro's porn stash. She shrugs the porn off as a guy thing, and allows that it is all but impossible to keep Su out of something. A similar realization on Mayu's part when Nyu assaults herself, Kouta and Yuka leads to a thaw in relations between the girl and her makeshift 'Papa'.

Both young men have fractious, tender relationships with girls of an innocent age. Shinobu Maehara is ironically one of those most openly in love with Keitaro, yet some of his most epic beatings take place as a result of her fragile emotions. When the other ladies percieve that one of her crying jags is his fault, they shift instantly from 'punishment' for his 'perverted intrusions' (though the ladies much later concede that they could have done a better job of locking the doors when dressing or undressed) and to an enraged effort that would destroy any other man. Shinobu herself is horrified that the others wish to hurt her Sempai, and delivers a miniscule amount of the many blows Keitaro takes in the course of the series, only one on purpose. She is perhaps one of the only reasons Keitaro stays at the Hinata-Sou when the abuse is at its worst.

Mayu is likely not in love with Kouta, and in fact, the possibility is raised within the series that she will simply never look to a man for any romantic/intimate relationship, though what this means is open for debate and conjecture. Far from having dreams of marrying Kouta, Mayu spends at least part of the series fearing he will menace her, and at least once openly chastises him when his reaction to Nyu's antics causes Yuka pain. But never is she ungrateful, and her fears never manifest themselves as physical abuse of Kouta. Keitaro, weakened by the disappointment of his first failures to enter Todai, is often seen as a bit of a crybaby, and in this, Shinobu is his match. So, in a similar light, is Mayu for Kouta. Both felt the sting of a bitter betrayal when they were younger, and it has robbed them of belief in a simple and just world, a belief they will now never get back. In the anime, Yuka notes how Kouta is able to reach out to Mayu better than she herself can (the storyline of Mayu fearing Kouta never comes up in the anime).

Both young men have relatives with property who are economically capable of putting them up without much hardship. Both return to places from their childhood with unreliable memories, though in Keitaro's case, this is mainly the passage of time and not the result of any trauma (that comes later). Both young men, albeit at different intervals of story-time, encounter not one but two girls from that lost time in their childhood, and who they end up with is a major point of fan contention. One girl tends to strike him ; the other causes them problems by way of her loving playful awkward nature, and though in Kouta's case that nature can easily reverse itself, he himself is in almost no danger from this (though those around him probably are). Keitaro must  negate his weaknesses and win the love and respect of his harem, though he is later made aware that he achieved this much earlier on than he (or they) realized. Kouta is only a romantic option for three members of his harem, one of whom he never seems to realize feels this way, and one who may effectively blocked herself forever by a tragic violent choice.

The Primary Female Characters

The analogs are a bit more difficult here. Naru Narusegawa is more of a first among equals in Love Hina's harem structure, and the eventual winner, but there is enough of a focus on the other ladies and enough of a personality divide to make both Kaede and Yuka her counterparts, with a bit of samurai girl Motoko Aoyama thrown in the mix.

On the one hand, there can be no doubt that Kaede alone is the primary character of Elfen Lied. But functionally, this lead status is tied to Kouta as secondary lead,  and to Yuka as secondary female and secondary romantic lead. One common factor all the characters in both series have is the demonstrable way their approaches to life are part and parcel of why they are not always happy.

Yuka can be said to have a strong common point with Keitaro, for example. Both held onto dreams and people for so long, they became anxious, fragile wrecks. Even with their ultimate victories in pursuing their dreams, it is hard not to argue that the derision they sometimes receive would be at least dramatically lessened, had they moved on. Neither Yuka nor Naru are quite as violent in their manga versions as their condensed and distilled anime counterparts, though Naru's hits are never swats, but full-on painful punches.

Yet perhaps Yuka is the crueler one in this ; it rapidly becomes clear that Keitaro is at least very durable, later satirized into immortality as the mangaka realized he was over-relying on the hits as a plot device. Also, Keitaro's blows are received in a transactional mode that itself later slips into satire. If he sees one of the ladies in a state of undress (or often, completely naked), he gets hit, regardless of how it happened. It begins to be implied that the girls may also get an illicit thrill from being seen undressed by a boy they all grow to love, but still, rules of polite society demand that a peeper be punished for what he saw. At least once, this is even blatantly parodied when Naru hits him because she walked in on him while changing, half-apologizing while defending it as habit. On the other hand, when Keitaro finally seals the floor-ceiling access between their two rooms, the cause of so many accidental pervert moments, telllingly, Naru immediately unseals it, a sign of their progressing relationship.

But when Yuka strikes Kouta, she may seem pettier and more violent than Naru. Kouta is not immortal. He has been socially held back by his traumas, so his denseness is a great deal more understandable. While the ladies of the Hinata-Sou almost understand that not every intrusion is Keitaro's fault, they do fault him for his flustered staring and seeming inability to quickly withdraw (their own inability to close or lock doors is another issue altogether). But Yuka comes to know outright that Keitaro has twin problems : Traumatic amnesia, and a playful but aggressive Nyu. Yet she still reacts as though in both instances, he is in full control and tasks him even when she doesn't strike him. If Naru striking Keitaro eventually becomes a big part of their fractured courtship ritual, Yuka striking Kouta is a sign of pure rage against the fates that keep playing keep-away with her dreams. Like Kouta, Naru also does not remember her childhood meeting with the ones who will once again become so important to her. Most of this can be attributed to her very young age, about two years younger than her playmates, Keitaro and Mutsumi. But the very strong Naru was also very sickly at the time, and it is at least implied that she doesn't like to remember being so weak, and that perhaps she associates that time in her life with the prospect of almost dying. Naru can not be said to have amnesia, and the return of Mutsumi to their lives begins to bring back her memories. For her, the return of these recollections is among the confirming factors that she and Keitaro were meant to be (even if it seems Mutsumi was more likely the actual promise girl), while for Kouta, the return of his memories seems to completely doom any prospects he and Kaede/Lucy/Nyu ever had.

Both Yuka and Kaede share differing common traits with Motoko Aoyoma. Just as Yuka feels shame over the more physical side of her desire for Kouta, so is Motoko doubly repressed about her romantic and sexual feelings for Keitaro. In Yuka's case, awkwardness with both Kouta and Nyu place her in arousal she considers improper ; in fact, Nyu is almost unique in anime and manga for being a female 'groper' who gets struck just as a male would. In Motoko's case, she is repulsed that she has an attraction to not only a man (who she considers universal monsters because one married her older sister and mentor) but to an apparently weak-willed one who has 'assaulted' her on so many occasions. But Motoko's front of hatred was perhaps too good a disguise for her feelings. Even though Keitaro finds her very attractive, she seems to be off his radar. While Naru is the more violent towards him, these times are also punctuated by times of getting along and even enjoying each other's company. Motoko, almost through to her breakthrough confession late in the series, keeps up a front of at best barest toleration of his presence. While hints existed (and in retrospect perhaps abounded), to Keitaro, this was a girl he could not and would not ever be able to impress. While this was far from the only reason for his eventual choice of Naru, her dismissive disguise cost Motoko. Her choice, born of fear and panic, echoes in a less violent way young Lucy's murder of Kouta's family, which placed their love forever out of reach. Yet it should be noted, just as Kouta kept trying to find a way to bring Kaede home, right up to the moment of her death, so did Keitaro continue to be loyal to Motoko, aiding her in overcoming her taskmaster sister (who only wanted her to grow as a person anyway) and still earning her love even as he confirmed his choice of life-mate and married Naru. Perhaps for both Motoko and Kaede, the final chance to make their feelings clear (Apology for Kaede, Confession for Motoko) was almost an acceptable second to actually gaining the one they loved.

The Innocents

Both the similarities and the differences between Shinobu Maehara and Mayu are extreme, to say the least.

At the start of the manga version of Love Hina, Shinobu's accidental sighting of the nude Keitaro begins a long series of warnings from the other ladies that, should Keitaro ever move on the young girl, his end will be swift and certain. For a time, any gesture between the two leads to a repeat of the warning, and Shinobu herself sometimes fears that Keitaro will do something to her, though less in a violent or unwilling way than in a seduction. The girl is as nervous and prone to tears as the man she openly loves almost from the start. In her eyes, though, the luckless, shy young man is very nearly a god, and were it not for her nerves, she might be quite willing to indulge any desires on their parts. While Keitaro finds her 'cute' (indicating that she might one day be a prospect), the idea of ever using his 'kohai' in this way is in fact repulsive to him. When the series starts, she is only twelve, and even if his feelings and choice made him confess his love (and it is likely the two do love each other ; the age timing is merely wrong and unable to be surmounted) the strong indication is, he would wait until she was of age, as much for his own morals as any warning from Motoko and Naru. In part, it is his positive treatment of Shinobu - neither preying on her nor dismissing her intense crush - that slowly (VERY slowly) begins to raise him up in the estimation of the other members of his 'harem' - some of whom may actually envy Shinobu's open declaration of what they all start to feel.

While Shinobu has only two 'hits' against Keitaro for the entire series, she is in fact responsible for some of his greatest and most epic beatings - 'You Made Shinobu Cry!' - ringing in his ears whenever he steps on the landmines of a dealing with the intense crush/love of a mature yet still very young woman. Despite her age and nerves, it is not too hard to see why Shinobu actually outranks Naru in fan-ratings of the 'harem' members. When the others are cruel and vindictive (and in denial) to him, Shinobu is always nice, and takes those occasions she wrongs him very seriously. The only time the two ever butt heads is when Shinobu realizes that, despite their fractious if not violent relationship, Keitaro has chosen Naru to marry. Keitaro and Shinobu will always be a great love, if simply because Keitaro protected not only her virginity, but her heart, even when he was forced to break it. While certain kinds of contact were forbidden them, it can however be said that managing her innocence was a full-contact sport.

Mayu, sadly, has no more worries about her physical innocence, the brutal taking of which also shattered her mental and spiritual innocence. If Yuka worries about Kouta with Nyu, she seems to have no such worries about him with Mayu. Instead, it is Mayu herself who fears him, and not for a seduction. Her fears of him are drawn out by a comical misunderstanding, but in Mayu's worries, there is no wackiness or slapstick.

To rebuild her ability to trust, Mayu oddly reaches past her new family to the acerbic and even abusive Bando, gambling that there was more to him than his very gruff exterior let on. Whether an actual part of his present-day personality or the result of his traumas, Kouta has a certain density about feelings. While he is more courageous than early Keitaro, he lacks his counterpart's easy empathy and somewhat greater ability to pick up on feelings, even if this rarely serves him well. This is demonstrated in their relationships with Mayu and Shinobu as well. Kouta for the most part only seems to know that things have become awkward between himself and Mayu, and doesn't seem to realize she however briefly regards him as a menace. At the end of their series, Shinobu has begun to move past Keitaro, though seemingly not entirely, while Mayu has largely put fears of Kouta behind her, especially after he is shot and very nearly killed.

The series' two innocents (though others fit this, it tends to be more identified with Mayu and Shinobu) share much common ground. The household cooking and cleaning tend to fall to them, Shinobu out of love for her family, and Mayu wishing to contribute to her new home. Both left home at a tender age. While Mayu obviously had the far greater reason to leave, her flight itself was an easy decision, perhaps the only choice she had. For Shinobu, there had been no abuse, and yet the dissolution (averted in the manga as a separation that ended in reconciliation) of her parents' marriage seemed just as unthinkable. In the manga, Shinobu has not been at the Hinata-Sou for all that long when Keitaro arrives ; in the anime, she arrives just shortly after him. Mayu is the first character outside the Kouta/Nyu/Yuka triangle to reside in Maple House, and while her joy at coming to live there is evident, so are the scars she bears. At first, she rejects the implicit offer to stay with Kouta and the others, not out of direct suspicion, but out of preference for the miserable but predictable life she has come to know.

At no time in the Elfen Lied series in either version does the prospect of a romantic relationship between Mayu and Kouta emerge, not even to a hint. In Shinobu's case, she is actually by and large the fan-preference for Keitaro's eventual choice among the harem, and it is a very painful and awkward scene near the end which has Keitaro tell her this simply will not be. Kouta's one interest in Mayu is her safety and sense of same ; if he views her maturing beauty in any real way, it is with a sense of fatherly pride. Keitaro knows Shinobu's age full well, but by the time the series concludes (separately from its grand finale), the girl of 12 is now a young woman of 15, and it is made plain that, when Keitaro was her age, no girl he knew looked at him the way Shinobu did. In another meeting of common concepts, Shinobu thinks that something as simple as a dinner date will end in her first sexual encounter, uncertain if that's simply what couples do. Kouta and Yuka seem firm and united on all things that relate to Mayu, perhaps more so than on any other subject. Keitaro actually gains some moments of early spine by angrily refuting the idea that he would abuse or use Shinobu's affection for him.

Similarities aside, Mayu is not merely a Shinobu duplicate with a twisted backstory. But the common ground between them is noteworthy and at times, enormous.

Looser Threads between EL and LH

Why So Unserious?

On the surface, connections seem to be a non-issue between the naive Nana and the worldly trickster Mitsune 'Kitsune' Konno. Indeed, beyond both being in a harem series, this seems the deadest of dead ends at first glance. But the threads are there.

Both are practically freeloaders in their houses. Nana is never asked for money (beyond the damage she causes when attacking Nyu/Lucy in Maple House), and is visibly upset at her limited ability to contribute. Kitsune seems to owe every last person she knows, and tries to trick Keitaro out of his due rent money by such stunts as rubbing her sweater-clad chest against him. Nana and Kouta clash at first, but come to terms quickly enough. Kitsune seems to hold Keitaro in as much contempt as the other ladies, but as with them, her dismissal and abuse seems to hide a growing affection, and she likes him early on just for being a guy in their all-female midst. Kitsune also shows some genuine if limited remorse when her antics get Keitaro fired from a part-time job he needed. Whereas Nana is apt to find delight in the simplest foods and luxuries owing to her harsh upbringing, Kitsune is apt to eat or drink anything she can get her hands on, regardless of whose property it was, and regardless of wrath incurred.

Humor is found in their relationship to money - Nana at first understands this not at all, while Kitsune's attitudes suggest a bit of a gold-digger and sponge.

They have an inverse relation to their stories in standing : Nana is the secondary Diclonius character in her story, and the apparent survivor of her kind when all is said and done. She is a large part of Elfen Lied almost from her introduction, and whole arcs play out with her near the center. Kitsune on the other hand, never gets her own story arc or really even her own chapter, and we gain really no sense of her family outside of the Hinata-Sou, if they are in fact directly mentioned. She straddles the line between supporting and main character, though that support is so fundamental, she earns back her place. Several plot points and motivators ironically rest on this laziest of the residents. Both are far brighter than many might think.

Some of the frankly grimmest moments in Elfen Lied revolve around Nana, usually by way of things that happen to her, yet she retains her basic optimism and desire to live for a better day. Some of the frankly most infuriating moments in Love Hina derive from something Kitsune is doing or involved in, yet like many a mythical trickster, she is often useful and helpful when called upon, and is protective of her brood, even to Keitaro.

Both achieve a final triumph that is hard to deny : Nana is perhaps the last of her kind after the Diclonius War, after being repeatedly dismissed as useless by several of the series more vile characters, and may even gain the one she loves in the way she wants. Kitsune is in a way, tricked herself by the prior House Mother, Keitaro's Aunt/Cousin Haruka, who offers her position to the trickster when she leaves to marry Noriyasu Seta. The one who wished to evade responsibility and seek easy money will end up responsible for the characters' home, fully earning their keep under the employ of the man she edged out of the rent she owed. Then again, a trickster must do the unexpected, so perhaps this is still her victory.

Some of the lightest moments emerge from these two characters, as do others that are for different reasons, much more intense. But taking either lightly is not something a reader seeking understanding should attempt.

Drawing on the Wild Cards

Every series of this type needs characters whose exact behavior simply cannot be predicted. For Love Hina, this was the eccentric island princess, Kaolla Su of Molmol, a genius inventor and one of the few residents not to oppose the entry of Keitaro. However, she does enjoy kicking him in the head, considering it almost an affectionate touch. For Elfen Lied, it would seem to be Lucy's loving and affectionate personality, Nyu. Both have hidden aspects. Nyu obviously carries Lucy inside her, ready to come out, while Su's cluelessness plainly does not extend in all directions, and in many respects, she is a super-genius. Nyu is an idealized effort by a monster to live in peace with those she cares for, and in effect stop being that monster. Su's free spirit is for real, but her social lacks for all her intelligence may be more glaring than Nyu's. In one of Love Hina's final arcs, she views sending armed soldiers after and imprisoning her friends as part of a game.

Despite the chaos they cause, both are far too sweet for the others to ever consider sending them away. It is simply never discussed with Kaolla Su, even after the Molmol escapade. Even when Nyu is exposed as Lucy (so to speak) and is in essence gone as a separate persona (to best evidence), Kouta wants to keep her around for Nyu's sake. But cluelessness abounds on all ends. Love Hina makes it unclear whether the others know where Kaolla Su comes from, and they certainly do not know of her royal heritage (though the anime reveals both outright in at least one episode). Keitaro even mistakes her for being of Indian heritage, though always to her denial. Presumably, Grandma Hinata was told, but in both versions, she keeps her own counsel on many things. Elfen Lied has it even worse : No one except Nana, who must keep it a secret, knows anything at all about Nyu's past. In both cases, the reveal causes a new brand of chaos to descend upon the lives of the two Sous' residents.

Both cross or come very close to crossing an unforgivable line, ironically perhaps worse for the one who didn't cross it. To keep this from becoming ecchi, the flat way of saying this is that an overly curious Nyu took two fingers and probed an objecting Nozomi's vagina until she orgasmed. In the Molmol arc, Kaolla Su had a captive and bound Keitaro before her, his crotch all but in her face, and grinning broadly as she prepared to pull down his trousers, ready to provide a 'service' that would have rendered moot his struggles to deal with his attraction to Su and Shinobu without violating his moral code regarding underage girls, and would have possibly ruined his relationship with the volatile Naru. Arguably, Nyu had no idea what she was doing to Nozomi was wrong, and Nozomi's reaction is too stunned and played for laughs to show true upset (despite which the scene is often among the most poorly-regarded ones in the series). While Kaolla Su did show some odd morality moments and outsider views of sex and modesty, it is harder to believe that she did not understand what she was doing, all respect to a former US President.

For all this, these two chaos-bringers are well-loved by their housemates, and in one sad case, missed when they are gone forever.

Love Hina and its many characters are again far from a perfect fit for studying deconstruction in Elfen Lied. But given its seminal nature in harem manga, and less than a year passing between the end of one and the start of the other, its influence seems hard to deny.

Carrie White

Carrie White is the main character in Stephen King's novel 'Carrie' and its many adaptations. Her connections to and influence on Lucy are perhaps the most obvious of any character here. It can even be said that Lucy is both an homage to and deconstruction of her.

She seems the most obvious comparison, despite differences also abounding. Carrie has parents, though they have long since parted ways with each other, implied in some versions to be the result of her mother's mental instability. In neither case do the powers emerge all at once. There are piecemeal signs, events that point to something more going on. Each has things that mark them off for scorn ; Kaede/Lucy has her horns (and perhaps her hair color, though this is never brought up), while Carrie has her 'traditional' (or what is seen as traditional by her mother) clothes and total ignorance about the functions of her own body. Yet since Carrie has no physical markers that place her wholly outside the human experience, the idea of friendship and normalcy is at least a possibility for her, perhaps even more hurtful in that it never comes for her. Kaede is never allowed this hope, but then again, hope that is never there (at least while she was at the orphanage) is hope that cannot be dashed.

Both have powerful disruptive figures in their lives bound up by delusion that takes the form of religious belief, but in both cases it cannot be called a direct assault on belief itself, since both figures use it almost strictly in the service of their own twisted world-views. Though Stephen King has more than once used religiously delusional characters as villains, they are for the most part as shallowly religious as Kakuzawa. Carrie's mother uses her beliefs to place a stranglehold on nearly every aspect of Carrie's life, and honestly wonders at the final tragic result ; Kakuzawa openly admits to raping Kaede's mother, implying they are now related as a result of a son born of this. He basically demands that she accede to his plans to make himself God, and never sees the final blow coming. He, despite some apparent scientific savvy, built up a scalp aberration into a new evolution, equating it all with a connection to Kaede, and uses the odd idea that being the father of the new Adam will make him God. In at least one version, Carrie accuses her mother of not even truly knowing the Bible, and making up quotes as they suited her. While Carrie's mother can be said to truly love her daughter on some level, her fear and hate of the world around them has made her insane and unable to do anything but seal in the problems she has seeded in Carrie's psyche.

The biggest comparison comes in the events that turned the girls who wanted love and acceptance into true monsters, and the parallels are striking. Yet in both cases, the events, while stinging and raw, are merely the trigger. The powder is dry, and has been packed and laid in heavy for some time. It is easy to say that Kaede hates the world for the death of her puppy, and Carrie for her humiliation at the prom. But all these sick sad events did was confirm what they already feared. Their labels were set in mountainous stone, never to be removed, and acceptance, friendship, even love was not even a dream for them. Even beyond how both were possibly/likely betrayed or set-up for ultimate grief, it is the death of hope for a better time in their souls that sets them down the path that will see their end. In Kaede's case, it was a one-two punch, the first betrayal followed by a falsely percieved second one. For Carrie, it was all one blow, even though the friend she thought was in on the prom prank was as innocent as Kouta.

But again, there are differences. Carrie has no survival instinct, save a direct one that pushes her to finally break even the mother she once feared. Kaede must live with what her rage cost her for almost a decade. Carrie in most versions does not survive that night. Carrie's father either left her mother for another woman, died hideously or fled the mother's insanity, despite sharing her faith. Kaede's dumped her in a field, and left the impression that both parents had done so. Kaede's mother sought to find her and became a captive ; Carrie's mother became lost in herself and made her daughter an equally lost soul.

Of final note are the triggering bullies : Tomoo's status in the pecking order of the orphanage is simply unknown, but it can be guessed that he was either so high up he felt he could not be touched, or so low down he simply didn't care, just moving on the vulnerable Kaede because she can be hurt without consequences. Carrie's primary tormentor, a girl named Chris, is a child of wealth and privilege who knows this, enjoys this, and exploits it to the fullest, even having her father/lawyer in to litigate in-school disciplinary matters, though in a subversion of a common trope, this actually brings the principal down against the bully. Both meet a deservedly incomprehending end ; their targets were not risk-free ones, and while one had everything and one had nothing, in the end both died in deepest fear. It is safe to say that their triggering actions are among the most iconic episodes of terrorism disguised as mere bullying in any form of media.

Both of these sad girls had a bad moment that broke them, and both had years of build-up to that bad moment that cannot be overlooked. Yet Kaede deconstructs Carrie when Okamoto-san asks the question, What Next? for a girl in Carrie's situation. Carrie's triggering was the whole of her story ; Kaede's was merely the beginning.

Marvel Comics X-Men

While Diclonius possess vast power, it is of a roughly uniform type, with the variants being how that power is used. This is unlike Marvel Comics X-Men storylines, in which the mutant characters in fact wield a vast array of powers. Yet the two groups converge on one point : They are often hated for the simple crime of being born. But they again diverge on several important fronts.

Mutants' status vs. Diclonius

The basic situation of mutants in the Marvel Universe (Characters like Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four who received their powers from a post-birth situation are called mutates) is that while a child may be born a mutant, they chiefly manifest their powers at puberty. This is far from universal, and in fact one very prominent mutant, Jamie Madrox, aka Multiple Man, endured a situation not unlike many Diclonius went through, being hidden away from birth for his very apparent and difficult-to-control powers, though he had a loving and supportive family, very much unlike most Diclonius. Diclonius are doubly under scrutiny from the moment of birth, with their difference not only very apparent from the moment of birth ( or before with use of ultrasound ) but with scientists, acting on the authority of their government, trained to seek them out, imprisoning, experimenting on and later simply euthanizing them. Another factor that both exacerbates and yet alleviates the mutant situation is public knowledge of their existence. While this leads many non-mutant Humans to irrational and casual hatred and fear, it also gives pause to some, who either object to the treatment of mutants as de facto criminals, or fear the governmental intrusion that comes with attempts to control the mutant population, the most extreme example being the gigantic mutant-hunting robots called Sentinels. These cybernetic nightmares, both in Marvel's 'Main' universe and in countless divergent timelines, have themselves attempted to take over in canon and in alternate universes, with the first such alternate timeline story, 'Days Of Future Past', published three years before the release of James Cameron's film 'The Terminator'. Within the Marvel Universe, Mutants have an ironic advocate in no less than Spider-Man nemesis J. Jonah Jameson, since he feels only vigilante activities ( such as those of Spider-Man or the X-Men ) should be criminalized. In the world of Elfen Lied, Diclonius live and die in complete, enforced secrecy until the time of The Diclonius War, which by the schemes of Chief Kakuzawa became the way most would know the Diclonius. Much if not most of this horrific war is wholly unknown, but if the account of Kouta is correct, Earth's population was horrifically dwindled by it, likely leading many to a radical hatred of the Diclonius, the war being their only exposure to them.

In short, while it is often not enough, there is a pocket of tolerance and acceptance for emerging mutants to be protected by. There is the heroic-leaning mutant community, with resources and contacts on several levels, and the non-terrorist but less than heroic mutant community, capable of hiding them for a time. The more terrorist-like ones will actually tend to endanger these emerging mutants and exacerbate the problem they all face. Even the main superheroic, largely non-mutant community can act as a shield against public hatred, with some of its members being mutants, though their suspicion of the X-Men's outlaw activities and ties to less savory mutant groups tends to join with the US Government's many-leveled (and often blatantly unconstitutional and atrocity-based) efforts to control mutants to make them less effective and again perhaps part of the problem. The embedded nature of this hatred and fear was even lampshaded in the Justice League/Avengers Crossover, where Flash found a young man, recently empowered and changed in appearance, about to be lynched, confirming the dim view the DC Heroes had of their Marvel counterparts. But while limited and often changeable, especially by crisis-driven events, this bubble of safety exists for some of Marvel's mutants.

While it can be speculated and extrapolated that something like this may exist for the Diclonius, nothing in-story shows it. For every Oomori and Hiromi Kurama, there were likely lots of parents happy to see their oddball children taken away, though the infection of the fathers by Lucy means that their hopes for their own children may be forever dashed ( It is unknown if the Vaccine at the end of the manga storyline affected those directly infected by Diclonius, as opposed to the Virus launched by Kakuzawa ). Add to this, Marvel's mutants see their powers emerge chiefly (though again, far from universally) at puberty, which is to say about age 13 ( a very rough average ). Diclonius, Kaede/Lucy/Nyu as always being an exception, as were the rejected clones created by Doctor Nousou, seem to get their powers at the chronological age of 3, and the metabolic age of 6. It is never made clear if their mental capacity matches or exceeds their apparent age, though the cunning shown by at least one of these may indicate enhanced reasoning, as does the simple ability to utilize their powers. Yet they are also still small children, kept by their parents either out of love or a feeling of duty and obligation. While young mutants find their powers emerging at awkward times and make choices ranging from the sage to the stupid as they do, their minds are close enough to maturity that a reasonable possibility exists that they can figure out a way to survive their new situation and the world that surrounds them. Some emerging mutants end up causing unintentional harm to those closest to them, something a teen would find especially hard to deal with, but is still somewhat comprehensible. For whatever part of the Diclonius child's mind is still that of a three-year old (once again assuming it wasn't still entirely that, another series unknown), this sad outcome may be very close to incomprehensible, and its consequences even more so, creating a detachment from even a child's fuzzy grasp on reality. In an age still dominated by 'magical thinking', the child might ask why their family just doesn't get up and put their limbs and heads back on, and resent them for not doing so. While the recently-empowered mutant teen can also suffer a similar psychotic break, a decade or so of brain growth means that they may be able to deal with what has happened and act more wisely. A monthly-published (or more) dramatic narrative works against that, but it is still at least within the range of what might happen.

Power Development

Enhanced/enlarged pineal glands are cited in both series as a possible point of origin for their protagonists' strange powers, though X-Men comic book series also cite a variety of differing, sometimes contradictory factors as well. The large pineal gland explanation for psychic powers actually dates at least back to the 1920s and the works of HP Lovecraft. Technology has been developed in Marvel series that enable mutants to be detected based on this enhanced brainwave activity, leading some mutants to refer to non-Mutant Humans as 'flatscans' for the lack of response to scans on this level. Diclonius are almost immediately identifiable, but only an X-Ray can reveal the internal differences, at least until the development of Vector Attack Craft, which are in essence mechanized weaponized Diclonius in the form of small tanks. While some mutants have the power to sense the presence of others (abilities horrifically abused in many Sentinel-dominated future timelines, where the enslaved mutant is used as a 'hound' to hunt the others), for Diclonius this is an inborn ability, one possessed even by the tragic Number 28, who had no use of her vectors, and was similarly abused by the Unknown Man as a tracker to find Lucy. Evolution seems to be leaning towards mutant domination, in effect becoming the new Humanity, with non-Mutants as throwbacks doomed by destiny (this despite storyline interruptions). Even the artificially-enabled heroes are said to possess a gene making it easier to accept these new abilities, again pointing towards an all-mutant populace, since many of their own children will be mutants. Diclonius seem to be an accidental aberration, with (strictly according to the manga series) only one fertile child born at first and only one woman capable of bearing her or a second child. While it can be said ( and has been by many a fan-writer ) that others exist, the story itself shows the very real possibility of the mutation dying with Kaede, perhaps never having been spread except for the consequences of her isolation and the schemes of Chief Kakuzawa. Since the Silepelits are not able to bear children (and being so young, would be at least years away from being able to do so) and seemingly have no male mates of their own species available, they could replace Humanity but only to see themselves die out well within a century, due to their doubled aging. The anime perhaps averts this by stating that Lucy is merely the most viable of these births, but the statement is never fleshed out or spoken of further.

Jean Grey and Scott Summers

The final comparison in this is perhaps as irresistible as that to Carrie White ; Lucy held up against the founding X-Men's sole female member and one of its most easily identifiable characters : Jean Grey, also known as Marvel Girl, Phoenix, and most directly in light of Lucy, the world-threatening Dark Phoenix. Yet like Carrie, Jean is not Lucy and very much vice-versa.

At least a few direct parallels exist. As a young girl, Jean witnessed the death of her friend Annie from being struck by a car. Unwittingly, she reached out with her mind to comfort Annie as she died, but was frightened when she could not control the experience, nearly dying herself in the process. Withdrawn, she was found by Professor Xavier and guided back to dealing with reality. Whereas Jean found a mentor and freedom from self-imposed isolation after the loss of her friend, Kaede found her sworn enemy Kurama and while Jean made a near-sacrifice that comforted her scared, dying friend, Kaede found only a pointless sacrifice and the final solidification of her detachment from Humanity.

Both had a growth of power that began a long, slow climb through use and neccesity. Lucy's power grew in subtelty, and aided in keeping her out of sight. Jean's power growth included the re-emergence of her telepathy and the expansion of her telekinetic talents. But an inverse relationship occurs with the ones they wish to be with.

When young Kaede/Lucy meets Kouta, he is the outgoing one, seeking to draw out the isolated and lonely orphan. When Jean meets Scott Summers, aka Cyclops, she is trying to punch through a layer of personality armor this young man puts up after a childhood of loss, and, in another corollary, conspiracies unknown to him. The alien Shi'ar casually kidnap Scott's parents, and the resulting escape separates Scott from his younger brother and damages his brain, making his later power emergence unreliable. At his orphanage, Scott is targeted for a future role by the manipulative Mister Sinister, who is himself a pawn of the ancient mutant Apocalypse. Indeed, even Scott's present-day (as of 2014) fate bespeaks Lucy's. In what he sees as the defense of his people, Scott aligned himself with Magneto, and has shown signs that his goals exceed those of his new mentor. While Lucy never truly seemed concerned with other Diclonius short of 'siring' them by way of infecting Human males, the level of disdain and struggle with darker impulses can make Scott the more obvious X-Man to compare against. But for a good portion of her existence, Jean continues to stand as the default in this exchange.

Phoenix

While death or near-death in comics and their related media has become anything from a suspiciously-regarded reversible plot device to an outright joke, in the mid-1970's and early 1980's, it was still a sea change from the Comics Code-imposed restrictions upon the concept and its real life groundings, needed all the more in a fantasy-based comic. So it was when Jean Grey sacrificed herself in order to pilot her friends to safety aboard a space shuttle taking on hard radiation, there was not today's automatic presumption of a miracle save or fake-out. This sacrifice was firmly in the era of Gwen Stacy's murder, and came not a year after X-Man Thunderbird (older brother of the mutant Warpath) died not long after the introduction of his team of X-Men. Another now-common trope may have seen its birth here as the near-death experience instead led to a total transformation in Jean's character and powers, and indeed, a new name for the increasingly poorly-named Marvel Girl ( a full decade ahead of Susan Storm at last calling herself The Invisible Woman ). While Lucy could be savage and cruel with spots of gentleness, Jean remained her heroic self, albeit with increasing signs that she was enjoying the use of her power, observed by Magneto in one instance to rival Wolverine's enjoyment of his claws.

Wealthy, vested interests seeing themselves as the planet's natural rulers undid the balance in both cases. While troubled, Jean had been the deciding factor in several important, even universe-saving victories for the X-Men, though her rapid power growth concerned her friends. Lucy had all but vanished, on some levels deliberately choosing to remain as the gentle Nyu in order to remain by Kouta's side. In the world of the X-Men, the greed of the Hellfire Club and its leaders, The Lords Cardinal, saw them play games with Jean's mind that every last one of them came to regret as the star-consuming hunger of Dark Phoenix was awakened. Lucy, briefly awakened by Bando's attack on Nyu, came back for good when Chief Kakuzawa ordered Maple House invaded by armed troops and Diclonius under his control. In both cases (though at critically different points in the storylines) an effort by the 'light' persona to hold back the 'dark' was undone by threats to either their own life or to loved ones. On trial for her life, Jean had to pay for Dark Phoenix's murder of an entire species after its home planet's star was extinguished. Realizing that the Phoenix power's re-emergence was inevitable and a threat to her beloved Scott Summers as well as all life everywhere, Jean lowered her defenses and activated a weapon capable of disintegrating her.

Lucy saw Kouta, wounded in the initial home invasion and then wounded again, this time fatally, and began to rage by unleashing her power, now at levels lethal to her, against the entire Earth. But the realization that her power could save Kouta prompted her to take actions ultimately as sacrificial as Jean, leaving her painfully on the edge of death beyond any and all hope of doing anything but ending her misery. Despite his love for her, Kouta did as he had once promised, and ended her life, with even Lucy's DNA persona desiring the mercy killing.

Even in death, some parallels can be seen, though not as directly. Kouta either married Yuka or at least apparently had a child with her, though no issue with Yuka being 'second choice' was spoken of. Scott Summers, grieving for some time due to Jean's death, eventually met a woman who was a dead ringer for her, a pilot named Madelyn Pryor. Scott married her despite initial suspicions that she was in fact Phoenix or Jean come back from the dead. Madelyn became pregnant not long after they married, and demanded that he make a choice between his life as leader of the X-Men and a life as husband and father. Two events complicated this further. One was a young woman named Rachel serving with the X-Men. A red-headed telepath and telekinetic, she eventually took the codename Phoenix. She claimed to be (and was) from a dark future ruled by mutant-hunting Sentinels, the original version of Marvel's Days Of Future Past . What the others knew, and what she kept Scott from seeing through use of her telepathy, was that she was in fact his own daughter, and that of Jean Grey, who in her history, did not die on the moon. The second event muddying these waters was the return of Jean Grey herself - but not as Phoenix.

In a retcon, a pod containing Jean Grey was recovered by the Fantastic Four and Avengers from the bottom of Hudson Bay, where the X-Men's shuttle had crashed years before. The Jean Grey inside was found out to have been the 'real' Jean, while the one who killed a world and then died was a duplicate created by the Phoenix Force. Over the course of the next several years, it was further discovered that Scott's wife Madelyn Pryor was in fact a clone of Jean's, developed by amoral geneticist Mister Sinister (who manipulated Scott when he was at the orphanage as well) and who in turn was shown to serve the Darwinist ancient mutant, Apocalypse, who in most versions is given to speeches reminiscent of Kakuzawa. The Phoenix Force itself and the clone Madelyn were found to have pieces of Jean's persona, ultimately and painfully restored to her after one of many crises. After many new adventures in time and space, as well as finally marrying Scott Summers (who died and returned as well), an editorial decision once again put Jean Grey in the ground, though again, most fans consider her latest return a matter of when, not if.

An ongoing monthly comic increases the likelihood that a dead character will somehow return, no matter the surety and finality of their method of death. It was once a trope that more mortal mundane deaths like that of Doug Ramsey (who was simply shot by a villain with an ordinary gun) were harder to undo than more cosmic ones, owing to these cosmic-level deaths having some natural out. Even that has fallen by the wayside, but for the most part, Elfen Lied kept its deceased dead until the very final chapter, when at least four characters supposed to have died were found alive in some fashion, including the main character. Lucy's two main personas returned as twin girls, who had already befriended Kouta's young daughter, named Nyuu in honor of his late friend. The series ends at the exact moment of their meeting with an overjoyed Kouta. In an ongoing comic, this might have been followed by rapid aging for the twins, torment by memories of Lucy's crimes, or new government conspiracies and other lost Diclonius found. Fans can tell these stories, but the one Lynn Okamoto set to tell ends there. Lucy can know a happy ending of sorts ; Jean, who, if she returns soon (rumored for 2015 at this writing and possibly already set up) will face a Scott who has crossed into outright villainy and a Wolverine (once a love interest as well) who is decidedly more Xavier-like in his beliefs, will likely never see that for more than a few months.

Our Villains : Cutthroat or Comical?

The villains of the piece, fronted by Chief Kakuzawa, are undoubtedly a dangerous bunch, more than a few of them also sadistic and cruel on every front. Yet a great many of their actions take them from the realm of Doctor Victor Von Doom to the realm of Doctor Heinz Doofenshmirtz. Nasty as they can be, yet are they to be taken seriously?

Lucy

While the series' protagonist and eliciting reader sympathy for her harsh past, many of Lucy's actions must be considered villainous. Yet her only interest in seeding the Diclonius virus in potential fathers was to create a world where she was not the only one like herself, and would not be rejected. These efforts, whether fervent or half-hearted, led to much heartache and death, yet her efforts were arguably entirely countered by those of the Diclonius Research Institute, especially once the infants in question were simply euthanized. While this would likely not encompass all possible Diclonius births from Lucy's seeding, it would therefore take a much longer time if ever for Diclonii to emerge as the dominant species. Without Lucy or her heirs, all the Diclonius created would be Silpelits, using the manga information, unable to produce children, including ones made by other Silpelits' seeding. If the anime, which did not state sterility for all Diclonii except Lucy, had different rules, they are only stated by Lucy in the final episode, with no explanation as to how she would achieve the near-term goal of Diclonius' births outpacing Humans. It is possible in both versions that unstated factors would make up for the difference. It is also allowable that Lucy needed to believe her efforts had consequence, and was somehow deluding herself on this front.

Professor Kakuzawa

The Chief's eldest son is one of many characters whose appearances are pivotal despite how quickly they are removed from the stage.

TBC...



Classic Literary Characters and Sources

Crime and Punishment is a novel about an introverted and lonesome college intellectual named Raskolnikov that wants to kill a crooked pawnbroker to prove that he is above normal people and able to kill lesser humans without remorse like a Nietzchian Ubermensch. However, his crime is interrupted by the pawnbroker's simple minded but extremely kind hearted sister and he murders her too with an axe to cover up the crime. Raskolnikov feels great guilt and remorse for these crimes and it only gets worse when he falls in love with a pious prostitute named Sonya and finds out that the simple minded sister he brutally murdered was her only friend. Raskolnikov wants to apologize to Sonya more than anything, but knows that she will hate him when she hears his crime. When he finally works up the courage to confess his crime, she amazingly forgives him and says she still loves him. Raskolnikov has a Christian rebirth and rejects Nietzsche's philosophy. He then turns himself in to the police as his act of redemption and is sentenced to 10 years in Siberia. Sonya goes with him and promises to wait for his release. For a work to have a sympathetic serial killer protagonist is not that unusual. Usually the killer only kills bad people and the audience cheers for Old West American justice to be done. For example, shows like Dexter and comics like The Punisher have been around for many decades. However, to have a serial killer protagonist who kills innocents including someone close to thier beloved and is torn apart with remorse is quite unusual. The brilliant psychological conflict of wanting to confess but fearing the destruction of their one loving relationship is also very similar to C&P. Finally, the heartbreaking and unbelievable act of forgiveness and redemption with subsequent rebirth seems directly taken from Crime and Punishment. This holds more for the anime than the manga, but the connections seem too strong and unusual to be entirely by chance. The first time Crime and Punishment was adapted into a manga was in 1953 by Osamu Tezuka the "Father of Anime".




Phantom of the Opera, a 1911 French Gothic novel by Gaston Leroux. It is about a Parisian anti-hero known as "The Phantom" who worked as an assassin, but now is hiding in an opera house. He was abandoned by his own parents because of his deformed face and never shown kindness by anyone. This caused him to become cruel and distant from humanity until he meets a young opera singer named Christine Dae from Sweden. The Phantom reveals his presence only as a voice at first and trains her to sing better. He claims to be the angel of music and has a passionate love of music along with being a genius engineer and ruthless killer. The Phantom falls in love with Christine because he is moved by her kindness and accepting attitute towards him. However, he finds out that she already has a fiance' named Raul who comes from the upper class and has never had any of the struggle and tragedy that the Phantom has faced. The Phantom goes into a fit of explosive rage and kills many people as revenge. He is going to kill Raul and force Christine to choose him or perish. She kisses him and tells him that it was his cruelty and not his face that cost him any chance of being with her. The Phantom realizes his error and lets her go. His last wish is simply for Christine to bury him, which she does after he dies of a broken heart. Lucy is rather similar to the Phantom with her horns being like the Phantom's facial deformity. The kindhearted and understanding Kouta is similar to Christine Dae and love rival Yuka is much like Raul.

The Strange Case ofDr Jekyll and Mr Hyde + The Double, The use of multiple personality disorder in comics, movies, and other media is so prolific now that it is difficult to imagine a time when one in every 5 characters wasn't inflicted by it. However it didn't enter literary culture until the latter half of the 19th century with 2 novellas. The Strange Case of J&H from 1886 and The Double from 1866 are by far the most influential in catapulting the fame of this psychological disorder into the literary mainstream. In J&H the main character is Dr. Henry Jekyll, who creates a potion that transforms himself into an alternate persona known only as Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jekyll is a respectable member of society and an upper class gentlemen, while Hyde is a murdering psychopath that terrorizes the streets of London. Eventually, Dr. Jekyll is unable to synthesize more of the potion and loses control over the transformations. He finds out that he is going to become Hyde permanently, and the novel ends ambiguously with Jekyll pondering whether he will eventually be caught and executed as Hyde or kill himself before the authorities can get to him. The Double is a novella about a lowly government bureaucrat named Yakov Goliadkin that has horrendous social skills and few friends. After totally humiliating himself at a party, Yakov hates himself so much and his desire to be someone else becomes so great that he developes an alternate personality that manifests itself as another identical self outside of his body. This identical double that has far better social skills than the original begins to take over the original's life until he goes completely insane. Although the inner struggle between good and evil in all men's hearts that we see in J&H is more imediately obvious in relation to Elfen Lied, The Double is also worth mentioning as it was the first major Western book to feature a split personality and in that case it was stress induced and created by an overwhelming desire to be different, stronger, and better, not via a magical formula. That is why both deserve mention as inspirations.

In Conclusion

Elfen Lied may in fact have seen inspirations from many sources, but this is nothing new under the literary sun, as all stories are reconstructed from their predecessors. The saying goes that there are in fact only a small handful of truly original stories, and Elfen Lied proceeds to its destination through an extensive and unique deconstruction/reconstruction/retelling of one of the most basic of those, Boy Meets Girl. On the way to the endings it did have, could have had, and some wish it did have, the story is a tribute to all the stories that helped form it, and if it waves to them as they meet up and then diverge, then the tale of Lucy and her world makes ready for the day when it is retold and counted among the stories that influence and inspire others.


It seems that Mutant Heaven has no pearly gates, but merely revolving doors

Professor Charles Xavier, relating to the return of Jean Grey, though not as twins-at least not at that moment


EL023A

If she blinks her eyes, or twitches her nose - *you* will end up deconstructed!

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