|“||To let her stay with strangers. That isn't like a normal mother.||”|
–Kouta, for once understanding things very clearly
The mother and stepfather of Mayu, one of the main characters in the manga and anime series Elfen Lied, are ordinary humans who are neither super-human nor specially equipped. Their roles in the story are rather small, yet for all their limited screen-time, they inflict horrible, lasting damage upon one of the most innocent characters in the series. The most chilling and disturbing thing about them is that scenarios involving people like them happen in real life, and real children indeed suffer from the actions of such individuals.
In the series
Mayu is a young girl who is twelve going on thirteen (or thirteen going on fourteen in the anime) when introduced. She is homeless, staying in a woodpile shelter on the beach of Kamakura, in the company of her only friend: a small dog named Wanta who she found. As her life crosses paths with those of Nyu, Kouta, and Yuka, she finds better accommodations at Maple House, a former restaurant, and inn where they all stay. As she fled them partly out of mistrust, she recalled her past.
No information of any kind exists concerning the fate of her biological father. All that's shown is her mother remarried when Mayu was twelve/thirteen years old, and her new husband wasted no time in sexually abusing his new daughter. When Mayu confessed to her mother what he did to her, she slapped her and coldly proclaimed that Mayu was unwanted in the family. Rather than help her child, she viewed Mayu as an obstacle in the way of her marriage.
The next time her stepfather tried to molest her after she sought help from her mother was the last straw for Mayu. After partly stripping, she fled the house with only the clothes on her back, aimlessly wandering for days. She eventually made her way to the Kamakura Beach area by Enoshima Park. She was likely attempting suicide by drowning due to the mistreatment of her parents by wading into the water and leaving her shoes behind neatly on the shore (a custom in Japan for those seeking to commit suicide). Luckily, she then met Wanta, who gave her hope in continuing to live life. Together, their bond grew as they tried to survive.
Mayu's parents are mentioned once more each after she comes to live in the Maple House. After some reluctance, Mayu allowed Kouta and Yuka to contact her mother, who signed her custody over to the college-age couple with no hesitation. This lack of concern made the pair suspicious of her, but as a courtesy to Mayu, they asked no more of it.
The hideous impact of their actions is shown in the series when Mayu is shocked by Kouta after seeing him in an awkward situation with Nyu. This sight reminds her of her stepfather's abuse, leading to her general fear of men and their actions. Though she eventually warms up to Kouta and realizes he is not that sort of person, the effect and trauma she suffered at the hands of her stepfather was apparent. He is only seen once more in a graphic flashback where he orders Mayu to be in a painfully demeaning sex position while she is under assault by the vicious Unknown Man in the present. Her panicked frustration of having that happen to her again gives her the strength to fight back, delaying the attacker long enough for Bando to come and rescue her. This scene shows how Mayu is no longer terrified by her past and has overcome the emotional manipulation forced on her.
Like the bully ringleader Tomoo and possibly the Orphanage Girl for Lucy, Mayu's parents are little seen but possess horrific impact on an innocent. Fortunately for Mayu, she was able to escape them and their influence and live a happier life with others who cared for her.
There are no present-day appearances, nor are there mentions of these characters past the arc in which Mayu moves into Maple House. Fan speculation has often placed Bando or Lucy as their killers, but there are problems with such assumptions. Bando's affection for Mayu grew over time, but she never seemed to reveal her past, and his focus was entirely on fighting Lucy. As for Lucy, while Nyu loved Mayu as much as any other family member, as Lucy she ranged from indifference to once attempting to murder Mayu to keep her existence a secret. Also, Lucy's 'awakenings' during the series were short and well-documented, leaving little time for her to hunt down people whose home address she may not even know. Finally, at no point were Mayu, Kouta, or Yuka contacted by the police concerning their deaths. They most certainly would have been since Mayu's return to school would ensure officials would at least be aware of who her previous and current guardians are, and authorities would have notified her of their deaths as their next of kin. Their killings are thus unlikely despite the desires of fans. Elfen Lied shows an imperfect, almost outright malicious world, with the truly good and righteous being outnumbered by the wicked, and not all bad guys get their just desserts in the end. This circumstance is not uncommon for a seinen demographic series, which avert fairy tale endings for the sake of a more gritty realism. A divorce remains a possibility, since the stepfather may have married Mayu's mother just for the open opportunity to harass Mayu, and in the chaos of the war at the end of the manga series, they could easily have died without anyone officially realizing it.
Some notable unknown facts exist, though these are relatively minor when compared to other gaps in the series. For example, the fact that Mayu's stepfather never attempted to go after her again could easily be written off as his wife's scrutiny. Also, there was the presence of two guardians likely to keep him away from her, even without direct knowledge of his actions. More likely, he was, as many criminals and sexual predators are, a criminal of opportunity and preyed on Mayu because she was the easiest target he could get without a high amount of backlash. Somewhat more unclear is why the stepfather was still about on the night of his last attempt to molest Mayu when it might be reasonable to expect a confrontation over his actions, despite his wife blaming her for his actions. Also unknown is whether there were any other girls harmed by Mayu's stepfather.
Whatever is presented or never spoken of at all, one fact remains abundantly clear: Mayu was infinitely better off without this pair and didn't deserve to take their mistreatment, blow by blow.
- Mayu's Mother's English Voice Actor is Christine Auten, the same as for Young Kouta in flashbacks. However, her Japanese seiyuu is uncredited and is the only character in the anime whose voice actor isn't listed.