Elfen Lied

Elfen Lied
Elfen Lied manga volume 1.jpg
First volume of the Elfen Lied manga series, released in Japan in October 2002 by Shueisha, featuring the main character Lucy
エルフェンリート
(Erufen Rīto)
Genre Drama, Horror, Psychological
Manga
Written by Lynn Okamoto
Published by Shueisha
Demographic Seinen
Magazine Weekly Young Jump
Original run June 2002November 2005
Volumes 12 (List of volumes)
TV anime
Directed by Mamoru Kanbe
Studio ARMS
Licensed by Australia Madman Entertainment
Canada United States AEsir Holdings
Network AT-X
English network

Canada United States Anime Network

United Kingdom Propeller TV
South Africa Animax[1]
Original run July 25, 2004October 17, 2004
Episodes 13 (List of episodes)
Original video animation
10.5: Regenschauer
Directed by Mamoru Kanbe
Studio ARMS
Licensed by United States ADV Films (dropped)
Released April 21, 2005
Runtime 25 minutes
Anime and Manga Portal

Elfen Lied (エルフェンリート Erufen Rīto?) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Lynn Okamoto. A thirteen-episode anime television series adaptation was produced by the studio ARMS and broadcast on TV Tokyo from July to October 2004. The anime was later licensed in North America on DVD by ADV Films.[2] The anime began airing before the manga was complete; as a result, the plot differed between the two, especially the ending. The title is German for "Elf Song" and takes its name from the poem "Elfenlied".[clarification needed]

Elfen Lied revolves around the interactions, views, emotions, and differences between human beings and the Diclonii, a mutant species similar to humans in build but distinguishable by two horns on their heads and "vectors," transparent telekinetically controlled arms that have the power to manipulate and cut objects within their reach. The series is centered on the teenage Diclonius girl "Lucy" who was rejected by human beings and subsequently wants revenge.

Elfen Lied involves themes of social alienation, identity, prejudice, revenge, abuse, jealousy, regret and the value of humanity.[3] The series employs graphic violence. So far, only the thirteen-episode anime series has been licensed in the US, 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.[4][5]

Contents

Plot

Elfen Lied takes place in Kamakura, Japan, focusing on a new strain of the human race, Diclonius, similar to human beings but different at the genetic level and notable due to physical abnormalities, particularly a pair of short horn-like protrusions. One such Diclonius, Lucy, is the main character of the series: Initially held in a facility built for experimentation, located off the coast of Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, she manages to escape and wreak havoc, but is injured in the process, an event which causes her to develop a secondary, child-like personality known as Nyu.

Lucy is found by two locals, Kohta, who studies at the local university, and his cousin Yuka. They take her in, and become involved with the numerous, often brutal, attempts to recapture her by a Special Assault Team and a number of other Diclonius, who shift from oblivious to murderous frequently. Other characters include Bando, an SAT trooper mauled by Lucy and infected with a virus, and Kurama, a carrier of the virus.

While the animated series ends with Lucy confronting a large team of SAT members, after which she disappears, the manga continues by showing the mad plans of Kakuzawa, leader of Diclonii research, and his ultimate failure. The world itself is endangered.

Characters

  • Lucy (ルーシー Rūshī?) is a Diclonius girl around eighteen. Lucy has developed strong emotions of hatred and vengeance towards human beings mainly because of how she was treated by the majority of them as a child; they made fun of her horns and gave her insulting nicknames such as "Freak." As a child, she bonded with a dog which was killed right in front of her by classmates, which triggered her first killing. Despite her hatred for most humans, she is in love with Kohta ever since meeting him when they were children, and will not kill him or anyone closely involved with him, most likely out of guilt for the incident that took place years ago. She seems to lack empathy, kills without much concern, and acts somewhat sadistically, often torturing victims before killing (such as Bandou and Nana, although she did not actually kill them); however, towards the end of the series, she begins to show remorse for her actions, especially towards Kohta, whose father and sister she killed. She is aware of her "Nyu" state as revealed in the manga by her worries just before she reverts. Lucy is not her real name; it is revealed in the manga that her real name is Kaede. Voiced by: Sanae Kobayashi (Japanese), Kira Vincent-Davis (English)
  • Nyu (にゅう Nyū?) is Lucy's split personality that developed after a .50 BMG round ricocheted off the metallic helmet encasing her head.[6] Nyu has a childlike personality and infantile knowledge of the world, forgetting even that she is a Diclonius and how to use or manifest her vectors, leaving her the equivalent to a human being with horns. She initially lacks language skills; however, she eventually learns a handful of words and phrases until (in the manga) she can finally speak properly despite the fact she still uses the nonsensical phrase nyu as her catchphrase. Nyu is innocent and incapable of violent acts, a foil to the normally cold and sadistic Lucy; she is the manifestation of her "good side." Whenever Nyu hits her head or is confronted with violence, she reverts to her sadistic side, Lucy, although is unaware of her actions while in her "Lucy" state. Voiced by: Sanae Kobayashi (Japanese), Kira Vincent-Davis (English)
  • Kohta (コウタ Kōta?) is around nineteen and enters the story when his cousin's family allows him to move in to their closed-down restaurant in exchange for maintaining it while he goes to a local university. Kohta has repressed traumatic memories of his father's and sister's deaths during his childhood. Because of his repressing his memories, Kohta does not remember Lucy from when he met her earlier as a child, nor does he remember the child Yuka (which causes problems for him and Yuka due to Yuka's feelings for him; she is hurt at being forgotten). Due in part to his loss, he has a soft spot for girls in trouble and is extremely generous and protective of the girls around him. He constantly has flash backs, like many other characters, that do not make any sense to us. He is more forgiving in the anime, but when he gets his memories back in the manga, he is unforgiving towards Lucy for killing his father and sister. Even so, he also remembers the happy memories that he shared with Lucy and loves her despite the horrible things she's done. Voiced by: Chihiro Suzuki (Japanese), Adam Conlon (English)
  • Yuka (ユカ?) is Kohta's cousin. She is around nineteen and last saw Kohta when they were ten, during the summer when Kohta's family visited (just before Kohta's father and sister were murdered). When Kohta moves to Kamakura to attend the same university as her, she moves in with him at the Kaeda House Inn. She has had a crush on Kohta since childhood, and secretly hopes that they will finally be together. She is uncomfortable with Nyu's attachment to him, and often feels anger at Kohta for not understanding her feelings toward him. Voiced by: Mamiko Noto (Japanese), Nancy Novotny (English)

Diclonius

Much of the plot of Elfen Lied revolves around the Diclonii species, as explained in the original manga,[citation needed] who are an evolutionary development from humans. Their bodies are very similar, the only obvious difference being the two horn-like protrusions extending from the temporal and parietal regions of the skull, which are said to relate to their telekinetic powers. In the manga, it is mentioned that a Diclonius would fall into a coma if it lost one of its horns and could never return from their lethargic state if they lose both horns. However, Lucy manages to recover from this twice. In the anime, Lucy goes into shock from losing one of her horns, and was temporarily rendered catatonic for a very brief period before recovering in time to save Nana.

Diclonii powers involve the use of invisible arms, known as "vectors" that can grasp and impact things as if they are solid, but also become insubstantial and pass through objects. They can slice objects as well, which is how Diclonii usually kill their victims. Vectors usually have a limited range of a few meters, but the length varies among Diclonii; Lucy's vectors are able to extend to two meters; Nana's can reach five meters, and Mariko's are the longest, with a range of eleven meters (although the lengths seem much longer in the anime). Diclonii also have the ability to detect the location of others of their kind, such as when Kurama releases Nana from the laboratory to search for and retrieve Lucy. However, when Lucy reverts to her "Nyu" state, Nana is unable to sense her; in the manga, Nana is also unable to sense Mariko when she is injured and reverts to a personality similar to Nyu.

A key point of debate throughout the series is the Diclonii propensity towards violence. Many have a vendetta against humans, and have ambitions to wipe out the human race and populate the world with their own species. If a Diclonius vector penetrates a human body, the "vector virus" is transferred to the human, causing their children to be born as Diclonii. An incident involving the escape of a child Diclonius during Kurama's early years where the Diclonius' vectors penetrated him resulted in Mariko being born a Diclonius, and Kurama takes precautions against a recurrence by sterilizing Bando.[7]

According to the manga, all Diclonii ("Silpelits") born from human parents are sterile and female (however, there were a few in the anime that were male), resulting in a structure resembling a beehive. There is only one Diclonius that is actually capable of reproducing: Lucy, the "queen".

It is disputed and contradicted during the series as to how Diclonii develop their violent behavior, whether it is part of their personality or whether it stems from abuse by human beings, and both conclusions are supported by evidence. Kurama explains to Bandou that Diclonii are born with the intention of populating the world, and it is implied that Lucy is directed by her Diclonius instincts when she kills human beings as a child.[citation needed] In the anime's final episode Lucy tells Kohta that "I was born to destroy humans." However, it is also shown that the Diclonii have usually been subjected to some type of severe psychological trauma; for example, Lucy was tormented by her human peers and witnessed the killing of her pet as a child, while Mariko was raised in neglect since her birth. They could therefore have developed their homicidal tendencies from abuse. Further supporting this view is the evidence of Nana's character. Unlike other Diclonii, Nana is good-natured and refuses to kill humans in order to please Kurama. Kurama implies Nana's nature is a direct result of his caring for her and treating her as a daughter while she endured horrific experiments at the Diclonius research facility.

Nevertheless, the researchers at the facility believe the Diclonii to be nothing less than an existential threat. The Diclonii there are kept in isolation, where they are heavily restrained to the point of being unable to move and fed through tubes. Lucy mentions the danger to the human race to Kohta in the final episode of the anime: "Given just five years, I can ensure that there are more babies of our kind born in the world than there are normal humans."

Production

When work began on adapting Elfen Lied into an anime series, director Mamoru Kanbe was recommended to work on the series by the series composer, Takao Yoshioka. Yoshioka believed that Kanbe's general moe[clarification needed] drawing style and composition would be ideal to adapt the manga, still in publication at the time, into an anime series. Kanbe himself, originally reluctant about joining the production, gained interest in it upon reading the manga.

Despite the manga having 107 chapters, Kanbe and the production team were forced to condense the plot of the series into thirteen episodes, even though they felt it was necessary to make more as several significant plot details in the manga which Kanbe felt he could have used to make the series more emotive were left out.[8]

Kanbe originally thought that Elfen Lied "was a love story, and I could make it so that it would bring viewers to tears."[8] Thus, he made attempts throughout the series to provide a contrast of emotions, commenting that he could make the violence exemplify this throughout the series. The production team were originally surprised by Okamoto's choice of Kamakura as a setting for the series; however, after several visits to the area, Kanbe commented that the setting in Kamakura was, according to the production team, ideal for the poignant and reflective drama in the series to unfold, as its general tranquility and geography made for a reflective and yet eerie, deep-meaning backdrop to the series.[9] This can be seen in several examples, such as on top of a set of steps overlooking the coastline, where many of the interactions between characters take place. This is used as an important device in conveying the ideas of memory and emotional association, such as the contrast between Kohta and Lucy's conversation when they were ten years old in comparison with their conversation in the final episode.

Style and themes

A segment from the first episode of the anime, which is notorious for featuring nudity and strong graphic violence for the major duration of its run. Here, Lucy is using the beheaded body of a secretary as a shield.

In comments made by director Mamoru Kanbe on the Elfen Lied website, he stated that he intended for the anime to question and discuss values relating to the way in which humans divide each other by difference, as well as the belief that atrocities such as those committed by Lucy in the series are strongly influenced by the way in which people are treated by their fellow beings. The series frequently discusses the events and treatment which define the human character in such a way, and the problems which arise from discrimination, as well as the wild contrasts between compassion and vengeance between fellow humans, through the strong vengeance of Lucy compared with her past memory of Kohta. Many of the themes are mentioned at the teasers at the ends of episodes.

Themes such as genocide and the attempts to "purify" the earth from each other also appear in the anime. Both Diclonius and the human species feel the need to populate the earth with their own and wipe the other out. Kanbe quoted this in relation to the desire of humans to cast each other out and segregate one another.[3]

Throughout the series, there is a great deal of blood and gore, graphic violence as well as psychological violence. One of the most prevalent motifs of the series is the humanity of the Diclonius, especially contrasted against the inhumanity of ordinary people. One reviewer described the series as "devoted to quite a few of the darker, more callous factors of human nature."[10] Throughout the series there are various incidences of casual beatings, cruel experimentation, and outright killing. Also, animal cruelty is present when two young boys mercilessly beat a puppy until it dies; though the act is off-screen, a copious amount of blood is shown.

The introduction scenes of Elfen Lied are a reference to Gustav Klimt's artwork such as The Kiss.

A majority of the episodes contain graphic amounts of violence, including instances of torture, and at one point the series addresses consequences of the rape of a child. The series also includes scenes that present female nudity and strong language. The series juxtaposes many different tones and genres and was described by Anime News Network as "mixing insane amounts of violence with a heavy dose of 'ultra-cuteness.'"[11] The series balances its darker themes with romantic sub-plots as well as many comic moments. Elfen Lied has been described as similar to, or borrowing elements from Chobits, 3x3 Eyes[12] and Gunslinger Girl.[11]

Cultural references

The opening and ending sequences feature artistic drawings of the principal characters. These characters are drawn in a style based on Gustav Klimt's paintings, including The Kiss, Adele Bloch-Bauer I, and others with similar imitating poses, colors, and patterns.[12] The song Elfenlied ("Elf Song") appears in the manga[13] and is credited to the composer Hugo Wolf. A poem by Eduard Mörike is the basis for Wolf's version. The song appears in the manga. It is taught to Nyu by the manga-only protagonist Nozomi.

Media

Manga

Written by Lynn Okamoto, Elfen Lied premiered in Japan in Weekly Young Jump magazine in June 2002. New chapters continued to appear in the magazine until August 2005, when the final chapter was published. The series's 107 chapters were also published in twelve collected volumes by Shueisha from October 2002 through November 2005.

Anime

A 13-episode anime television series was directed by Mamoru Kanbe, animated by ARMS and produced by GENCO and VAP. The series' author, Lynn Okamoto, has a brief cameo appearance as a guest in episode 12. Elfen Lied first aired on TV Tokyo's AT-X satellite channel from July 25 to October 17, 2004 and was broadcast again in 2005. A single twenty-four minute original video animation (OVA) episode was released by VAP on April 21, 2005. It takes place somewhere within the timespan of episode eleven of the original TV series. The anime's opening theme song is "Lilium" by Noma Kumiko and is sung in Latin. The ending theme song is "Be Your Girl" by Chieko Kawabe.

The anime was licensed by ADV Films in the US in 2004 and was released on DVD in 2005. During the Anime Boston 2006[14] (May 26–28) convention, ADV Films acquired the distribution rights of the OVA for release in the United States. However, the OVA was never released on television and was not included with the box set released by ADV Films in November 2006 or in the "Complete Collection" DVD released in June 2009. As of September 1, 2009, all of ADV Films' former catalog was transferred to AEsir Holdings, with distribution from Section23 Films[who?] .[15]

The series was aired in the United Kingdom on Propeller TV (Sky Digital) as part of Anime Network's short-lived launch in the United Kingdom. The series was aired uncut. While it has yet to appear on television in the United States, other than on Anime Network's "On Demand" channel, the DVD box set released by ADV Films confirms that the series has a rating of TV-MAVSL[clarification needed] ; the Canadian rating is 18A. In a posting on the official Adult Swim message board in April 2006, Adult Swim programming director Kim Manning revealed that despite the series' high level of controversial content, Adult Swim actually inquired into possibly airing the series, as Manning was an avid fan herself and watched the entire series in one sitting. However, the censorship board revealed that the series would have to be so heavily edited ("it would have been cut to shreds") in order to air that it would have been "unintelligible", and it does not appear that it will air on the channel at any time in the foreseeable future.[16]

Differences between media

Due to the fact that the manga was not finished by the time the TV series started airing, the manga and anime have several significant plot differences. While the manga covers 107 chapters, the anime was condensed into thirteen episodes, and director Mamoru Kanbe mentioned that he wanted to feature much more of the original story. The anime series only follows events roughly up to about halfway through the manga series, and it has its own original ending. As a result, much of the characters' pasts and details of the Diclonius that were in the manga do not appear in the anime.

Also, in 2005, a special original video animation, written to occur between the tenth and eleventh episodes of the series, was released.

Several of the characters in the manga also do not appear in the anime, such as Aiko, who Lucy encounters prior to her capture (although she briefly appears in the OVA) and the characters of Silpelit Number 28, the Mariko clones, Lucy's younger half-brother, and Anna Kakuzawa and Nozomi, Yuka's friend, who wants to be a singer but cannot be because of an abusive father. There is also a difference in the characters' personalities in the manga; Kohta is much less forgiving upon finding out that Lucy was the one who killed his family.

Lucy's vectors penetrating the atmosphere into space

Several properties of the Diclonii change between the anime and the manga; Lucy has many more vectors in the manga and her destructive power is far more powerful at the point she can destroy buildings and sink an island, and there is greater variation in hair and eye color. In the anime the female Diclonius have a uniform red or pink hair and eye color; in the manga their hair color can be as diverse as a human being's (e.g. in the manga, Nana and Mariko have purple and blond hair, respectively). Diclonii genetics are also explained in greater detail in the manga: For example, Kurama explains the purpose of the Silpelits and that the Diclonius virus can only be passed into the human male to produce Diclonius offspring). Small differences in the details of the plot and characters also exist: Kurama does not die at the end of the manga and Bandou does not lose the lower half of his body.

Reception

Reception for the Elfen Lied anime series was generally mixed to positive. It has received praise for its story and technical excellence in production quality, animation and color.[12][17][18][19] Due to the many scenes of nudity and gore in the series, it has drawn criticism as being "overly blatant"[20] or "sad and forced".[21] The overt graphicness of the first nine minutes of the first episode has deterred some viewers and caused controversy upon its release.

The series drew criticism for having "sub-par voice acting," in both the original Japanese audio track and the English dub of the series.[17] Another criticism is that "the series ends abruptly with some loose ends to the story that could leave viewers unsatisfied."[22] Despite these criticisms, Western reviewers also describe the series as "really a genuinely good watch,"[who?][20] "a horror series of exceptional merit,"[who?][22] "certainly memorable"[12] and "a very special show, good and bad parts taken into consideration".[who?][10]

References

  1. ^ "Elfen Lied South Africa Animax". Animax. http://www.animaxtv.co.za/shows/elfen-lied. Retrieved 2009-07-21. [dead link]
  2. ^ "ADV to license Elfen lied". Mania Entertainment. November 28, 2006. http://www.mania.com/elfen-lied_series_10211.html. Retrieved November 28, 2006. 
  3. ^ a b "Backstage — Official Elfen Lied website" (in Japanese). http://www.vap.co.jp/elfenlied/bstage.html. Retrieved 2007-12-01. 
  4. ^ Solomon, Charles (July 17, 2005). "Mean Girls". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/17/arts/television/17solo.html?ex=1145419200&en=f50bd37485179e26&ei=5070. 
  5. ^ "Great Reason To Give Thanks With Nine New Releases November 15th" (Press release). ADV Films. September 28, 2005. http://www.advfilms.com/GEN_PRDetails.asp?ID=1724. 
  6. ^ Okamoto, Lynn (2002). "Chapter 1". Elfen Lied, Volume 1. Shueisha. ISBN 978-4088763583. 
  7. ^ "Deep Feelings ~ Im Innersten". Elfen Lied. 2004-08-08. No. 1.
  8. ^ a b Exclusive Mamoru Kanbe interview, DVD Extra — Elfen Lied DVD 1 (Vector One). Released by Madman Entertainment and ADV Films.
  9. ^ "Production Note, Official Elfen Lied website" (in Japanese). VAP. http://www.vap.co.jp/elfenlied/top.html. Retrieved 2008-03-20. 
  10. ^ a b Høgset, Stig. "Elfen Lied review". THEM Anime Reviews 4.0. http://www.themanime.org/viewreview.php?id=770. Retrieved 2006-08-21. 
  11. ^ a b Dong, Bamboo (June 29, 2005). "Shelf Life — Sound of Bounce on Free Throw". Anime News Network. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/shelf-life/2005-06-29. Retrieved 2007-01-18. 
  12. ^ a b c d Robinson, Tasha (August 8, 2005). "Elfen Lied". Sci Fi Weekly. Archived from the original on 2006-09-20. http://web.archive.org/web/20060920032649/http://www.scifi.com/sfw/anime/sfw1019.html. Retrieved 2007-01-18. 
  13. ^ Okamoto, Lynn (in Japanese). Elfen Lied Volume 5. Shueisha. p. 154. ISBN 4-08-876477-3. 
  14. ^ "Anime Boston 2006 - A.D. Vision". Anime News Network. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/convention.php?id=317. Retrieved 2006-06-05. 
  15. ^ "ADV Films Shuts Down, Transfers Assets To Other Companies". Anime News Network. 2009-09-01. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2009-09-01/adv-films-shuts-down-transfers-assets-to-other-companies. Retrieved 2010-05-14. 
  16. ^ "Re: What kind of anime do you complainers want?". Adult Swim. April 27, 2006). http://boards.adultswim.com/adultswim/board/message?board.id=6&message.id=2856706#M2856706. Retrieved 2007-09-23. 
  17. ^ a b Martin, Theron (May 16, 2005). "Elfen Lied DVD 1 Review". Anime News Network. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/review/elfen-lied/dvd-1. Retrieved 2006-04-19. 
  18. ^ Martin, Theron (July 22, 2005). "Elfen Lied DVD 2 Review". Anime News Network. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/review/elfen-lied/dvd-2. Retrieved 2007-01-18. 
  19. ^ Pierce, Travis (May 27, 2005). "Elfen Lied Review". Gamerz-Edge. http://www.gamerz-edge.com/anime/reviews/elfenlied.html. Retrieved 2007-01-18. 
  20. ^ a b Laeno, Dominic. "Elfen Lied review — Second opinion". THEM Anime Reviews 4.0. http://www.themanime.org/viewreview.php?id=947. Retrieved 2007-01-18. 
  21. ^ "Negative First Impression Theater: Elfen Lied". Iron Circus. February 12, 2005. http://www.ironcircus.com/blog/000319.html. Retrieved 2007-01-22. 
  22. ^ a b Martin, Theron (November 28, 2005). "Elfen Lied DVD 4 Review". Anime News Network. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/review/elfen-lied/dvd-4. Retrieved 2006-04-19. 

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