|“||But I'm so selfish, I get jealous that he isn't paying attention to me. I get angry, and I nag him, and I cry. I'm terrible.||”|
–Yuka, briefly aligning with a surprisingly large portion of the fanbase
This article is set up to address questions that bring about notable disagreements by fans of Elfen Lied, either with each other or with the possible/perceived intent of the mangaka. Evidence will be presented fairly representing both points of view (more if needed) and, unless direct word from Okamoto-san emerges, there can be no conclusion.
Number Three and Nana
The Controversy: Is Diclonius Silpelit Number Three the older sister of Nana, a member of the main cast?
The Evidence For: One source lists this possibility and says it came from what is described as 'The Official Elfen Lied Website.' But whether this is official to ARMS, the manga company that published Elfen Lied, to Lynn Okamoto himself, or to a group of dedicated native fans who were perhaps in contact with Okamoto-San is never made clear. In any event, only bare remnants remain of that site online, and no answer found in what is still available. The ARMS company website for Elfen Lied is located here, only in Japanese. It is unclear if this is the site cited in some articles. (A check on this by anyone who knows how to read Japanese would be welcomed and encouraged, in the hope to settle this matter once and for all.)
Edit: Thanks to User Stemworker, it seems this site has been eliminated as the source for this idea. But confirmation from Lynn Okamoto is still lacking, either way, as to the notion's truth. (Gojirob March 10th, 2014)
It would hardly be unique for an author to connect two of his characters in such a way. Both girls are part of Kurama's moral journey, his early revulsion at the treatment of the horned girls at the Diclonius Research Institute causing Number Three to seek him out when she escaped. Number 3 ended up infecting him with the Diclonius virus just before her death, in an act that seemed less vengeful than a form of 'thanks.' This infection, in turn, leads to the birth of Mariko, the loss of Hiromi, and then Kurama's desperate, loving bond with Nana. Nana and Number Three being siblings would bookend Kurama's journey back to his Humanity, and offer redemption for his inability to help or save Three. Indeed, the two girls bore a resemblance to each other. Authors often know the lives and fates of even their most obscure characters. Author JK Rowling is especially noted for this, and can likely tell you who Neville Longbottom dated before he married his eventual wife and if the two ever kept in touch after his marriage. Okamoto-San is not noted for his public appearances (at one time reportedly suffering from intense agoraphobia). That said, he likely 'knows' which relatives kept Kouta after he was released from the mental hospital, and what happened to the woman who claimed Wanta was her dog, and the fate of the marriage of Mayu's mother after she fled that abusive home.
One chapter states that the parents of Number Three tried once again to have children, only to find that they had Diclonius twins. It does not seem impossible that one of these twins could be Nana. In another part of Kurama's journey, it was this birth that once and for all confirmed that a virus was infecting parents, and not the unborn children after conception, and led to the idea there was a Queen Diclonius. If correct, this idea could unite the fates of all the major Diclonius in the series.
The Evidence Against: We never sees the first bonding between Nana and Kurama, so finding out if she was one of those twin girls is impossible. One of the most damaging pieces of information against this theory is that each fansite that lists the idea of the two being sisters uses the same sentences nearly verbatim, as though copied directly from a source, rather than explanations of where this idea originated. In citing only this website now no longer available, it raises questions. Was this idea/fact/theory presented by someone truly in the know, or in a fan forum whose speculation ended up taken as fact?
At the moment, the intent of Lynn Okamoto in this matter is simply not known for certain. (For this article, the original author searched several sites, none of which offered up interviews or such, only the knowledge of this largely vanished site). But whatever the mangaka meant to be the case, a huge compelling factor against this being the truth is the timeline of the series.
Nana's age at the time of her introduction is said to be half that of her physical appearance, between twelve and fourteen years old. If she is between six and seven, and her deadly encounter with Lucy happened relatively soon after the series starts, then she is in effect too old to be one of the twin girls mentioned earlier. An eight-year gap spans the time between Lucy's murder of Kouta's family and Kouta and Nyu meeting again on the beach. Lucy was active for five of those years, infecting and killing in the Kamakura Area. For three years after the (apparent) death of Aiko Takada, Lucy was a captive at the Institute.
For the moment, the dates of publication of Elfen Lied will be treated as literal to the history of the series. If the series began in June 2002, this places the train murders in late August or early September of 1994 (it was the end of summer, and Kouta and Kanae had to go back to school). This theory would mean that Lucy was killing and infecting Kamakura residents from Fall of 1994 to Summer or early Fall of 1999. At the series start in 2002, Nana is at least six, and at least having entered physical puberty. Nana would have been born sometime in 1996. Mariko (with her first appearance in 2003) was said to be five years old, placing her birth sometime in 1998. Kurama stated that Hiromi became pregnant with Mariko six months after his encounter with Number Three, putting said meeting sometime in 1997. For Nana to be as old as we saw her, even with doubled aging, she could be born no later than late 1996. It appears instead that she and Number Three were part of the same wave of initial infections by Lucy, and were possibly the same age or very close to it. Number Three already had vectors, making her more than three years old, and indeed her appearance seemed that of a six to eight-year-old. The births of the Diclonius twins to Number Three's mother preceded Mariko's birth by only a few months (Hiromi was pregnant, and the mass euthanizing of horned infants had begun). By these times and dates (even if actual years are removed from the process) Nana would have already been a year or older when these twins were born.
Conclusion: Only the word of Lynn Okamoto can resolve these matters. In effect, if he should say that Nana and Number Three are Onee-sama and Imouto, then all speculation and argument are moot, and all talk of years is just the mistakes that any series runs into when trying to tie together a coherent timeline. But there are still logic problems with this idea, and if this were the author's intent, a positive argument at least as if not even more complicated as the one against it would be needed to support why this is so.
The Controversy : A fair amount of fans seem to dislike Yuka, ranging from mere distaste to near hate.
Possible Explanations : Yuka occupies an unenviable position for any character. She is the apparent winner in a 'harem' scenario, favored by the author but not all fans. She seems to be viewed by many as the greatest obstacle to the union of Kouta and Lucy/Nyu, the many plot barriers to this aside. She is not the first to be viewed so. Her 'elder sister' in harem anime (and possible partial inspiration, for Yuka and many an anime lady), Love Hina's Naru Narusegawa, is often the subject of deaths and downfalls initiated by fan writers who prefer the other ladies of the Hinata-Sou.
Another problem is the wide exposure of the anime, which is indeed the first way many fans first come to know the series. In many an adaptation, complex character motivations are crunched by time constraints; If a movie adaptation includes a dramatic scene where a tough character punches out a snarky character after a sharp remark, it may seem like the tough character is casually violent. But in either the original novel or the novelization of the movie, it can be seen that the snarky character was always pestering the tough one until they gave in and erupted. Perhaps this was even meant to be filmed, but a lack of time or an objection by someone associated with the film caused it to be cut, leaving a scene that has now veered off far afield of the writer's intent. Yuka does, in fact, strike Kouta on some occasions in the manga, probably almost equal to the anime. But whereas the manga can go ten or more chapters between any angry incident with Yuka, to the anime viewer, she is striking him again in the very next episode, or even later that same episode. A necessary feature of screen adaptations is the flagging of certain aspects of the character, emphasized for good or ill. Bando is more aggressive; Mayu leaves her past behind more quickly; Nyu's progress is a bit stunted for humor, and so forth. Any reasonable moments Yuka has in the manga are mostly left behind, making her traits of suspicion and fragile feelings sometimes all that is left. In the manga, for example, Yuka is just as apt to warn Nyu about acting 'perverted' (and even in the anime, admits that Nyu is far worse in that regard) and also shows affection towards her without jealousy.
As mentioned elsewhere, another problem has been the legality (if still a relative rarity) in Japan of first cousins' marrying. This variant can make Yuka (and to a lesser extent Kouta) seem like she has even deeper problems than a temper and intense disappointment in their reunion. To those raised to believe a first or second cousin is simply a sibling once removed, their romance and likely eventual marriage can even seem revolting, and Yuka can seem a stalker with an immoral obsession.
Conclusion : The intermix of all the factors listed above keep dislike of Yuka around, and each one can and does intensify the others. The wider exposure of information about the series can alleviate some of Yuka's problems. But since the author determined (seemingly) that it was she and not Lucy that won Kouta's hand in marriage, Yuka will likely always receive some fan ire.
The Controversy : The manga series ends with some distinct implications that the two youngest main characters, Mayu and Nana, ended up in adult relationships with two of the older male characters, the merc-like Bando and Doctor Kurama.
The reasons for the controversy : Mayu is, at a stretch, sixteen when the series ends, and perhaps as young as fourteen. Nana is physically between fourteen and sixteen, and chronologically, is probably as young as seven years of age, due to the roughly doubled aging process of Silpelit Diclonii.
Emotionally and physically, Bando and Kurama can sometimes seem the worst choices possible for these girls. Bando has struck or threatened Mayu and made a pronounced effort to push her away at times. Kurama permitted Nana to be experimented on at the Diclonius Research Institute and sent her to be an assassin against Lucy, an order she refused and yet she still nearly died horribly on her modified mission.
Neither girl can be said to exactly have their head on straight, any more than protagonist Lucy or her would-be paramour Kouta, a fact shared with all the residents of Maple House. It is perhaps unwise that either should even attempt to have a lifelong relationship with anyone, their strength of character and endurance aside.
Mayu is the victim of sexual abuse and parental abandonment, while Nana would be disabled without the artificial limbs moved about by her vectors. Both were lied to by those they once regarded as parents. While Nana's 'Papa' Kurama has many mitigating factors against his wrongs (chiefly, the manipulations and scrutiny of the Kakuzawas), Mayu's original parents have none. Their judgment, already undeveloped, may well be impaired by feelings about a new life a fantasy romance can bring. Also, Mayu's abuse may have made her at least averse to a physical relationship with a man, once even suspecting Kouta of being a pervert.
Compounding these factors is the condition of the men in question. Bando, as the old saying goes, was a man barely alive till rebuilt by bionics. An actual physically intimate relationship with Mayu is now impossible, and if his rebuilt body is based on technology similar to that used on the unfortunate Number 28, his renewed lifespan may be somewhat limited. Kurama is a man old before his time, with only his drive for atonement and love for Nana keeping him going. Also, it is implied he underwent a permanent procedure to prevent him from siring children ever again, something which is impossible with the sterile Nana in any event.
Lastly, there is the character of both men. Whatever their failings towards these girls, their feelings for them are genuine and positive, but not necessarily romantic in the way the girls might want. Kurama seems almost on the verge of dismissing Nana's notions of 'making babies' with her, while Bando was openly revolted by the pedophilic tendencies of the Unknown Man as he attacked Mayu.
In neither case is the possibility dismissed. Bando might only feel that attacking so young a girl is, of course, a wrong, while a consensual relationship is not out of the question. Characters in anime and manga tend to support or criticize a relationship based not on age (Barring the worst extremes, of course) but on the sincerity of emotion and devotion. In the iconic Maison Ikkoku series, the male lead at one point dates a high school girl he is several years older than and is only pilloried for perhaps stringing her along. Kurama has been seen to have his views on Nana evolve, from emotional lifeline to constant companion, and she is determined to no longer be a substitute for the deceased Mariko. Nana's place of residence after Yuka's mother raises concerns at issue, so if Nana were staying alone with Kurama, she might find that time to change his mind in the time they both have left. In both cases, a common trope of all fiction and especially anime and manga is the determination of a young woman in love. Doubtless, though, both relationships would face bumpy rides.
Theirs would soon be a world devastated by war, and in such a world, scrutiny upon relationships, so long as they were not abusive, might well fall away entirely. Even if all Bando and Mayu could have would be an emotional one wherein Mayu would tend to Bando as his time ran out, they might find this enough. Kurama and Nana are near all the other has left, and Nana's doubled aging would mean she would seem a mature woman within five years or less. Kurama could even just give in to Nana simply to have around the one he loves best, and it is not impossible that he would turn to her as the burdens of his life wore down upon him.
Conclusion : It is impossible on either side of the Pacific to entirely separate the ages of the young girls from feelings about their possible intended romantic targets. But their situations are unique, as are their bonds. Also, it is entirely possible that Lynn Okamoto intended us to see the love between Mayu and Bando as a spiritual journey only, and meant for us to see Nana's request as a silly one. As with most of these controversies, only the mangaka's word can solve this, and even then, his answer may not satisfy all.
The Controversy : Tomoo, his two hench-boys and the girl who at the very least let them know that Lucy/Nyu had a puppy that she cared for are universally hated by all Elfen Lied fans, and are possibly the most unpopular kids in all of anime and manga. Such sweeping statements are often made in haste and are difficult to defend against criticism. In this case, the statement would at least be much easier to defend than most. It is sometimes said that what young Lucy did to them in retaliation was still a too light punishment, an astounding statement when one considers that we are talking about four children not yet ten years old, arguably not past the age of reason.
The Reasons For The Controversy : The emotional nature of the moment cannot be denied. Tomoo was merely the worst among a group seemingly dedicated to making this one girl's life miserable solely because of her horns. Not just the other children but the staff provided a drumbeat of hatred that Lucy both resented and internalized against herself. It is unknown whether newer orphanages have rules against telling children how they came to be there (those children who never knew anyplace else) but the staff seemed to have no problem telling Lucy how she was found, and it can be speculated some relished informing her of her abandonment after birth. Like as not, older children only avoided her, and even those who might wish to defend her had other concerns. Children her age either readily joined in the hate directed at her, either through the prejudice of their own or fear of the unrelenting Tomoo. It is implied that Lucy's attempt to entirely shut down her emotions was driven mostly by an effort to thwart Tomoo, and it is stated that this, in turn, had Tomoo resorting to the actions that got him and the others killed. His two followers will not be bothered with here; for story purposes, they were brainless followers, and they seemed this within the story as well.
Possible explanations : Of further interest is the girl that befriends Lucy after Tomoo pushes Lucy physically. This incident perhaps signifies that the staff, while indifferent to or contemptuous of the pain Lucy faced because of the taunts against her, drew the line at physical attacks, with Tomoo withdrawing at the threat of a teacher being informed (whether the girl was sincere or not). Ultimately, the girl breaks Lucy's trust and tells the bullies about the puppy. What comes to be in dispute is why she did this and under what circumstances. While the split in opinion on this seems to deeply favor a deliberate betrayal and set-up on the girl's part, those who hold to a lesser degree of culpability are firm in this belief, even if they are not united in how much less responsibility the girl bears.
One scenario, starting from the least deliberate premise, goes that the girl did want to befriend young Kaede/Lucy, and revealed her secret either through being tricked or being a blabbermouth or perhaps being threatened or otherwise pressured by Tomoo. Taken this idea to an extreme, it could even be argued that she told them of the puppy in an attempt to prove that Lucy was a nice person, and the attempt backfired.
Another, still leaning to the innocent category, is that the girl was a manipulator, but intended only as a harmless prank to be played on Lucy (at least relatively speaking), and that the intent to hurt the puppy was never hers.
A variant on the previous theory was that she fully intended to see Lucy, who she did not consider to be a real person, hurt, but not the puppy.
The grimmest theory merely holds that her befriending Lucy was all part of a set-up to gain her confidence and then hurt Lucy as deeply as they all could.
Evidence supporting theories of lesser culpability follow from that she offered an apology to Lucy and stated that she would never have told about the puppy had she known Tomoo's intent. She never joins in the violence.
Evidence supporting grimmer theories follow from such things as the timing of her emergence into the room where the puppy was killed. Also to be considered is the swiftness of how it was found by Tomoo, the fact that she made no attempt or real plea to stop the puppy's killing, and a smile spotted on her face while she half-covered her eyes from the spectacle. Lucy's flashback narrative seems a reliable one, but some have offered up that this smile came from her fevered imagination, in shock and pain from the killing and possible betrayal.
Conclusion : While no final conclusion can be reached, primal dislike or hate for these children is inevitable. Those four seem to become in the eyes of a reader/viewer everyone who has ever lied to or hurt them, and the fact that they beat and killed a puppy, a source of innocent love for a lonely child, capping off years of severe torment, seals their standing in amber. In some respects, a world war may be laid partially at their feet.
Did Aiko Takada somehow survive?
Lucy's last real friend before her imprisonment seemingly dies a victim of Kurama's quest to capture the Diclonius Queen. Plot-wise, she chiefly explains how the Diclonius Research Institute was able to capture someone as dangerous and cunning as Lucy in the first place. She is lately introduced, only twenty or so chapters before the conclusion of the manga series, and only in the OVA of the anime. Aiko is a final lifeline to Lucy's dwindling Humanity. Whereas she ends up falsely accusing and terribly wronging Kouta, Aiko she (in her mind) fails to protect and is lost to those who will not leave her be, even if her activities during this period are what drew their attention. It is not even Aiko's loss that seals in Lucy as a persona. After Aiko is taken to be cared for, Kurama informs the now-captive Lucy that she died. In the manga, Kurama follows this with a resentful taunt that the girl was wanted for the murder of her abusive father (something that is made unclear, at least to an extent, story-wise), and that Lucy could have saved her by surrendering sooner. In the anime, he merely announces her death. In both versions, this is also the start of Lucy's intense, focused hatred of Kurama, which will cost him dearly as the series goes on. But did she die at all?
The Controversy : As Wanta wanders Kamakura during the manga series finale, among the things he passes by is a poster adverting an art show by Aiko Takada, and showing what might be a portrait of Aiko grown to be a woman. This brief image is all we see, and only in this one panel. Aiko herself never appears, even though the finale has some characters thought certainly to have died to show up alive in one form or another. It is, in fact, a scene easily missed, and open to differing interpretations.
The Evidence For : While Aiko's apparent wounding and apparent death were simple, mortal ones, they were certainly not as hideously final as for say, that of Kanae or Kisaragi. A young body is strong, resilient, and a gunshot wound, entry point depending, is survivable. Kurama arguably had reasons to lie to Lucy. Emotionally, it is possible he held her responsible for not only the deaths and Diclonius-birth infections she did cause (and the deaths resulting from those Diclonius births), but for the ruin of his life. If there were no Lucy, then Mariko would have been an average child, and his wife Hiromi might still be alive. Further, he would never have been forced to enter the unquestioning service of the Kakuzawas, who at this point he thought of as merely distasteful bosses, rather than the megalomaniacs he later realized they were. While likely not assigning all blame away from himself, this resentment seems a real possibility, leading to an unwise nose-tweaking or simply hiding this happy news from one he hates. On another level, keeping news of Aiko's survival from Lucy gives her no reason to try and escape, to reunite with her friend, since Kurama likely knows nothing of Kouta, except perhaps as a survivor of a murder scene that he might or might not connect with Lucy. Since he had Lucy captive and thought her without any other outside connections, these thoughts, if he had them at all, were not at the front of his mind.
Presuming Kurama was given complete charge over a recovered Aiko, then clearing up (or covering up) the murder accusations against her and reuniting her with her mother was not out of the question since her mother was likely to leave Japan entirely with her daughter in tow, having an art career in Europe. Aiko was shown to have artistic talent, and being freed of her father's bad behavior, was likely encouraged by her mother till she had a career of her own. The poster could have been a return to Kamakura, maybe even one where she planned to try and find her friend from all those years ago. Again, quite a few characters were 'resurrected' in that last chapter, so one more is hardly out of place.
The Evidence Against : As with so many of these controversies, we cannot know the mind of mangaka Lynn Okamoto and what he intended for what character. One hard fact: The conclusion was already larger-sized than normal--another page showing a grown Aiko looking for Lucy seems not out of the question, if her survival is to be taken as a given. Back to Kurama, he had reasons to lie to Lucy, but he also had reasons not to lie. Saving Aiko would have shown Lucy that she sacrificed to achieve a result, and arguably calmed her down at least somewhat. Kurama's manga taunt could easily be seen as his guilt over this happening channeling itself in a way he would come to regret. Gunshot wounds are again iffy - the wrong entry point can all but guarantee death, slow or quick. Also, if Kurama truly wanted to antagonize Lucy, then denying care to a girl he saw as her patricidal accomplice would be possible, if vastly out of character for Kurama.
The next factor possibly putting Aiko back in the ground is that she is known to the Kakuzawas, and this places her on a scale of differing portrayals of the series' antagonists. Would she be overlooked and regarded as unimportant by the Chief who blindly believed that he was Diclonius and that Lucy would join him of her free will? Would she be killed in any event (or care covertly withheld without Kurama's knowledge) by the Chief who successfully infected the world, using almost everyone else to achieve his ends without them knowing it until it was far too late? Aiko, even if she was unlikely to be believed, had direct or indirect (she only sees Lucy's horns in the anime) knowledge of Diclonius, and of the girl called Lucy. Would the grandiose Kakuzawas simply warn her and send her on her way? Or would the no-loose-ends Kakuzawas make sure that Kurama's bullet was allowed to complete its work? The Chief might not even have been a factor in this since his son Professor Kakuzawa was also present as Lucy was taken into custody, and might have killed her with no more regret than he did Number 3.
Finally, there exists the possibility that the poster is not an indicator of her survival. It could simply be an homage by the mangaka, remembering this character as the series shuts down. In-universe, it could also have been for a show staged by Aiko's mother, using recovered sketches given to her after her daughter died, with the image being either the mother herself made up to look like her daughter or an image of Aiko aged by computer simulation. One of the most significant facts, is once again, the fact that of all the recovered characters, Aiko herself does not appear.
Conclusion : Either way, the moment is awkwardly placed, and leaves room for either interpretation, without offering final proof either way. It is almost the most tantalizing of these controversies, itself taunting the readers as Kurama did Lucy, although with a nearly complete non-answer.
Are Diclonius just natural-born killers?
The Controversy : Why are Diclonius so apt to kill almost any Human they encounter? This question goes to some of the core elements of the series, and like others listed here has no easy answer. It is not an accusation to say that Diclonius kill during the series, and sometimes they do so in a hideous and sadistic manner. Their power, when used cleverly almost, means that the ways and methods of these deaths are at their whim, almost a mental Aladdin's lamp for murder and cruelty. As depicted, no Diclonius merely kills for the sake of killing. One of the biggest qualifiers is and remains the age and conditions in which their powers emerge. Another very obviously is the treatment most shown in the series receive at the hands of Humans, particularly the employees and associates of Chief Kakuzawa. There does seem to be an innate drive to kill Humans in the form of the DNA Voice, but the series is yet still vague as to whether this voice is truly part of the species or something generated by Lucy's traumas. Two others hear such a voice, being Nana and Mariko Kurama's clone Barbara. But Nana overall is the biggest argument against Diclonius as born killers, and only heard this voice once at a time of primal stress and alienation. Barbara's claim for this, a claim made to Nana herself, must also be stepped back from, as Mariko's clones when uncontrolled seemed distillations of her cruelest and coldest traits, combined with rage at their mistreatment. Two of these four viable clones, including Barbara herself, recognize Kurama as their father, this despite one's claims of not caring about the connection. The series seems to not only avoid a clear answer; it seems to go out of its way to prevent any possibility of a firm one.
Conclusion : It appears the Diclonius do have an elevated killer instinct, perhaps directed at replacing Humans in various ways. But we see the example of one girl (Nana) treated more or less appropriately, another girl who boasted of not caring about her genetic father, the original of that girl kept isolated from birth, and one girl with a lifetime of trauma all responded almost immediately to acceptance and the offer of real affection. In that light, it must be said that a few simple words from a man shot in 1980 could have saved the world of Elfen Lied a lot of grief. However much or little he lived by these words, John Lennon summed it up like this: All You Need Is Love - heed this, or you might see Lucy in the sky.
Sympathy For The Diclonius (Queen)
The Controversy : Do the traumas Lucy has suffered make her horrible murderous actions comprehensible and somewhat forgivable, or do they place her flatly beyond any and all hope of redemption?
The Facts : Lucy did suffer a lot, particularly as a child. Even in that suffering's hideous finale, the crossover of her suffering against her actions is in play. As in many literary offerings going back for decades if not centuries or millennia, the antagonistic bully was paid back for their sadism by the very target they pushed too far. But those who argue that Tomoo and his bullies deserved their fate fall onto a slippery slope. They were loathsome, yet Lucy's actions against them cost her as well, and on more than one level. Lucy was still a child herself, and one who is enraged cannot be said to be entirely responsible for their actions. Even the murder of Kouta's family can be claimed to be the result of emotional confusion and bad judgment, again hallmarks of childhood. What followed has less consensus among fans of the series.
|“||For horned people, there is no place to turn to, wherever you look.||”|
–Nana, citing the conflict she herself practically embodies