When a work is translated from its original medium to another, changes, even fundamental ones, are common. In particular, not all information available in a text-based format is brought to an image-based format, or from a mixed text/image format to a video format. Information not essential to the narrative will be omitted.
This can lead to one of two main conclusions. The first is unless the adapted to format has plot points specifically and demonstrably different from the original more comprehensive source, those unstated plot points, and background details are still very much in effect, sometimes brushed upon or used unstated to support a seeming nonsequitur. In the Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows feature films, we don't directly learn about the history of the contempt Sirius Black showed the House Elf Kreacher (only touched upon in Order Of The Phoenix film version), but perhaps we gain it by inference from the improved behavior he shows when treated better. For Elfen Lied, this would mean when the anime ended on events before the manga's ending, all truths not negated by differing events (like Kurama's fate) still hold true. All events from the manga await, albeit in altered form and pacing, with the fundamental truths still available to be mined and reforged as needs are.
The second conclusion is that not only does the adaptation differ in some details, but has perhaps its governing rules, an actual alternate universe instead of a merely divergent one. In this view of Elfen Lied, since the anime does not state, for example, that Silpelits have doubled aging, and that Lucy (and possibly her brother) are the only primary Diclonius, and the Kakuzawas have no true Diclonius ancestry, then all of these hard facts become soft or do not apply at all. The timelines presented here will use this second theory, while again in the main this wiki will keep to the idea that unstated still means valid. Exceptions are such directly stated facts as the anime puts forward below that Lucy was not the first Diclonius and sole Primary female.
There are several reasons to believe that the anime has a separate timeline from the manga. One of the most obvious is the fact that the scientist Saito said she had been watching over Mariko for the previous five years. This would mean that Mariko is at least five years old. In the anime, at least nine months before Mariko is born, Professor Kakuzawa tells Kurama that the first massive outbreak of Silpelits happened four years ago. This would mean that the first Silpelit outbreak that likely included Nana had happened at a bare minimum of at least nine years and much closer to 10 years before the series began. However, Lucy gains her powers only eight years before the series starts in both versions. This would make it impossible for Lucy to have caused the Silpelit outbreak in the anime. The following timeline was constructed based on the information given in the anime with an emphasis on not creating any paradoxes, for example, Lucy causing mutations two years before she gained her powers.
For those that wish to put forward an alternative to the timeline(s) presented here, please create your section within this article and please explain why your timeline is valid and the basis behind your reasoning.
An Elfen Lied Anime Based Timeline created by User Literature Nerd
- Hundreds of years before Episode 1: The ancestors of the Kakuzawas may or may not be the first Diclonius, but lose their powers over time, while retaining their horns.
- A few decades before Episode 1: (Possibly shortly after World War Two) As stated in Episode 3, some Diclonius are born, but are sterile and short-lived. Presumably, the effort to cover them up begins here.
- 18 Years before Episode 1: Kouta, Yuka, and the girl who will become Lucy are born.
- 14 years before Episode 1: Nana and other Silpelits are created by the girl who will later become known as Number 3. After her third birthday, she begins infecting males who sire these Silpelits. Both versions state that Diclonius gain their powers at roughly age 3.
- Ten years before Episode 1: Mariko born (The anime makes no mention of doubled aging, and therefore these girls are the age they appear to be). The anime mentions that Mariko is a "3rd generation" but never explains the meaning of this. In the manga, #3 is a Silpelit and Mariko is the only Silpelit born from a Silpelit. In the anime, Chief Kakuzawa exclaims that the Silpelits are worthless because only a Primary Diclonius can infect males and create Silpelits. It is likely that "3rd gen" in the anime refers to a time gap generation because all Silpelits between Mariko's birth and the 1st Silpelit outbreak four years before Mariko's birth were killed by Kurama.
- Eight years before Episode 1: The young Lucy (the name Kaede is never spoken of in the anime, except as the name of Maple House) enduring a lonely existence at the Kamakura Orphanage, begins feeding a stray puppy and grows to care for it. Confiding this to another girl to aid in its feeding, young Lucy is betrayed either by the girl's duplicity or her gullibility. Young Lucy's chief tormentor among the other children, Tomoo murders the pup in cold blood, causing young Lucy to erupt in pain and anger, killing all four other children. While burying her dog, young Lucy meets Kouta, who breaks through her suspicion and becomes her friend, only for a misunderstanding to re-focus all of young Lucy's hurt and anger; Kouta's immediate family members are killed by young Lucy, rendering him amnesiac from the trauma.
- Three years before Episode 1: Lucy lays low for five years, In the manga, she causes mass heart attacks during this time, but it is unclear in the anime how many if any people she murders at this time. It seems less likely in the anime that she killed many during this interval since she seems quite remorseful for killing Kouta's family and says she is living on solely to one day apologize. The DNA voice is also not explicitly stated in the anime, although a hallucination taking the form of another Lucy does appear. It may or may not have been simply a stress induced hallucination since the anime is vaguer on the nature vs. nurture of the supposed Diclonius killer instinct. At an unknown point and under unknown circumstances, she befriends the girl called Aiko Takada in the manga and lives on the run with her, until she is killed during Kurama's attempt to capture Lucy. Lucy is captured as shown in the OVA. The news of Aiko's death plus the isolation of imprisonment slowly chip away at her remaining humanity.
- The events of Episode 1.