|“||Nozomi, you also possess the talent of a Soprano Dramatico. Surely you must have inherited it from your mother.||”|
–Nozomi's Father, attempting to explain his past behavior towards her
Nozomi's Parents can both be said to have meant well, yet likely ended up causing as much damage to her as any outright-abusive parents in the series, especially since her father's severe physical punishments for her led to her developing her urinary incontinence. In addition, their narratives end up containing a few instances of questionable information. Neither their given nor their family names are ever revealed, though this is not unusual for Elfen Lied.
When Nozomi is first introduced, it is said that she has to practice singing at Maple House due to opposition from her family. In a later special chapter, the full story of this is learned, but rather than an entire family, it shows only her father, whose opposition is ferocious. No indication is given as to whether this opposition was held by other family members, or if the term 'family' was Nozomi's way of not directly criticizing her father for his feelings on the matter.
Nozomi knew that her mother, a noted and talented opera singer, had committed suicide when Nozomi was young and that soon after, her father began to actively discourage her from following in her mother's footsteps, crossing the line into severe spankings when yelling at her didn't deter her. The nerves and fear created by these actions caused Nozomi to lose control of her bladder, requiring her to wear diapers, and crippling her self-esteem. What Nozomi had never known until this special chapter was the whys and wherefores that drove her parents' actions.
When Nozomi's mother killed herself, it was due to despair over having lost her voice. Her voice type, Dramatic Soprano (called "Soprano Dramatico" in the manga) is a very high soprano type of voice, and Nozomi's father notes that it is uncommon and even rare for Japanese people to possess. After some time, Nozomi's mother damaged her voice, most likely due to oversinging, a common issue for singers with higher vocal range. Since a Dramatic Soprano voice is apparently rare in the Elfen Lied universe, it can, therefore, be assumed that Nozomi's mother developed nodules in her vocal chords that impeded her from singing. Upon losing her voice, she committed suicide. After her death, her husband fell into despair, refused to discuss what had happened with Nozomi, and grew violently enraged whenever she would play her mother's records or attempt to sing. He explained this abusive behavior by expressing his fear that Nozomi would end up killing herself like her mother had. He even goes so far as to explain her voice type as if it were a flaw or illness when really, Nozomi's mother likely ended up destroying her own voice from factors such as improper singing techniques or oversinging. For her part, Nozomi believed too strongly in her dream to avoid the risk, and her father relented in his opposition and even agreed to support her, perhaps seeing that his way of discouraging her had also made her meek. There is also a mention in-series that Nozomi was meant to one day run the family's business, but neither this desire nor the nature of that business was ever revealed or pursued.
It seems possible that the backstory of Nozomi's mother was partly inspired by the life and fate of noted master diva Maria Callas, who struggled with parental domination and a loss of range late in life, which in turn placed her into a depressed state. However, if so, it seems to have been a broad inspiration, since Callas dealt with a mother who forced her to sing under circumstances she disliked, and her loss of range may have been related to her weight gain and loss, rather than a susceptibility to her vocal chords deteriorating.
Whether he held this fear for Nozomi out of knowledge that was true in-universe or not, this same fear must have come into play when Nozomi was among those most gravely injured by the military invasion of Maple House, her throat badly injured by a soldier's choke-hold. While she and Kouta recovered at the same hospital, he forbade her friends and housemates from seeing her, even after he took her home for further recovery. But the strength he encouraged her to pursue one dream meant that she defied him and left their home amidst the chaos of the series' final arc to join her friends and stand by their side as Kouta reluctantly ended the life of the girl they knew as Nyu. In the series' finale, she is shown to have at least recovered her speaking voice and seemed to have moved into Maple House full time, and with the other ladies welcomed Kouta home from the hospital.
In a corollary to other characters like Mayu and Nana, Kouta also can be said to function as a surrogate father for Nozomi (despite her apparent unspoken crush on him), giving her a place of safety in which to pursue her dream, encouraging her to be strong and defending her to the best of his limited ability.
Though they both undoubtedly loved her, Nozomi's Parents, in the end, possessed fundamental flaws, allowing their despair and pain to be made her own. It is only in the grim environment of Elfen Lied that they seem better by comparison to other parents far worse than they.
- Nozomi's Parents share an odd distinction with only a very few characters in this series. While the father is rarely seen, and the mother only showed up once, they are fully depicted and referenced, and their basic fates very clear. Perhaps only Mariko shares this status with Nozomi.
- The dramatic soprano voice type is notable for being one powerful enough to sing over an entire orchestra. In operas, a dramatic soprano will often play long-suffering tragic heroines, as is certainly the case for Nozomi's mother story.