|“||...you're not a human. You're Different From Us. Even betraying you doesn't hurt inside that much.||”|
–Specter of the Orphanage Girl, to Lucy
Prejudice is the act of inwardly judging another individual based on biased sets of outward criteria rather than on the merits of the individual. Very often, this action can reveal as much if not more about the one doing the judging than about those they stand over in artificial judgment. Often, the reasons for the determination end up based on misinformation, lack of information, or lack of proper context relating to information. To say that the whole of the world of Elfen Lied was affected by this trait is yet a vast understatement.
Against The Diclonii
The most obvious in-series example of this sort of hateful thinking comes in the virtual dismissal of Diclonius people like Lucy, Nana, and other Silpelits, and, looking back in history, the treatment given to the Kakuzawas' ancestors.
Kaede/Lucy's life was touched by prejudice from almost her first moments on Earth, as her father left her to die of exposure in a forest when she was an infant, all because she was born with horns. This abandonment led to her placement in the Kamakura area orphanage. The orphans existed in a world of being looked down upon themselves, and, at least in the case of Japan's culture, stood almost no chance of being adopted. This seeming trap results from a situation where the same relatives who may not have elected to take them in also frequently vetoed their being adopted by other families because their adoption would be an insult to the family name. Although, this idea is puzzling if the orphans have no known parents and thus no clear next of kin. For the workers there, the assignment was not a choice one, and so a cycle of societal glares looking down upon each layer of the orphanage's existence began with Lucy at the dead bottom, the most unwanted of the unwanted, and made to feel ever more miserable for this reason alone.
Lucy's defense against all this was to shut down, which led to her being judged on yet another level, this time as being freakishly unemotional. Barely-hidden words and gestures of contempt from the caretakers fed that of the children, in turn, making it seem to some like Lucy was fair game for any number of cruel pranks and taunts. While at least some of these cruelties met with punishment, the very persistence of the prejudice and hatred itself never being addressed only seemed to escalate matters, until the pranks became routine and Lucy's complaints so much background noise. Whether or not the young girl who seemingly befriended and may have betrayed Lucy ever actually thought that hurting her was not the same as hurting 'a real person,' it seems inevitable that some, if not most, at the orphanage thought exactly that. To fans, the death of her beloved puppy ranks as the catalyst for Lucy's breakdown and slaughter of other people. In fact, this cruelty was merely a confirmation that she was forever 'othered' in the eyes of those around her, and could not ever escape a judgment no action of hers had ever played a part in causing.
This feeling would pervade Lucy's life forever after. It prevented her from fully trusting Kouta at first, and then to assume the worst of him when she thought he betrayed her. At the fateful festival, in a crowd bustling and unsympathetic to her obvious pain in her mental breakdown, Lucy notably chose to kill a woman offering aid, now automatically judging all Humans as betrayers waiting for her to drop her guard.
Nor would life at the Diclonius Research Institute assist her in stopping this. Her first hours there were met with the sad news of Aiko Takada's fate and a searing lecture from a somewhat hypocritical Kurama about how Diclonius were the ones rejecting peaceful co-existence with Humans. Sadly, he had based this lecture, which hardened Lucy's heart still further, on his sad history. He seemed in this instance to forget how he had once objected to the experimentation on the Diclonii girls at the facility, and, astonishingly for a scientist, to neglect to see the Diclonius he, in essence, cited as evidence got their vectors at an age well below that of reason. Kurama merely judged Lucy as the source of all he had suffered, seeing her as a complete monster instead of a then emotionally unstable teenager, rather than even bothering to question her for insight into the beings he saw as his foes. Like most prejudice, Kurama's feelings were a mixture of real and verifiable information plus extrapolations and leaps in logic driven by pain, fear, and in his case, grief.
Perhaps saddest, while the Kakuzawas remembered well and frequently cited the discrimination and persecution their horned ancestors received, this gave them no insight at all into the wrongness of such prejudice. Besides the 'Humans' (and they were Humans, their beliefs aside), they also looked down upon the Silpelit population as disposable worker drones, to be experimented on, harvested for parts, or abused in hideous ways. This treatment persisted, despite the fact that, according to the Chief's stated plans, the children born from the world-wide infection he caused would almost certainly be Silpelits. Worse still, painted by their government as experts on the subject, the Kakuzawas were able to confirm the genocidal course the government wanted, eliminating even the outside chance of peace with the Diclonius race.
It is unknown if mangaka/creator Lynn Okamoto was aware of the history of horns' assignment to one ethnic group or another by those prejudiced against them. The prime example of those targeted by this is people of Jewish descent, who are to this day believed by some misguided, misinformed souls to have horns. This lie is an old bigotry reawakened and magnified by the racial beliefs of the Nazis in Germany during their heyday.
Against non-horned Humans
Turned on its head, the prejudice against 'normal' Humans would prove no less deadly nor any less tragic in its results.
The Japanese government could not have picked a worse point man on the issue of the Diclonii births than Chief Kakuzawa, who seethed with resentment regarding the treatment of his ancestors and possessed a scalp mutation that had past members of his family murdered. The discrimination they suffered was not only turned on its head but in that reversal, raised to cult status. Just as ancient non-horned Japanese rejected rational explanations for their horns for demonic ones, so did the ancient Kakuzawas (a name meaning 'Valley Of The Horned Ones') reject the rational for a pseudo-mystical/eugenics explanation. In their eyes, they turned their persecuted group into a master race whose only flaw was intermarriage among 'Humans' that diluted their bloodline. Like with Lucy, their supposed 'savior' centuries down the line, they came to the almost Addams/Munsters-like conclusion that they were the real people, and everyone else the freaks and monsters, though they were far more egotistical and malicious in holding such a view. This pride of place, artificially pumped up by dismissing virtually everyone else on the planet, pushed the family to gain political, social and economic power, not to mention achieving scientific and academic standing few families could ever compare. This self-deception often came at a price: their delusions would cause any member of their family, not a born genius to feel an outcast and inferior within their clan. While Anna Kakuzawa was the only member depicted not to have exceptional intelligence, she could not have been the only one with this lack, judging from how "diluted" by intermarriage with Humans (something that should have been impossible were they not Human) they claimed their blood to be. However, there was no talk of banishing or putting her down. It is even conceivable that Anna was never pushed to achieve the way, say, her older brother Professor Kakuzawa was, with her family believing it pointless, or more subtly never asking her what they thought she could never achieve.
The Kakuzawas' hideous oversight of the Silpelit girls under their care was a boiler-plate for anti-Human feelings to fester. The clones of Mariko, seemingly sweet while under control, showed that they fully recognized what was done to them whenever their controls were removed and held a deep hatred of non-horned Humans. The deformed clones acted immediately upon their escape to kill every last Human on the Institute island in vengeance for their horrid treatment. Given that the monstrous Unknown Man had access to whichever Silpelit girl he wished to rape, one can see how the dismissive attitude the Humans showed towards these girls was blown back at them during the last uprising.
Against the Socially Isolated
While all Diclonius can be said to be this way, specific instances stand out in the series for two Diclonius and one Human.
By the time Lucy saw Kouta holding Yuka at the summer festival, she had teetered at the breaking point. This final "betrayal," taking place after being shuffled along to that edge by bullying and arguably, her betrayal by the girl at the orphanage, was the final push to her forsaking humanity entirely. But another factor makes a subtle appearance here. A rude man pushed her over and cursed her while she was crying, and a crowd gathered as she was falling apart, questioning whether or not she is on drugs and why she was talking to herself. To a one, the crowd around her is killed by her vectors, including, sadly, a woman who showed concern for her, as Lucy no longer believed the Humans she was killing were people and saw their empathy as a trick.
The fates of the people in this crowd were likely sealed already, considering Lucy's prior state of mind. Recall that, at this point, they knew nothing of her horns or powers. The rude man shoved over a young child just for being in his way, and the people in the crowd immediately made terrible assumptions of her because she had no one with her to defend her. Lucy was very far gone when all this occurred, but the scene showed these people in a poor light, and if their chatter got through her pain at all, it could not have helped ease her frenzied state of mind.
Later in time (but in an early Manga chapter), we see Lucy, now the amnesiac Nyu, wandering around the streets of Kamakura after Kouta unceremoniously kicked her out for breaking Kanae's seashell. As she's walking, crowds of people give the infant-minded girl looks that range from disgust to contempt. There is no way they could know of the Diclonii, so it's possible they just saw her as a crazy homeless girl, a prostitute, or an otherwise "unwanted" person. This dismissal is possibly due to her pink hair and horns, which they probably thought was both hair dye and strange headgear, as well as her walking about in basically underwear.
In the case of Mayu, a common question of viewers is why no one noticed she was walking around basically half-dressed in only a sweater, shoes, socks, and, of course, underwear, after fleeing her abusive home. It is unlikely that the people of the city didn't see her, but they must have avoided her because they feared what others would think if they were seen talking to a half-dressed young girl. For others, helping her at all would be tantamount to taking responsibility for her as well as facing accusations that they were attracting undesirables by aiding them in even the smallest ways. In short, Mayu was rapidly becoming more and more isolated by being isolated in the first place. The abject contempt of the woman claiming to be Wanta's original owner was merely the openly stated version of what Mayu faced during her time on the streets.
Another example was Nana's treatment by passers-by when Kurama sent her ashore to avoid her euthanization. Her dress was in tatters following her battle with Bando, and she was painfully aware of the stares she was getting. She was not cognizant of the role her horns played in drawing this attention, although it's not impossible her state of dress drew more stares than her horns, which might have been assumed to be headgear of some kind.
|“||A sickness known as hate; not a virus, not a microbe, not a germ - but a sickness nonetheless, highly contagious, deadly in its effects. Don't look for it in the Twilight Zone - look for it in a mirror. Look for it before the light goes out altogether.||”|