I could go on. But the true takeaway from Elfen Lied is not the dismemberment or the nudity, but the themes. The human condition is laid bare in Elfen Lied, the ugly side of humanity revealed to the world in the bloody manner humans have conducted their lives, and continue to even to this day.
There will be many turned off by the brutality of the series. The sheer number of people who die in the most gory of fashions is insane. But look past that, and you’ll see a world about abuse, bullying, xenophobia, hate, revenge, jealousy, and love, parental and romantic. It discusses ethics in science, basic morality, justice, and if the ends justify the means.
It’s a piece of work that attempts to encompass everything, and do so with remarkable finesse. The characters are all well developed, and all interlinked in a tight web that draws everyone together, raising questions while advancing the plot. Everyone is different, with different views, different motivations, different attitudes, different purposes. None of them are one-dimensional, and they all serve their roles in the plot while displaying the wide spectrum of human emotions.
The plot is science fiction, which requires a bit of suspension of disbelief. But otherwise, it’s a great effort that makes a lot of logical sense as the plot develops. The way everything comes together in the end is quite admirable, and is something I will love to emulate as a writer. But again, the true beauty of Elfen Lied is in its characters and the deep questions they ask of us.
It’s a heart-wrenching tale as the story progresses, apart from the earlier chapters where there is more humour and a focus on simpler relationships between normal humans. The art isn’t good, but it helps desensitise readers to the intense violence, and brings the characters into sharper focus.
If I had to discuss every theme that Elfen Lied had covered, I would be writing several theses. Instead, all I will say is that it makes for a depressing read, not only because characters suffer, but also because what the characters suffer isn’t fiction. It’s what we see all the time, happening all around the world.
Why must we fight? Why must we hurt others? Why must we ostracise? Are we truly evolved, or are we just advanced animals, still bound by instinct?
Even the violence, the human experimentation…can we say humanity has never committed such crimes before? The Holocaust is but one of many genocides. Is it not even worse to kill our own species, unlike the Diclonius who are only trying to kill us?
What a story.