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Manga: Elfenlied
Other manga by Lynn Okamoto:

Lucy, a beautiful but extremely dangerous Diclonius, escapes from a sinister research facility, brutally slaughtering anyone that gets in her way, whether they intended to or not. However, a glancing head shot from an anti-tank rifle leaves her injured, and she falls into the ocean, unconscious...

Later, university student Kouta and his female cousin Yuka are walking along the Yuigahama beach near Kamakura, when they find a naked young woman with horns on her head. They end up taking her home and calling her Nyu after the only sound she makes.

Between the sinister government agency running the facility, Yuka's jealousy, Nyu's dark and troubled alternate personality Lucy and a traumatic past he cannot remember, Kouta is in deep trouble. Caught between monsters, both human and not, where does his loyalty lie?

Elfen Lied, written by Lynn Okamoto, is a gornographic manga, which has been likened to a combination of X-Men, Carrie, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Love Hina, and Monster. In other words, it's a twisted mixture of mutant battles, Psychic Powers, split personalities, pseudo-harem antics, cute girls, the main character who discovers that the person whom he interacted during that person's childhood is evil, and of course, bucketloads of Gorn - and it's more than happy to swing between comedy and horror at the drop of a hat. It has also been compared to I Dream of Jeannie as done by David Lynch and Wes Craven. There is also a short anime series of the same name that follows the first couple of chapters but ends with an alternative ending before the real plot kicks off.

The series has become something of a Cult Classic: given the heavy amounts of bloody violence and nudity, not to mention the dark tone overall (which are even worse in the manga), even in Japan the series only aired on satellite TV, as a glorified commercial for the DVD release. In North America, ADV Films didn't seriously think the show would gain widespread popularity, if only for the pragmatic reason that it was limited to mature audiences and could only market it to such. There was actually supposed to be a second season, but the show had to end after only one season largely due to lack of exposure in Japan from its limited TV run. Then, purely by word of mouth, it became one of ADV's top selling North American DVDs of 2005.

Now has its own Character Page. Contributions are greatly encouraged and appreciated.

Compare and contrast AKIRA, Saikano, Deadman Wonderland, and Monster. For series that deal with a superpowered species, compare and contrast Claymore and Hellsing.

Cautious Editing/Viewer Warning: There is a considerable amount of violence, gore, and discussion of rape.

This show provides examples of:

  • 108: The number of chapters in the series is 107. Add to this the two special chapters and you get 109. Remove the special chapter that is not canonical and voilá.
  • Abridged Series: Has one, but is currently on hiatus (see trope page).
  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: Kohta and Yuka adopt Mayu, despite there only being a 5 year age difference.
  • Accidental Pervert: Kouta
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Diclonius in the anime all have varying shades of pink hair. In the manga, Lucy's is a light pink, Nana has bluish-purple, and Mariko has blonde.
  • Adapted Out: Surprisingly few people are aware of Nozomi's existence. She was kept out of the anime entirely, despite being the reason that the show is called Elfen Lied and being a main character. After she becomes a Cute Mute due to injury in the manga, less than a page is devoted to her at the hospital. This is despite the fact that there was a ton of buildup to her exam results beforehand, and the latest development ran the risk of ending all her plans for the future.
    • The title is taken from a German song/poem of the same name (Nozomi just sings this already existing song) and is a reference to Lucy/Nyu more than any other character. The "Elfen" part is a reference to her horn's which resembles sharp ears. The "Lied" part (though actually meaning "song" in German) is symbolic to the English term "lie," meaning deception, a fitting reference to the innocent persona Nyu and the sociopathic persona Lucy. In other word's, a reference to her deception to everyone but most importantly Kohta.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Well, too many things to list, so lets just go with bloody Unknown Man. He's sadist, a rapist, a murderer, and a child molester, and he nearly has his way with a rape victim name Mayu.
    • Mayu's stepfather, who molested her repeatedly, and her mother did nothing to stop him. Result is she runs away with nobody to care about her till she runs into Kouta and Yuka.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: A recurring theme.
  • All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": Lucy's death and her real name "Kaede" are widely known. Somewhat subverted since you wouldn't know how those happened or revealed. It may possibly be because of the former being Makes Just as Much Sense in Context (her powers exceeded entropy, in other words), and the latter is all the way next to the ending.
  • Amnesiacs Are Innocent: Gets worse after she gets the memories back.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Lucy rips off the limbs of many people.
  • And I Must Scream: Number 28 in the manga.
  • And the Adventure Continues / No Ending: The manga leaves off on a wild card: Anna, who is revealed to be (or regresses nack into) an intact human, awakens to Nousou's Bifauxnen assistant/bodyguard, Nozomi's voice recovers, and Kouta begins his life married to (presumably) Yuka. The last page shows two twins (who are likely the reborn Lucy and Nyu) about a decade later arriving at the grave of Lucy's pet dog, to an older Kouta and his daughter.
  • And Your Little Dog Too: Inverted, the female lead does it to the antagonist and the male lead.
    • Played with early on when Lucy comes across Mayu's little dog. Lucy looks down at the dog, which is barking frantically at her but unable to run away because it's tied to a leash, and we're treated to what seems like a Gory Discretion Shot as we hear Lucy use her powers. When Mayu comes outside, the audience's expectations are subverted when it's revealed that Lucy actually cut the dog's leash. This was our first hint that Lucy's not all bad.
  • Anti-Hero: Lucy and Bando (in the anime and manga versions respectively) due to their merciless natures.
  • Apocalypse Wow: The manga has some fun nearing the ending, including an impressive ten or so pages pages dedicated to Lucy destroying the world when she accidentally thinks Kouta is Killed Off for Real; don't worry, he's not. There's also many treats to the eventual destruction of the research facility, which is ripped apart from below the ground up with Lucy's vectors after she kills Kakuzawa.
  • Armor-Piercing Slap: Yuka gives such a hard one to Kouta early in the anime that in the next scene you can still see her hand imprint on his cheek.
  • Art Evolution:
    • In the manga the artwork starts off okay, but gets dramatically better. Compare the cover of volume 1 to volume 12.
    • The horns of the Diclonii also had a different look at the start of the manga, though that changed quickly.
  • Art Imitates Art: In the opening credit, Gustav Klimt.
  • Artistic License - Biology: Lucy's nipples are placed very inconsistently; they're always somewhere on her breast, but "where" depends on the artist.
  • Artistic License - Law: In the manga finale, the World Health Organization issued a birth ban until the Diclonius birth vaccine could be distributed. The WHO has no authority to order UN member nations to do anything. At best, they can strongly recommend actions, but the rest is up to every single national government on Earth.
  • Artistic Title: "Elfenlied" is German for "elf song", and is the title of a poem by Eduard Mörike (but it's not the Latin poem, "Lilium", sung during the anime's opening).
  • Art Major Physics + No Arc in Archery: When an enemy is out of reach of their vectors, a Diclonius will typically use her vectors to instead throw objects at them. These thrown objects invariably behave like a bullet or arrow, regardless of the actual aerodynamic properties of the object in question.
    • Of course, we're talking about very small objects thrown at the speed of a bullet, like that pen that's thrown into a soldier's eye. Played straight for extremely large objects.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: In the anime only, but the way they resolved all plot lines by then, Kakuzawa is the only one who came out unambiguously ahead. And he's laughing like a maniac over his victory. However, the story ends on a Cliff Hanger of epic proportions.
  • Batman Gambit: Starting immediately after the point where the anime cuts off, Kakuzawa initiates the second part of his plan: a missile launch with the Diclonius virus that would spread into the Japanese population, and, later, the world; in other words, the population of Japan would have their future children Diclonius, without them knowing of it. An attempt to actually stop this from happening does not work, and the gambit proceeds as planned. It would have worked if it wasn't for Arakawa and her knowledge of the Diclonius virus, so it gets foiled later on. The rest of the manga is spent attempting to make sure the scenario does not proceed into even worse territory.
  • Berserk Button: It's rare that diclonii care for anyone. If they do, you really don't want to threaten that person.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: The only reason why Lucy didn't kill Kouta when they were younger. In a Slap-Slap-Kiss sort of way.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: When Bando first mistakes Nyu for being harmless and provokes her into reverting back into Lucy. Lucy repays the favor by chopping off an arm, breaking the other, and blinding him.
    • Nearly happens with Nana as well, when he verbally abuses her to the point where she develops Dull Eyes of Unhappiness, and very nearly overpowers him.
  • Bishōnen:
    • Nousou.
    • Kurama is a borderline example, but is an older man and later grows a Beard of Sorrow.
  • Bifauxnen: Until the very end when her shirt gets ripped, it's practically impossible to have guessed that Nousou's sidekick (who shot Kouta) is actually a woman.
  • Big Bad: Played straight with Kakuzawa Senior.
  • Big Damn Antihero: When the Unknown Man assaults Mayu and Nana in chapter 75, things look really bad even for this manga. Cue Bandou's Dynamic Entry.
  • Blank White Eyes: Lucy when her right horn gets knocked off by Number 35 (Mariko). She appears to be in shock/comatose (complete with white eyes) for several minutes.
  • Bloodbath Villain Origin: Lucy
  • Blood Is the New Black
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: On numerous occasions, but most notable is Kana during Lucy's rampage at the festival.
  • Bloody Handprint: Which isn't show anywhere in the manga.
  • Body Horror: Lucy towards the end of the manga. Half of her face is melted off by that point.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: In the anime...kind of. Later revealed to be a plain old Cliff Hanger.
  • Bonus Episode: The anime has 13 episodes plus one on the DVD.
  • Brain in a Jar: Number 28, only in a much worse fashion.
  • Break the Cutie: Every single goddamn one.
  • Breather Episode: Episode 10.5, the OVA, an extremely loose adaptation of Chapter 85-86, which explains how Lucy was captured in the beginning of the manga. A nice break if one is going through the series in one sitting.
    • Sadly the R1 DVD sets don't include it.
      • They do as of 2013, and the Blu-Ray release.
  • Brick Joke: In the manga, Nozomi's diaper.
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: While escaping during the first episode, Lucy decapitates an intern and uses her corpse to block a hail of 9mm bullets
  • Caught in the Rain: Kouta and Yuka in episode six.
  • Chekhov's Classroom: Bando remembers the instructions given to him earlier in the episode about the 2 meter effective range of Lucy's weapon.
  • Child by Rape: Lucy's half-brother, the result of Kakuzawa finding and imprisoning Lucy's Mom
  • Combat Tentacles: Diclonius vectors might certainly count as these.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The anime cuts off at around chapter 63, instead ending with a somewhat vague cliffhanger. For those who want to know what the anime missed, well... Kurama does not die with Mariko. A ton of other characters are introduced. Kakuzawa finally gets the death he deserves. Arakawa's role is bigger. When Kouta's memories return, his reaction to Lucy is... less positive. You know, just read it. It's kickass... and very sad.
    • Or it would be very sad, if it didn't keep resurrecting the characters who die. Kurama, Bando, Mariko, and even Lucy—death is so cheap that it takes a lot of power out of an otherwise good story. The anime still left out Bando's awesome death scene though.
  • Conspicuous CG: The vectors.
  • Contralto of Danger: Whenever the protagonist is in her Nyu persona, she is like an innocent young girl. When she switches to her Lucy persona, she has a much lower voice to match her dangerous and threatening nature.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Once it's revealed that Lucy and Kouta met as children, it gets hard to believe that Lucy washing up on that beach would coincide perfectly with Kouta's return to that village for the first time in several years, and that both would have Laser-Guided Amnesia, and that Kouta's high school teacher is the son of the Big Bad, and that Mayu happens to witness the fight between Lucy and Nana... Well, you can see where this is going.
  • Covers Always Lie:
    • Compared to the amount of blood and violence in this series, and how mentally scarred Lucy is, she sure does seem calm and serene on the DVD and manga covers.
    • Awww, look at that manga cover, with the incredibly moe pink-haired girl on the front. This looks like a pretty innocent ser-WHY IS THERE SO MUCH BLOOD!?
  • Crapsack World: Besides the nice-looking coastal city the series takes place in, apathy and discrimination run rampant, where being a Diclonius means a lifetime of being broken repeatedly and being a human means living in fear of the child being born a silpelit, which will accidentally kill its parents by the age of 3 as a result of its vectors.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The melodrama takes places in a nice little coastal city and a very pretty inn...
  • Creator Thumbprint: The openings of Elfen Lied and Sora No Woto, both series directed by Mamoru Kanbe, feature recreations of Gustav Klimt's paintings, featuring the respective shows' characters.
  • Creepy Child:
    • Again, Number 35.
    • At least two of the unnamed Diclonii
    • There's also Tomo (the lead bully at the orphanage), who takes pleasure in beating an innocent puppy to death.
  • Cross-Popping Veins: Happens to Yuka twice, once when Kouta was about to mention that her cooking wasn't special, and when his little sister teases her in the flashback.
  • Cry Cute: Probably because of their exaggerated eyes, but all of the main girls when they do it. Even Lucy/Nyu and Mariko in the anime.
  • Cry For The Devil in Plain Sight: The story seems to go to great lengths to show how much of an unfortunate victim Lucy has been throughout her life.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Pretty much any fight involving Lucy, although this is reversed in the battle between Lucy and Mariko.
    • Conversely, pretty much any battle involving Nana will go badly for her.
    • In the anime, Mariko pretty much stomps Lucy, and only stops because of Kurama's timely intervention.
  • Cut-and-Paste Translation: The German dub has less swearwords than the English one.
  • Cute Clumsy Girl:
    • Miss Kisaragi only lasts for a whole ten minutes because of this. Nana lasts longer on account of being clumsy due to having to control her artificial limbs with her vectors. And instead of stumbling, her limbs fall apart...
    • Nana is this mostly in the anime. It's much rarer in the manga which mostly consists of her limbs falling off when fighting.
  • Cute Mute: Nyu, after the only word she could speak at first. Nozomi becomes one near the end of the manga in a more literal way, although she seems to have gotten better by the last chapter.
  • Cyborg: Bando and Nana both get artificial limbs. They're prosthetics, though, and they're not as strong as flesh-and-blood limbs, but Nana gets creative with combining their detachable nature and her vectors.
  • Dead Guy Junior: In the manga ending, Kouta's daughter is named Nyuu.
  • Death by Adaptation: Kurama dies in the anime, whereas he survives in the manga.
  • Death by Childbirth:
    • Hiromi, Kurama's wife, in a roundabout way: She had extreme complications with Mariko's birth, then tried to stop Kurama from killing Mariko shortly after her surgery and bled to death.
    • This happens with any Diclonius that has slipped into Kill All Humans mode.
  • Death Is Cheap: Manga only. Kurama and Bando have excellent death scenes but disappointingly survive. Nyu/Kaede has similar treatment. This is one point in which the anime may have been better - if they actually finished it properly.
  • Did Not Die That Way: Kouta eventually finds out that his father and sister did not die from an accident and an illness, respectively, but that they were both murdered in front of him by Lucy, and the trauma of witnessing this caused him to block the memories out.
  • Disney Death:
    • Bandou in the manga. Constantly.
    • Also, Lucy, though it was left up in the air.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Several examples.
  • Does Not Like Men: Mayu follows this to a degree; the manga implies that her traumatic experience with her stepfather has soured her on men in general, and finding Kouta in the bath groping Nyu doesn't help. Ironically, she appears to bond most closely with Bandou, who generally treats her like crap, except for when he saved her from the "Unknown Man".
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Yuka tends to get pretty violent on Kouta several times.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Nearly or just as bad as Neon Genesis Evangelion.
    • When the most normal and cheerful person in the cast is the one with no arms or legs, expect some serious issues.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Kind of. Could have been much worse.
    • And really, despite it all, the very end is something wonderful. This is one of those stories that's well deserving of this trope.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Anna. She is ironically more "Eldritch" than "Abomination" due to her being a gigantic head with two eyes and a very masive body as the result of an "enhancement" experiment performed on her human form by her father, Professor Kakuzawa. The reason why you never see it in the anime is due to it's residence, the radioactive lake underneath the research facility. It's also equivalent to God in power because it has the ability to predict the future, and she knew that Kakuzawa, and possibly herself, would be ceremoniously killed by Lucy, and, as a result, disrupt the plans of Kakuzawa's plans for being God. H.P. Lovecraft would love to marry it.
  • Enfante Terrible: Mariko, and Lucy too in her flashbacks.
    • The entire Gang Of Bullies from Lucy's childhood, and their leader Tomoo in particular.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Bandou has lines he won't cross. If he feels in someone's debt he will try to return the favour.
    • He also beats a pedophile. It may only be because the victim is his 'friend', but his reaction denotes that he hates this kind of person in general.
    • Surprisingly, Director Kakuzawa kept his daughter human, because Even Evil Has Loved Ones.
  • Evil Versus Evil: While by and large, most plot-driving characters are evil, there's shades of evil between them; some have sympathetic motivations or other redeeming qualities, while others completely lack any redeeming characteristics whatsoever. Being the latter does not necessarily mean that you are worse than the former.
  • Explosive Leash: Done with Mariko.
  • Expy: Not the series itself, but it has one. Wolfbreed. It's Elfen Lied . . . with werewolves.
    • In many respects, the doomed secretary Kisaragi seems like one for Love Hina cast member Mutsumi.
  • Eye Scream: Bando really should've stopped threatening Lucy after she rendered both of his arms nonfunctional...
  • The Fair Folk: The diclonii seem to have been influenced by them in many aspect, such as children that are secretly given to human parents but turn out to be monsters, or that they are invulnerable to normal weapons and can only be killed with a special metal (in this case tungsten instead of iron). It's this kind of elves that the title is refering to.
  • Fanservice: A girl with the body of an 18 year old and the mind of a 2 year old. Not hard to imagine all the kinds of situations this creates.
    • Also, the scene of Yuka sitting on Kouta's lap and kissing him is taken much further in the manga, and several chapters have still art of characters in revealing clothing or various stages of nudity.
    • Also, Panty Shots. Lots and lots of panty shots.
  • Fan Disservice: Lucy walks around naked in the first episode while slaughtering people and splattering blood and limbs everywhere. Mayu in the scenes where she is molested by her stepfather. Also, many of the Diclonius are naked while they are tortured and the like. It's pretty much a given that if a character is nude or nearly so, something bad is either happening or about to happen, with few exceptions (see the previous trope). Erotic or traumatizing? You decide.
    • Also, Panty Shots. Lots and lots of panty shots. Usually immediately followed by traumatic slaughter.
  • Fantastic Racism: Played straight in the fact that humans believe Diclonii to be murderous monsters that will wipe out humanity and hunt them down without mercy.
    • Subverted by the fact, that this time humanity is right! Maybe. Though Diclonii do have a genetic drive to kill humans, there is some ambiguity as to just how much this can be averted by childhood circumstances. Nana is the most obvious example, but there are others in the manga. There is also, it's noted, a genetic drive in humans to kill humans, but those are normally suppressed by parents raising their children, not torturing them form their birth, chaining them up, and shooting rocks at them. See Informed Ability below.
      • It's a complex problem. Diclonii begin to use vectors around age 3, when Kids Are Cruel as well as intractable and still without inhibitions, notwithstanding that they can't even properly understand death. It's pretty hard for a 3 year old child with the power to destroy anything nearby with minimal effort to NOT commit brutal murders and antagonize humanity, and set in motion the whole conflict. It takes an exceedingly gentle personality, in fact, which is not a survival advantage and therefore rare. Even Diclonii would have trouble raising Diclonius children, except if they kept them at vector's length all the time, which is impractical. Although the Institute completely screwed it up with the whole torture business, the best bet is probably raising such children in isolation and gradually socializing them and increasing human contact AFTER they know that, well, tearing people apart with vectors is... well, wrong.
  • Festival Episode: And a tragic one at that.
  • Final Solution: Pretty much every Diclonii in the series has been abused by humans to the point where their biological survival instinct has fused with their psychosis, which insists that humans must be eradicated or they will eradicate Diclonii. Turns out that this is absolutely correct. Once knowledge of Diclonii is widespread, all Diclonii babies are killed at birth until human scientists develop a vaccine capable of keeping them from being conceived at all.
  • For Science! and The Evulz: Logical Extreme: all of the scientists want to observe Diclonii, even if it means risking another person's life. When questioning their motives, it usually involves a "What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome" quote.
    Scientist (to Bando): The human race, full of better off decreasing.note 
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: Past Chapter 75, the manga relies on taking on individual routes and expanding on multiple characters. In Chapter 87, there's at least six individual timelines happening at once, and each timeline takes up a page, resulting in a extreme Mood Whiplash. In no particular order:
    • A is Nyu captured by Kakuzawa and learning of Lucy.
    • B is Kohta recovering from a gunshot wound in Chapter 85.
    • C is Nana finding Kurama borderline deranged after enduring through Chapter 65.
    • D is Barbara and Nousou the former who gets promoted to central character after she kills Nousou.
    • E is Professor Arakawa developing and finding the cure for the Diclonius.
    • F is The Agent finding Nousou's headless body.
  • Frankenstein's Monster: Manga only, but a young-looking scientist scavenges a dead body blown to bits by an explosion and is able to reanimate the dead within his "laboratory" with some Applied Phlebotinum (it's never clearly explained). Can you guess what happens next?
  • Freak Out: A lot of characters. Some get them multiple times.
  • Freeze Sneeze
  • Freudian Excuse: Lucy and Mariko.
  • Gecko Ending: In the anime, Lucy shows up casting a shadow on Kouta's house. The manga, however, has a definitive end, maybe.
    • Kurama is killed in the anime, whereas he survives in the manga.
  • Genre Shift
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Near the end of the manga, it's revealed that "Lucy" (real name "Kaede") isn't the Hyde to Nyuu's Jekyll. In fact both of them are alternative personalties of the original Kaede, who was a quite normal girl until she snapped under the constant abuse and death of her dog, where her evil instinct took over and created Lucy, who only cared about exterminating humanity.
  • Good Eyes, Evil Eyes: Used in a very prolific manner, particularly with Lucy/Nyu; just contrast the innocent Nyu persona's wide, bubbly eyes with the narrow, hateful, tortured eyes of the Lucy persona. In fact, a key characteristic of a Diclonius who's been pushed too far is a piercing, glazed-over look in their eyes, signifying their descent into murderous misanthropy (basically every Diclonius in the show goes through this at one point or another, given that Humans Are Bastards).
  • Gorn: With so much Gorn, Kirk doesn't stand a chance this time!
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Subverted, surprisingly enough: in episode 3, what looks like a Gory Discretion Shot implies that Lucy has done her usual job on a puppy that was barking at her. Soon after, it's revealed that she simply cut its leash.
    • Subverted so often that after a decent percentage of the manga, if someone isn't dismembered or beheaded in-panel you know they're probably okay.
      • Even being chopped in half might not kill you, especially if you're Bandou
    • But there is a straight Gory Discretion Shot in the first episode.
    • And another one in the eighth episode during Lucy's backstory, the animators were kind enough not to show the three bullies beating a puppy to death.
  • Gratuitous Rape: It certainly seems like this. There's Lucy who was on the receiving end of Attempted Rape, and Mayu who ran away from a sexually abusive stepfather. And in the manga, there's the Unknown Man. How do we know he's evil? Because of the atrocious rape he gleefully commits on diclonii. Even when he's on a time frame to find Lucy, he still stops to try and rape Mayu.
    • The most egregious example is - again, from the manga - the Director and Shirakawa. He finds out she's a spy: He graphically molests her and uses the "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization to humiliate her. It comes out of nowhere, it could be removed and nothing would be lost (save some exposition after the fact) and after that, it's never brought up again as Lucy kills her soon after. At least Mayu had a character arc with her assault, this is just for shock value and more evidence to show that the Director is evil.
  • Grotesque Cute: You see almost everybody drawn in the cutest, most Sickeningly Sweet shoujo style, and next thing you know, you see torn limbs, heads and hearts, and blood sprayed everywhere!
  • Ground Punch: The manga has Lucy using her vectors (basically invisible hands) to strike the ground in order to jump long distances, they even leave hand marks and small craters behind.
  • Hand Cannon: Bando uses two Desert Eagles chambered in .50AE, and is actually justified in using it: Most handgun bullets bounce off the Diclonius vectors, the heavier and more powerful .50AE round will go right through at a close enough range. The only other option is to use an anti-tank sniper rifle or something equivalent in power.
  • Harem Anime: Subverted. What could've been a major harem show is a high-handed drama instead.
  • Harmful to Minors: If you're a minor in this story, may God help you.
  • Heroic BSOD: Kouta goes through one that lasts for a year, and causes him to repress some painful childhood memories.
  • Heroic Dog : Both supported and subverted in Mayu's dog Wanta. His loyalty to Mayu (even over a woman who claimed to be his true owner)and the others is stellar. But like his human and otherwise friends, his ability to save them is way limited, and he is nearly killed by the vicious Unknown Man.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Lucy, toward the end of the manga.
  • Hidden Eyes: Lucy often has these when she's the active personality.
  • High-Pressure Blood: Holy HELL is there High-Pressure Blood.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Unknown Man and both Kakuzawas die at the hands of Lucy.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: A huge part of the show, but Bandou really pushes the envelope, and the Unknown Man pushes it off a cliff. Sometimes it seems that the Diclonii are more human than the actual humans, but usually not for long.
    • Fantastic Racism: Basically, more or less every human or Diclonius is pretty unpleasant to its own kind, but especially nasty to the other. It may just be the humans we see that are nasty, but that's pretty much everyone except Kouta, Kanae, Yuka, Mayu and Nozomi.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Chapter 21.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The episodes of the anime, as well as the title, are in German. And don't make much sense to German viewers either.
  • I'll Kill You!
  • Imaginary Friend: Cruelly subverted. Nana tries to tell the others that Cute Mute Nyuu has a murderous Superpowered Evil Side named Lucy, but they think that it's just this.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Justified. The vectors of the Diclonii make most guns completey ineffective against them. High caliber tungsten rounds seem to be the only thing they have trouble stopping.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted.
  • Info Drop: We only learn about Lucy's real name when Kouta reads the letter she wrote as a child. It's Kaede.
  • Informed Ability: The diclonius 'drive to kill humans' is (almost) only ever seen in diclonii who have been horrifically, unforgivably abused by humans. There are very few times this seems to 'not' be the case, and all but one of those could be a situation of children with terrible power not knowing how to control it. Until the very, VERY end of the manga (as in the last chapter), we are only shown a single example of this not being the case, and even that one is questionable.
  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Nyu and at times Nana as well. This trope often veers from appealing to the viewer to freaking out the viewer completely.
  • In Vino Veritas: A bonus chapter of the manga is devoted to this. Mayu is knocked out very soon, Nana gets mad over Kouta's treatment of her, Nyu and Yuka try to have sex with him... then Lucy awakens.
  • Jerkass —> Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Bandou. While he's a much bigger bastard than normal of the latter, he has his moments mainly towards Mayu.
    • It's perhaps better than nothing that Bandou is simply a Jerkass, given his behavior and the general treatment of most humans in this show!
  • Karmic Death: Kakuzawa and The Unknown Man get killed by Lucy.
  • Karma Houdini: Lucy brutally murdered Kouta's dad and younger sister Kanae, yet in the anime not only does Kouta more or less forgive her, it's hinted that she survives her last showdown with the army. The manga is a double subversion. Kouta does not forgive her, but he does Mercy Kill her later on (utterly justified by the circumstances) after she shows sincere regret for her actions, and keeps visiting the stone where they promised to meet for years afterward. He even breaks down in tears as he discovers a secret note where Lucy (Real name Kaede) reveals how much she loved him, albeit in a very childish manner.
    • Kouta does say in the anime that he will never forgive "Lucy" for what she has done, but that he will always love the little girl he played with, and Nyu. While they are effectivly the same person, it is pretty common as a figure of speech. And hey, it's love. It is unreasonable anyway.
    • Mayu's Abusive Parents never get punished for their actions.
  • Kick the Dog: Taken to the Logical Extreme, but also subverted early on to show that Lucy's killing was more discriminate than we were previously led to believe.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Lucy's childhood, which culminated in her Start of Darkness when the children in the orphanage beat her puppy to death!
    • Mariko is this to a certain extent, as her ruthless killing is more or less the Diclonis equivalent of burning ants with a magnifying glass (at least the way she treats it). Of course, she wasn't really raised to know any better...
  • Kill All Humans: Most Diclonii. Whether it's because Humans Are Bastards or because of a genetic drive is unclear.
    • It's at least very heavily implied that it's a genetic drive. The fact that Humans Are Bastards just makes it easier for them to listen to their inner voice telling them to kill everyone.
      • One interpretation is that the "genetic voice" of the Diclonii to be a simple case of egoism. It's mentioned often in the manga that human beings have a drive to expand and survive that is based primarily on egoism; it is only natural the Homo sapiens diclonius would have a similar drive. Since they are competing with humans for a place in the world, and since their vectors give them a huge advantage, it isn't difficult for them to associate their capabilities with manifest destiny and a sense of superiority, particularly after the abuse many of them receive at the hands of human beings. This serves as a particularly brutal aesop regarding both the consequences of mistreating fellow human beings and the objective insignificance of human life.
      • A differant interpretation however is that the "genetic voice" is just regular insanity and the humans simply misinterpreted the Diclonii based on that.
  • Kill 'em All: Explicitly states that Lucy could singlehandedly cause Diclonii to outnumber humans (guaranteeing their extinction), but doesn't actually occur in the series.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: In the final episode in the anime series, the scientist (I don't know his name) that kills Mariko and Kurama by detonating a bomb inside Mariko gets decapitated by Lucy as he says to Nana when he attempts to shoot her:
    "You're the only one left. Think of the reward— (gets decapitated)
    • Professor Kakuzawa was also killed this way.
  • Kissing Cousins: Yuka is infatuated with her cousin Kouta. Whether he feels the same way or not is unclear but seems likely. They DO have a very intimate scene at the temple after all...
    • In the final chapter of the manga, Kouta's daughter resembles Yuka.
  • Large and in Charge: According to the full-cast shot in the last chapter, Director Kakuzawa is taller than the rest of the cast by a notable amount.
  • Large Ham: Bandou and Kakuzawa.
  • The Last Dance: Kouta has a fatal gunshot wound, Lucy/Kaede's body is already at limits from a abortive attempt at avenging the aforementioned fact on a global scale, and JSDF air and maritime forces are already scrambling to take her out with their full firepower. What does Lucy/Kaede do? She proceeds to sing Elfenlied while patching up Kouta's body on a cellular level and blasting the JSDF forces out of both sky and sea, ''simultaneously. And she knows full well that she's going to end up with a fatal Superpower Meltdown.
  • Lets See You Do Better: During the festival flashback, Yuka is constantly breaking the clay animals at one of the stands. Kouta says that she's terrible at it, so Yuka tells him to do it if he's so awesome at it. Then he does and manages to get the animal shape out of it, and she promises to get better at it.
  • Lighthouse Point
  • Limp and Livid: Lucy. Quite a lot.
  • Little Miss Badass: Almost all of the Diclonii are this during their preteen years.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Nyuu, full stop - at least, in the manga. She is constantly making Kouta grope her and molesting the other girls that live at the inn. Subverted in that she doesn't understand the gravity of her actions, and is only (for the most part) copying things that she's seen others doing.
  • Love Confession: When Yuka confesses to Mayu how jealous she gets whenever Kohta pays attention to other girls, Mayu gently asks Yuka if maybe the reason she gets so jealous is that she loves Kohta. Yuka tearfully admits she's right.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Lucy at first, but she does get better. Mariko as well. Yuka too, but to a lesser extent.
  • Lucy Is About To Kill You: When Bando decides to kill Lucy by shooting the grenade next to his dead teammate, he forgot an important object: the teammate's automatic machine rifle. It went to hell from there.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: First, the violent anime ends with a cheery upbeat song. Then, the lyrics turn out to be all about unrequited love, which is actually a subplot in the series.
  • Mad Scientist: Arakawa, the assistant of Kakuzawa's son starts out as only slightly eccentric when she has to take over his work. Being practically locked in in a basement room on a small remote island and working alone for weeks really tooks it's toll from her.
  • Made of Iron: Lucy survives taking an anti-tank slug to the head in the first episode. To be fair, though, the thing barely grazes her, she's wearing a helmet, and she has her vectors to protect her. She still does survive falling hundreds of feet off a cliff into the ocean without drowning immediately afterwards though.
  • Magical Girlfriend: Dismembers the genre with a rusty chainsaw.
  • Memento MacGuffin: Lucy's letter to Kouta. It also reveals her true name.
  • Mildly Military: Bando never seems to face any repercussions, even when he threatens fellow squadron members with a gun.
    • This was something that only happened in the anime. In the manga, Bando never attempts such a thing.
  • The Mole: Two of them Kurama's assistant Shirakawa and the agent assigned to Nousou both turn out to be spies for the Japanese government as it tries to both stop Kakuzawa and cover-up its sponsorship of his insanity.
  • Mood Whiplash: This should be obvious if you have read anything else on this page.
  • Mugging the Monster: The kids who picked on Lucy and killed her dog didn't know just what they were messing with.
  • Mundane Luxury: When Nana moves in with Kouta and the others, she gets enthusiastic about things like hot baths and somen noodles.
  • Naked on Arrival: Well, Lucy wasn't actually naked when she went on her rampage in the beginning, but she ended up naked after freeing herself. Played straight when Kouta and Yuka find Lucy naked on the beach, but as yet-unnamed-Nyu.
  • Nature Versus Nurture: A point is made about whether or not the diclonii really are malicious, or if their cruelty is a byproduct of how they were raised. Nana seems to indicate that it is indeed nurture, not nature.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Herod: The bad guys regularly visit hospitals trying to find newborn diclonii and take them, with or without their parents' consent.
  • Nipple and Dimed: The nipples are generally shown uncensored, but the genitals not.
  • Noble Savage: The Diclonii technically are this, given how it's near-impossible for regular people to civilize them without being killed by the former.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Although there are quite a few, Lucy fighting Nana probably takes the gold.
  • No Longer with Us: Nana just felt like being melodramatic for some reason...
  • Non-Action Guy: Kouta. He isn't very strong, smart, has no powers, weapons or anything except some cool friends.
    • Although he has a knack for solving his problems by punching people in the face.
  • No Name Given: Numerous examples, especially near the Manga's end. The Agent and the Unknown man are the most prominent. The Operatives in The Diclonius Craft, the Fleet Captain, and The Bakery Lady are also never named.
    • Partially with the vast majority of the main cast, who have either only a given name or only a family name. Anna Kakuzawa is a rarity. Professor Kakuzawa and Shirakawa gain names by accident in the anime. Isobe's name is hard to spot at times—he almost seems this trope.
  • No Periods, Period: Rather graphically subverted with Lucy.
  • No Social Skills: Nana, who was raised in a lab.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Played straight when Kouta tries to change Nyuu's wet clothes, as she doesn't know how to do it herself.
  • Off Model: The art in the first manga volume is a little dodgy, especially concerning Lucy's legs and several male faces. It noticeably improved, although it's not without some hiccups that carry over into Nononono.
  • Offing the Offspring: Kurama and his Diclonius daughter, Mariko.
    • Zigzags. Ultimately subverted in the anime, when Kurama dies with Mariko because Mariko explodes rather than him doing anything to her. Eventually played straight-ish in the manga, though Kurama only kills a clone of Mariko and not the real article, with the clone vehemently insisting on not being treated as Mariko.
  • Oh Crap: from the readers, when Kouta gets shot. Lucy has never made that face until then. Damned be the odds, so many people are about to die so horribly.
  • Ominous Latin Singing: "Lilium", the opening theme.
  • One-Gender Race: Subverted, as there are male diclonius but they so incredibly rare that we only see one in the manga, Lucy's half brother. There are two other cases, but it's not clear whether they're descended from Diclonii whose ancestors bred with humans to the point that the only part of the Diclonius heritage remaining is the horns (there are two of them), or if they just have a birth defect that changes the shape of their skulls.
    • The manga makes it clear on this front : The Kakuzawas are only Humans with a slight genetic mutation. Lucy could not sense them at all; Her Diclonius are a separate evolution altogether as a result of genetic manipulation as opposed to being descendants from demons.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Having your limbs ripped off or exploded is okay if you get a tourniquet, and usually if you don't as well.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Most people seem to either not know or forget that "Lucy" isn't her real name. As revealed toward the end of the manga, "Lucy"'s real name is Kaede.
  • Our Clones Are Identical: All the following sub tropes are done with Mariko clones. Though those are manga only.
  • Overdrawn at the Blood Bank: Goes right along with the High-Pressure Blood
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Every Diclonius has the potential to become one of these.
  • Pineal Weirdness: The Diclonius start as humans with large pineal glands.
  • Please Put Some Clothes On: When an angry Kouta finds Lucy in the beach near the end, he tosses her his coat.
  • Potty Dance: Lucy (as Nyuu) does this before finally just going on the floor.
  • The Power of Love: Not in the way it's usually thought of, and it doesn't show much in the anime, but the manga makes it pretty clear that love (primarily of the filial sort rather than romantic) is more powerful than anything else motivating a Diclonius, even their instinctive drive to Kill All Humans. It can even override the obedience devices in the lobotomised Mariko clones.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child : Much of Kakuzawa's scheming involves the use and abuse of Kurama's Diclonius daughter, Mariko. While at the Institute, she is essentially a hostage to ensure Kurama's complete obedience. Her use as a weapon against Nana and Lucy distracts Kurama and prevents him from acting in time to stop the virus-carrying missile. Even when Mariko herself is gone, her many and varied clones provide both weaponry and, most nightmarishly of all, the organic material used to build the Vector Attack Craft which have a dubious track record against the masses of Clone Diclonii, and fail completely against Lucy making this trope literal and even more loathsome.
  • Precious Puppies: There are a few puppies in this series, and they're all quite precious. Except when they're getting beaten to death with a vase/rock.
  • The Promise: Lucy and Kouta agree to meet at the stone behind the festival terrain on the last day of the summer festival.
  • Psycho for Hire: Bandou before his Character Development, the Unknown Man from the manga.
  • R-Rated Opening: One of the most notorious openings in anime history.
  • Rape as Drama: Mayu was sexually abused by her stepfather, and very nearly raped by the Unknown Man.
  • Real Place Background: The series takes place in the Japanese town of Kamakura. Most of the locations, such as the stone stairs, are well-known local landmarks.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Lucy/Nyu/Kaede's final fate in the manga (and perhaps in the anime).
    • Also the fate of Mariko and Bandou in the manga.
      • Bandou turned out to be alive in the end (though at this point something like half of his body had to be artificially replaced)
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Practically every Diclonius.
  • Red Shirt: Played painfully straight. Almost every guard, soldier or cop seen is the manga end up slaughtered by a Diclonius, often Lucy, even if they're not agressive or fleeing, which probably make us wonder What Measure Is a Mook?.
  • Reincarnation: At the end of the manga, where the twins are apparently separate reincarnations of Kaede and Nyuu.
  • Rose-Haired Girl: All female Dicloni have pink hair in the anime. Nana is the only one with a personality to fit the trope, although Nyuu kind of applies.
  • The Runaway: Mayu is a textbook Abused Runaway while Lucy is a textbook Orphan Runaway. Nozomi kind of qualifies as an Abused Runaway, but she didn't really run away.
  • Running Gag: Arakawa is constantly voicing her annoyance about being kept from her apparently frequent showers. Later, after having worked alone in a basement room without much outside contact for weeks, she's made her great breakthrough working in nothing but her sweaty underwear and dirty hair.
    • Also Nana losing her concentration and dropping her arm or leg (often to the disbelief or horror of accidental witness).
  • Serial Escalation: How far can a Diclonius reach with their vectors? To a helicopter, to land from several thousand meters below, and to outer space.
  • Shrines and Temples: It's set in Kamakura, so they're all over the place.
  • Shrinking Violet: Nozomi (manga), Mayu
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Heavily on the cynical side
  • Skinship Grope: Nyuu loves doing this.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: In the fastest Shoo-out ever, the general feel of Elfen Lied is realized when the cute Dojikko secretary gets her head cut off in the first five-ten minutes of the first episode (and she had done nothing except walk in on Lucy's battle!). And it doesn't help that Lucy uses her beheaded body as a human shield next.
    • It really happens even sooner. 4 seconds into the first episode, a nameless gaurd is beheaded by Lucy/Nyu/ Kanae. That's right 4 seconds in. In this one, the clowns didn't even make it in the door, it was slammed in their face right after it was opened.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sociopathic Hero: Bandou.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The ending theme, Chieko Kawabe's "Be Your Girl", in contrast to pretty much all that the viewer's seen for the previous 20 minutes or so.
    • Though if one pays attention to "Be Your Girl"s lyrics, they actually fit with the rest of the story fairly well since it's a song about a girl loving a man she can't have.
  • Spider Limbs: Vectors
  • Split Personality: Lucy/Nyu. Provider of the current page image.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Lucy and Kouta.
  • Start of Darkness: Episodes 8 & 9 show Lucy's backstory, along with the only happy day she spent while with Kouta when they were kids.
  • Staying Alive: Bandou. Walking trope embodiment.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: The Ax-Crazy Omnicidal Maniac personality which is almost inherent to Diclonii and which Lucy tries to not completely give in to. Lucy could be considered evil, or just murderously vindictive.
  • Sugar and Ice Personality: What young Lucy's tsundere tendencies have matured into by the start of the series. Although not at the same time, Lucy's character seems therefore to be the very rare quartet of Tsundere, Sugar and Ice Personality, Yandere and Cute and Psycho (due to Nyu).
  • Super Power Meltdown: Happens to Lucy near the end of the manga. It's not pretty.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Lucy, to the point some even start siding with her
  • Tailor-Made Prison: The sinister Research Faciliy in which Diclonii are held and experimented on (more like tortured).
  • Team Mom: As the older of the girls, Yuka is sometimes referred as the "mother" of the group in the anime.
  • Tears from a Stone: From a stone Hachiko.
  • Tears of Remorse
  • Theme Music Power-Up: In the manga Lucy sings the German song "Elfenlied" while taking on an entire army from thousands of kilometers away. Apparently, the more thematic the song, the bigger the powerup.
  • Theme Tune Cameo. Variants of "Lilium" often show up in the anime's background music. It's also the tune Kouta's music box plays, and is labeled as such.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: Part of it was from Lucy's own imagination (such as when she imagines Kouta saying he only liked her cause she was a freak), but it was mostly because of the bastard kids who not only picked on Lucy, but constantly taunted and harassed her, and constantly demonized her (and this was before the puppy incident). Kouta almost kept her from doing this, but ended up lying to her (mostly to spare her feelings since his cousin was a girl instead of a guy, but Lucy saw it differently).
  • This Is Unforgivable: Kouta say this to Lucy after he remembers that she killed his sister and father in front of him with a (manga only) huge Slasher Smile. In the anime, he clearly still loves her, and he says so even after what she'd done. In the Manga however...
    Kouta (In the coldest way possible): I will never forgive you for killing Kanae and my father. No matter how much you apologise.
    • ....But, even at the end of the manga, it's clear that he ALSO still loves her, even after all she's done, so he might have forgiven her after she died and he had a long time to get over his emotions.
  • Title Drop: The manga has Nozomi sing the titular song at one point. Much later, Lucy, who learned the song from Nozomi, sings it to help herself heal Kouta's wounds.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Kisaragi in the anime as Lucy proves ten minutes in, in a very gory fashion. In the manga, Kisaragi's death is less a sequence of unforgivable stupidity than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • Too Incompetent to Operate a Blanket: Both Nana and Nyuu. Nana's being such is due to her traumatic childhood, while Nyuu is essentially an infant in an adult body.
  • Tragic Keepsake: The seashell.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia: Happens to Kouta when he sees what Lucy does to his sister and father.
    • Mayu does this to a lesser extent regarding her witnessing Lucy's brutal dismemberment of Nana.
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening
  • Tsundere: Lucy, in her Start of Darkness; Yuka
  • Tykebomb: Every single diclonius in the facility. Apparently what's produced there. Lucy and Mariko could certainly be called nuclear tykebombs.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Nana, and Bandou twice. Kurama does as well. Anna does it too, returning to her normal form as well. Diana manages this as well, despite stabbing herself in the heart.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Lucy about 90% of the time (oh, but what a wonderful 10% that is!).
  • Unusual Ears: They're actually horns, but they look kind of like cat ears.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Lucy.
  • Villain Protagonist
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?: Sure, Lucy and Nana have it tough, but at least their looks let them avoid the fate of their faceless siblings who are treated as mere cannon fodder.
    • Still doesn't explain Mariko or Number 28 though.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: When the survival of humanity is at stake, humans are willing to do lots of things.
    • Inverted in the series. Where they would show horrible deaths for any human, but never showed onscreen Lucy's Puppy's death.
  • Where It All Began: Slightly subverted since this place is not the earliest shown. In the final pages of the manga, Kouta visits the orphanage, specifically the grave of Lucy's pet dog, once a day due to a strange whim. He does this for at least a decade, until his daughter finds a Message in a Bottle and two familiar faces.
  • Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: Occurs between Mayu and her mother. "Why do you steal my husband?"
  • Woman Scorned: Sure, Kouta! Don't tell Lucy that you're going to the festival with your female cousin! Even if she finds out, it's not like she'll go so far as to murder your little sister, your father, and dozens of other people, right?
    • To be fair, Lucy admits that if Kouta had told her he was going to the festival with a female cousin, she probably would have hunted down the cousin and killed her.
  • Younger than They Look: Silpelit Diclonii age faster than humans or Queen Diclonii like Lucy. Nana, for example, appears to be on the verge of her teen years but is in fact six.
  • Your Head A Splode: ...where do we START!?

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alternative title(s): Elfen Lied; Elfen Lied
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