Thoughtful Thursday: The Identity and Instincts of Lucy (Elfen Lied)

Elfen Lied is a great series, though it’s not for everyone. The show features a lot of violence, death, and other potentially disturbing content, so approach with caution. It explores themes of trauma, identity, what it means to be human, connections to other people, and the quest for redemption. The story is great, though tragic, and can be very thought-provoking. Human characters are a bit typical and frustrating, but the Diclonius/Elf characters are interesting and portrayed well. Music is fantastic and art is pretty good for 2004. I give Elfen Lied a 7.8/10.0, on the borderline of 7/10 Good and 8/10 Excellent.

(Nyu, the other personality)

The story is about several members of the Diclonius species, extremely powerful and usually destructive creatures with horns, pink hair, and several invisible limbs called vectors. The main character of the series is Lucy, the queen bee of the Diclonius– the one most driven to increase numbers of her species and kill humans. Fans who saw the show once know that Lucy developed dissociative identity disorder; she has two personalities. One is the grim queen of the Diclonius, seeking redemption for killing innocent people in her childhood. The other personality is Nyu, a rather unintelligent but very innocent and cute girl.

(The third personality)

There is another aspect to Lucy’s identity that you may not know. In a way, she has 3 personalities. In severel scenes in the series, especially during the flashbacks of her childhood, we see glimpses into the psyche of Lucy. She is there, but in her head with her is another version of herself, often with only one eye showing, and sometimes wrapped in bandages. It is this self that encourages Lucy to hate and distrust humans. It puts Lucy down or torments her psychologically to make her lash out in anger or panic. What does this being within her mind symbolize?

I believe it’s the embodiment of her instincts as the queen of the Diclonius. As evolutionary competitors, the Diclonius ultimately seek to replace humanity. They have an innate desire to kill humans, and in Lucy’s case, a desire to at least touch them with their vectors. (When a man is touched by Lucy’s vectors, his sperm can only give rise to Diclonius children afterward.) I would also argue that every Diclonius has another self in their head, the part of them that wants to destroy humanity. The Diclonius in the series are violent by nature, except for Nana, who was raised to believe she was loved and cared for by a human father figure. Other Diclonius are taken over by, or fully accept the desire to kill. Mariko, for instance, is extremely sadisitc.

(Lucy, the original personality)

Lucy is right in the middle of that spectrum. She is plagued by the urge to kill as a child, and was unable to resist because she was unloved and treated horribly by humans. She now wants to find Kouta, the human boy she liked as a child, and apologize for traumatizing him and killing his loved ones. Lucy didn’t do that, by the way, because she was a crazy, murderous yandere. It’s because she’s part of another species, which has an evolved, genetic and behavioral drive to kill humans. That other self in her head encouraged Lucy to do things like kill Kouta’s family and the people at the festival. I imagine it also gave her the irresistible urge to slaughter the workers at the facility in the first episode.

Lucy is actually much stronger than some give her credit for, because despite being the queen, the one most driven to kill, she still had the capacity care about humans, like Kouta, and the girl who befriended her in the OVA. She even likes and gets along with animals. Most significant of all, Lucy developed remorse for having killed humans, especially Kouta’s family. Her only goal is to apologize to Kouta. Once she has done that, what is there left for her to do? Most likely, she wants to die. Depending on your interpretation of the ending, Lucy and the violent instinct personality did die, and only Nyu came back alive.

Lucy’s original name was Kaede, according to the manga. Lucy was a name she was given at the facility where she was held prisoner. Some have said that the original personality is Kaede, who loved Kouta, while Lucy is the “evil” one in her head. (Nyu is a personality that only developed when she escaped the facility.) I’m not sure if either Lucy or Kaede is the name for the instinct of destruction inside her. So when she isn’t Nyu, I call her Lucy and Kaede interchangeably.

In summary, Lucy and her true identity are a level deeper than some people realize, what with three personalities, and biological instincts pushing her toward violence and antagonism. I’m not saying she’s not accountable for the murders she committed; I’m only saying that there’s more to her than meets the eye. Thank you so much for reading! This is Anime Rants. Ja ne!

(All images and gifs were found by searching the web and I don’t own any of them.)


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