Volume 3 of Dark Horse’s Elfen Lied omnibus opens with a flashback as Kurama starts his job at the lab that is experimenting on Diclonii. At the same time, his wife is pregnant, and she and Kurama have been trying to become parents for years. But when the baby is born, Kurama realizes there is something very wrong with his daughter, and that the cruel world of the lab is now going to be part of his family life.
From there we’re back to the present, and Kurama and Nana are confronting Mariko. This is one of the most powerful scenes in the anime, but it plays out very differently in the original manga. In fact, in this omnibus, there’s not a whole lot that matches up with the anime. It takes us up to where the anime ends and goes beyond that. Since part of the anime ending feels abrupt, and many things are still unexplained, it’s great to have the manga here to fill in the gaps. (That also means it’s hard to describe without giving away spoilers.)
We do get more details on Diclonii than the anime, though as of this omnibus, there are still plenty of mysteries. We also get to see a lot more of Chief Kakuzawa, who continues with his plot to exterminate humanity. Nozomi, a character cut from the anime, also gets to share her background and grow as a character.
There’s still plenty of the fanservice and over-the-top violence that made Elfen Lied notorious. And at the same time there are more heartfelt, emotional scenes, including one with Bando, who stops being a brutal loudmouth and has some deep, philosophical thoughts. How Elfen Lied manages to combine savage violence, kawaii and sexy girls and feelings of aloneness and human suffering is a special mixture known only to itself.
There’s only one omnibus left after this, and this book has a cliffhanger scene followed by two chapters of flashback. Even with the calmer flashbacks, you know things are getting real, and it’ll be the next release that brings things to a head. In the meantime, it’s just great to finally be able to read this manga in English after so many years of American fans clamoring for more.
Story & Art: Lynn Okamoto
Publisher: Dark Horse
Danica Davidson, along with Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya, is the author of Manga Art for Intermediates. In addition to showing how to draw manga character types in detail, the book describes how professional Japanese manga creators work, including common techniques and what drawing utensils they use.