The Displaced self in 'Elfen Lied'

Christie Lee Barber

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The self that is the sum of two or more identities, which are often incongruous, appears regularly across various genres in Japanese manga (comics) and anime (animation). Through such characters - from cross-dressing princesses to cyborg assassins - manga and anime challenge the boundaries of gender, humanness, sexuality and class; and in so doing, explore notions of the self and other. In a traditionally conformist, group-oriented society like Japan, manga and anime create space for displacement and discovery outside of rigid social pressures. To examine the fragmented self in detail, this paper will analyse "Elfen Lied", a manga and anime series for young adult males. The female protagonist of this often gory narrative, about a race of violent mutant humans subjected to experimentation and abuse, is severely fragmented, and this paper will place particular focus on the way in which "Elfen Lied" displaces the self through this multifaceted character. This paper will show that "Elfen Lied" incorporates a range of affective elements, which appeal to the desires and fantasies of male readers, and simultaneously creates various positions from which readers may explore concerns about their sense of self and their place in society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of the Humanities
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Japanese Manga
  • Japanese Anime
  • self
  • gender


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