Touching the fine line between copying and evolving a show.
With the new show from Matt and Ross Duffer rising in popularity, a recent interview with the two brothers surfaced the internet. One of the more interesting questions that was asked was if the two creators can name some of the influences that made Stranger things so popular and liked. This is when I was saying to my friends “I have seen this before” or “it feels like I’m watching a movie version of Elfen Lied”.
Certainly I was not expecting them to come out and say it like they don’t really care. Even with all the mainstream spotlights of anime and video games they still are nothing compared to your TV shows. I always considered Elfen Lied to be a classic piece and a very good introduction to the dark Japanese way of story telling. Touching but also brutal at the same time.
What scenes are alike?
So what exactly does it borrow from Elfen Lied? Let’s see, the most important character of the Elfen Lied is obviously Lucy. Lucy resembles Eleven in every way possible, except the double personality and the past she shares with the male protagonist. Eleven reacts violently when she sees her friend in danger, and has an antihero outlook on life due to the countless hours of torture she has endured.
One scene that is amazingly similar to Elfen Lied is when she is asked to kill a cat the same way she twisted and turned a can of coke earlier. She refuses vehemently to oblige and is sent in her cell. She manages to break free of the guards and snap one of their necks while she smashed the other on the wall. This kind of scene is important because it shows her not feeling guilt towards a human life that hurted and betrayed her, but towards a non human being. She is an anti hero the same way as Lucy because Lucy is shown to kill 3-4 children in cold blood because they hurt her dog. I won’t link the two scenes since they are so violent but if you watched the shows you will know what I’m talking about.
A character that is also making an undercover return from Elfen Lied is Bando. This time less homicidal and desperate to show the power of him and humanity and more human as portrayed by Detective Hopper. However he does not lose his cunning and incredible abilities. If you remember Bando from the anime, you will remember that he was sent to kill the fleeing Diclonius. As he fought Lucy for the first time he became obsessed with that loss and devised an ingenious plan to defeat Lucy’s tremendous powers. He went on the beach where they first fought and cleaned all the trash so the Diclonius couldn’t use the vectors to throw stuff anymore. Making them defenseless against his 50cal Desert Eagle. Hopper is seen throughout the show being the manly and intelligent voice. Not giving in to lazyness on the case even if he is a lazy person, and trying all the time to solve the case and comfort the family of the victims.
Finally, another reference that strikes directly in the feels of previous Elfen Lied fans is Nana’s storyline. She resembles Eleven in a way, because the head chief of the facility is also addressed with papa and seems like a father figure for the girl. We will have to see more of him in later seasons since we can’t see the bigger picture just yet.
Western media has a set of problems comparable to the Japanese one
In the end, I will conclude this article with a thought on Western media compared to the Japanese one. In Stranger Things we have a love story ending with sex/ drama and the nerdy boys who play Dungeons and Dragons online. In the Japanese one you have a girl that is in love with her cousin. The two media outlets reveal these ideas not only to shock but so their respective audience can resonate with the show.