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Elfen Lied: Philosophical or Not?

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#1
07-16-09, 11:26 PM

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In this thread discuss whether Elfen Lied is truly philosophical or not.
 
#2
07-16-09, 11:35 PM

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The theme of Elfen Lied could be described as humanity of inhumans and inhumanity of humans.
Humanity-inhumanity is an interesting philosophical topic for discussion, though it usually doesn't go far.
 
#3
07-17-09, 4:12 AM

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Okay, good, positive claim is out.

Now the even more first part, and the most important one, is to come to a conclusion on what we consider a philosophical anime in the first place, or we will merely walk in circles. Will become a good precedent and reference point for future discussions of this kind, too.

And, urr, it's a hard question. As Corrupt_Id said in the comments, you can find extract something philosophical in anything. You just need to try (Naruto is a complex tale of duty and friendship/Bleach is an intense study of the blurry line between life and death/Other genuinely stupid show is DEEP). So we're already at an impasse, and simultaneously at what I'd consider the first possible solution to the problem.
Whatever someone in the club makes a strong argument in favour of handling a certain theme [well, extensively, whatever], is admitted.

Could work, could work, encourages active participation, but then... The irritable snob in me screams in horror over admitting, say, Elfen Lied (or worse, previously mentioned Bleach). But that would have to be the price to pay, then. Of course one still has a grey zone on what is a strong argument or not in favour of such inclusion. And who is to say what is a strong argument, and what is not?

Should it be coherent? Should it be unique? Should it utilize formal logic? Analytical or Continental or other? Is it allowed to feature moe? How big must hoi phalloi feel when watching it? etc etc

So the second solution would be, and this one I do not like at all, a strong argument in favour which shows that such a philosophical viewpoint was something the author intended and thought heavily/well on. Now this irks me because, erm, we cannot really tell what on Earth was intended or not. Barthes and Foucault proclaimed the death of the author and birth of the reader some fifty years ago, and I think he isn't wholly resurrected just yet (though decidedly a zombie). Whatever reading you can do is a valid reading, and the authors intent is kind of irrelevant.

On the other hand, it would definitely satisfy the snob in me.

Those are what I could figure out, I am sure others have more creative, rigorous and/or sensible thoughts on the matter.


As for Elfen Lied: If we are talking about the anime, er. Good old But Who Are The Real Monsters, Really? question. It is psychologically laughable to say the least, but that's another matter - I do not think it is very worth of dwelling upon (I'd rather watch Monster again), but that's just a random claim. Being of the negative persuasion I'd have to have arguments to counter, not claims to make, eh.

If we are talking about the manga;
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#4
07-17-09, 4:21 AM

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Kaiserpingvin

Loved your logic

I'm not claiming Elfen Lied should be added,
I am asking if Elfen Lied is suitable or not?
I considered that Nausicaa was, so a was wondering about that...
Because Nausicaa consist more of social and ecological problems rather than philosophical, as Elfen Lied deal with social problems, although manga could've been better
 
#5
07-17-09, 4:33 AM

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Well, whether it should be added or not, should be considered once we know what criteria there are for adding, and what arguments for and against exist for Elfen Lied.

The nature of man is an old horse in philosophy (one nowadays quite dead), from the rational animal of Aristotle to the horribly free person of Sartre. And the inhumanity/humanity distinction may well be said to be a small part of that debate. So if we have lenient criteria, mayhaps, I wouldn't know.
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#6
07-17-09, 9:22 AM

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I certainly cannot live up to what has been said so far but I will still say this : Elfen Lied was a show made to make people react, would that be for the absurd amount of blood or the little girls being tortured, naked, in a laboratory by scientists with evil grins on their face (some of them were like that). As stated before, it is hard to say what is author intended or not, but at least I think it's plausible (maybe, maybe =P). So, I think that if something can be considered philosophical, more than making you react, it should make you think, and Elfen Lied defenatly didn't do that.
Another way to see if an anime (or manga) is philosophical could be to compare it to another one that is, without a doubt, philosophical (NGE and Kino's Journey as my best exemples).
At last, here's yet another way to look at it : in Clannad, they played baseball but that didn't make it a sport anime. It contains it, but couldn't be referred to as. Elfen Lied contained philosophy. But that's it.

Well... I think. =P
 
#7
07-17-09, 9:36 AM

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Waza said:
Another way to see if an anime (or manga) is philosophical could be to compare it to another one that is, without a doubt, philosophical (NGE and Kino's Journey as my best exemples).

But that presupposes what we want, i.e. a definition of a philosophical work. Circular definitions are not good, not good at all ("God exists" "Why?" "Because God is defined as existing"/"Eating animal flesh is good" "Why?" "Because it is good to eat animal flesh"/"NGE is a philosophical work" "Why?" "Because philosophical works are like NGE")-
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#8
07-17-09, 5:42 PM

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I think Elfen Lied is more thought provoking than philosophical. It's really one of those things that show us just how inhuman we humans truly are.
"everyone knows that the last toes are always the coldest to go."

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#9
07-17-09, 8:15 PM

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Kaiserpingvin, I must admit, I just love your arguments.

That said, here's some explanation. I believe in infinity (of time and space) and, knowing that everything happens for a reason, one couldn't harness the whole reason as to "Why" something happens. A simple exemple could be the growth of a tree. The tree is there, living, because the sun exists and gives it heat and energy, because water runs through it's "veins" (forgot the real word, sorry), because the earth gives it nutritients, because plants can do this phenomenom of photosyntese, because the tree before this tree drop a seed there, on potent soil, where it could get enough nutritients, water and sun, because the wind brought the seed there, because birds didn't eat the seed, etc... There would still be the need to explain as to why the sun is of such intensity of heat, that close to Earth, why Earth itself exists, how water formed in the first place, why life is possible, why wind blowed that way that day with that force, why the brids didn't eat the seed when or if they saw it. And I'm stoping there because for the sole purpose that haziness of the picture is clear by now. So...
Why is an anime philosophical? Since explaining completely why wouldn't be possible for the mere human that I am, I'll stop at some criterias that I ar;eady stated but will more thorougly explain now. The anime is worthy of being called philosophical because it has a clear intention of being so, often noticeable by numerous metaphores or dialogues that leave the spectator with questions to think about. NGE was philosophical because one had to think as to why Asuka was with Shinji at the end (sorry for the little spoiler but it's necessary here), as to why Eva 01 turned out like that, why do human relationships are so interwinned with pain, and so on. For Kino's Journey, it's because of the dilemnas brought from the various situations Kino has come to face, like the city of books "Where nothing is written". It is not clearly said what it all stands for, but it lets you think about it, a lot. Then comes the question as to how can we (as in all of us) judge if an anime was intended as philosophical or if it was simply messed up. It's simply too easy to say "We cannot know" and stop there. Of course we cannot know for sure what it was intended for since we didn't make it (and even then, making something doesn't mean we understand it wholly). Simply put, take a guess. Have faith in yourself, it's not that hard ^.^ . And if you really doubt yourself, then it's possible to see what other think and forge a better idea for yourself. Making a general, unflexible rule for as to why an anime is philosophical or not is pointless. If you think one is, make your point on it, explain why and if the other members agree with you, then it will be accepted in the club. Otherwise, it won't, and that's it. It can still be philosophical if you believe it is. Truth is just that ethereal of a concept ^.^ . So yeah, that's about dang time I stop I think. Show's over!


... I think =P
 
07-18-09, 12:01 AM

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As was said above, we need certain criteria to judge anime.
NGE is philosophical because it has pain of human relations? but Elfen Lied also contains that...
But NGE deals with more problems than that, it has this human create god/god create human...

So the question is is humanism subject enough to to add anime or manga to this club? It not only about Elfen Lied...
 
07-18-09, 3:49 AM

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In this, I´m with sophists. I guess there is no objective true (so the question "what exactly is philosophical anime" can´t be solved because for each and everyone of us is the meaning different) therefore I´m for democratical voting if we can´t agree on some anime we should vote and than we shall see.

For me Elfen Lied is one of the favourite anime and has lots of great moments. Though I don´t think it´s a philosophical anime.

Please pardon my imperfect english.
 
07-18-09, 10:14 AM

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I'm completely in agreement with ok__, lets just make a poll and let the members decide! ^.^
 
07-18-09, 2:47 PM

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ok__ said:
In this, I´m with sophists. I guess there is no objective true (so the question "what exactly is philosophical anime" can´t be solved because for each and everyone of us is the meaning different) therefore I´m for democratical voting if we can´t agree on some anime we should vote and than we shall see.

For me Elfen Lied is one of the favourite anime and has lots of great moments. Though I don´t think it´s a philosophical anime.

Please pardon my imperfect english.
Well I don't think there is any lexical definition handy at all, you are quite correct there, that's not what we'd want, either is it? We want a stipulative definition. Words have arbitrary meaning, and we'll try to find the arbitrary meaning of "philosophical anime/manga" we'd like the most as far as accepting entries here go, by stipulating it.

It's like how euclidean geometry stipulates the parallel postulate to make sure what theorems are included and which are not. Or how we know which laws to apply, none arte true, we just have definitions which then cases may or may not fit into.

Of course, if we just go for "whatever most people think is included in their respective, different definitions", that works too, I'm just too much of an analytical to find that solution as fun, lol. Whatever we agree upon, I'm okay with that, ofc.
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07-19-09, 7:15 AM

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ok__ said:
In this, I´m with sophists. I guess there is no objective true (so the question "what exactly is philosophical anime" can´t be solved because for each and everyone of us is the meaning different) therefore I´m for democratical voting if we can´t agree on some anime we should vote and than we shall see.

For me Elfen Lied is one of the favourite anime and has lots of great moments. Though I don´t think it´s a philosophical anime.

Please pardon my imperfect english.
i love you, man. ^^ yeah, i absolutely support your opinion....but then we could just add anything....voting is fine with me... or we all agree to work on a certain agenda which defines what makes an anime philosophical, which should take a while.... still worth doing imho. =) and yeah, el ain't that philosophical, it's only statement is: people which are treated violent, become violent themselves.....and humanity fears anything that's different.....but almost every anime features something like that...
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07-20-09, 12:53 PM

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I'd prefer not to do any voting. I know at least two other clubs that do the same thing, and it's a boring event in both of them.

Let's just keep "The List" casual. I like Kaiser's idea of including anything that receives a fairly good interpretation/analysis/summary/whatever that shows that it has at least one philosophical theme. And if there are dissenting opinions on whether or not an analysis qualifies as "good", we let Corrupt Id be the final judge, seeing as it's his club and all. Ja?

------------------------------------
More central to the issue of Elfen Lied:

It's a very poorly handled series in general, as Waza pointed out in his first post. But disregarding those flaws, there's the question of whether or not it has anything to do with philosophy. I certainly don't see anything that was intentionally along those lines. Maybe someone more positively inclined toward the series could shed some light on which philosophical issue(s) it treats?
 
07-23-09, 10:16 AM

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I'm all for keeping the relations list "casual". I don't want to become a club that takes the relations too seriously to the point of voting. It's nice to debate like this over the philosophical aspects of certain titles but lets not get too serious about it. I don't want to become too lenient on what is deemed philosophical or not so for now Elfen Lied won't be on the relations just because there's too much disagreement about it.
 
08-12-09, 6:44 PM

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NOT. NotnotnotnotnotnotNOT. It is a puerile, shallow pretender. That is all.

(Because I am just not feeling like getting into a lengthy debate to support my position right now.)
Modified by Ni_Go_Zero_Ichi, 08-12-09, 10:23 PM
 
08-13-09, 1:40 AM

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I def. believe it should be; yes Elfen Lied shows the viewpoints of humanity/inhumanity; however it also gives several different viewpoints on how differences are tolerated within a social setting. The aspect of the mental effects of said tolerance and treatment on an individual. Even more prevent is the mental effect of negative & postive reinforcement of those differences in upbringing & the effects they have on an individual (i.e Lucy & Nana)
 
08-13-09, 1:42 AM

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I def. believe it should be; yes Elfen Lied shows the viewpoints of humanity/inhumanity; however it also gives several different viewpoints on how differences are tolerated within a social setting. The aspect of the mental effects of said tolerance and treatment on an individual. Even more prevent is the mental effect of negative & postive reinforcement of those differences in upbringing & the effects they have on an individual (i.e Lucy & Nana)
 
10-11-09, 3:24 AM

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BKB said:
I def. believe it should be; yes Elfen Lied shows the viewpoints of humanity/inhumanity;
Indeed, but as kaiser stated earlier, that's just some good old fashioned "But who are the really monsters?" And by good old fashioned, I mean it's been around since the horror genre came into being with Frankenstein and has been used and overused since then. Besides it's more of a literary device than a philosophical viewpoint.
BKB said:
however it also gives several different viewpoints on how differences are tolerated within a social setting.
What, that we lock up people who are different and perform horrible experiments on them? Outside of nazi-land, I can't really think of an instance where that's actually the case.

Unless you're referring to Lucy's elementary school scenes, perhaps? In that case, yeah typical bullying, boo-hoo. It's unpleasant, but where's the philosophy? That bullies are mean? That dead puppies are sad? That bullying psychopath girls results in them redecorating the ceiling with your brain matter? :
BKB said:
Even more prevent is the mental effect of negative & postive reinforcement of those differences in upbringing & the effects they have on an individual (i.e Lucy & Nana)
Negative reinforcement isn't the same thing as punishment, so don't get those confused. But psychology jargon aside, I don't see how a fictional psychology study presents a particular philosophy, either.

Basically:

It seems like you've described the "how" while glancing over the "what". To put it bluntly: What (if anything) is Elfen Lied saying? If you want to describe Elfen Lied as philosophical, than what is its philosophy?
 
10-11-09, 4:46 PM

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Its "philosophy" is that humans suck, and it presents it in the most blunt, over-the-top, tactless way possible.
 
10-12-09, 10:29 AM

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Well... it has a point, though.
"It's only after we've lost everything that we're free to do anything." - Tyler Durden, Fight Club
 
10-17-09, 4:14 PM

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You mean other than just reinforcing the above point over and over and over again?
 
10-17-09, 4:39 PM

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Huh? I mean that said "philosophy" holds true most of the time.

I don't really find Elfen Lied that 'philosophical' myself, though [on the other hand I'm not sure what the requirements are anyway; except addressing popular philosophic problems, that is].
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04-05-10, 11:32 AM

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Just joined this club but I don't think it should be added. Sure some of the ideas presented are quite thought-provoking and characters break down a lot, but it's more of a soap opera with gore and some thought-provoking ideas which go almost nowhere.

It's a good concept but cliche, and that wouldn't be so bad if it was the focus of the show, which it isn't.
 
06-02-10, 9:23 PM

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The thing about Elfen Lied is that it has a ton of ideas that COULD have been really interesting, but its few attempts to meaningfully pursue them are so absurdly ham-fisted that it would have been better off not even trying. It's kind of like Avatar in that regard.
 
06-03-10, 2:40 AM

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Well, like I said in a previous post, english is not my birth language. I'll try my best.

1 - We should avoid strict definitions, in order to improve brainstorming. Strict definitions often leads to purely rethoric debates and other socratic-like methods based purely on structured logical reasoning. This opinion holds for (almost) every philosophical discussion (or we would end up like Kant said: debating is ultimately useless);

2 - Here I propose a conceptual difference between what is philosophical and what is psychological. Elfen Lied undoubtly have some good points to discuss/think about, but I felt that Anime's main line is feelings between Kouta and Nyu. Although I personally could think and cry for hours wondering about how that persona and their actions reached my own feelings and psyche, it's not a deep plot in a wide sense. Secondary themes like "humanity-inhumanity" are surely controversal, but maybe NOT ENOUGH to be interesting in a philosophical analysis

3 - BUT the arguments above are true for most Anime and themes that could be proposen subject for analysis and discussion. Don't know if I made my english clear: It's true that Elfen Lied is not "good enough", but, if so, we won't have many things besides Boogiepop, S.E. Lain and Ergo Proxy

That's how I see this "is/ isn't" question. The particular subject in se is innocuous to me as I really prefer to discuss psychological/emotional content
 
06-03-10, 8:42 AM

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Debating IS ultimately useless. I mean, c'mon, how many people honestly end up changing their opinion because someone bests them in a debate? And on the Internet, no less? We're sitting around discussing the philosophical merits, or lack thereof, of Japanese cartoons. Instead of arguing the semantics of it, it's probably best to just put forth a concise, clear-cut opinion.
 
09-04-10, 2:05 PM

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Okay, when I first read this topic's title I thought it was a joke, but now I see it's serious, so here are my thoughts: Elfen Lied shouldn't be added simply because if focuses more on explicit and utterly out of focus fan-service and random gore imagery than on developing any kind of further philosophical discussion.
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01-21-14, 12:34 PM

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When people see Elfen lied they are too distracted by the gore and nudity to realize the true meaning of the anime/manga.The series wants to show how barbaric and intolerant humans can be for the ones different from them.The human nature is to expel everything they visually consider a threat without trying to understand and accept it.I think that Elfen lied has the full right to be in this philosophy related club so that people can understand its meaning.Last I want to apologize if I made some grammatical or punctual errors in my writing because English is not my native language.
 
01-25-14, 4:55 PM

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Well, as for me, Elfen Lied tackles an important subject in Philosophy ~ Being Human. What is moral and what is not? What can we legitimately do to ourselves or to others?
 
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