Elfen Lied: Infamous for its bloody mess of gore, cruelty and nudity. A combination that could make many a person turn away. Yet, a huge number of people watch this, knowing (to some extent) what they're going into, and it's one of the more popular and well-rated series here on MAL. Some people call it a 'masterpiece', people some call it 'perverted', some people don't know what to say, and some call it 'horrible'. The first is true, the second is an exaggeration, the third is understandable, and the fourth is so wrong.
The first episode starts off with what is the bloodiest and nuditiest 10
minutes of any show I've ever watched, and I'll tell you this: If you live through that, you'll live through the series. And vice versa. Lucy, a naked girl of the Diclonius race, a species of mutant humans with invisible 'arms' called Vectors, is escaping from a facility (more like assaulting her way out), killing countless guards and whatnot on her way out (all in the nude). When she's finally outside, she's sniped, but she doesn't die. Instead, two teenage cousins (the two other main characters), Kouta and Yuka, discovers her on a beach. She has lost her memories, and is only capable of saying "Nyu", which is what Kouta and Yuka names her. They also decide to take her home, and
The story suddenly drops severely in its gore level there, and slowly builds up again throughout the remaining twelve episodes. Along with the gore come cruel events upon cruel events, as more Diclonii and their sad pasts are revealed. Nyuu 'awakens' as Lucy more frequently as the story progresses, in the end completely reverting to her old self. However, there might be an obstacle preventing her from going completely psychotic...
The characters are all okay, though they do act really stupid at times (if you find a girl with horns lying drenched in blood on the beach, you don't just take her home and decide to keep here there, do you?). They've all got some back stories, which contents are mostly those of cruelty, blood and relationships. Especially note the latter; relationships. It's an important aspect of the series, as they are the main factor as to why the Diclonius are so "cruel" as they are. "Cruel" because they aren't the real cruel ones; that dubious honor goes to the humans. Treating the Diclonius as mere research subjects, being shunned by the very people who should take care of them, and being killed off for stupid reasons. Among the main characters, their love (there is a love triangle between Kouta, Yuka and Nyu/Lucy), broken promises, lies and "lies" have all had their effect on how they are in the present, and what happened some years ago is connected to their development in the present day.
The series is only 13 episodes long, and in that short time quite a lot happens, which may make it seem rushed at times; it does move forward at a too high pace. The end result however, is actually extremely good, and a really tragic, enjoyable and gory experience.
The artwork is extremely good, yet very average. While backgrounds and scenic details are very meticulous and a real pleasure to the eyes, the character designs are way below what you'd expect after seeing the backgrounds. There is too little detail on them, the coloring is too bland, and they don’t fit in with the detailed surroundings in any way. The camerawork is very good at times though; at the rare occasion it reminded me more of the camerawork used in anime movies rather than anime series. The artwork during the opening theme is pretty interesting too; I think it's based an Austrian painter (Gustav Klimt)'s works.
The soundtrack is decent, with a marvelous Latin opening theme named Lilium that fits right into the series' overall tone, and an ending theme that, while a bit more cheerful, fits in with the love triangle between the main characters. The background music during the series is very repetitive at first; just a bunch of instrumental variations of Lilium. It gets better a few episodes into the series though, but overall I feel they used the variations of Lilium too much.
All in all Elfen Lied is a anime that does a very audacious thing by having so much cruelty, gore and nudity in one series, but the end result is a masterpiece anime that wouldn't have been good without. Just remember that it doesn't have the R+ rating for no reason - events ranging from a man watching his naked daughter to a dog being bludgeoned to death with a vase and live dismemberment takes place.
To 'Not Helpful' voters (and you 'Helpful' voters too): Feedback greatly appreciated =)
An anime can be critically successful for many reasons, it could be due to a well written and engaging plot, innovative ideas that are perfectly handled or even have a deep plot revolving around thought-provoking themes. More so, "depth" has been a cause for the critical success of many anime over the course of time for example "The tatami Galaxy", but for a show to have a level of depth is not an easy task for any writer. However, superficial depth can be achieved easily and even more easily confused for genuine depth. Such superficial depth ranges from cheap shock factor to random philosophical questions which
have no relations to the core plot or characters and Elfen Lied is a prime example of such superficial depth.
The harem genre has never been an interesting or innovative genre in terms of plot and character since the beginning of time. Most harem shows consist of a bland protagonist surrounded by fetish fulfilling bimbos, who are head over heels for the bland protagonist for the most stupid reasons. Pandering, useless fan service and sometimes being an insult to one's intellect; most harem shows lose all entertainment value to a mature audience. The mass production of such shows led to the belief that "anime" is only meant for kids and adolescent teens and have nothing of value to offer for someone more mature. However, this notion surprisingly changed after the release of the infamous, Elfen Lied an original story written by Okamoto Lynn which got a one cour anime adaptation, produced by studio ARMS who are also famous for producing other works like Ikkitousen, a ton of hentai titles and Genshiken.
At first glance, Elfen Lied is anything but a harem. The show starts with 10 minutes of outright nudity and gore which leaves the viewer in a state of utter shock and terror. These 10 minutes were enough to drive away the weak hearted. However, after these ten minutes, the story is just a hackneyed amalgamation of cliche, plot devices, plot conveniences, plot holes and last but not the least some "smart" and fetish pandering wrapped up into a harem. Plot conveniences and cliche are in abundance, for example, Lucy, loses her memory (amnesia cliche) when shot with a bullet in the head with a magnum sniper and floats down to a beach. One would expect the military to be present there, anticipating her arrival on several shores as she is indeed a top secret project and above that a threat to the human race, but she conveniently meets up with her one and only friend she ever had, Kouta. The author tries to handle pandering with different tricks such as using "horns" for cat ears(Kemenomimi). The whole amnesia cliche is further used as a plot device and conveniently too which involves Lucy, regaining her memories and her other personality whenever the plot asks for it and reverting back to her childlike personality whenever the plot asks for it. As the story progresses the writer cleverly turns what could have been a genuinely mature story about racism and discrimination into a cunning little harem. Every female character introduced is forced upon with some miserable past. It almost seems like the writer is a misogynistic sadist who creates female characters just to torture them. One would expect the writer to use these angst-filled backstories to weave up an emotional tale but fails at doing so as how forced these backstories come off and the overall lack of any development of the character doesn't help either. The story also tries to be dark but only fails as it's an edgy mess due to the abundant amount of unnecessary fan service and the whole over the top nature of the show.
Many claim this certain title, Elfen Lied, to be "deep", though I fail to understand why. It touches upon the concepts of racism and discrimination in the most superficial way possible. Lucy and other diclonius were born to kill humans, just like the wolf is born to prey on the sheep. It's in their genes, it's a natural instinct. Now if a man were to cage a wolf and let his sheep roam free, it wouldn't be discrimination, but an act of defense. The same logic is for elfen lied, where most diclonius are caged up and kept in miserable states so that they don't end up wiping out the human race. This is not racisms, neither is this discrimination, it's just simple self defense. This is not depth, this is just ridiculous and superficial handling of a theme that could have been done well.
The plot progression in Elfen Lied can be only described as utterly stupid. As mentioned before, a "TOP SECRET PROJECT" washes through the sea only to land upon some beach where there are no military personnel to take care of such an important event. Then the couple who encounter Lucy, a naked girl with random horns, takes her home, because yeah, when you meet naked a creature with horns, you take her home and give her a nickname as if it were a stray dog, instead of going to the police to report the event. The military sends the worst soldier to find Lucy. Seriously, what kind of a soldier goes ahead and beats up his own comrade when going up against a man killing diclonius. Then the secret military group sends another diclonius to capture Lucy. It is to be noted that Lucy is the queen of diclonius species, and as a queen, she has the ability to order other diclonius to do her bidding. What kind of a "secret" organization sends an inferior being of the same species to take out its queen, specially when the queen has the ability to order the other around at her bidding through telekinesis? After this attempt fails they send in another diclonius because, yes, when "plan A" fails, you repeat "plan A" again. This organization must be run by a bunch of retards. And when one thinks of it, it's even more stupid as the second diclonius has been known for its sheer hate for humanity to the point of killing any human at sight. What kind of a secret organization sends in such a creature to an inhabited area with the ulterior motive of "saving humans"? Is this some sort of joke? Kouta later finds out that it was Lucy who had killed his entire family and ends up forgiving her in the blink of an eye. Completely logical.
The show is comprised of two clear phases. One phase where Lucy regains her memory where the anime becomes edgy and over the top. The other phase is when Lucy is in her amnesia mode where the anime becomes a Harem/SOL. The writers tried hard to make her cute but she is nothing more than pathetic. Roaming around naked for fanservice to the point where she needs help to even change her panties.The changes between these two phases depend absolutely on the convenience of the plot and we yet don't know when she decides to be a pokemon and when a mindless yandere.
The characters are the blandest bunch of characters to be ever written and this might not even be an exaggeration. One would expect to have sympathetic feelings towards Lucy due to her tragic past, but everything is so "plot convenient" that the tragedies seem fake and lose any impact if possible and come out extremely forced. Other than Lucy, every character is just a bland stereotype. Kouta is your generic harem lead and Yuka is the "imouto in love with her brother" archetype. Oh! you thought the bullshit ended with random gore and nudity ? You're wrong, the writers also decide to introduce an incest romance subplot that goes nowhere and just add to the convoluted mess. Other than Lucy and Yuka every other female in the show is a stupid loli as if the "clever fan service" wasn't enough already. There's no development to any of the characters. To sum it up all, the characters are just a bunch of retards and lolis who lack development and any core personality.
The opening sequence is probably the best part of the whole show. With the beautiful soundtrack "Lilium" there are some artistic scenes which have no damn relation to the convoluted mess of a plot. The ost is nothing special either and a bunch of them are reused and rehashed constantly but yet fail to be anything memorable. The art and animation is rather average and have nothing special about it. The show lacks aesthetics and any sort of artistic detail. The only details that are probably put in, is during the gore scenes where the disturbing images of the bones of the characters can be seen. The character designs are repetitive to the point where three characters have the same hair color. At least give them some more distinguishable features ffs?
Despite trying to be deep, Elfen Lied fails horribly by only touching on its themes very superficially hence lacking any message at the end of the day. It transforms itself into a generic harem with its seemingly "clever" tricks to fool the audience that it's something mature, but at the end of the day, it's just another mindless harem. Also, a useless incest romance subplot that goes nowhere (why is this such a big thing in Japan?) The characters lack personality or development and the art and music is nothing particularly special either. It tries to make up for its flaws with the help of conveniences, cliches, mindless gore and nudity which only worsen the show and makes it "edgy" as all hell. This show might appeal to a gore fan, an imouto incest fanatic, a lolicon, a misogynist or a mindless harem lover. Unfortunately, I'm not one of them.
To the people voting "helpful/not helpful" your feedback as a comment on my profile is greatly appreciated
Elfen Lied is something else. Just watching the first 10 minutes of the first episode and one can understand that this is not your typical anime. A series modeled, in many ways, after the tragedies of Shakespeare and Ancient Greece, Elfen Lied is not something that you want to enjoy a sunny day with. The seemingly grotuetist violence and nudity may put some people off of this series, but I have to say that the story would not have the same impact without it.
Story: 10 - Elfen Lied boasts one of the most intense and intriguing plot lines that I have ever experienced in anime.
It must be known that the central themes to Elfen Lied are hate, anger, and inhumanity. Every darkness of the human soul is represented in this 13 episode series.
Animation: 8 - Not much to say here. The animation is very good, but nothing really stands out. I do really like the opening that shows a style adapted from the famous Austrian painter Gustav Klimt
Sound: 10 - The music really sets the tone for the series. I love the opening song "Lilium" by Kumiko Noma.
Character: 9 - Elfen Lied has the best in depth characters i've seen since Neon Genesis Evangelion. The characters are real, with both light and darkness in their souls. Unlike most anime, the distinction between good and evil is not so clear. Can Lucy/Nyu be considered a good character when she has the capacity to harm so many?
Enjoyment: 10 - This rating is the most subjective of all. I enjoyed the series, especially because I enjoy both dark and lighter anime series.
Overall: 10 - You just can't find many anime series that took the risk that Elfen Lied did. Sure you can watch Tenchi, Love Hina, or even Ranma 1/2 and get the same decently good anime over and over again. Elfen Lied, is something that just doesn't come around that often.
"Elfen Lied" has been nothing short of a phenomenon. There were no big budget promotions (like "Full Metal Alchemist" was promoted, for example), the manga wasn't exactly red hot property (like "Death Note" was, for example), but it was suddenly catapulted to fame in an incredibly short time in 2004. It's the kind of overnight success story that films and anime have been made from. But does it deserve all this hype? The short answer is no. The long answer is nooooooo.
Only kidding - this review is the long answer, obviously :P
When I first noticed "Elfen Lied" on an anime site, it was listed
as horror. But the picture shown on the site (not the picture from the MAL page, by the way) was this typically cute, giant eyed little girl with pink hair. First thing that came to my mind was: WTF? Cute, seemingly innocent little girl with a dark side going around killing everyone? Little did I realise how close I'd struck to the truth. What I didn't anticipate was how far below its hype it turned out to be.
To be fair, my initial impressions of "Elfen Lied" were actually pretty good. From the haunting melodies of its opening song "Lilium" and the combined gothic-anime style artwork, it seems to do everything right. The opening episode starts, and we are thrown straight into a blood bath, with heads and limbs flying in all directions curtesy of Lucy, a diclonius (a kind of mutant human) who is one of the central characters of the story. It was hard not pay attention. "Wow! I can feel this is going to be awesome!" I remember thinking to myself. But five minutes of ruthless massacre later, a extremely stereotypical ditzy secretary is introduced, who then promptly waltz in and trips over into the path of Lucy. I blinked as I tried to get to grips with this conflicting atmosphere, and at that point a small voice in the back of my head piped up: "What the hell is this?! A horror or a goofy comedy?!"
...and it's all downhill from there on. I should have known from the j-poppy ending theme that constrasted jarringly against the dark, forboding opening theme that something was wrong. Having been infected by the hype before hand, I was so convinced that this was going to be one of the greatest anime ever that I'd invited a friend of mine to watch this "masterpiece" with me. I'd sold it to her as this "really highly rated, brutal horror"... and we both watched with synchronised, slack jawed amazement as "Elfen Lied" descended from that potentially great horror themed show down to a, well, a bizarre horror of a show. (Ok, it's not actually *that* bad, but I just had to use that line :P)
This anime is meant to be horror, and though the horror elements are there, the pr0n elements are almost as strong, if not stronger. I'd heard about the violence, but I wasn't expecting all the nudity. As a result of my lack of research, I had to suffer my friend continuously teasing me about my supposed enjoyment of the omnipresent fanservice. The amount of scenes containing unnecessary distasteful nudity is simply ludicrous. If people are hit, their clothes magically rips off their bodies often rendering them completely naked. All the female characters in here just love getting naked... any excuse, and off goes all their clothes, or at least enough to reveal body parts that underscore the ecchi nature of this anime if nothing else. If a person falls over, you can bet the scene will feature the best angle from which to view a panty shot as they fall. There're countless more examples, but it would take me all day to list them. It's so bad it got to the point where, given any situation, I found myself wondering how they're gonna squeeze fanservice out of it. For example, during a scene where the characters gets caught in the rain, I'd start thinking: oh dear, here we go again - I can feel a wet t-shirt scene approaching... they might even start stripping once they find shelter. And funnily enough, most of the time my wild guesses will turn out to be correct. The fanservice flies in from all directions, and even after the anime had already conditioned me to anticipate the worst, they'd still be able to turn up when I'm least expecting them. The prime talent of the creators appear to be able to convert any situation into pr0n.
Now let's look at the horror aspects. It's impossible to talk about "Elfen Lied" without mentioning it. There's no denying that there is an incredible amount of blood and gore in here, but just how effective and appropriate are they? On one hand, the violence does serve its purpose to a certain extent. The sheer brutality of it and the fact that, like the fanservice, it can occur at any (and often unexpected) moment gives "Elfen Lied" a heightened sense of tension, anticipation, and enhances the viewing experience with a compelling edge. When all is said and done, the credentials of "Elfen Lied" as a horror is solidly cemented by all the violence. On the other hand, the violence of "Elfen Lied" is plasticky both in the visual sense and in the meaningful sense. Visually, the series is a bit of a one trick pony when it comes to violence - it's very direct, involves a lot of blood (sometimes too much), and the severed body parts often has the look of a dismantled toy body part to them. It all feels a little fake, and there's nothing as vivid and disturbing as some of the violence portrayed in the likes of "Berserk" and "Narutaru". Beneath the surface, it's pretty clear that the show's violence is mainly deployed as shock tactics, and so has very little actual meaning. Furthermore, "Elfen Lied" goes waaaay overboard with this tactics, and overuse of this often less-than-meaningful violence inevitably leads to a diminishment of its effectiveness. Unsurprisingly, after constantly being bombarded by the downpour of blood and severed limbs, I found myself numbing to them by the end, and they no longer affected me as much.
To its credit, I think "Elfen Lied" has got some intriguing concepts to build on. Mutants with invisible, deadly vectors hands? Sounds interesting. Involvement of a secret research facility that has a sinister purpose behind it? Tell me more! But unfortunately, they don't appear to be particularly interested in telling me this story. Unlike the fanservice, plot points are hard to come by, to the extent that it's hard to tell whether there are big gaping holes in the plot or whether they just failed to explain it properly. By the end, all I'm left with are some half developed concepts, some giant question marks, and a hollow lasting impression. Instead of expanding on its interesting sci-fi premises, it chose to divert a significant proportion of its attention to something that vaguely resembles a teen drama (but an ultra violent one, remember!) Drama! Does that mean it poured blood, sweat and tears into developing some astoundingly good character interaction and development then? No. Whilst the sci-fi aspect of the story can be described as wasted potential, the drama aspect never really had any potential to begin with - because it's of the dreaded harem variety. People can try and kid themselves all they want but we all know you rarely get anything worthy of note originating from that particular genre... other than lame humour and cliched, laughably unrealistic romance and characters of course.
And don't get me started on the characters... God they are so bad! If someone tries to strangle you for no reason, would you simply sit up afterwards and ask in a *conversational* way: "what did you do that for?" I doubt it. If it was me I'd be trying to get the hell away that person. If someone suddenly attacks your friend on sight for no apparent reason, and then tell you they did it just because they were hungry, would you believe such a lame ass excuse? My friend and I actually burst out laughing when we heard the excuse... then our mirth turned to astonishment as the dumbass in question not only accepted this sorry excuse of an excuse... but then proceeded to let the attacker into his house. (His house was already occupied by about 5 other girls by then, and yeah the attacker is is a girl. The harem aspect really starts to show at this point - man, how hard they had to twist the story and the character interactions just to get all those girls into the house :P) Okay I know that anime character aren't realistic in general, but did they even read the script themselves to see if the crap they churned out actually made sense on any level? The scientists are mostly a joke, the mercenary/security are practically useless... even the dog that featured briefly seem to be nothing but a plot device, abandoning its owner for no good reason other than so that it could interact with another character and garner sympathy from the viewers for the said character. I've heard of dogs being abandoned by it's owners before, but never the other way round!
Kurama is one of the few bright spots of the cast. His dilemma is choosing the right thing to do between the contradicting feelings that arise from his different roles as a cold, rational scientist, a normal human being, and a father whose child is caught up in the thick of things. This is arguably the only thing in the anime that DOESN'T feel a) forced and manipulative, b) inconsistent with the character and the situation, and c) like a shallow, black and white, clear cut issue. But apart from Kurama, most of the characters in "Elfen Lied" are so ridiculous it's actually hilarious to watch in places. A pity the same can't be said for the bits that are genuinely meant to be funny (the harem comedy bits).
People often harp on about how "Elfen Lied" is a deep anime that explores the ugly side of human nature. O rly? Call me cynical, but can you honestly expect much substance from an anime that's chock full of gratuitous fanservice and fetish based harem drama? Ok, that was a rhetorical question, but for those who are unconvinced, I'll put aside my prejudice for a moment here to properly address the issue. Let's take an example. One of the characters, Maya, has a tragic past that you would think would have a certain amount of impact on her life... but looking at her you would NEVER be able to guess it happened at all if it wasn't for the flashback that showed that event - "Let's design this really cheerful, likeable little girl. Oh! And we'll just shove in this flashback to tell people of her tragic past... and voila! She has depth!!" All traces of the affects of Maya's tragic past on her character magically vanish after the flashback, to the extent that I'd totally forgotten about it by the end of the series. Is this really exploring the so called social issues? No. It just smells suspiciously like a shortcut to gain the viewer's sympathy and a heavy handed approach to character development. What exactly are the profound messages this supposedly deep anime is trying to convey? That children can be cruel? Don't abuse children? Love conquers all? Don't piss off mutants that have dangerous powers? Sh*t happens? I'm not sure the makers even know themselves. Like the genre of this show, the messages - assuming it's trying to communicate anything - are a really bad contradicting mash up... and apart from Kurama's dilemma, almost everything monotonously boils down as an excuse for more cruelty and abuse. Worse, the countless abuse that happens in this anime has a stench of sadism about them - they are portrayed in such an over the top way that I couldn't help but get the impression that the producers are getting a kick out of it or something, which sickens me.
And this is why I can't work out for the life of me why this show is so popular. It's blatently just a shallow ecchi/harem flick, and normally people are smart enough to realise these kind of show tends to suck - you don't see other ecchi harems floating around being touted as the greatest anime ever do you? The only thing that makes "Elfen Lied" stand out against its brethrens is its violence, so I'm forced to conclude that showering an anime with blood will fool people into think it's "hard hitting" and "profound". Given the atrocious and manipulative handling of the story and characters, this anime has no chance of ever becoming deep, but with a bit more effort it could have at least become a really good atmospheric horror/sci fi. A crying shame that, instead of focusing on those more intriguing aspects, the makers were apparently more interested in thinking up new ways of applying fanservice. Very few anime have been known to successfully mix up very contrasting feels - "Trigun" does it very well for one, but "Elfen Lied" is not one of those few. Whoever decided it would be a good idea to mix the horror with the inappropriate fanservice (that had my friend and I laughing out loud at times) and the harem comedy (which, in contrast, isn't very funny, but is amusing due to how absurd it all is) should be shot. Several times.
Let me start off by saying that this is an anime I have avoided for a long time. Though the show has many fans, I'd essentially kicked it under the rug because I felt that it was too “mature” for me. (Mind you, this was when I was in middle school, and a mere panty shot made me feel uncomfortable.) HOWEVER, last week, I sat down and watched all thirteen episodes over a period of four days, and I have quite a bit to say about the series. Some of my commentary might stray dangerously close to /butthurt rant/ territory, so bear with me.
Let's discuss the technicalities of the show. Order of business numero uno: dub/sub. For this particular show, I suggest you stick to the original Japanese. Because the dub is ear-gratingly bad. The Japanese is a little lack-luster from what I can tell, but the English dub is comprised of extremely wooden acting and irritating voices all around, so the choice isn't exactly hard to make. Second: Elfen Lied has a lovely musical score, one that highlights the bloody scenes of the series very well. Most notable is the haunting OP song, “Lilium”, around which many a (melo)dramatic moment in the series is based. Third: the animation is bright and fluid, though it lags a little here and there. Visually and musically, the series is mostly solid. Peel back the first few layers of the onion, however, and you'll see that Elfen Lied has several gaping problems.
First of all, the story is dark, yes. It contains themes of betrayal, child abuse, bullying, rape, torture, abandonment, and other such cheerful plot points. The producers claim that it is meant to criticize the dark side of human nature. As I see it, however, it doesn't do this very well at all. In fact, the only thing Elfen Lied does do very well is /divert your attention/. The waterfalls of blood, severed limbs, and naked girls that the series is notorious for are so occupying to most viewers that they forget to examine the “big picture”. The show basically thrusts tear-rending scenes of cruelty in your face and expects that you'll ignore its many deeper flaws. Because if you think for a bit and brush away the gore-fest that is the surface of Elfen Lied, you'll realize that there is nothing there. The series was most likely intended to manipulate you into overlooking its utter lack of a point.
The plot, which supposedly focuses on the Diclonii and their attempts to wipe out the human race, goes nowhere at all. Instead, the plotline is unevenly divided, with a large chunk of the series revolving around the “mystery” behind Lucy's relationship with the ever-clueless Kouta, another prominent chunk--of course--focusing on the sad backstories of all the wonderful girls that eventually gravitate towards the loser (It should be pretty evident by now that I strongly dislike Kouta and the entire concept of his character), and a smaller chunk attempting to shed light on how the Diclonii came to be and the Institute's affiliation with the murderous beings. Instead of developing this meager third chunk, the writers chose to exploit the moe aspect of the show, giving it a completely unremarkable main plot. Think about it. How many times have we seen the “Lame-looking guy generously adopts several virtuous girls into his house and protects them from danger, soon discovering that they all have tragic pasts and are each falling madly in love with him” scenario? This scenario only works well with a fantastic setting, unusual characters, or masterful storytelling; none of which Elfen Lied has.
Because the writers halfway-introduced the Institute and its evil plans for the Diclonii, and then left this idea hanging like a dog's tongue on a summer day, the ending of the series feels incomplete and pointless. Not much of anything happens at the end, actually, except for the bloody deaths of many bystanders (nothing new), and a /sad romantic moment/.
In summation, Elfen Lied is a series that is best to watch with your brain turned off. It's the one way you'll get any sort of satisfaction from a show that, really, only has aesthetic value. It has numerous plot holes and is entirely generic in terms of its storyline: take any average moe title, pepper it with a smattering of gore and nudity, and you'll have Elfen Lied. If you truly want to depress yourself with a well-done portrayal of the darkness of humanity, I suggest you pick up something along the lines of “Now and Then, Here and There”.
Elfen Lied is not, in my opinion, the masterpiece that a chunk of viewers perceive it to be. In fact, I found it to be a shallow bundle of harem tropes and plot devices. In summation: It was pure bullcrap. Now, I don't mean to imply that Elfen Lied will seem this banal to everyone. As long as you don't start the anime expecting to find within it deep and controversial messages, then you will probably be a happy camper.
Manga, Anime: Elfen Lied was originally a manga created by Lynn Okamoto, and it ran in Weekly Young Jump from June of 2002 to November of 2005. Twelve compiled volumes were released, with a total of 107 chapters. The Elfen Lied manga has not been licensed Stateside, and no one is making any moves to do so anytime soon. More on this later.
The anime itself was produced by Studio ARMS (who also did the production for Genkishen 2 and Ikkitousen: Dragon Destiny), and directed by Mamoru Kanabe (who also directed the OAVs Demon Prince Enma and I”s Pure, both of
which you probably won’t know). It ran on Japanese TV from July 25th, 2004 to October 17th, 2004. ADV licensed it Stateside, and the fourth and final volume was released on November 14th, 2005.
Story: So, the episode kicks off with a ten-minute killing spree in an underground research facility (cause why would they be anywhere else?) with plenty of blood and gore by a naked chick in a helmet, as she attempts to escape. Yum. Eventually, someone ends up sniping her in the back of the head, and she falls off a cliff into the ocean.
Cut to a random, unnamed seaside city. A girl (Yuka) gets off the train and ends up looking around town for her cousin (Kouta), who she's going to be going to college with. After finding him, she drags him down to the beach, where they reminisce about his little sister.
And then they look up and notice that there's a naked chick with horns standing in the middle of the water. Though you have to wonder how oblivious they were not to notice it...
Thus begins the saga of Elfen Lied, which centers on the naked chick with horns (also known as Lucy/Nyuu, depending on which personality she is on the moment.
This is one of the more fucked-up, depressing offerings that anime has.
Take a look at our three main characters, to get a good picture of this: the cousins are in love with each other, the boy can’t remember a good chunk of his past, and the chick with horns has two personalities: a sweet amnesiac named “Nyuu” by the cousins, and a homicidal maniac side known as “Lucy”. And that’s not even to mention all the side characters, all of whom are messed up in their own psychotic, special ways.
As for the depressing stuff, there’s bodies flying left and right, puppies getting killed, child molestation, suicide, and a whole lot of other stuff that I can’t go into without spoilers.
The anime itself is an amazing juxtaposition of horror, slice of life, sci-fi, and romance, and even more amazingly, it works. And it’s good. Normally, all of the above would be incentive for me to drop a series like a hot potato. But all that stuff only ends up being a part of why you love the series so much. You care for all of these fucked-up nutjobs, and you watch to see if things will get any better for them, and to find out just what the hell’s going on.
I don’t know how this pans out, with regards to faithfulness to the manga source. All that I know is that the manga was still running when this started and finished airing.
There are two main issues I have with this series, though. One is the ending, which is an anticlimax and a big letdown after everything that’s happened; you don’t know what happens, and it’s kind of a cliffhanger. The other is the rampant fanservice. At least once every episode, you are going to be treated to a nude female character, or some kind of sexually suggestive scene. The series didn’t need all that fanservice; it could’ve gotten on just fine without it. And really, did they have to have kiddy nudity?!
WARNING: There is gore galore, there is blood by the bucketful, there is rampant nudity, there are sexually suggestive scenes, there are puppies getting killed violently, there’s very graphic violence period, there is child molestation, and really, if you’ve read this far and aren’t turned off, you’ll be fine with this series, even though there’s far more than this. If any of this makes you uncomfortable, run away from this series screaming. And definitely stay away from the manga if this is the case, because it’s supposed to take all of the above to a whole other level. Thus, why it has yet to be licensed Stateside.
Art: The art for this series is absolutely beautiful. The studio apparently had the budget to include outfit changes for all of the characters once every two episodes at the least, and it’s a nice touch. The backgrounds are exquisite, too. The OP is absolutely amazing, especially when you consider it’s basically animated versions of Klimt art (if you don’t know who he is, go Google his art, and you’ll see why I’m amazed). The CG stands out a bit, but its main function was to portray an otherworldly aspect of the chick with horns’ powers, so it works well. And, as much as I hated all the nudity, it was lovingly detailed.
Music: This is one of the few soundtracks that I’ve actually actively noticed since Gankutsou’s OST. There are several variations on the opening theme (which is awesome in and of itself, as it’s in Latin, and is something you’d probably heard sung in a Catholic Mass), and they’re absolutely beautiful, and end up producing the desired effect of the scene that they’re playing in. Also, they use the cello and traditional instruments to great effect. The ending is a fairly stereotypical JPop number, and kind of a disappointment, really.
Seiyuu: Joji Nakata’s in a smaller role, but still, it’s Joji freaking Nakata.. And Lucy/Nyuu’s seiyuu is the same girl who played Eleanor from Victorian Romance Emma, so that’s a nice touch. Ooh, and Daisuke Ono shows up briefly! And there are a lot of other seiyuu that show up here that I like, and I’m not going to list them all, because that’ll take up too much space. xD
Length: Just right. The pacing doesn’t go too fast, or too slow; the series finishes at just the right time (though how it ended is a bit of a sore point with me, as I mentioned earlier).
Overall: If you can get past the violence, the letdown of an ending, and gratuitous fanservice, this is a great show.
I'll just say before I start this that I am sorry that I have given such a well-received anime such a negative review. But I can't in my right mind praise something like this.
After what I would consider a fairly disturbing opening scene, I expected this series to be fairly interesting. We have a young woman who has just escaped from a high security government facility, where she was apparently held against her will. And it is quite obvious from the brutal massacre that ensues that she is a very troubled individual with plenty of hate for the human race, and perhaps deservedly so. Then
after she is essentially shot off of a cliff by a sniper under the direction the director of the facility, she ends up on the shore of the beach where she runs into Kohta and Yuka. Still naked. And this is where the story starts to disappoint me. The writers of this show then decided, after creating such an interesting character, they needed to turn her, through the ever-so-convenient plot device of memory loss, into some sort of mentally challenged child with the body of a young adult who can only utter the phrase "Nyu." And she has horns that suspiciously look like cat ears. Soon after, more girls come to join Kohta's new "family," and yes, you get to see most of them naked.
Besides what's going on in front of the viewer's eyes, there is an ongoing plot in the background about the Diclonius race. I actually found this plot pretty intriguing as well, but it unfortunately takes a back seat to the character drama, which was... somewhat lacking. But I'll get into that later.
The main reason why I rated the story so low is because it's so contrived. Nearly everything feels like it's essentially forced to happen, and even in the rare instance that the story doesn't feel really forced, I still find it hard to take a show that still holds onto the harem and fanservice cliches seriously.
I had no problem with the visuals. They were competently done. Although the only noteworthy artwork, in my opinion, is the opening, which is just beautiful.
I actually thought the music was really good. Lillium, in its various incarnations, is quite the haunting tune. It worked especially well as background music to help set the mood during the show's somewhat frequent depictions of human cruelty. My main problem, though, is that this is one of only a few tracks used throughout the whole show. So you can imagine that it would get a bit repetitive.
This is where I had my biggest bone to pick with this series. Most of the characters came off as either unrealistic caricatures of who they were meant to represent, weren't fully realized or came off as pathetic excuses for fanservice. For more specific examples, read on.
Kohta is pretty much your typical harem anime protagonist, a total pushover whose shoes any pervert can fit into. However, I actually blame this more on the original manga creator than on anyone else. He does offer some depth, but he is also very unrealistic. I don't expect fictional characters to act completely like real people, but they need to have a certain amount of believability. Any sane, real human being would gladly turn in a lost, naked girl to the police and give a homeless girl pants if she is obviously lacking some. A normal person would definitely not want to turn their home into some bizarre sort of orphanage. And anybody with a brain would definitely be able to notice that their cousin wanted them, especially when she was making such obvious advances on you.
Yuka is... well, Yuka is the kind of cousin who wants you. Really badly. Where most girls her age have most likely outgrown any crushes they once had on relatives, she is content with longing for her wimpy, pushover of a cousin. I'm sorry, but why was this needed in the story, especially when there was already a love interest for Kohta?
Nyu is pretty much worthless. As a split personality, her only purpose was to limit the carnage caused by Lucy and serve as a rather pathetic excuse for fanservice.
Mayu and her back story were fairly interesting ideas, but it just seemed as if it was for shock value and an excuse to get her to walk around without pants. The writers of the show could have done a lot more with her, but they just chose not to.
Nana and Kurama were also good characters, and they brought up some interesting questions. But did we really need to see her naked?
Lucy, on the other hand, was the meat of the story and, at least in my eyes, was much more of a main character than Kohta could ever be. I thought the flashback to her past was really well done and I admit I did feel sorry for her, even if half the time she was a sadistic murderer and the other half what amounted to a naked child.
So to summarize the character section, Lucy is what boosts character up to a five. The other people involved in her story is what keeps it a five.
Now, did I enjoy this series? On occasion. But it was very hard to watch, and I only kept watching because everyone else seemed to think this was some sort of masterpiece. I will admit, I did enjoy the blood and gore, as well as Lucy's back story. But I couldn't help noticing all of the flaws that this show had. And the fanservice was so over-the-top that it was gross. I really don't need to see naked fourteen-year-olds, and even when the fanservice involved older characters, it wasn't very tastefully done and was way too .
Elfen Lied could have been a good horror series, with plenty of violence and nudity. But instead it tried to be something more, and fell flat on its face.
This is kind of tough for me to do. It really is, mainly because most of the people who love this series are also fans of many of my favorite anime. Maybe I just don\'t see something that everyone else does?.. and I feel the need to explain myself...
I have to say, I have been very confused as to why this anime is so widely known and loved. Awhile ago I tried to start watching the series and got about 2 episodes into it before deciding it was a waste of time. My initial impression was that sure, the show had a
great opening score/artwork, but as soon as the real action began, there was nothing to be impressed with. Of all the anime I have seen thus far, this one has some of the blandest animation and character design. Nothing horrible, but definitely nothing noteworthy. Nyu may have some kind of sexual appeal to the audience [not me], but other than her supposed \"cuteness\" it is hard to feel any kind of attachment to her. I was immediately turned off by not only her persona, but those of two other main characters introduced early on. Kouta and Yuka are very diluted and weak characters, and there is nothing particularly interesting about them. The initial premise of the story was interesting, and the first episode provided plenty of gore for those who are easily entertained by exploding heads and flying limbs.
Several months after losing interest, I was again exposed to plenty of support and praise of this series and thought I\'d give it another chance. I guess it was just pure stubbornness that led me to actually watch the entire series through-I had to find out if there was some truth to all the hype. But uh-yea, again I have to be honest. I was sorely disappointed. I can see where the series may lure people in with its light vs. dark or the struggle of humanity or some such thing. I guess there are some interesting questions that could be raised by the series, but I felt no connection or empathy with the characters at all here and therefore was unable to feel that the moral questions raised were of concern to me. The relationships between characters and their development are what usually interest me more than anything-and even a weak storyline can be somewhat salvaged by strong characters. However, Elfen Lied is full of half-assed character development, which to me is more frustrating than anything. Not only am I annoyed by the actual character design [we are never fully aware as to why these creatures have horns that look like cat ears which supposedly make them cute.. lame.. and the gigantic eyes are a bit much] but I am stupefied by the way things are left between these characters. I won\'t leave any spoilers here-but I have to say that the ending was at the very least unsettling. For one, I didn\'t even like Nyu\'s character, so I can\'t say exactly how the ending made me feel. I was unhappy though, that\'s for sure. The relationships are never sorted out even a little-Kouta and Yuka have some kind of connection [we have no way of understanding why Yuka is so obsessed with her uh, cousin.. especially since they hadn\'t seen each other since they were very young and have no interactions in the series that seem significant.. other than a little undies/kissing show the audience is witness to at one point].. the whole thing frustrates me-and then the relationship between Kouta and Nyu/Lucy.. it seems to be the only possibility for saving this weak series.. but no.. we are yet again left with absolutely no answers-Kouta is indecisive and has no strong points in his character that stand out or are interesting.. sure he is a \"good\" guy-but hell, I have never witnessed a more boring good guy in all of the anime I have seen.. Yuka might as well not even be in the anime.. and even though Nana\'s appearance creates more action, she also seems unimportant to the story and is equally as diluted as the other characters.. also.. Nyu\'s voice is like nails on a chalkboard if you ask me, though I understand that all of her \"nyu nyu\" crap is adorable to some people.. her real personality [Lucy] is the only one that interested me at all-and we didn\'t see much of it [aside from the back-story and the scenes with ultra-graphic violence].. I think the anime could have been better if a few characters had been eliminated, and the series had perhaps focused more on the relationship between Kouta and Lucy [not the unbelievably stupid amnesia-induced Nyu].. their back-story was the only part of the series I actually liked.. it\'s tough for me to enjoy watching an anime if I can\'t relate to any of the characters.. on top of that, if I don\'t like the character design or the animation or the storyline, it\'s bound to be a HUGE flop..
going back to the storyline-I can\'t say that it\'s a terrible one, but then again it was boring enough for me to forget almost immediately.. of course we aren\'t meant to see the plot as realistic per se, but a few things just don\'t sit right with me.. for one-is it in any way conceivable that these \'demons\' or freaks [or whatever they really are-it is never fully explained] would be treated so cruelly?.. especially ones like Nana who showed no real violence in them.. i mean come on-hurdling heavy objects at them while they\'re chained up naked??.. i just don\'t get it-unless the producers of the series felt that the audience would enjoy seeing a lot of unnecessary nudity and violence that doesn\'t add to the plot [which i suppose is the case..heh].. then we have the underdeveloped explanation as to how this mutation happened in the first place and why it would happen the way it did [so uh-random?-extra limbs that are invisible].. if this is about survival of the fittest or some shit like that, we could have made it a bit more believable or interesting.. and as for the villains in the story.. again.. weak.. Kurama was alright, but his touching back-story wasn\'t enough to save the series.. it seems that the internal struggle of Nyu/Lucy is the main focal point here.. and it gets old.. after finishing the series, i was left feeling empty-and not in the awed sense, where the significance hits you later on.. i didn\'t get anything out of watching the series.. it seems that everyone else finds some kind of deep and powerful message, something that really stuck with them-but i see nothing special at all.. even at surface/entertainment value.. i really feel guilty in saying this, but.. there are very few anime that I hold in such low regard as this one.. I hope you will all be understanding.. I really wish there were someone out there to agree with me on this one..
[and i just realized that it\'s nearly impossible for me to punctuate sentences correctly.. i reverted to my usual format halfway through.. ah well]
Last week I was fortunate enough to watch one of the most highly regarded and critically praised anime series, called Elfen Lied. Why this series has garnered so much popularity over the years is surely no surprise to anyone: ask anybody who watches anime on a regular basis about the bloodiest, most disturbing series and you’ll often get Elfen Lied as the answer. This series is far from a simple no-brainer gorefest, though, and those who dare give it a shot (it’s certainly not for those who can’t stomach this type of thing) may find themselves completely overwhelmed by its beautifully unique story and memorable
characters. I should know, as I am one of them.
First thing’s first: let me give you a little insight on the plot of the series. Elfen Lied primarily focuses on the relationship between humans and the so-called Diclonius (humans with horns attached to their heads and equipped with invisible telekinetic arms). One of our main characters, Lucy, is a Diclonius girl who escapes from a research facility where those of her kind are held captive and experimented upon in violent ways. Make no mistake, these strange, yet intriguing beings are far from innocent – most of them do not back away from violence and getting on their bad side can often result in a bloodbath. After forcing her way out (and by that I mean violently dismembering and ripping the heads off of everyone that stands in the way), Lucy is shot in the very last moment by a sniper. The shot doesn’t entirely hit, but it does damage her head enough to cause a deep amnesia and split her personality in two parts. Not much time passes and Lucy is found on a nearby beach by Kohta and his cousin Yuka, but Lucy’s second personality, Nyu, has taken over and this results in her acting like a child and unable to remember anything that happened up to that point.
Most of the show focuses on Lucy’s stay with Kohta and Yuka and the hunt by those whom she evaded to recapture her. Calling Elfen Lied the bloodiest and goriest anime series ever made is more an opinion rather than a fact, but it is certainly up there. You can tell from the first ten minutes that it definitely lives up to its reputation: Lucy’s escape from the research facility is one of the most powerful and downright disturbing scenes I have ever since in any anime series and it contained more blood and violence than I was prepared for – and believe me, I was pretty prepared.
One of the first things which caught my attention when I started watching the series was its opening song, called Lilium, which is sung in Latin. I was immediately fascinated by its truly wonderful tone and the atmosphere which it evoked. The opening couldn’t have been more fitting, if you ask me. It really captures the essence of what this anime is about.
Elfen Lied may sport a brutal attitude and at times it seems as though there is little to stop it from going way over the edge with its graphic depictions of violence and gore, but beyond its hardened exterior lies a soft and sensible core. The relationships between characters are surprisingly genuine and feel really natural. Over the course of its running time we come to care for each and every character in a special way. No one is innocent here, but it’s the imperfections and the little things that each character says or the does that shapes them into perfectly developed characters. I wish I could say that Elfen Lied does all these things to perfection, but there are some noticeable flaws among these beautifully executed aspects. Some characters react in an odd way to a few things, which sometimes leads to confusion among the audience and incapability to connect with the particular scene when it happens. For example, a young girl discovers a brutally dismembered man on the beach and her reaction suggests that she thinks little of it. Such things really lead to confusion and sometimes ruin the moment. I don’t wanna spoil anything, so I’ll just say that Kohta goes through some extremely emotional situations during the last episodes and his reactions are underwhelming, to say the least.
With only thirteen episodes and one special original video animation, Elfen Lied is a relatively short anime series. The manga it is based on is said to continue beyond the series’ ending and offer a lot more backstory and information about some characters, though I have not read it and am therefore unable to comment on the matter. I will say this, though: as far as the anime is concerned, it does a great job at developing the characters and advancing the story in a satisfying manner for the audience.
Elfen Lied is most definitely not for the faint of heart. There are lots of scenes which depict violence against animals, incest and even sexual abuse. Even though the series is filled with controversy and gore, it does manage to deliver a really beautiful and emotional story filled with interesting, well-developed characters. I was a little bit disappointed with the open ending and the final episode overall, but it did little to make me forget about the rest of this spectacular anime series. If you feel like you’ve got the stomach for it, be sure to check it out as it will definitely leave a lasting mark on you. It certainly did so in my case.
“We hunt them, experiment on them, and then kill them. And after that we call them monsters?!”
Anyone that has watched their fair share of anime has more certainly heard about Elfen Lied at least once, but why is it so popular? Is overrated or is a masterpiece? Well none of these options is the correct one, but despite the flaws the correct option is certainly, you must watch it, and why? Because there’s nothing quite like it.
First of all, let’s get the cat out of the box before we start, the story and contents of this anime, as you probably
guessed it, are not for everyone, during the 1st opening 10 minutes, you are treated to I would call a bloody spectacle, this will give you an idea of what you are getting yourself into, but if you can watch them without problem the rest of the anime won’t be a problem.
So, starting from the beginning, Elfen Lied tells you the bloody, tragic, sad and yet at times, light hearted tale of a race of mutated human called Diclonius.
Through the course of the story you will find out about their past and by doing so you will discover the emotional scars that made them into homicidal machines.
In its core Elfen Lied it’s actually not a horror tale, but rather a psychological one, it will make you think about what’s truly evil, murderous mutant beings, or calculist, selfish and despicable humans.
Elfen Lied also adds romance to the mix, you must be probably thinking, there’s no way that can work here, but actually brings a light tone to would be an overall tragic anime, but not everything works perfectly, more on that later.
Now to the most obvious flaws, at times the anime treats us to some “comedy” moments, this are present with the intent of giving a hearted tone to the anime, but at times it just feels out of place and tasteless.
The way the story is structured is perhaps the only cardinal sin of this anime, given the short number of episodes, and given the lack of a proper ending (the manga was still being published by the time the anime was over), the anime feels fragmented, rushed and unfocused at times.
Even with its “rushed” nature, Elfen Lied had a decent amount of character development to speak of, but I don't necessarily think I was happy with a lot of it, hence the somewhat lower score. The spotlight of the development definitely goes to Lucy /Nyu and Kouta, Kouta has a dark and hidden past that he has to discover, and Nyu has two completely different sides that she ends up exploring in a very engaging way.
Remember when I said the romantic plot had a flaw, this is where it shows up, Yuka the cousin of Kouta, her character mostly it’s just “there” to provide the story with a incestuous relationship between the too, unfortunately her character, feels tacked on and not very interesting unlike the other characters.
The 1st thing that will probably see in this anime, it’s the opening, and it’s there that you will hear the hauntingly beautiful track called Lilium, this track is both the rise and the fall of music department, since it’s such a fantastic track its ends up being used among some variations through the course of the anime, what may annoy some viewers that would like more variety since it ends up being overused.
On the voice department nothing outstanding here, the only stoplight goes to the voice actress that gave the voice to the Lucy character. On another note, stay away from the English dub, it’s awful.
Art/ Animation (7)
The animation of Elfen Lied was good most of the time. The backgrounds were definitely the most beautiful of the lot, and were detailed and interesting. Though the animation it might not have looked completely real, it was creepily done and looked real enough to be disturbing.
The weakest part was definitely the character designs. At first I was impressed, but as the show went on, I started to feel like they were a bit generic. All of the Diclonius girls had bright pink hair (which is never really explained), while everyone else tended to have normal colors and designs.
I really enjoy this because it kept me wanting for more after each episode. The way the suffering and pain was portrayed throughout the series, as well as the interactions between the characters was what truly made this anime special.
Despite its flaws, this is an anime that everyone should watch at least once, I sure don’t regret watching it and neither will you.
Thank you for reading and if you could please rate my review as helpful or not helpful, I would really appreciate it.
It's tough writing negative reviews, because for some reason people who've already seen the anime want to come along and rate it as useless because they disagree. But this review is for people who haven't seen this anime yet.
Let's be clear on this one. One of the reasons I dislike this anime may be because it made me face the horrible realisation that I might just be too old for it (I'm 26, so maybe 14 years too old).
Elfen Lied is a harem anime featuring a collection of bulging-eyed stereotypes (including pathetic bitches) crossed with extreme violence to the point of perversion. If this sounds
like it may appeal to you then you certainly aren't alone.
Anyway, let's consider the plot before we start ranting about how shit it is.
There exist certain people on Earth that have conspicuous horns growing from their heads. The female versions of these people have a varying number of invisible arms that can be used as weapons. These people are also usually very angry about something, and unsympathetic to any concept of compassion. Like an evil Tachikoma... maybe.
Anyway one day one of these bad girls washes up on a beach where she is picked up by some guy who takes her home with him. Said guy has just been placed in charge of an old ryoukan with ten rooms, which he then goes about blandly and cluelessly populating with other stigmatised young women. Sexually embarrassing situations arise, and so do disturbing yet poorly animated scenes of bodily mutilation and relentless, unapologetic killing.
The series doesn't start very well. A young, horned girl breaks out of a secure facility by killing everyone. She is also completely naked. She then runs away and turns up on the beach to be picked up by this guy. Only now she has spazzed-out into some pathetic little shit who can't say anything except the grating-cute "nyuuuuuu!". She also doesn't know anything about anything and ends up sat in a puddle of her own piss. But it's all very cute and erotic and lalala. Then the girls take off their clothes and have a bath. Then the guy gets in compromising situations with the annoying exhibitionist in front of his cousin (who incidentally fancies him) and its all so very charming and stereotypical hahahaha.....
Then people get brutally murdered again and chicks get naked again. Repeat, repeat.
I think the horned-people want to rule the world, or something. They hate humans because they pick on them and kick their puppies and shit. So if humans won't accept them, then they must "make a world for [them]selves". What that means isn't explained, but I guess it has something to do with removing humans from the picture. The rest of the plot is nonsense filler about the characters and their history, including a totally implausible "we knew each other as kids" backstory, and a "revelation" which I want so badly to shout about because it is so stupid, but don't want to 'spoil' for anyone out there who can't work it out from the heavy-handed hints throughout the short series.
The idea of the soft-hearted girl with the hidden harsh personality is certainly not new. The first thing to come to mind is the vastly superior initial OVA series of 3x3 Eyes. Except in 3x3 Eyes the calm version of Pai actually has some charisma.
One of my major issues with this anime is the liberal use of nudity. Worse, child nudity. Warning: this series contains many, many shots of 13 year old girls in the buff. In fact, it shows just about as graphic scenes of child porn as is (for some reason) allowed by the censors. We're talking full pussy shots on all fours. That shit is fucked up. What's more fucked up is that that is the most sexual of all the nudity in the series. Every episode (and the entirity of the opening and closing credits) bulges with breast and pussy shots, but they are so badly drawn as to not have any effect on anyone over 12. However, when the young-guns come out, the poses and situations get more and more perverse. I know 13 is technically the age of consent in Japan, but come on.
The violence is way over the top throughout, and the style often reminds me more of Ikkitousen than any attempt at being vaguely serious. The less bloody ecchi moments, too, defy all logic. One girl allowed herself to be groped by another girl for a full two minutes while doing nothing but blushing and weakly saying "I said no". This kind of pathetic clown is one of the worst traits of Japanese media.
Towards the end the series is plagued by bawling sentimentalism. It manages to convey at least some feeling, and does feel like it picks itself up a little. But it is ultimately too little, too late. It was interesting, however, and the only time when you are actually asked to consider the characters as the children they are instead of just hard-ass emotional wrecks.
Considering the hype there always was around this series, it is strange to see how low the animation quality is. The framerate is not good at all, the designs are sloppy, and the locations are severly limited/similar (though often nicely detailed).
Rubbish. Only one or two different songs performed in a variety of ways. Boring. "Nyuuuuuu"!
Tired stereotypes by the bundle. Huge, plump eyes even grace the dopey male lead; shit hairstyles in stupid colours too. All very nice and cute, and clearly intended to be in juxtaposition with the bloody violence. However, rather than working to make it all the more powerful, it just looks wrong. It doesn't work. The violence is more like a sexual perversion in this setting.
And just when you thought all the characters were present and accounted for, there's the guy with the spiky black hair and the very reflective glasses. Oh, and what's he doing? He's pushing those glasses up his nose with his middle finger while giving the camera a slightly sideways smirk. Holy shit. I promised that I would kill a man if I watched another anime featuring him, but when it comes down to it all I want to do is kill myself.
The only good character, literally, is the bad-ass soldier guy. He punches women in the face in a way that makes me think he is angry to be in the show at all. Winner.
The harem is an often-referenced bad point of the show, and I won't disagree. As if two sworn enemies would live together. One has her arms and legs cut off by the other, then agrees to live with her. Whatever. The harem-hotel is where the series abandon's all sense of seriousness and becomes more like a gorey Tenchi Muyo.
I guess the main theme is stigma, but I'm confused. The pathetic "nyuuu" chick is some kind of anti-hero by all accounts. It seems like we are supposed to feel sympathy for this girl who indescriminately kills people. Hell, the cast seems to manage it. At one point a very young "Nyu" gets bullied, so she kills all the kids bullying her (otaku revenge anyone?) and then goes on a rampage killing families for a place to stay. There is little about that that says "poor victim". Nothing really makes me feel anything for this character. Certainly nothing balances how damn annoying she is in every scene. I suppose we should believe that she cannot control her power, but without something likable is it almost impossible to feel any balance. It's interesting that you are ostensibly 'supposed' to feel sympathy for a child who wants to be human but cannot embrace any element of morality or compassion. Look at Tetsuo in Akira; he ruthlessly murders people and barges through Tokyo on a wave of destruction. But throughout the whole movie he somehow retains sympathy for his problems. Nothing like that applies to Elfen Lied.
Also, why the hell don't the girls in the series kill each other? They have an inexplicable tendency to push each other about and/or give each other a slap. You want them dead, so use your silly arms and kill them like you kill everyone else!
Some anime forces you to look beyond the stereotypes and tired themes for the real story. I tried that with Elfen Lied and all I got was this lousy review.
The story for Elfen Lied is supposedly an emotional journey that revealed all the deepest, darkest pieces of humanity and was supposed to give some poignant commentary on human nature and all that jazz. And although those are things that have certainly been done many times before, it can still be nice to see when done well. And yet, Elfen Lied really didn't do all that great of job of doing even that. All they really did was just kept showing you people being mistreated, and then it just stopped there. I mean, there were a few instances when something that might of been
of substance began to develop but they were either cut off and the story shifted off into something else or it was just too shallow to ever really materialize into something. Honestly, they only thing I gathered from all this was that some people are big meanies, but there might be a nice kid in a bed and breakfast who makes out with his cousin that might take care of you. Other than that there was nothing really very tangible to take away from this. And with that being the good part, that left the rest/ majority of the series as just pulp, which consisted of soap-opera drama, Hollywood twists and sooper kool meat head action.
Despite all that, I still had hope because this was supposed to be an emotional anime, and human emotion is a beautiful thing even if the message behind it all is pretty shallow, but yet again, I was disappointed. I should have been moved after seeing a few of the scenes I saw, but I just wasn't because after seeing so many loved ones get their heads cut off and seeing so many people cry, watching those scenes was just like watching someone sneeze. They definitely needed to reel back in and remind us what real life looked like every once in a while for the sake of dynamic.
And lastly, I want to discuss one of the more talked about subjects regarding Elfen Lied’s story, and that’s the subject of the violence/nudity. I cast my vote in this area for it being more perversion than anything else. I was actually pretty disgusted at it at times. I can sort of understand the point of view of it being necessary, but I think it crossed a few lines. What was necessary (to a plot that is superficial by itself) was the fact that people were being killed, and that alone is an ugly enough thing to get a point across. What wasn’t necessary was the whole, maiming, disemboweling, eye gouging, and exploding. All that was there for one obvious reason, and that was shock value. As for the sexual part, I had a hard time justifying that. Actually depicting very young girls, or older girls who were just acting like little girls, naked and for the most part covered in blood in suggestive situations is pretty unnecessary. I mean, did every girl that had breasts HAVE to get their clothes ripped off when they fought? Did they HAVE to depict a little girl taking her clothes off for her step-dad? I didn’t really think so. There have been better stories that did a better job of making a character look sub-human without showing even a fraction of what Elfen Lied showed.
This isn't really something that generally holds much weight unless it's the focal point of a series. It's nothing to scorn, but it's really just the same recycled style/quality you see in so many series.
The worst part of Elfen Lied. The characters are garbage. They are so cliche and so overboard, they almost insult the intelligence of the viewer, as if we couldn't tell that Bando was short tempered and callous without either threatening the life or punching the faces of every single person he comes in contact with. All the characters are extremely unrealistic and act in ways no real person in today's society would ever act. Like a four year old girl who talks like a James Bond villain? Or elementary school boys who bully their classmates by smashing their puppies faces in with bottles? Teenagers who find naked women lying on beaches and takes them home to live with them without exchanging hardly any words? Besides all that, there weren't many cliches that weren't used in the daily dialogue from the characters. It was actually pretty painful.
ENJOYMENT: Eh.This is subjective. I know there are things that people enjoy purely because of their niche, which isn't a bad thing. That could easily be the case for this one. If you appreciate and enjoy innovation and artistic integrity, I'd suggest skipping this one.
There really is a lot more to be said about this series, but I think I'm going to stop here. I'm really baffled at how many people gush about this anime. One good thing, is that it confirmed that I should never take heed to an animetard's suggestions.
To be frank this series was a massive disappointment on every level. I heard great things about from many people and anime sites. Basically this show is a glorified harem horror train wreck with fancy music.
To start none of the character reactions seem natural. Everything seems awkward and stupid. The characters themselves are all either insane or incredibly stupid (some are both). It's hard to get into depth without ruining anything so I will make an example. Imagine if the characters in Excel Saga's actions were all taken in a serious light. That is how stupid these characters are. Then there is this convoluted
storyline that goes in so many different directions that it makes no sense. Then there is the stupid romance element of the thing. It's as if they try to make the most illogical couple possible. Overall this show seems like it was created by a person with no actual goal in sight. He just throws out boobs and blood and expects it to be good. Which it most definitely isn't. If all you want in your anime is blood and boobs this is the anime for you...just whatever you do don;t listen to a word these people have to say.
Basically this is a piece of garbage covered in blood. But hey at least the music is good. I gotta admit that much.
Well, here I go, face to face with quite possibly the most over-hyped anime series I have ever come across in my 25+ years of watching anime, Elfen Lied. Masterpiece, art, greatest anime ever, trash, complete garbage, pretentious beyond all belief. These are all descriptions I have come across when Elfen Lied has been mentioned. When I came into this series some years ago I completely bought into the hype, and I was hoping that I came into a title that was going to live up to its massive claims, and after the opening theme, it really did look that way. But alas, it didn't
take long for the series to show its true colors, and as a result, Elfen Lied joined the ranks of the worst anime titles I have ever seen.
The plot follows Kouta and Yuka as they take in the girl whom they decide to name Nyu, simply because due to amnesia she has reverted to an infantile state and this is the only word that constantly comes out of her mouth. Hot on her trail, happens to be an organization that wants to kill her. They dispatch soldiers, other beings of her kind and so on. The two cousins take a liking to her, and in addition other characters make it into their household. On many occasions, the encounters consist of serious bloodbaths and along the way we learn about the characters backgrounds, organization motives, etc. Unfortunately, the ride is so bumpy on the way, that those whom don't buy into the story or characters will be suffering from a very bad headache.
Elfen Lied is a comedy of errors, and I have to blame this on the idiotic writing. Nothing seems to jell here from the style of the anime to the characters. The writers attempt to cover both spectrum's; light and dark in regards to its themes and genres, and I was constantly stuck in limbo with no idea what the aim was. This brings me to the careless mixing of genres. It dabbles heavily in horror, harem comedy, romance, action, and it all clashes with the subtlety of an awful car wreck. The genre clashing is done to such an extreme that nothing can be taken seriously. When the nudity was displayed in combination with the horror, it worked out a great deal, but later, it completely lost all meaning when it was used in comedy via absurd fan service. There's one scene between two young girls taking a very innocent bath together. The scene all by itself isn't bad at all, however, what takes away the innocence is the mindless garbage you seen long before it, such as ridiculous breast grabbing along with real close camera shots of dripping wet butt cheeks. Some people say that the nudity is art. But what exactly is the nudity telling you from an artistic view after so much childish exposure? The genre clashing doesn't stop there; the series had some good, romantic character interactions between Kouta and Yuka, and they would be completely destroyed by Nyu rampaging into the room completely naked, with a full frontal view of everything. It just doesn't make any sense.
The plot is in complete shambles, and many times I thought this series was written by complete fools. It's unbelievable what situations are used to push the plot. To make matters worse, the messages contradict themselves on every single turn, and in the end Elfen Lied turns into one aimless and incoherent mess. The writers make an attempt by the final episodes to lose all silliness and try to be serious; but it's so hard to take these things serious, because they didn't take their own work serious from the very beginning.
Characters are the driving force behind any work and these characters are very bland. They're walking stereotypes with either no depth, or they continue to contradict the story messages. Nyu whom is revealed to be Lucy is the main problem here, and to dive into her would result in major spoilers, so I'll leave that alone. I will mention that the main characters are completely overshadowed by the side characters in terms of interest though. Characters such as Mayu and Nana have far more dramatic potential, and should have been used a little bit better than mere plot devices, because quite frankly, Kouta and Yuka(especially) were too damn boring to carry the narrative. The supposed love triangle between Kouta, Yuka, and the infantile Nyu had absolutely no imagination whatsoever.
Visually, Elfen Lied is pretty with some nice character designs and backgrounds. The visceral gore is well done, as the viewer is treated to some serious bodily damage revealing severed spinal chords and chopped off limbs; but it does suffer from an overuse of stills later on. The BGM does have moments it works in helping the drama and romance feel stronger than what it really is. I don't have any issues with the voice acting for either langauage. However, I think I'll go with the English cast because they seem to fit a little better with the character personalities.
I really don't want to say Elfen Lied is completely terrible because there are traces of brilliance, but it's very hard not to. Every single thing the anime does right is overshadowed by its glaring flaws. The multiple genres rarely work together as a team, instead they're fighting with each other for dominance, and the end result is a very bad anime that isn't the least bit rewarding. It's like getting two black eyes with no icepacks. Up to this day, I have never seen an anime that has worked so hard against itself. Still, I recommend Elfen Lied to all anime fans though, just to see for yourself what all the fuss is about, and you draw your own conclusion on whether or not the fuss is worth it at all.
Highs: Production values, traces of serious potential
Lows: Terrible plot, shonen characters and clichés galore, contradicting messages, You call that a love triangle?!
"A good attempt in bringing a wonderful manga live to the TV."
This review will cover Elfen Lied (anime) and the OVA which takes place within the storyline of the TV series. Please note that there will be occasional references to the manga but they will be spoiler tagged where needed and also a small part of this review will be taken from my manga Elfen Lied review due to some of their similarities.
Elfen Lied is well known for being one of the cruelest, goriest, and a highly perverted, piece of work ever. If you cannot stand watching blood, gore, and/or child nudity, please drop this
show immediately. On the other hand, if you like twisted anime with plenty of cruelty (even at a higher level than Elfen Lied), I can recommend some more to you (just send me a PM). In short, one is expected to have a strong stomach and a mind of steel to survive these 13 episodes (plus the OVA). Consider yourself warned!
While it is rare to see "kawaii" horned girls brutally tearing bodies apart (or get their bodies shred apart), quite frankly Elfen Lied is infamous for that. The reason for these mass murders, while mostly a psychological issue with the killer, were not very well explained in the anime. Also, one could say the story ending in the anime was rather anticlimactic as I am sure many of you would have expected a more complete closure to the story.
The overall plot of Elfen Lied (manga) is truly amazing. It covers a wide variety of themes in great details, ranging from simple triangle love relationship, to the ever more common child abuse, to the horrid reality of non-ethical scientific research, to the threat of global terrorism, and lastly on human origin and our mutation/evolution. However a large portion of it were not included in the anime. For instance, there were suppose to be a
1. Global catastrophe leading to a rapid decline in human population for years to come due to a certain virus being spread in the atmosphere.
2. Another more "powerful" research institute was omitted from the anime thus interesting stuff like "vector machine" and "vector canceller" were not introduced.
3. Chief Kakuzawa's evil plan was barely touched upon in the anime -which constitute a large part to the interesting story plot-. Without this, we would not know why all Diclonius are females. Without this, we would not know why Lucy is the "queen" of all Diclonius. Without this, we would not know how Lucy was born different from everyone else. Without this, Elfen Lied is not Elfen Lied.
In terms of real actual story coverage, the anime covered ~60% of the manga in a highly compressed way. If I were to rate the anime solely based on its adaptation to the manga, the rating would be a lot worse (for the story and character at least).
However, I am not ignorant. I am well aware that the anime was aired prior to the completion of the manga. Thus it will not be fair to flame the production crew for such a diverge, inconsistent, mysterious ending. On the contrary, I would like to praise the animation crew for following the manga quite closely for the most part. In particular, I find the OVA a nice addition to the background story for Lucy as it explains why Lucy allowed herself to be captured as seen from episode 1 (all from the manga of course, so it is not something the production crew just made up). There is nothing more satisfying to the manga fans than watching Elfen Lied in high quality animation (because the manga artwork was really not that good). In addition to the good, consistent, high quality animation, Elfen Lied is also superb in the sound department.
First thing worth mentioning is the unique, beautifully sung, OP in Latin. This is not something you hear very often in the Japanese anime industry. It should also be brought to your attention that there are actually a few different variations to the OP. Unfortunately the ED is nothing spectacular like it. Secondly, Elfen Lied has a great list of seiyu. Many of whom you have probably heard their voices before in other anime. For instance, Yuka is voiced by Noto Mamiko (Kotomi in Clannad). Nana is voiced by Yuki Matsuoka (Inoue in Bleach). Most CV turned out great for their particular role for the respective characters.
I was glad to see that most characters were identical to their manga counterpart as far as their personality is concerned. There are certain characters where we can easily identify as black or white (as in those we should love vs those we should hate), but many actually belong somewhere in the gray region. Throughout the story you will find yourself rooting for a character in one instant and surprisingly find yourself wanting to have that same character killed in the next instant. It is precisely these types of character building techniques that make Elfen Lied loved and hated by many. However, what I did not like is the 180 degree change in character for the director general (aka Chief Kakuzawa). In the last episode he wanted Lucy killed, and that alone is enough to completely RUIN the whole point to the story.
Finally I would like to once again remind fellow MAL viewers that this anime is not meant for young children (nor those who dislike blood, gore, and/or nudity) and hopefully it will give you enjoyment rather than weeks of nightmare. I know I certainly enjoyed it to its fullest. Also, I would like to apologize to those who think I over emphasized on the manga (I know I did, but I couldn't help it). I was just sad to see a story with great potential gone down the drain just because it finished animating before the true glory of the story sets in.
Please send me a feedback whether you find the review helpful or not. Thanks.
Before reading any of my reviews, please keep in mind that I am a VERY harsh critic. I do not hand out 10's easily and anything I rate 7 or higher I consider recommendation worthy.
Before I even start defending my opinion I just have to say that anyone who thinks this was amazing because of the amount of "gore" probably hasn't read 3x3 Eyes (also, Elfen Lied appears to be influenced by 3x3 Eyes, I'm not the only one to come to this conclusion). In short, this series is severely over-hyped and over-rated. If you want the long then keep reading. . .
itself was okay, but not really anything special. For the most part it was somewhat compromised to favor action scenes. The only part of the story that really interested me was Lucy's past which did not disappoint (9/10), other than that the story wasn't that great. Before I started watching Elfen Lied I was informed by many that the series was "amazing" and "groundbreaking" because of all the blood and gore. Well they got the blood part right, but gore was not evident. Let me clarify, gore is not getting decapitated or losing limbs, gore is being cut in half and having your innards strewn across a lengthy flight of stairs exposing your ribs and spinal cord for all to see(3x3 Eyes manga 5, it was actually one of the most ROMANTIC moments of the series, they did something very similar again in volume 29). I was thoroughly amused in episode 1, though. I don't want to ruin it for those who haven't seen, because it was as unexpected as it was amusing. Anyone who has seen will know what I'm talking about. The ending was butchered, for lack of a better word. They could easily make a 2nd season as the plot was very much left unresolved. That was probably the biggest drawback of the series. So if you're expecting something epic, then forget about it, it ain't a happenin'! You'll get a lot of blood and 0 conclusion, leaving you wanting to read the manga to find out what REALLY happened. The whole idea that Lucy is this psycho mass murderer and everyone wants her for their own means (either to kill her to enhance their reputation or capture her to make her the leader of a new race) is not really that original. It's been done before. The resulting bloodbaths that follow are completely expected and unentertaining. Nyu was entertaining at times, annoying at other times. The story about the shell was very nice, changing her clothes was priceless. The endless molestation was very unnecessary. . . To sum up, it was average. Nothing to really hate about it, just didn't live up to the hype. The idea was great, the follow through was terrible.
The art was pretty good. The CG was done moderately well and the backgrounds were all nice and all, especially the beach, but I'm a sucker for beautiful beaches. Lol. The cels were all crisp and clear, which was good. The character designs were good as well. I particularly liked the eyes and hair of the characters. The blood and "gore" scenes didn't look very realistic though. It's blood. Blood is red. Very artistic. Must have been fun to animate though, so I have to give credit for good cinematography.
I wasn't too fond of the opening song, but I loved the ending song. The BGM fit fairly well, none really stood out as being particularly bad. The voice acting was okay. I liked how Lucy's voice was done. Nana and Nyu were annoying at times, everything else was good. Nothing special, but it was done well. I had no real complaints about the sound in Elfen Lied.
Lucy was good, Kurama was good. Yuka, Nyu, Nana and Mayu I didn't really like that much. They annoyed me at times, especially Nyu, her act got old in a hurry. Everyone else was okay. The biggest issue I had with the characters was Lucy/Nyu. . . Where have I seen something like that before? Ah, yes. 3x3 Eyes. The airheaded yet sweet Pai and the dangerous and powerful Sanjiyan. It's kind of hard to dispute where Okamoto-sensei got her inspiration from. I saw Kurama as an interesting tragic character, but he wasn't really built up quite as much as I'd have liked. All the characters seemed rather stereotypical to me. Nothing to write home about.
Aside from Lucy's story and a few select scenes early on I didn't really get much enjoyment out of this series. The ending annoyed me and left me saying; "That's it? Where's the rest of it?" Because of that I ended up starting to read the manga, which to my dismay wasn't any better. Not only did it stray from the original plot after the incident which concluded the animé, it also seemed to concentrate on molestation, rape and sex more than I would have liked. I ended up dropping the manga in disgust in volume 8. The animé actually is better, despite the open ending. So aside from the first few ep's and the story of Lucy's past I really didn't enjoy this series very much.
I meant what I said, it's over-hyped, over-rated and most definitely NOT a classic. While it wasn't exactly bad, it wasn't the amazing show that people had me believing it was. Anyone who wants to see something "gory" should look elsewhere. Might I suggest the 3x3 Eyes manga?
Elfen Lied could, quite easily, be called one of the most graphic anime series out there. If you find excessive blood and gore (as in numerous body parts being cut off), nudity, and to a lesser degree, suicide, animal cruelty, and scenes of child molestation (it is just alluded to, of course the actual act is not shown), to be highly offensive and not to your taste, then don't watch Elfen Lied. Of course, no sane person would find any of these particularly desirable, but if you can get past these characteristics that make Elfen Lied one of the most controversial (in terms
of getting it to air on TV) anime series out there, you'll find yourself treated to a deliciously deep and dark story that will leave you wanting more.
The basic outline of the story involves the diclonius race, a mutation of humans that have evolved to eliminate the human race and pave the path for a stronger version of them (Darwinism). The diclonius have many traits that make them superior to humans, the most notable being two horns on their head that give them control of vectors, invisible "hands" that have extended range and superior strength (can easily cut through stone and even stop bullets to some extent with no visible effort), not to mention the fact that they move at the speed of light. The existence of this race is kept heavily under wraps, and a certain organization carefully regulates the diclonius whenever a human happens to give birth to one.
On this note, the series starts when one of the diclonius, named Lucy, breaks free from the cell that the organization held her in and, after ten minutes or so of massive amounts of gore and dismembered body parts, escapes to the ocean, but note before being hit by a bullet on the restrictive helmet she was wearing, breaking it and also resulting in her personality being split, one side being her true self, and the other a completely clueless and innocent side with the mentality of a young child (yes, I will mention now that this aspect is very similar to Chii in Chobits or Ren in DearS). It is from this point that the innocent version of her washes up where two cousins, Kohta and Yuka, happen to be walking along the beach. And although none of them are aware of it, their pasts are all intricately entwined in a tragic way.
Elfen Lied starts with one of the bloodiest beginnings that an anime can have. Although such a brutal start may be a deterrent to many viewers, what lies beyond this dark intro is a amazing series. An odd combination of science fiction, slice of life, psychological, romance, and horror, what's really unusual about it is that, well, they mix really well in the stylings of Elfen Lied. One moment, an episode will be calm and cute, and in an instant shift to dark and tense; this transition is repeatedly executed in an outstanding fashion throughout the series, and is greatly reflective of Lucy's split personalities, as well as her inner turmoil.
In terms of the series as a whole, the story along the way is gripping, such that I was compelled to watch all the episodes in one sitting (although it took me three). The only issues I had with it was the anticlimactic, ambiguous ending that will most likely leave many viewers unsatisfied with the series concluding so abruptly, and the few loose strands that are left behind, as well as the background surrounding the organization and how it came to be. In addition, the resolution to the main issue of the plot was somewhat unrealistic, although I was satisfied enough with it. (Sidenote: Apparently, all of these issues are taken care of in the manga, as it goes into more detail on past events as well as having a different resolution than the anime, including how the main character dealt with his recollection of past events.) I feel as though the series could have used a 14th episode or an OVA (not the current one, although it does answer some questions) to clear up all of the loose ends, but it is hard to imagine how some things would be resolved, and perhaps is just better left to the viewer to decide.
The art in Elfen Lied is nothing short of beautiful, vibrant and filled with rich colors. The animation is very nice and smooth, and doesn't appear to suffer from any budgetary limits. In fact, the overall production quality of Elfen Lied surpasses a great number of anime. This could, of course, be since many of the more violent and faster-paced moments usually involve a diclonius calmly standing in place while everyone in the immediate vicinity is ripped to shreds. However, the over-exaggerated blood and gore is definitely something to note as well executed. I can't say that I'm particularly into gore and excessive nudity in anime, but I'll admit that what they do, they do well. Not to mention the numerous costume changes many of the characters go through (and they're all cute). Perhaps most impressive is the art in the OP, which is based upon the work of Gustav Klimt, including the layouts, colors, and even poses that he often deployed. It's a spectacle that has to be viewed in person.
One note regarding the rampant nude scenes throughout Elfen Lied, although I initially found myself somewhat refreshed by the honesty of them (i.e., a test subject in a lab would be naked), as the series progressed, I felt that much of the nudity was unnecessary and just there for fan service (also contributing to the difficulties in getting this show to be approved for airing on TV).
Most notable in the music category would be the series' opening, Lilium, a beautiful song written in Latin and sung in Gregorian chant. The various musical pieces that complement the events taking place throughout the series are almost all instrumental variations of Lilium, and they fit into the atmosphere of Elfen Lied perfectly, providing a perfect compliment to whatever scene they are integrated into. The ending is a pop-rock song that can be fit to the series, however, it often breaks the mood since nearly every episode ends on a darker note or as a cliffhanger.
Overall, the music is very enjoyable, and Lilium is a very memorable song that many people will no doubt find themselves downloading after they have seen the series.
Regarding the voice acting, the Japanese voicing is well performed and the voices fit the characters quite well. Although I cannot confirm the following since I have not listened to the English dub, I have heard many complaints that the English voicing is merely sub-par.
I'm torn when it comes to characters, as I feel that Elfen Lied both succeeds and fails here. The series falls short in leaving many characters underdeveloped. We are given brief insight to many characters' dark pasts, yet receive no further information once they are touched upon - it is hard to come to care for every unfortunate soul that the series introduces merely due to the fact that we do not have enough contact with them. However, the development present for certain characters almost outweighs this drawback, especially considering that the series was only 13 episodes long. The two main characters are developed sufficiently, and I'll accept the reasoning that the whole series revolves around the interactions of these two in the past; the psychological conflict affecting Kohta and Lucy is integral to the plot, although most of this development is done in the very last few episodes and feels a little rushed and almost forced.
Don't get me wrong though, despite what I believe could have been slightly better, I thought the characters in the series were brilliant, and the fashion in which they interacted and were related to one another is part of what makes this series so great. One particularly notable feature the majority of the main characters possess is that is almost impossible to side with one or another entirely. Each has equally valid reasons for their actions, and, when their pasts conflict with one another, deeming one person to be right over the other is just not possible. The butterfly effect, a major theme involved in the way that the characters developed and came to be what they were during the story, particularly for Lucy - her experiences growing up, her encounters with people who kept her sane, or drove her to near insanity - all come together in a manner that is a real treat to watch, leading up to the climax of the series.
Elfen Lied, as a whole, was one of the most interesting and compelling series I have seen in quite some time. The few drawbacks it had were easily overlooked by the positive qualities it possessed, and was well worth the experience and time. Only the ending was a bit of a letdown, but the ride along the way was wild.
Simply put, this series pushes boundaries, and isn't afraid to do so. More importantly, it does so well. This adult series is definitely not for everyone, but even if you are averse to the more unpleasant parts of Elfen Lied, I would still recommend watching it, as it is truly a great anime.
The main focus of the series seems to be the main character's harem (with more focus on 2 of them) consisting of his cousin, a similarly-aged mentally deficient girl who is secretly not mentally deficient, and 2 underaged girls. If I recall.
The series focuses a lot on the underage girls being sexually/emotionally abused, the weird incestuous relationship between the main character and his cousin (which they portray doing things that I might think warrant an M rating), the youngest girl in the bunch running away from home due to being sexually abused by her step father, and the other underage girl being mercilessly butchered
and having her limbs cut off over and over as if it was some kind of running slap stick gag throughout the entire series.
The series repeatedly uses children to pull at your heart strings and make you feel a connection with characters that are about as well polished as driftwood. These characters exist only as props to be thrown under a bus to make you feel sympathetic and sad. They do not themselves possess any kind of personality beyond some kind of quirk or weird infatuation. There's "the raped girl," the "emotionally deficient girl with stockholm syndrome," the "brooding girl who only wants to be loved." You know, the classics!
I'd say the grossest aspect of this series is the use of gore for shock value. Small children are mutilating each other left and right. Though there is an in-universe explanation for why they are so violent, you're left wondering if you care if there is an in-universe explanation. To me, the gore exists because someone wanted to make a really edgy series full of gore and violence for sake of gore and violence.
Think of Gantz, but with 10 year old girls. And instead of killing aliens, they're killing other 10 year old girls. By ripping their heads off.
Ever since mankind perfected the art of starting fires, we’ve been at the top of the food chain. We’ve used weapons to make up for our lack of claws, and we’ve built houses to make up for our lack of immunity to the elements. We’ve invented food processing, as well as other techniques to ensure that we’re not pumping our bodies full of disease and parasites, and we’ve even invented supermarkets so we could stop hunting and sit on our asses all day while marathoning Gossip Girls. We’ve held dominion over the rest of God’s creatures for so long that we’ve never
really had to worry about another species knocking us off of our seat at the throne.
While the practice of humans killing humans is about as common as the practice of making more humans to replace them, we never expected a threat to our population to evolve right from our own ranks... Until the Diclonious arose. They’re the new breed of human, characterized by a pair of bony horns on their head, a set of invisible arms growing out of their back, and no genitalia (which must have been a huge relief to the people in charge of censoring the show). While the way they breed remains a mystery, their mission in life is simple... Wipe out the human race, and then repopulate the earth. And their queen bee just escaped out into the public.
Now, that queen bee... Lucy... is on the run, ready to gruesomely murder any pitiful human who gets in her way. How will she deal with having to live with the one person she can’t kill?
Elfen Lied was produced and released by Studio Arms, an animation company that makes it’s entire living off of crap. I’m not kidding. Their library consists mainly of pornos, loathsome battle vixen shows, and obscure OVAs that nobody cares about. Their most ambitious projects aside from Elfen Lied are Genshiken, which I admit I haven’t seen, and last year’s incompetent snoozefest, Mao Yu. This is not a company you want as your alma mater, and visually, Elfen Lied is no exception.
Well, that’s not completely fair... To it’s credit, the background artwork is actually really good, beautiful stuff. It’s highly detailed, perfectly lit, and shaded with nothing short of a master’s touch. The character designs, on the other hand, aren’t nearly as easy to look at. They look fairly normal in most shots, with nothing really special or noteworthy. Then there are the facial expressions that look like they were designed by the troll face guy, and far off shots where everything looks distorted and off model.
The animation is also some of the worst I’ve seen, at least when you actually see it. You spend most of the series staring at key frames that feature barely any movement outside of the lip flaps. The very few full-shot walk cycles that you get to see are embarrassingly bad, as the characters in them barely seem to exist in the same universe as the backgrounds they’re running against. I said earlier that the backgrounds look really beautiful, but even when you clearly hear the presence of strong wind, you’ll never see a single leaf moving. That is, except that there will occasionally be a shot of cherry blossom petals falling down, and this appears a lot in the outdoor scenes... It looks fluid and graceful in motion, at least until you realize that they’re just playing the same bit of animation over and over again... Even in the freaking rain! The animation does clean up and present itself in a few select fight scenes, but they still look mediocre by any other show’s standards. For the most part, a huge chunk of the budget was clearly wasted on the goofy looking CG arms that all the Diclonius...es... have.
The characters look like garbage, which is fitting, because most of them ARE garbage. Lucy herself is a really good, complex character, but after suffering a concussion during her escape from the research facility, she develops a split personality. That other side of herself, who emerges whenever she’s hit on the head or has a bad memory, is called Nyu, and... Well, I hate to use this word so lightly, but she’s retarded. Like, literally retarded. I know I shouldn’t use that word, because it’s a very mean and insensitive word, but I don’t think you’ll ever see an anime character who fits it more than she does. I’m not talking ‘makes bad decisions and does stupid things’ retarded, oh no, I mean ‘pisses all over the floor for no good reason’; retarded. She’s basically a walking infant with boobs, which she will happily squeeze into somebody’s hand. Nyuu’s existence does to Lucy what Jar Jar Binks did to the original Star Wars trilogy.
And the couple that takes her in? Kohta and Yuka, both of whom are first year college students? They are insufferable. They’re one of the worst couples in anime history, and I’m not just talking about the fact that they’re cousins. I could forgive that. What I can’t forgive is a will-they-won’t-they dynamic that, for me, was more like will-she-won’t-she-kill them already? Kohta experienced a traumatic event when he was a kid, which resulted in the tragic loss of his personality. Oh, and his family, I think. She hasn’t seen him since then, but has somehow stayed in love with him all this time, even turning down her top choice colleges just to go to his. He’s basically a less interesting version of Shiryou Emiya... and I so mean that... And she’s an obsessed hose beast who takes every possible opportunity to be jealous of the other girls in the house.
There are a few characters that were good... Like Bandoh, the sadistic army guy, and Nana, the well behaved Diclonius... But both of them overstayed their welcome after somehow surviving injuries that should have killed them. Yeah, they somehow survived losing entire limbs, when another character a few episodes later almost bleeds out and dies from one bullet wound. Seeing them come back to life wouldn’t bother me if their presence beyond that point contributed anything to the plot, which they don’t. But unlike little orphan Mayu, at least they DO contribute something to the plot at some point.
As much as it kills me to say this, as a die hard ADV fan, I can’t really recommend this english dub. I don’t have a problem with the dialogue, or anything... The adaptive script is actually quite good... But as far as the performances go, it’s a mixed bag. Kira Vincent Davis does an outstanding job playing all three sides of her character... She plays Lucy, Nyuu, and the child version of Lucy, even though the original Japanese had a different Saiyuu for each. She plays Lucy as a jaded loner with a serious chip on her shoulder, and you have to give her props for pulling it off without ever sounding emo about it. There’s a little more hope in her squeakier child version of the voice, and more growth as well. Her performance as Nyuu is ungodly annoying, but then again, it’s an ungodly annoying character, so I don’t hold it against her.
She probably performs her best as the child version of Lucy, which might have something to do with the fact that she’s playing off of such wonderful actors as Christine Auten, Chris Patton, and Monica Rial. As an adult/woman child, she’s hanging with a certified C squad that plays our main couple, Kohta and Yuka. They’re played by Adam Conlon, who doesn’t seem to understand what acting even is, and Nancy Novotny, who doesn’t have any talent for it whatsoever. There are some pretty good performances by Jay Hickman Jason douglas and Sasha Paysinger, but in this case, a few bad apples DO spoil the bunch.
The only time I’d recommend turning the English track on is when little Mariko sets foot... Er, wheel... Onscreen. She’s played by Her Highness Luci Christian, who I believe I’ve gushed about in the past. I hold her in an extremely high regard, as one of the best emoters in the business, and as somebody who’s able to absolutely own every single role she’s presented with. Keep that in mind when I tell you that her role as Mariko is one of her best performances period. She hasn’t jerked tears this hard since Air. I won’t spoil the reasons why, but if there’s a reason to turn on the dub, it’s her.
As for the story itself, it’s not necessarily a bad one. The plot is one of a kind, is very imaginative, and always manages to take itself seriously without ever becoming preachy or pretentious. The pacing is actually really good as well, as the story never moves slowly enough to start dragging, or too quickly for the viewer to understand what’s going on. That’s not to say you’d necessarily WANT to understand what’s going on, but good pacing doesn’t always mean good content.
Where it fails it’s hardest is in the execution of the story. There are so many plot holes that I honestly could have made an entire Inconvenient Questions list out of it, if not for the fact that several characters go out of their way to ask about said plot holes... To no avail, of course, as Elfen Lied would much rather question itself than explain itself. Much like Fate Stay Night, Elfen Lied is a story that spends way too much time on it’s main cast playing house and dumping exposition to fully explore it’s own exciting concept. In fact, if you really want me to take my gloves off, this is a 13 episode series with so much pointless material in it that it could have easily been told in the space of only six episodes.
All you’d have to do is remove the characters who don’t add anything to the plot (Mayu, Bandoh, Arakawa, both of the Kakuzawas), cut the flashbacks down to only the bare essentials, combine Nana and Mariko into one character, and erase all traces of Yuka after she’s filled her role in the first episode. In addition to cutting back on time, having Kohta take more of an active role in the story with only Nyuu/Lucy in the house would have given him a much more complete personality.
As a matter of fact, I would have loved this show a lot more if little Lucy had killed Yuka, instead of just Kohta’s father and little sister... Oops, i’m sorry, was that a spoiler? I’d apologize, but if you couldn’t figure out that little plot twist by the end of episode 1, then there’s no hope for you.
There’s a lot you can say about this show, and not all of it is very nice. What you can’t say, however, is that it fails as a horror title. As bad as the animation may be, the framing and camera angles are absolutely brilliant, working right alongside the hauntingly beautiful soundtrack and perfect instrumental motif to make the show consistently unsettling and suspenseful, even in the more goofy and ridiculous moments. Right from the start, you have no idea who will live and who will die, and aside from Kohta’s family, you’ll never be able to predict what gruesome fates will await these polished, shiny moe models. Whether you love or hate seeing them torn limb from limb, you’ll never feel bored or indifferent about it, which is the reason that it never becomes gratuitous enough to qualify as mindless torture or gore porn.
Elfen Lied was once available from ADV Films, in a very beautiful thinpack box set. Following the collapse of ADV, it was picked up and redistributed by Funimation, who’ve released a few box sets of their own... They’re not as striking visually, but they’re cheaper, and it’s pretty much the only way to get it on Blu-ray. The original manga has never been released in English, and since I’m not familiar with the practice of streaming manga, I don’t really know where you can find a translated version. What I can find, however, is a fan-made web comic called Nana’s Everyday Life, which concluded several years ago. It’s actually a very interesting read, particular in the latter stages, when they dropped the comedy and went for a more serious, tragic story. You can find that at http://manga.clone-army.org/nana.php.
In conclusion... What do you want me to say? Do you want me to call this show the most awesome thing ever, like so many people do? Well, I can’t, because that’s not true. Do you want me to say that it‘s one of the worst pieces of crap I’ve ever seen, like so many people do? Well, I can’t, because that’s not true either. My opinion of Elfen Lied is much more in the middle... It’s too good to be a bad show, but at the same time, it’s way too bad to be a good show. I really like it, and it will always have a spot on my DVD shelf, but from an objective stand point, i’ll never be able to see it as anything other than average, which is why I wind up giving it an average score... I give Elfen Lied a 5/10, and a strong recommendation to check it out for yourselves so you can form your own opinion on it.
There is this misconception in the anime community that if a show is filled to the brim with death, bloodshed and nudity then it is mature and deep. While, certainly, these shows are not intended for the viewing of a child, if a show solely relies on shock factor and edge, while neglecting characters and narrative, then it is anything but mature since it can't keep your attention without desperately throwing blood and death in your face. Akame ga Kill is the prime example of this. It's a show in which its characters are consistently killed in violent and gruesome ways with no shortage of
torture scenes and head decapitations, but that's all it has since it doesn't have any interesting characters or a good story to back it up and it feels like it was written by an edgy twelve-year-old who thinks that a mature story is one in which you throw a bunch of guts and tits onto the screen. How do I know this? Well, when I was a rather stupid teenager, I too used to write stories of a similar nature, with edgy titles such as "From Tears To Death". If I had them today, I would link them in some way, since I'm sure it would make for great entertainment to read and laugh at such a horrible attempt at being mature since all I did was throw horrible death, after horrible death at the reader.
And it's not like shock factor or edginess will completely ruin a narrative either. Berserk is an amazing series that has some really messed up elements contained in it, such as a rape horse, constant arm, leg and head amputations and witnessing Guts, as a child, being sexually molested by a man. All of these events are pretty fucked up and are shocking, but, the show has interesting characters and a great story to back it up, transforming from an edgy story written by a fourteen-year-old to a respectable and critically acclaimed series. Think of it as edge done right, if you will. Unfortunately, when it comes to Elfen Lied, it feels like an older Akame ga Kill, using shock factor in a way to manipulate the audience into feeling something for the characters instead of building them up while at the same time, having a completely rushed and rather messy narrative.
The story of Elfen Lied begins in a science facility of some kind in which our main protagonist, or, to be more literal, our antagonist, Lucy, is being held captive. For, you see, Lucy is not no ordinary human being but is instead part of a new breed called the Diclonius, whose natural instinct is to kill the regular humans. Each one of them has these long, arm like-things that pertude out of their bodies which the show refers to as Vectors, which are capable of ripping apart a human very easily. Each Diclonius has different features and different vector characteristics, all of which are CGI, but, for the time, and even by today's standards still look pretty damn good! Anyway, Lucy is the queen of this new race, and the first scene of the show she escapes the facility, causing a crap tone of bloodshed, which reminds me of the first Pokemon movie of all things, a strange comparison I know, but trust me, they're similar aside from, y'know, the naked chick and the constant blood and death.
The opening seven minutes of this show are great and it sets things up perfectly. Its full of death, a ton of body parts flying around, and combined with Lucy's slow, almost Terminator like walk and the music, the opening scene is still is one of my favorite opening scenes for any show ever. Unfortunately the rest of the show is terrible. Anywhore, as Lucy makes her away outside, she is hit by a bullet to the head, which doesn't kill her and she falls into the ocean below. At this point, Lucy has developed a split personality, one side that still retains her normal, murderer instincts and the other that is a cute, speechless girl that has no recollection of who or what she is, but, honestly, this feels more like a plot device rather than an event of circumstance, I'll get into that a little later. Lucy washes up on the beach, where she is found by two people. Kouta, who is as interesting as paint drying and his cousin called Yuka who is thirsty for some of that Kouta dick...despite being cousins!
DING DING! Do you hear that? It's the incest alarms going off for yet another shitty show! Why do all shows of this nature have to either have some loli shit or incest subtext? It's just not needed and they hardly even develop this theme in this show, and, in the manga, it's even heavily implied that they get married and have kids! But, I'm getting sidetracked now. Kouta and Yuka keep Lucy in their home, much like a cat since she literally pisses the floor and the rest of the show features the scientist dudes trying to get Lucy back by sending the military out as well as other Diclonius which were cloned from Lucy. Now, I have a LOT of problems with this narrative, so let's go through them, so make sure you got your popcorn ready!
First of all the narrative is far too full of random conveniences, the biggest being that Kouta knew Lucy back when they were children, and, because he witnessed the death of his little sister before his eyes, has suppressed these memories, so it makes sense why he doesn't remember her, but that's not my gripe with this element. Kouta moved away from this area where Lucy eventually washes up many years ago and the exact day in which he moves back and just so happens to be walking across the beach, is also the exact time in which Lucy escapes and meets with him again. I know that, especially in the anime medium, we're supposed to extend our suspension of disbelief but this is way too convenient and ends up being a glaring issue for me. Another glaring act of convenience is Lucy's sudden bursts of amnesia. Now, the first time she changes, it makes sense at least, since she was abused and it does feel pretty satisfying to see her beat the everlasting hell out of some ass-hole solider, but her amnesia seems to work whenever it feels like it and is just pretty inconsistent all the way around.
Another issue is that it doesn't make any sense for fellow Diconius to be going after Lucy when they establish that it is part of their nature to kill humans; it's ingrained in their instincts, much like how a cat hunts birds or something and, not only that, but Lucy is their queen so it doesn't make much sense how they can go against her! And the show does expect you to feel sorry for Lucy but it comes across as forced since they just constantly resort to using forced drama and irrational decisions. The show's biggest problem is victimising young children in an attempt at emotional manipulation and is used as a substitution for character development rather than trying to build up a character with actual themes and development. Lucy, as a child, butchers children and kills hundreds and the show expects us to buy into the fact that she innocent and is only a victim of circumstance by presenting black and white, totally one dimensional villain type character such as children who beat a puppy to death. Sure, that is horrible, but the show expects us to root for Lucy who then slaughters them all and then goes on to run away from the police, breaking into innocent people's homes and eats from their fridges. Lucy seems like the villain, and I know you can argue that she was just a child and had no choice but to do so but this obvious victimisation is such a lazy and cheap way to make us feel for this character since the show hardly gives me no reason to care much for her beyond this. The only thing I like about Lucy is that she kills people, which is why I think she would better as a central antagonist without all of this forced drama.
Not only that, but most of the time the story is just boring. A large amount of the show is about people just sitting and talking, all of which hardly adds anything to the characters and we never learn anything more about them. The only entertaining thing in the show is watching the fights just to see some bloodshed. It makes for a good guilty pleasure but my entertainment of these scenes is not derivative of wondering if the characters will survive or not, in fact I don't care who lives since everyone is so boring, I watch it just for some gore and blood: that's it. You don't watch Elfen Lied for any deep or mature theme exploration, just trash tier fanservice. It feels like a 70s grind house flick, and when looking at the show from this angle, it's not too bad but don't expect anything more than this. And, in it's not like this entire show is completely devoid of originality or interesting themes. Hell, it attempts to comment on the horrible and downright unfair structures of society and highlights the dark side of both society and humanity; it's just that, unfortunately, these themes are hardly even developed and many plot points are just left and forgotten, most notably since endings differ for the anime and the original manga. The manga does develop things a little more but is just as narratively broken and annoying.
The characters are all one dimensional and predictably boring that there is hardly any point in going through any of them. The only one I kind of liked was Bando, the badass and complete ass-hole solider character who gets the crap kicked out of him constantly but somehow always manages to survive. All of them lack any depth and the few characters they do attempt to develop don't really change very much; they all lack substance. The side characters are perhaps the worst thing about the show since I find them to all be so god damn annoying and forgettable.
The art and animation are the ones in which Elfen Lied manages best. The opening song is great, albeit pretty pretentious for a show at this level of trashiness. The soundtrack as a whole is pretty good but the voice acting still leaves some things to be desired. Both the Japanese and English voice acting are pretty choppy. As previously stated, the CG was pretty good for the time, and the animation and art design are both decent, with some moments where it really shines, particularly during the fight scenes. The character designs are pretty typical and unoriginal aside from Lucy and everything feels rather 'meh'.
In conclusion Elfen Lied is nothing more than a terrible train wreck; no matter how hard we try and look away we just can't. It's awful. It tries way too hard to be something it isn't is and fails with a completely terrible narrative, boring characters and believes that being as edgy as possible counts as having a good anime. At the very least, this showcase that anime was not just for kids at least but ushered in numerous edgy, shock factor pieces of garbage, so thank you a lot for that, Studio Arms. Just go back to producing hentai...