Friday, 7 October 2011

Elfen Lied

Title: Elfen Lied
Distributor: Arms
psychological, horror, drama, violence

Age Rating: R (extreme violence and mature scenes)

Episodes: 13 + OVA
Aired: July 25, 2004 - October 17, 2004
Official Site: at

Authors Rating: 8/10

Elfen Lied's focus is the blood and gore. There is no doubt about that! The 'Diclonius', an alternate human race, provide most of our blood and gore. The rest of the blood shed is by means of a meagre military response. The Diclonius visually look similar to humans in every respect apart from two small horns protruding from their head. Lucy, our main character, is indeed one of these beings. Our anti-heroine escapes a maximum security government facility, leaving much destruction in her wake. She, like other Diclonius, is triggered into violent states, instigating the ensuing carnage. When angered she makes use of her 'vectors' - a number of invisible, extendible arms - these give her unimaginable strength. She is found naked and bloody, washed up on a beach after her ordeal. Kouta and Yuka take her in and aid her recovery, as Lucy seems to have developed severe amnesia and forgotten everything, right down to her name. The couple name her Nyuu and our story begins.

The plot is weak in places. There are minor twists and individuals suffer memory loss of significant events - often crucial to the storyline - recovered later in the anime. However, this is expected from the initial episode and continues throughout. The violence is consistent the entire anime. This could raise much discussion however I think that describing the violence is very morbid in every sense. It is safer to say the creators of the show certainly paid attention to detail when it came to death.

Nudity is very prevalent in this anime. I did not find it to be tasteless, such as in 'Gantz.' There were no violent fantasies, or uncouth happenings. There was just the female form for all to bear witness. It fits very well with the story. The scene after Lucy has escaped the research facility and how she is found is executed well. After all, why would an experimental subject require clothing? It is not as if this anime was written to be rated 12+. After reading many other reviews and seeing the complaints from these 'reviewers' I would simply refer them to the first 'Ghost in the Shell' movie - some of the greatest animation of it's time - and ask their opinion again? If it is meant to represent something then I see no reason to condemn it. Vulnerability is shown visually in this manner, as is Lucy. Beautiful but deadly.

The backdrops in this anime are fantastic. They are well drawn and demonstrate the artists attention to detail. You will not find any shoddy repetition reels here. A wide pallet of vivid colours is used not only in backdrops, but character design also.

The character design is - as many have said - very generic. I am not a fan of the children's badly proportioned eyes, nor the different drawing style for child and adult. It lacks consistency. All the Diclonius are female and have vibrant pink hair. This is never fully explained in the anime. I would assume it's primary role is for easy viewer identification of species - but where is the interest in that? I would have suggested the horns were enough. They were of heavy focus throughout. 

The development of the main characters is satisfying to watch. Nothing amazingly special. Yet the gore more than makes up for it. Lots of action - which is has a real energy and flow to it - with interesting flashbacks. Side characters have much less development - as to be expected - however a little more depth or side archs in extended episodes would have been appealing. 

Despite the mediocrity surrounding many aspects of the anime it is compelling to watch. It is unlike anything I have ever seen. The violent nature of the show grows on the viewer. Shock value becoming dark humour. Upon reflection it provoked a feeling of uneasiness that I found the violent tearing of humans amusing. The anime kept me wanting more throughout the series. At only 13 episodes there is never a dull moment. No time is wasted with the stereotypical 'filler' episodes - which is always preferable. An absolute must see for all those with a darker side.

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