Crimson here, with another review that will probably never be read, but due to spending my entire Wednesday in, watching a shit ton of anime, I decided to vary my daily schedule for today, and write this. So here it goes...
"Elfen Lied" is the anime adaption of the Manga series of the same name, created by Lynn Okamoto. Since the animes debut in 2004, "Elfen Lied" was and has remained one of the most popular and critically acclaimed anime series of all time, often being called a "classic" and ranked among the "best" shows out there, and is among the several shows that are known for getting newcomers into the anime medium, or allowing casual viewers to get into darker and more complex shows. It's still talked about all over the place, and is held in very high regard.
But what do I think of the all amazing "classic" that is "Elfen Lied"? Read on and find out.
"Elfen Lied" is set in Kamakura, Japan, and follows a race known as the "Diclonius", a newly evolved and more advanced species, who are similar to humans in appearance, but possess several unique features, such as horns on their head, and the ability to use Telekinesis through invisible arms referred to as "Vectors". The story focuses on a Diclonius named "Lucy", who has escaped from a resarch facility where she was being held captive, where she slaughtered all the personnel and guards. In the process of her escape, she is injured, and this injury causes her to develop a second, child-like, and innocent personality, named "Nyu". Basically, she has multiple personality disorder.
After her escape, Lucy is found by two locals, a young male student named Kohta and his female cousin Yuka. They take her in and end up involved in a series of brutal and blood-filled events in which a Special Assault Team, as well as other Diclonius, attempt to recapture Lucy.
The premise, at it's centre, isn't all that unique. Around the time "Elfen Lied" came out, there were very few shows that touched upon the things that a plot like this focused on. However, that was then, and this is now. The premise is still fairly decent, but a lot of its unique flavour has died out as the medium of anime has grown and evolved over the last decade. Tons of shows have done the premise of "superior evolved races" and "telekinetic powers" and "the main character has multiple personality disorder". Fuck me, "Evangelion" did the whole main character mind fuck idea with Shinji Ikari years before this show came out. Despite what people say, a lot of it's "unique" elements have been done before it, and by endlessly better shows.
That's not to say the premise is bad, it's just not great and certainly isn't anything to throw a perfect score at. Moving on...
Nothing but shock value:
But how is the actual plot of "Elfen Lied"? Well, sadly, it's no better than the premise, in fact, it's worse. There really isn't a whole lot going on in regards to the actual story. Most of what happens is just random events of the Special Foces showing up to capture Lucy, and then this creates an excuse for the series to create a massive, unneccessary blood bath, where blood flies everywhere, limbs get torn off, and lots of people scream and die horribly.
This animes biggest appeal is shock value. That is not good plotting. Don't get me wrong, I love over the top violence. I adore brutal fight scenes. I get ecstatic whenever I watch a series that's dark and gritty. But there needs to be a good story too, and unfortunately, that's the important element that "Elfen Lied" lacks.
There really isn't all that much to it's story, which is unfortunate, because if the writing and plotting was better done, it could have gone hand in hand with this shows nonsensical violence, and gave said violence more context and sense, which would have made this series far more enjoyable. It's a big shame.
A blood bath that really isn't so bloody:
But let's just say that, we forget about the storytelling itself for a moment, and actually focus on the real appeal here: the shock value. To a newcomer, yes, the violence and dark tone of the series may seem crazy, over the top, and generally well presented, but to anyone, with any real experience with similar titles within the medium, "Elfen Lied" is a fucking joke at creating violent scenes with a dark setting.
The series really isn't all that shocking, in fact, compared to other titles of the same demographic, it looks like "Teletubbies". I'm not even joking around. The opening scene is described as "WOW. SO FUCKING VIOLENT. LOTS OF PEOPLE DIE. THIS SHIT IS FUCKING CRAZY. HEADS EXPLODE. EEEEEEE. IT'S SO GORY. NO ANIME IS LIKE THIS." I really wasn't that impressed.
To give an example of shows that handled gore and dark themes better, here's a big list for you, with details:
- Spoilers for other series here, be warned-
1. Neon Genesis Evangelion - Explored many dark psychological themes, within a dark, post apocalyptic setting, with lots of violence and crazy shit happening. Also, in the more recent rebuild movies, the main character pretty much causes the apocalypse, during the apocalypse, and kills most of humanity
2. Berserk - Had gore on an entirely different level from this show, to the point people lost arms, legs and heads in pretty much every single fight scene. The main character loses an arm and an eye, while his lover is raped by his best friend who betrayed him and slaughtered all of his fellow comrades to achieve ultimate, god-like power, and plunged the world into a demon apocalypse. This is the first arc in the series, and is one of the more tame parts of the series.
3. Claymore - Basically the same as Berserk, but a little less dark, and with a female protagonist. It was a lot more gory and dark than "Elfen Lied" too, with a female lead who actually had personality.
4. Yu Yu Hakusho - Another classic, focused on the occult, and was very dark for it's time. Contained some insanely bloody fights, and a lot of massacres. Much more gory than this.
5. Hunter x Hunter - While a lot more friendly looking, there are a lot of dark undertones and some gritty scenes that make even this show look less gory. For example, one of the characters pulls out someones heart and in the Manga, he crushes it with his bare hands. The Chimera Ant Arc has giant beasts literally eating people alive. The main character beats a villain into a mushy puddle of blood with his bare fists. You get the point.
I've listed 5 shows there, that handled violence and dark themes a million times better than this show, and what's even better is, all of these shows have a very well written and engaging plot, which this show doesn't have.
But, it's not all bad:
I make it sound like this show is a complete shit fest, but don't get me wrong, there are some positive elements of the show. The action scenes, while nothing too special, are very entertaining. The telekinetic fights are fun to watch, and short and sweet, although CLAMP's "X" did similar fights that were much better.
The pacing is pretty good too. Something happens in every episode, and the show is short, being only 13 episodes in length. You could power through it in less than a day if that's your thing.
But outside of some decent fight scenes, there really isn't all that much to the general story, and it's quite a shame, because I really wanted to jump on the bandwagon of people who loved the shit out of it.
While the plot isn't too great, the characters of "Elfen Lied" are an improvement. The primary characters are all fairly decent. I will describe some below:
Lucy: Lucy is the primary protagonist of the show, and is a 16 year old Diclonius. As a child, Lucy was alienated by her peers, and as such, she despises all humans. Lucy is a sadistic psychopath, who kills without mercy and who lacks feelings. However, the one exception is Kouta, who she will never harm or hurt, and who she cares for more than anyone else.
As a character, Lucy isn't too bad. She has a fairly interesting past, and her development from complete monster to "girl with feelings" is done fairly well. However, she isn't all that unique as a character. The trope of "emotionless girl with destructive, bloody powers" has been done by countless shows, and has been handled far better by said shows. She's a decent protagonist overall.
Nyu: Nyu is Lucy's other personality, and as such, could be said to be a separate character. Nyu is a very child-like character, who has no knowledge of the world, her own existence or anything around her. She can only speak two words "Nyu" and "Kouta", meaning her volcabulary isn't all that great. She is the complete manifestation of Lucy's "good natured" personality. When attacked violently, she turns into Lucy.
Nyu is a really adorable character, and I can't help but be "aww'd" by her cuteness. However, outside of this, Nyu really isn't all that interesting a character. She doesn't really develop at all, and really serves no purpose to the plot other than being a foil for the real Lucy, and preventing her from doing lots of bad things. Was there really a need to give Lucy this personality? I don't think so.
Kouta: Kouta is a seconary protagonist of the series, and is a young College student who takes Nyu in. Kouta is your typical do-gooder, who has a thing for helping out girls in trouble. He's kind, generous and just wants to protect those he cares about.
He has a very interesting back story that I won't spoil, which is probably the pinnacle of his character as a whole. In general however, Kouta really doesn't develop too well. He's a likeable character, but he just... Doesn't do much. He's just an every man who gets caught up in the violence. His role is much more significant in the Manga, but I'm reviewing the anime.
In regards to secondary characters, they're not too bad either, although they also lack development, and can be annoying. Kouta's cousin is annoying as hell, and I personally blame her for starting the whole "I am in love with my cousin" incest trend that anime seems to be obsessed with, as this was the first show I'd ever seen with that sort of thing.
The villains are pretty decent too, but nothing to jump for joy with. They're mostly just there for Lucy to mow down and slaughter. Bando was pretty well done though for a villain.
Overall, the characters in "Elfen Lied" are fairly decent, but they're really nothing too spectacular, which again, is a shame.
Art and Animation:
"Elfen Lied" was animated by Arms Corporation, a subsidary of Studio Pierrot (FUCK). They haven't really produced anything noteworthy, aside from the recent "Brynhildr in the Darkness" (which was actually based off a Manga series written by the same Mangaka who did this series, although unlike this series, it looks like it'll be excellent). With these facts in mind, how did they do?
Well, the general art isn't anything to jump at. Even for it's time, the art is fairly crude, with character designs looking rather generic, and lacking significant amounts of detail. They have gigantic eyes, and simple looking faces, it's not too great. Countless series from the 90's look better than this, "Yu Yu Hakusho" being a good example. However, the series is very colourful, and this is handled very well, as it acts as a very beautiful contrast to the dark, "bloody" scenes. It's a very well played move, as it allows for the gore to appear more "shocking" that it actually is, due to bright colours being slashed to pieces. Backgrounds are handled a lot better, with the landscapes and scenes looking quite nice, but still nothing too fantastic.
The animation is a little better, due to the less than detailed art style. The lack of detail allows for some pretty fluent animation. During fight scenes, stuff is captured fairly well, with blood being animated the best (because again, shock value is the centre of this show). Again, it's not the best in the world, but it's fairly decent, and is pretty good for it's time. The gory scenes themselves are the best done thing in this show, but they lack knowledge of the human body and how it is put together, and as such, look almost cartoon in fashion, rather than realistic, which they're trying so hard to be.
The animation is decent overall, but it's not great.
Surprisingly, "Elfen Lied" handles the sound department really well. The music itself is done fairly well, and although not a lot of the tracks are memorable, they do fit the scenes really well by conveying the emotions of each particular scene perfectly. They're also very well produced and are of excellent quality for their time.
The series has one opening theme, "Lillium" performed by Kumiko Noma. It is a very beautiful and symbolic piece of music, that sets the tone of the series fairly well, and is very memorable and unique for an anime opening theme.
The series also has one ending theme, "Be Your Girl" by Chieko Kawabe, which is a nice contrast to the series dark themes, being an upbeat pop song. It's a fairly decent piece of music.
The accompanying opening and ending sequences are both excellent, and I never skipped them once.
I watched the show in english because I'm one of those dub faggots, and I found the voice acting to be very well done. The characters are all portrayed very well, and the voice acting is of good quality, with a varied cast, who all capture the emotions and feelings conveyed by the characters excellently. The Japanese voice cast are also very good, however, I prefer the dub, solely because the quality of the acting is superior and feels less "acted".
The sound effects of the show are nothing to brag out, but they're decent and do their job. There's not a lot of variety however, and the quality isn't too great.
So how is "Elfen Lied"? Is it really this highly acclaimed masterpiece that everyone has spent years praising for it's unique plot and over the top gore?
Simply put, the answer is "no". It's not the worst show in the world, but it's certainly not the best show in the world either, yet, for some reason anime fans have put it on this pedestal of greatness, marvelling at it, as though it were the only gore show that exists within the medium.
If you think "Elfen Lied" is a masterpiece, or if it's within your top 10 shows of all time, then you clearly haven't watched that much anime. There are a whole host of shows out there that are similar that handle the areas of story, gore factor, character development, animation, and pretty much everything that makes a show good, that much better, and I encourage those who hold this anime in high regard to broaden their horizons and watch more shit.
If you are a newcomer to anime, you might be impressed by "Elfen Lied", but anyone who has had a taste of the anime medium should know that compared to pretty much every other show in it's demographic, it's really nothing short of decent.
It's up there on the bench of mediocrity with "Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood". It's entertaining enough to watch through once, but beyond that it's overhyped and overrated.
And now, it's scoring time:
Premise 1/3 - Not the most unique premise, but it sets things up well enough.
General Plot 0/2 - There really isn't all that much going on here. Just lots of blood spatter and shock value. Nothing deep or engaging, with no tension.
Pacing 3/3 - Very well paced. Something happens in every episode. Can be powered through in a day.
Conclusion 0/2 - Not satisfying in the slightest, and completely random, with a sort of cliffhanger that really makes no sense at all.
Artwork 1/3 - Very generic, with not a lot of detail, however, the backgrounds look nice.
Character Designs 1/3 - Very simple and generic, lacking detail, however, the colour serves as a nice contrast for the "bloody" scenes.
Animation 2/4 - Nothing too fabulous, but the fight scenes are done quite nicely, and are animated fairly fluently. Blood flies around nicely. Outside of this, scenes aren't animated too well.
Personality 2/3 - Most characters have well founded personalities and traits, however, Nyu does nothing but be cute, and the villains are just cannon fodder for Lucy.
Development 1/3 - Characters don't develop so well, however, Lucy develops a little bit, so points for that.
Uniqueness 1/4 - The characters aren't all that groundbreaking, and have been done countless times before. There's very little uniqueness to be found here.
Voice Acting 3/4 - I watched it in English, but the voice acting was superb in both languages. Voices are recorded nicely.
Music 3/4 - The soundtrack is very well done, and is of excellent quality, however, it lacks variety and the tracks cease to be memorable. Opening and Ending themes are absolutely marvellous.
Sound Effects 1/2 - They do their job, but there's not a lot of variety, and they sound rather cheap at times.
It's pretty bad. It's mediocre.
But hey, I thought "Jojo's Bizarre Adventure" was an underrated masterpiece that kicked most Shounen shows in the nuts so my opinion probably doesn't matter to you people.
Ah, Elfen Lied. So we meet again.
Elfen Lied was interesting, to say the least. But you don't have to worry about that, because I'm not gonna shut up any time soon.
The story was mediocre, in my opinion. The story is about a facility that creates aliens with supernatural abilities called Diclonius'. Cousins Kouta and Yuka reunite after many years, but Kouta has amnesia of what happened years before. Suddenly, the cousins find a naked girl on the beach who can only say one word/phrase. "Nyuu". Therefore, they decided to take her home and name her that. Little do they know of her origins, and her split in personalities. The real her is a mentally unstable sadist!
It was creative, sure, but some parts like Kouta and Yuka taking a naked stranger who can't communicate properly into their own home didn't make very much sense. Besides, this show is trying so hard to be a hentai!
The animation was alright, though the art for the opening was fantastic. The character design was also quite pleasant.
The soundtrack was fitting, the opening was brilliant, the ending was mediocre, and the voice acting was good in subtitles, while it was pretty bad in dub.
A few of the characters were great and well-written. However, some of the characters were generic, vile, or just plain out annoying. :/
I honestly did enjoy this anime and I do recommend it, but there were some pretty absurd things about it. So prepare yourself. Enjoy!
Basic storyline is understood quite well, but the background story is very lacking. A lot of unnecessary questions are brought up constantly, which can interfere with the basic storyline.
One of the few shows where excessive violence ruins the flow and nature of the show. Does a good job of showing the details, but is extremely distracting and ruins a lot of the good elements that Elfen Lied has.
Intro theme summarizes a lot of the nature and mood of the show quite well. Quite beautiful scenery and music in critical moments of the show.
Characters are quite likable with good background given to each of them. Psychological aspects of the show defines a lot of the traits of each character in the show.
Again, the excessive violence absolutely ruined what could have been a great show. It makes likable characters more like rag dolls and completely dehumanizes them.
To start this review off, I am going to say that I am giving this anime a completely blunt and honest review. This is strictly MY opinions and MY thoughts. That being said, I watched this anime about a year ago, so some things are not fresh on my mind. So with that said, lets get right into this.
Story: When you spend most of your time watching anime after anime, you tend to find yourself looking for something with a little bit more of an "edge" to it. This led me to the popular, Elfen Lied.
Elfen Lied contains a storyline that, in my opinion, had alot of potential to be a good series.
Elfen Lied takes place in Kamakura, Japan, and focuses on the "Diclonius", a newly evolved species. Their appearance is similar to humans, albeit with several differences, namely horn-like protrusions on the forehead and the presence of telekinetic invisible arms called "Vectors". One such Diclonius, Lucy, is the main character of the series: Initially held in a facility built for experimentation, located off the coast of Kamakura, she manages to escape and wreak havoc, but is injured in the process, an event which causes her to develop a secondary, childlike personality known as Nyu.
Lucy is found by two locals, Kohta, who studies at the local university, and his cousin Yuka. They take her in, and become involved with the numerous, often brutal, attempts to recapture her by a Special Assault Teamand a number of other Diclonius, who shift frequently from oblivious to murderous.
So in a way, I chose to watch this anime as a sort of "horror relief." Ocassionally, a little gore is a good thing in life. By the end, I was kind of wondering how the heck I binged this series in a day without going crazy. The storyline was not all that bad, in fact, It could have been an awesome anime.....but then we got to the characters and animation.
Characters: Personally, I didnt form a connection with any of the characters, and in fact, the only character that I vaguely remember is Lucy. Lucy began as quite an interesting character until she formed a split personallity which, if i can be honest, was an extremely idiotic and annoying character. Lucy, why didnt you just remain as LUCY and not become "Nyu?"
Animation and Sound: As far as being easy on the eyes, this anime did decently well with the animation. It is not exactly MY cup of tea in the art style, but overall compared to some anime I have seen, the art and animation was not all that bad. The soundtrack however was the hightlight of this rather unsatisfying anime. The opening song is absolutely BEAUTIFUL and the musical score throughout is gentle on the ears.
Overall: After breaking down the major points of the series let me end with a small rant. This anime is NOT for the faint of heart. If you can not sit through an anime where someone looses at least one limb in each episode, than please stick to the nicer slice of life anime. That being said, I thought the creators of this anime were going for a "shock" effect by throwing as much gore and unneeded nudity at the viewer and hoping that they would get hooked on it enough to finish the few episodes of the series. In the end, I do not recommend this anime to someone who is picky in what they watch (like myself.) Granted, I did watch Elfen Lied, and at the time, I thought it was great....until you later realize that you were just blinded by the overall effect of the horror and gore.
Once again, I apologize if my opinions do not agree with yours, but please do not get to hurt. And please ignore any spelling errors, It is late here in the Lone Star State.
Elfen lied is an interesting tale about human hybrid creatures that have tentacles (forgot the name) that get revenge on the people who created and experimented on them. We see the back story of Lucy (protagonist?) and here exploits as this hybrid. My problem here is besides the excessive violence (which is rather dull and pointless and does not add but instead takes away) I am not sure who are the heroes or the villian or the point of this anime. Are we supposed to feel bad for Lucy? I mean she does slaughter countless people so why feel sympathy for her? I guess her story is tragic BUT if they wanted us to sympathize further she should probably be less aggressive. Also story is incomplete and rushed unlike the manga which seems to be longer (never read the manga). English dub is ok but not up to the level of violent shows like Tokyo Ghoul (that was a good dub).