Critic’s Log - Earthdate: October 31, 2013. Review #64: Elfen Lied
There are some things that have to be seen to believe, but in spite of that… there are things that are seen that cannot be unseen. This is Elfen Lied. (pronounced “El-fen Leed”)
The Diclonius, a mutated human that is said to be selected by God and will eventually become the destruction of mankind, possesses two horns in their heads, and has a "sixth sense" which gives it telekinetic abilities. Due to this dangerous lethal power, they have been captured and isolated in laboratories by the government. Lucy, a young and psychotic Diclonius, manages to break free of her confines and brutally murders most of the guards in the laboratory, only to get shot in the head as she makes her escape. She survives and manages to drift along to a beach, where two teenagers named Kouta and Yuka discover her. Having lost her memories, she was named after the only thing that she can now say, "Nyuu," and the two allow her to stay at Kouta's home. However, it appears that the evil "Lucy" is not dead just yet…
To be technical, this is a Studio Arms production, he he…Arms. Considering what’s in Elfen Lied, this is kinda funny. Anyway, Elfen Lied is probably the most recognizable show that Studio Arms has produced and that’s a real damn shame. The animation is mostly alright and decently polished, but it’s not at a high caliber… but that’s okay. My only complaint is some of the character designs and some of the backgrounds displayed in Elfen Lied. Overall, the animation is pretty decent but nothing more than that.
The music by Kayo Konishi, Moka, and Yukio Kondoo is the strongest factor in Elfen Lied. It fits the right tone when appropriate and makes the terror and horror extremely effective even though the amounts of nudity was a bit excessive. Considering the events that take place in Elfen Lied, it compliments the show and may even make the viewer emotional at times. The most talked about topic regarding the soundtrack is the Opening theme “Lilium”, it is a very damn good opening. It is a beautiful theme, even with it’s somber, melancholic tone. The opening is also a very artsy opening too as well as it pays homages to some art pieces. It is a very memorable opening as well. There is a motif in the soundtrack that has to do with the opening and that is fine. However, if there is one specific part of the soundtrack that does not fit anywhere, it would be the ending theme “Be your Girl”. I know it may have something to do with the contrast of Lucy and Nyu, but the song is forgettable and it’s a bit out of place. But regardless, the soundtrack is really good in this show.
Now as for the voice acting, The Japanese cast is ok. Chihiro Suzuki is pretty generic as Kouta, Mamiko Noto is ok as Yuka despite having hundreds of anime roles and video game roles in Japan. Sanae Kobayashi is a noteworthy performance as Lucy/Nyu, and Osamu Hosoi is ok as Kurama. If there are any seiyus worth noting about, it would be Jouji Nakata as Bando and he has had better roles before and since. Now as for the Dub, you are going to be in for a disappointment on this one. Adan Conlon was terrible as Kouta, Nancy Novotny is hit and miss as Yuka. Kira-Vincent Davis is noteworthy as Lucy/Nyu and probably the only good role in the dub, and Jay Hickman is hit and miss as Kurama. The Dub also has John Swasey and Luci Christian but they had better roles than this anime. Jin Ho Chung was the ADR director of Princess Tutu and that had a great dub, but this is his lowpoint of ADR direction. So stick with the subs here.
As far as characters are concerned, This may be a questionable factor. Kouta is pretty bland at timest, but at least he is somewhat relatable. Yuka was a bit bland at first until you see a questionable side of her that might be a little uneasy at first but yet, it’s an interesting thought-provoking idea to some extent. Mayu is an ok character, Lucy is a pretty interesting character until the end, but the personality transition between Lucy and Nyu is kind of hit and miss. Nana is a pretty good character for this show. Kurama however is a character that is interesting from start to finish and Mariko, well… she got a few episodes and that’s it, oh and Bando is pretty one-dimensional at times. My main problem with Elfen Lied is that some characters are not fully developed and a few are pretty close. Which leads me to the story.
The story in Elfen Lied is indeed a tragic one, It actually was somewhat interesting. But I should warn you that if you do not like a heavy amount of gore, you may want to avoid this one, because during the first 10 minutes, the viewer is presented just that. The music does serve these moments well, but this anime is pretty damn intense too… But does it hold up? Yes and no. The emotional moments are really good and is a good reason to watch this show, but here’s the problem. The story isn’t really written well at times, and this is evident with the development of characters. The ending is a bit rushed, but not terrible. There was a point where the show was somewhat a bit boring, but that was for a little bit. Another thing that did bother me was that there was a lot of exposition. However, some of the themes in Elfen Lied do stand out, but they are not used to their fullest potential and this is where I think Elfen Lied does suffer from. Just because it’s gore level is really intense doesn’t make it compelling fiction, but it does tackle the human condition at times but not used effectively except for some moments. The final episode is pretty interesting, but it does have some flaws. This anime is not meant for those with a weak stomach, as for recommendation. I will leave that entirely up to you.
Elfen Lied was available by ADV films and it is out of print, the manga by Lynn Okamato was never released in the United States despite being released in other countries. An OVA that is simply known as “Episode 10.5” was available by ADV Films alongside the show, like I said… it is out of print.
With all that said, Elfen Lied is a very notable anime with its level of gore and blood. It does not have a well-written story, it does not have well written characters, but it manages to have a noteworthy soundtrack that proves to be listenable without the show, but it’s animation is pretty decent for the most part. This is definitely an anime worth looking into but don’t get your hopes up. I will say that this is an optional viewing after 2 episodes or so.
I give Elfen Lied a 6.3 out of 10, it is DECENT!
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