In the anime world, "Elfen Lied" is a popular name. A great majority of the time, I have heard others speak well of it and I finally decided to watch it myself. I could not believe how disappointing it was.
Story: The premise for the story was, in the beginning, somewhat interesting to me. A horned girl escapes from a laboratory after slaughtering a lot of the people working there. She then washes up on the beach with no memories to be taken in by two new friends. It's not a completely original premise but this sort of story has the potential to go in so many different directions. Unfortunately, the direction they chose was full of unnecessary characters and many unemotional plot twists. At a certain point, you would figure that the scientists would stop letting the specimens out of the lab to go get Lucy. All that ever ended up doing was leaving them with another pink haired girl to go capture and a great number of their own men dead. I don’t know how to feel about the lab. We are given evidence to believe that the girls have actual personalities and would be upstanding people if it weren’t for the trauma. Then we are also given evidence that they do exist for the destruction of mankind thus making the science lab look like they might be the saviors of the human race. Ultimately, the creators seem to count on the fact that we will sympathize with Lucy and Nana enough for us to forget some of this.
Animation: The opening is stunning. Then again, the entire opening is based on paintings by Gustav Klimpt so that is stunning in its own right. The opening was one of the thing that made me really want to watch the show in the first place. However, the rest of the animation was choppy and bizarre. None of the characters seemed to be able to move in a believable fashion. I will admit that I am hard to please when it comes to animation, but I think most of the character designs and backgrounds were completely disappointing. Also, if you’re going to have a majority of your characters running around nude for a majority of the show, I expect the figures to be really well drawn. That was not the case.
Sound: The opening theme is gorgeous. This song is the only reason why I gave this section as high a score as it got. The creators just seemed content on reusing this theme song over and over to create a mood. The rest of the music was entirely unmemorable to me.
Characters: This is the section I find the most problems with. Let’s start with Kouta. He is honestly pretty boring. The only depth to his character is a traumatic experience in his past. The creators seem to be putting all of his personality into this experience. It is almost as if nothing happened since then to shape his personality. Realistic people are not only shaped by one experience. They are a product of genetics and their environment. This character almost entirely defies that. The other side of him just seems to be around to make every single girl want to sleep with him. Yuka has even less dimensions than Kouta. Her only focus for the entire show is on Kouta. Either she is whining about how he doesn't pay attention to her or she is hitting him for accidentally groping her. A female character does not have to show strength by beating the guy into a pulp. Ultimately, that is an abusive relationship. If the gender roles were changed and the guy was the one in the girl’s position then every audience member would think he is an abusive jerk. I don't understand how a girl doing the same thing is viewed as "strong." Lucy is not much better than either of them. She has a lengthy back story but even that doesn't make me care about her. Firstly, let’s start with her alternate personality "Mew." The creators seem to have created a girl who has just enough amnesia to make her a sexual object. She has forgotten how to dress herself, thus needs Kouta's awkward help for that. She has forgotten how to talk so just makes "Mew" sound in an attempt for the creators to make us think she is adorable. We have no reason as to why she sounds like a cat. That is not a particularly natural noise to make. Also, she seems to have reverted back to a state of emotional childhood where she is exploring her sexuality. She squeezes other girl’s breasts and she seems confused by her own. While I can see where the creators were going with this it is approached like mere fan service. Also, if a guy elbows a girl in the breast, it is not a turn on. It hurts. So when Kouta accidentally does this, it is not a realistic reaction for her to force him to grope her breasts more. We don't honestly see the Lucy side of her very much outside battle. Thus, the sudden moments of tenderness from Lucy are jarring and bizarre. She seems to be aware about her other Mew personality but we don't get much of a sense of what she thinks about her other personality. It is a major occurrence to develop another personality but she seems to have no opinion of it at all. Does she dislike the weakness Mew shows towards humans? Does she wish she could stay as Mew and not remember her past? Does she want to join both parts of her personality to make a whole human being? We don't know. Because Lucy hasn't attempted to develop large parts of her personality we are left to read into mixed implications about her character. Most of the other characters are fairly pointless. All of the other horned girls are mostly just thrown at Lucy to try and take her down. Nana is the only exception but she only seems to be motivated by her friends and her papa. Her personality doesn’t seem to go much deeper than that.
This show does an excellent job of hiding its shallowness under character trauma and violence but I don't think it’s enough. Ultimately the show is pretty empty and unfulfilling.