I will be refering to the English Dub of Elfen Lied.
There also will be spoilers, I'll make a notice before anything is mentioned, but keep in mind that this is a review and there will be minor information that may reveal subplots in the anime.
First thing people get out of Elfen Lied would be blood and breasts. I get it, the blood is too much, and the breasts are overused. That's maybe the only flaw in the animation, however its a part of the art to help send a message across.
The show has 2 characters, where the man, Kouta, ends up being quite significant. Nyu is a third character who enters the scene and she has a split personality. One which is sweet and nimble like a cat, and the other which is a total violent killing machine. The fact that she is living under the same roof as Kouta, makes you wonder why she hasn't killed him yet, and that's a bit of the magic that keeps the episodes going.
I think I was more impressed with the story because I wasn't really expecting a whole lot after the first couple of scenes. On second look though, I, as well as many other viewers have come to reallly appreciate how twisted and psychologically grotesque many bits of the story can be. You're thinking in your head, "no this can't happen." "no this isn't happening." "no this didn't happen." Unimaginable scenes (we'll discuss in animation) which all of a sudden you realize, this actually happens in the real world!
Some people get so upset with others in real life that they wish death upon them. What if you had the power to grant a wish like that? That's what Nyu's all about.
Again, the blood and boobs go a bit too far, but we can look beyond that can't we? The artists have taken real life, horendous situations, and placed them infront of our eyes for viewing pleasure. Its absoulutely disgusting! But how would we ever know about these experiences otherwise, if we had never been a part of them?
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There were two rape scenes that I can recall. One where the scientist (a male alien being) attempts to impregnate an unconcious Nyu. Normally, the woman in this situation is helpless. Think of daterape for instance. But with Nyu's split personality she's able to turn her anger into murder. Is that potentially what a pre-rape victim would feel?
The second scene was where the father of Mayu rapes her. And it is followed by her mother refusing to protect her out of jealousy. Real feelings. Believe it; there are kids who live this reality every day.
Things like this make you absolutely cringe and that actually isn't even the worst of it!
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The producers took a huge risk implementing the scenes that they did. But I think it has paid off because there is no other possible way to bring out these gross feelings within a viewer, and still keep them watching.
This is pretty disappointing because they put so much effort into the actual animation. For dramas you have the pianos playing, and this wasn't a drama so I get that. For the happy-go-lucky shows you have the upbeat game music playing. And this was definitely not that. I really don't know if there was an appropriate genre of music that would work with this anime, a part from the opening theme. So maybe that's the issue the producers had as well?
I still think they could have found something though...
For the most part the characters are all fairly rounded. The main characters go through a positive change.
I love how human the people were. The lady scientist for instance begging for a shower, and to prepare for her time of the month. You don't get that in a normal show.
Where Elfen Lied loses marks here? The characters don't look special (a part from the test subjects). Kouta, Mayu, Yuka could have just been placed in the background crowds and we wouldn't be able to tell who was who.
I appreciate how the test subjects had Pink hair. That made them stand out. Why not the other main characters?
So anyways, this should cover the anime fairly well right? :)
To end of a good note, the ending of the anime could not have been any better at all. It asks questions, leaves questions... really hard to describe without spoiling it :P.
But if you haven't already, check it out. Elfen Lied is definitely an anime you should watch if you ever have the opportunity!