So, this is my first review, so please leave comments on how you thought i did, and if you have any recomendations on things i should watch/read or even review, then that would be pretty great. Oh, and i want to leave my plot review til last as it will probably be the longest ;)
Elfen Lied then, so where do i start, a girl breaks out of a scientific research facility, lots of nakedness and gore ensues. Boy finds said girl on beach, lots of 'Hilarious' situations unfold, strange love triangles blossom. Also child molestation.
Animation: Growing up on a diet of dragonball Z and neon genesis evangelion, the animation could seem pretty slick, but in reality, compared to (albeit awful) Naruto, Gurren Lagen etc, it's pretty average, which is all i could really say about it. I mean the back drops are great and occasionally stunning, but let down by some poor character animation, mainly the male characters and especially Bando who was terrible. Having said that, they obviously put some hard work into the design of the Diclonius girls, Lucy/Nyu's animation being great, Mariko's being suitably creepy. The rest could all be pulled straight from a 'how to draw manga' book.
Sound: The music, what brilliant brilliant music, with the beginning of the series it sounds dark, mysterious and every other cliche you can throw at it, by the end it suits the feel of the anime so well that it becomes perfectly harrowing! The end music, while good, doesn't quite do it for me, it's doesn't fit the general mood of the story as a result it becomes very out of place. The background music ocassionally uses the opening theme and variations on it, which ties in very well, and the rest is pretty sublime really, which begs the question why did they put in that japanese pop/rock song at the end? The rest of the music works so well and that just doesn't! I'm afraid that brings the score down one point from ten, the other point that got lost? Awful english dubbing, not great japanese voices. That english dub, is just so bad, i'm sure they only have one woman voicing every female character, and sh'es probably about 12 years old. There's such little emotion at times, and at others far too much, Nyu's endless screaming of 'Kohta, Kohta' can grate after some time. But great music though!
Characters: There are so many different reviews on this anime, it's hard not to fall into one of two camps, those that think the characters developed well and those that didn't. It's a mixture of both, the four main characters (Nyu/Lucy, Kohta, Yuka, Mayu) all had well explained and believable back stories, they didn't fall into character cliches and they evolved well in the course of the series. The same almost be said for the likes of Nana, Kurama, and to some extent Mariko. The rest i'm afraid don't, which makes it hard to feel remorse or be shocked when they die, its a shame, and it could have been solved by making the series longer! Also Bando was such a crap character that they should have just left him out, or killed him in his first confrontation with Lucy, there's no explanation as to why he likes killing so much, and for someone who's supposedly an expert assassin, he only ever shoots one person, his own team mate. Honestly, the series would be richer without him.
Plot: I loved the story, absolutely loved it! It shows that anime doesn't have to be overly complicated, be submerged in endless symbolism or personal philosophies. In fact the one philosophy to be taken from this is (to steal someone elses observation), 'You Reap What You Sow'. Every character that kills (except Bando), has been the subject of both intense psychological and physical trauma, all are driven by a hatred of their captors that translates into a hatred for mankind.
I've gotta talk about the nudity now. It didn't really need to be there, it was used for comic relief sometimes which didn't quite work, other times it just seemed like it had been thrown in for its own sake, which is a shame because it detracts from the overall atmosphere of the show. Having said that, it was necessary for Mayu's flashback scene in which we see her being molested by her step-father, and even with all the blood and guts and bone splinters we see, it's by far the most disturbing scene, and i thank the creators that they dared to show it.
The gore was great i have to say, i'm not usually a fan of it, but they did it very well here, limbs twisting before being ripped off, or sometimes cut so cleany that they just slide off the body. Really well done. I also like that there wasn't a lot of posturing in the fight scenes, people try to reason with lucy but usually they get ripped in half before they finish their first sentence, a nice relief from a lot of anime that spend twenty minutes talking for five minutes of fighting. Plus the fight scenes (except the first scene in the first episode) are quite short, which i like because it takes away the possibility of them becoming too ridiculous.
In conclusion, this is a great anime that everyone should give a chance. Yes, there is lots of nudity, gore, and the ending is dissapointingly ambiguous, but it's worth it for the characters, the story, the goddam great theme song. But this could have been made better by being longer, thirteen episodes just isn't enough and if it had been like FMA with 51 episodes we would be looking at a full blown epic, instead what we have is a tease, something to make us buy the manga so we can really get involved in the diclonius' world. As a result, it almost feels like an expensive piece of marketing and i'm afraid thats why it doesn't get into the higher echelons of 8.5/9 out of 10. Its just a good job the stories so good, otherwise this would be just another horror flick.