Everyone has been raving to me about Elfen Lied. They all have recommended it to me a thousand times over and I thought I should do their opinion's justice and finally watch it for myself. Unfortunately, I do not hold the same opinion as that of many of my peers. Please bear in mind that whenever an anime has a plot like this, I inevitably compare it to Now and Then, Here and There. And let's be honest... nothing can compare to the latter.
The STORY was one that could have been so successful, but there was a flaw in itself. I do not believe the flaw was in the way it was delivered, which was also ineffective, but the way it was created. This flaw being that the nature of humans is so horrible and so terrible that things like Lucy are born to destroy us. Let me elaborate:
Humans are inherently evil - I truly believe this. However, pitting them off against another race that is inherently evil and could arguably be even more evil, is just not a good delivery. I never felt sympathetic towards Lucy/Nyu. When she was young and those awful, awful boys killed her dog, she kills the boys. She always has to one-up the violence and this doesn't create sympathy - it creates fear. I cannot appreciate a plotline where the party you're suppose to be sympathetic towards is the antagonist and is truly an antagonist. This is terrible writing.
Another aspect I just couldn't overlook was the God-awful amount of violence. Don't get me wrong: I love some violence every now and again and have stomached much worse than this. I love violence when it adds to the plot, but in Elfen Lied, I felt like it was taking away from the plot. It became so focused on the violence and the gratuitous nudity that i forgot what the orginial story was about. I was bored and what was originally shocking became dull and desensitized. In order to use this kind of violence properly, it needs to be tastefully and sporadically displayed. Instead it seemed like every episode was trying to one-up the previous episodes with how much gore and guts it could display.
The ANIMATION was quite nice. I was very impressed with the backdrop and I do think that for an '04 anime this was ahead of the curve. I especially liked Lucy's character design as it was different from the other girls. The other girls did start to look the same (Nyu, Nana, Yuka, etc) with their huge eyes and innocent faces. I liked that they kept Lucy hard and cool. Really, the impressiveness comes from the background. This anime had some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen.
The SOUND was beautiful, especially in the OP. It was haunting and melodic and set a beautiful and dark tone. I never did listen to the ending, so I can't make a judgement on that. My biggest complaint is that the background noise sometimes just felt too strong for the scenes. I understand that Elfen Lied is not an anime of subtleties, but it could have been so effective to at least make the music subtle. I feel as if the scenes would have held more potency. Instead it was overpowering and drew away from the drama unfolding.
**I am automatically biased towards English voice acting (I just don't like it) and watched this dubbed on Netflix. Because of that, I completely have taken that aspect out of the review to keep this review as unbiased and objective as possible.**
The CHARACTERS in this anime range from incredibly dull and one-dimensional to astounding. I don't have much to say for Yuka, Kohta and Lucy: I found them all to be tedious and one-sided. That's not a good thing, considering those are the three main characters in the anime. Nana was an interesting character who showed a different side to this murderous race - one who didn't want to kill humans. Really, though, the gold medal lies with Kurama. The scenes that held Kurama in them were always my favorite. He had an interesting past which created interesting motives and I was always looking forward to seeing more of him.
(On a side note: I absolutely despised the fact that right after Kohta remembers that Lucy murdered his family, they have an awkward scene where he falls on her and they blush. That completely ruined what could have been a powerful moment between them. It was fillers like this that ruined this anime for me. And the fact that, regardless of what she had put him threw and how many people she had murdered, he still kissed her. And so soon after discovering what she had done. This was not realistic in the slightest).
My PERSONAL ENJOYMENT of Elfen Lied might fall more under the 6.5/10 range. When I think about it subjectively, I did have some fun watching this show and Kurama was just so awesome. I wished the violence had been used more effectively (because it could have been so well done) and the last three or so episodes had a lot of issues that ticked me off, but I would say I enjoyed this. I never felt like pulling out my hair or anything.
OVERALL, I probably would never recommend this anime because I believe there are other animes with the same message that are delivered in an unrivaled way. However, this is a highly recommended anime and there are glowing reviews on it, so I encourage you to check it out for yousefl and see what you think.