This anime keeps getting compared with Gantz everytime I mention it to someone. As I have seen both I must sadly admit that this comparison is applicable. Like Gantz, this series has an excellent premise that gets wasted on excess gore, character cliches and a tediously dragged out plot.
To its defense though, Elfen Lied has something that Gantz does not, and that is a heart. You can see through situations in the series that the creators are trying to make a point of the loners and outcasts of society. Sadly, they went for the "road most travelled" by including distracting plot devices that very much take away from a simple story.
The animation for this series is what is to be expected for an anime of its time, no more no less. As a result, the background are rendered beautifully and the frame rate is excellent. I was not a big fan of the character design because I got the feeling from it that I was expected to feel more touched by the gore because these things were happening to "pretty" characters.
The other problem this created for the series was that it resulted in an unconvincing look for the characters after they had been battered or ripped to shreds. It was almost comical to see some of those dead bodies as the artists had trouble making a convincing look for them. Another thing about the animation, more precisely the Art I did not like was the way the blood looked in the show. As the blood is quite an important theme, this creates a problem for me.
For starters, most scenes with blood had the blood looking like a painted wall with hardly any rendering. Then the excessive use of blood in general just made the series lessen its impact overall as the blood lost its meaning by being presented so often. Had they been more scarce in its usage, the blood would have had a much stronger impact on the viewer.
The sound here is mostly appropriate and suits scenes successfully. The only concern I had was the overuse of the Lilium symphony for EVERY sad scene. Like the blood element, it took away what was so special about the song with excess. Lilium the song is a wonderful intro though and the images that go with it are just another reminder of what could have been. The outro is also a good little song but I was concerned with its atmosphere as that did not really suit the show.
The voice actors in this were just decent overall. The standout would of course be the one for Lucy as she is the only one who manages to bring a none melodramatic tone to her character. The others were satisfactory in bringing their character to life but the melodrama could get a bit much at times.
The story is one of the aspects which show a lot of promise at the start. From the first episode I thought I might actually be in for an interesting and heartfelt exploration of one's inner torments with Lucy. What I got was a tired old "personality disorder" with added amnesia on the part of our male protagonist.
You'd think that would be enough cliches to sustain a series but no, you also get your typical girl who does not know how to deal with her feelings and instead spends time punching the lead, and also a shy little girl who looks to have been abused in one way of another since childhood.... can anyone say Love Hina? Or most other harem show stereotypes? You even get a crazily stubborn older gentleman trying to recapture Lucy for added emphasis...
And to add insult to injury, the plot itself gets to a fairly stagnant place somewhere in the third episode and remains there until the eleventh, where another dinoclius comes in for some more twistedly torturous gore scenes. The ending also leaves a bit to be desired. I am usually a fan of open endings but here it just feels like they did not know where to go with it all as opposed to them leaving things open.
As pointed out in a couple of paragraphs before, the characters are just harem stereotypes and unfortunately harem characters do not really suit the story. The fact that these characters work (use the term loosely) for Love Hina and other harem is that they are comedies. Elfen Lied wants to and should be taken more seriously than Love Hina but it mildly succeeds in this regard when it should incandascent.
Add the Nyuu twist instead of a proper exploration of Lucy as a character and it just does not work. The characters we had a chance to feel for are sadly dealt a very short hand. These characters would be Lucy, Nana or their "father".
Instead, most of the time we could get a useful flashback, you get Lucy, Kouta and several other children acting cutesy. Except for one twisted flashback which makes you feel for the murderer more than the victim.
The creators should have looked at shows like Now and Then Here and There or Berserk to see how to incorporate interesting plot devices or flashbacks to have an anime that is more successful.
As if it, you are left with a very sour taste in your mouth (much like with Gantz) when you think of what could have been. However, the fact that it is raved about so much means that there is an audience for that out there. I also found it interesting when I was watching it but I now unfortunately realise it was for all the wrong reasons. So if you think this could be something you will enjoy, then go for it but if you are one who likes a little more from your anime see Berserk and Now and Then Here and There as they deal with these themes a lot better.</div>