Elfen Lied is an anime that opens up with a sequence of a naked girl cuttin people into pieces, seemingly with her mind, for about eight minutes. This sequence then leads to an episode replete with comedy and moments that make you smile. As the anime progresses though you lose that smile on your face as you are suddenly quite sad because everything's so bloody screwed up. Every characters past comes to light and you suddenly can't tell what side to take, you don't know who you want to survive or die. It's an anime that builds itself to be depressingly sad, and it's the thing that holds it together.
The story of Lucy and the Diclonius is actually somewhat compelling if it were given any better an explanation or was the main part of the story. Instead the main part of the story has to do with Lucy's past and what has gone on between the main characters. In order to get more into the Diclonius plot, you have to read the (not as good as the anime) manga and go past the plot of the anime. The anime only reaches about chapter 60 of the manga and takes a few liberties. The plot does hold itself together pretty well and you really do get to care about the characters more than you should. Maybe it's all the tradgedy they have been through or maybe it's just their likeability, either way the plot is sad. My problem with this though, the major problem, is that I don't know what it's trying to be. It's replete with boobs, panties, jokes about boobs, jokes about panties, and just general hentai/ecchi kind of things. These are dispersed through the anime but with the serious and sad feel of the anime, you can't tell whether this was built to be a hentai or a drama. There is so much fan service, it's ridiculous (it's even worse in the manga though) but I think it's there for the guys to feel bad for the cute anime girls. Hell, I fell for it, and maybe that was the plan of the creator:
More boobies and panties, the more men care about characters. No man wants to really like an anime character and see her go through hell, so let's do just that, make them cry, and then make them like the series.
And, as stated, I fell for it. I absolutely loved the plot despite all it's problems. One of the biggest parts that annoys me though is the part where a professor takes Nyu/Lucy, claiming that she was his brother's daughter.
"She's my brother's daughter. Let me take her or I'll call the police."
"OK." Kouta states.
"I'm sorry Nyu, but the fact that many people are after you and this guy I barely know says your the daughter of his brother is a good enough reason to let you go."
I find no faults in his romance with his cousin, it's normal in Japan. So I won't complain about that part like many others.
The anime, as stated, doesn't go through the whole manga so there are a lot of things left unanswered and the main bad guy who you think will be the final fight in the series is just there. He shows up every once in a while, but he is left alive at the end of the series and doesn't even make an appearance.
While the animation is a rather basic anime look, it looks good on this anime. All the characters look good, the action scenes are fluid, and I can't find too many faults with it.
The sound is good. I watched the Japanese version and I enjoyed the voice actors performances, as well as the sound effects. The opening song is bloody fantastic, so haunting and something that sticks with you.
There are faults in all of the characters and they are all archetypical of the genre in their own ways, but they are all likeable for whatever reason. Characters like Kouta, who would generally annoy me, I actually liked. I loved Lucy, and I find her to be a fantastic character for those of us who are bipolar (like myself), it's a perfect representation of someone like me: stupid and nice Nyu one moment, dirtbag and Kill Em' All attitude Lucy the next. The worst character is the main bad guy who heads the facility for the Diclonius who barely has enough screen time for you to even care, let alone has anything to do with the plot. He could have been left from the anime and there wouldn't be any complaints about loose ends at the series conclusion and where he fits into anything.
This anime is definately not perfect, but it can grab a hold of you and pull you in. It's characters are rather basic, but they somehow become extremely likeable to the point that you cry for them (and that's not an exageration). This is the kind of anime I should hate as a fan of very complex, very adult animes. This anime just holds a place in my heart though for whatever reason and it has become one of my favorites. Despite all the complaints listed above, it still maintains a certain charm and likeability. It's not for everyone at all, but there is just something about this series that tugs at your heart strings and keeps you coming back.
I'm going to give it a 7/10 because I really enjoyed it. I ran through the series faster than any other anime. As you can tell by my avatar, I really love Lucy and the series. But the problem is, this is a love it/hate it anime, maybe even the epitome of love it/hate it animes. I am not going to complain about bad reviews, because I can see the faults. I can see how someone can not enjoy this.
Am I telling you not to take my review with a grain of salt? No, I hope you do consider watching at least an episode if you haven't. But if you dislike it and come back and tell me, I won't fight with you. There is just some sort of charm it holds over me that it holds over a few, but doesn't over others.
I'm assuming the charm is the cute anime girls getting violently beaten and going through hardships, which as an angsty teenage guy, makes me severely sad because I've been through a lot of the same things to a lot less extreme extent. Maybe it's the fact I felt Lucy was an embodiment of someone like me, an outcast whose being an outcast has made him/her into a social pariah and someone who has a relatively dark outlook on life and hates people.
So there you go, whether you love it or hate it, whether you'll watch it or won't, I won't blame you.