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Elfen Lied

Mar 31, 2010

Now the abysmal overall score may be partially for shock value but Elfen Lied truly is the worst anime I've ever see. And just for fun I'll start with a anecdote.

I had already seen it once and thought I'd share the fun with a few of my friends. Making fun of Elfen Lied has and still is a meme of sorts, most of my friends can't stop themselves from laughing whenever the series is brought up. Anyway, me and two of my pals gathered in front of a TV and started watching the thing. Various groans and sighs could be heard from the other guys during the first episodes and after the third one of them rose and said he was going home to grind rep on his WoW character instead of watch.

This little story while of course only based on taste is also rather telling. But I'll try my best to do a fair review of the show.



The first problem with Elfen Lied is that there's absolutely nothing new about it. While for example CLAMP often takes overused genres they always manage to put their own unique spin on it. Elfen Lied on the other hand is a mishmash of ecchi, psychological drama, gore and magical girlfriend. A mysterious pinkhaired girl who has both a innocent and a dangerous side meets a loser manboy who tries his best to take care of a growing stable of girls that wants to bone him. And the big twist about who killed Koutas family could be seen from miles away.

Instead of using shocking images and plotpoints as a helping tool to tell a story (Like Garth Ennis and Mark Millar does for example) it is the sole point of the story. One miserable character after another enters the fray and it never gets interesting in the slightest. I have watched the whole thing twice trying to figure out what people like about it and I come up with nothing.

But to be honest I did kinda like the flashback part where you get to see a younger Lucy. While still not sympathetic in the slightest you did get some kind of reason for why she's mentally unstable.

Overall one of the worst storys I've ever experienced in viewed media but the flashback part gets it a extra point.



While being the best part of the show there is still nothing special about it. The gore was rather boring and ultimately meaningless, simply a means to an end. The show tries hard to convey shocking images but without decent writing behind it, it all falls flat. It may be that I am a bit desensitized but I truly felt nothing watching this.



Another weak part of it, while some of the characters have decent voice actors Lucy's "evil" voice is another lame cliché that made me laugh a bit when I first heard it. That she also gets a supercool facial expression to go with her dark, brooding voice just makes it worse. Also I really hate the intro, it's insanely pretentious and tries to convey the image of a deeply serious show while everything within it has about the same target demographic as say Naruto. (I have nothing against Naruto but it's not a serious drama and neither is Elfen Lied)



Every single character in this show has a really tragic past, from the agent who had to kill her own daughter to the girl who was raped by her own father. The problem is of course that it's all there is to most of the cast. None of the characters has distinct personalitys, dreams or goals. They're basically just there to move the story (bad as it is) forward. Whenever there's a break from the main story it's used for random ecchi scenes instead of taking the time to build characters. And so I truly felt nothing for any of them, not even the raped street urchin or poor abused Nana. And I'm not a uncaring bastard, I smile like a moron watching Ghibli movies because the characters are full of warmth and love. They give you a reason to like them, in Elfen Lied everyone is a misanthropic failure and never give you a reason to symphatize with any of them. The characterisation is vile, they took clichés and stripped away the likeable parts of them.



It may be that I'm missing something vital when watching this but I truly cannot find anything positive about the show (Except for the flashback part). And I don't dislike depressing animes, Texhnolyze is one of my favourites and it's way more depressing than Elfen Lied.

When I was younger I wanted to make more people like anime. I wanted to show them that there are shows out there with intelligent writing and likeable characters. Shows that you wouldn't be ashamed of watching when your mum stepped into your room and asked you what you were doing. Elfen Lied is a clear step in the wrong direction, a anime whose sole point is to shock and disgust its viewers. And due to its inane writing it never does anything with the gore and shock value, it truly is the whole point of the show.

So all in all I do think I've given it a fair review. No matter how hard I try I can't find anything particulary nice to say about it. And due to the important parts (story and characters) being so abysmal the 1 is justified in my book.

But I am also fully aware that there are scores of people who love the show and I don't exactly think they're dumb because of it. It just clashes insanely bad with my tastes and does every single thing I dislike about anime. Apples and oranges amirite?



Tis a year or so after I wrote this and I still stand by all of it. It might be a bit rough and a bit angry but I still have nothing nice to say about Elfen Lied. Of course I haven't rewatched it but considering the scores I've given it that should come as no surprise. Also if you're reading this part you might want to read the comments, I've answered a few attacks on my empathic ability and explained a bit more why I think the way I do about the show. Odds are you don't care but if you for example severely disagree with the review and would like to call me bad things, read the comments first and you might get some sort of answer. Also that part about the show clashing insanely bad with my tastes should be emphasized, this is collection of my somewhat objective opinions on Elfen Lied, not me trying to state facts.

2/10 story
5/10 animation
4/10 sound
1/10 characters
1/10 overall
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skrotkanon Feb 15, 2012

Also, almost every single anime has that kind of battle. I'm sure there's people out there fervently defending DearS. I'm fine with people liking Elfen Lied as long as they admit to it being a guilty pleasure. I have guilty pleasures too, everyone has them after all.

Because no matter how you look at it, Elfen Lied is not well written. The manga might be but the anime should probably have been at least 26 episodes to have a chance at fleshing out the story and the characters. Everything is shallow and rushed. So claiming the show is "deep" or "thought-provoking" is laughable. I've said this before somewhere (and it should be common knowledge) but just because a topic is raised in a show/book/movie/whatever doesn't mean it's handled well. See Ergo Proxy which raises a million philosophical questions but never takes the time with any of them.

So claiming that anyone who calls the show dumb is pretentious ticks me off. You have to be able to criticise things without being flagged as a asshole but considering some of the posts I've been sent over this and the FMA review it seems such is not the case.

Please don't be a part of this culture, you seem reasonable enough.

skrotkanon Feb 15, 2012

Well I really dislike the opening song and the rest is uninteresting when it comes to sound. So below average i.e a four.

The animation is just boring. High production values and framerate sure, but it has no personality whatsoever. Also all the bright colors works badly with what the show is trying to come across as i.e tragic all the time. Even the gore is hard to take seriously as no effort seems to be put into it. I probably took off a whole point for the scenes where peoples gets bodyparts torn off and you're greeted to a round circle with a white dot in the middle which is supposed to be the remains of someones leg. Violence should be horrifying and disgusting, not silly.

I suppose another thing that pisses me off is that this show could have been something. There is potential in these broken beings but none of the characters grows into anything. The creators didn't really seem to care about making anything of it, it's more like it was a cash-in on a popular (?) manga.

SadisticTendencies Feb 10, 2012

Oh, the everlasting conflict of Elfen Lied...

As I perceive it (and this is a huge generalization), this battle has two main sides comprised of hardcore fanboys, respectively people who truly dislike Elfen Lied. The first side is usually unable to realize many of its flaws, just like I did the first time I saw Elfen Lied. The second side usually insults the first one with pretentious arguments about the shows' stupidity. Honestly, I think Elfen Lied is a pretty stupid show, but I like it for what it is: action combined with good music and retarded characters. I won't ever see it again though; this is probably the most overrated anime ever. In my opinion that is. But I do think that this review is a little too harsh, especially on the Sound and Animation section. Though, that's just me.

daekiljen Oct 18, 2011

Anyone, anywhere, who thinks Elfen Lied is deserving of anything higher than the lowest possible score should not be allowed to voice their opinion on anime at all.  You are the unwashed masses of consumer outhouses.  Wallowing in the cesspit, waiting for the bowel movement of the next uninspired and derivative studio, with an open maw.

skrotkanon Oct 15, 2011

Not that you'll reply to my reply but; The one is not merely a median of the other scores. Elfen Lied is everything you want to pretend anime is not. It's a harem melodrama with loads of gore and naked underaged girls. It's the last show most people would recommend if a grown relative asked what anime is all about. It is adolescent bullshit with generic animation that uses shocking images as a means to seem edgy. As someone more or less pointed out before, the anime just might be everything that is bad about the manga without the good parts.

I know people who like Elfen Lied but they have so far invariably been teenagers because it's the target demographic. So biased? Not in the slightest, though I have mentioned in the other comments that I may seem a bit agitated in the review and that I might rewrite it one of these days. But that would mean I'd have to rewatch the whole thing...