Elfen Lied

TV (13 eps)
3.957 out of 5 from 68,422 votes
Rank #1,171

For Kouta and Yuka, finding the bloody naked young girl on the beach would change their lives forever, for better or for worse. Unable to speak or function as a normal human being, she is named Nyu by the duo, and taken into their home in an effort to save her. But what neither teenager knows is that this innocent young girl is actually a killing machine -- an experiment gone terribly wrong -- and it is only a matter of time before the murderer in her awakens again...

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StoryI’m actually going to make the case here that the story would be entertaining even without the ultra-violence. Elfen Lied has a relatively interesting tale involving apocalypse, split personality, and evil-men-in-lab-coats performing diabolical experiments. In other words, there isn’t anything that we haven’t seen before, but the elements are mixed in such a way to hold one’s attention well. When the shock value is added, however, the storyline is elevated from interesting to riveting. Aside from two distinct moments (a recap portion in episode 12, and a fairly weak “bonding” session between Nana and Mayu in an earlier part of the show), I was held to the screen from the guiltless bloodbath of the first 5 minutes to the final episode. The story is somewhat marred by a “read the manga” ending and some unnecessary ecchi moments, but these are minor complaints in the grand scheme of things.AnimationWhether you love it or hate it, I doubt anyone can really dispute the fact that the gore is exceptionally well animated. In fact, just about every part of the various fight scenes are almost flawless: fluid, quick, and exhilarating. Outside of these scenes, the animation is not quite as impressive but nonetheless appealing. My one complaint would be with the somewhat lackluster character designs. I wouldn’t call them terrible, but they definitely seem generic.SoundElfen Lied has a fantastic opening theme that reappears as background music in the actual show, with favorable results. Voice acting is fairly unmemorable save for the excellent performances of two seiyuu. Yuka is one of Noto Mamiko's first major roles, but here she seems a perfect fit; because of her efforts, what would otherwise be a relatively bland character is made into a likeable one. A similar (but less significant) effect happens with the appealing machismo of Bando’s seiyuu.CharactersWhile the characters in the show could have been a lot worse, they’re by no means good. Most of the characters are likeable on a basic level (my favorites were probably the off-kilter, steroid pumping Bando and the surprisingly compelling Nana), and some of them have interesting back-stories thrown in for good measure. Unfortunately, in the end they feel more like caricatures than actual human beings. Given the nature of the show, this might have been unavoidable.OverallI hate harem animes with almost no exception. As well as being shamelessly clichéd and artless, most of the plot lines that these animes manage to come up with simply aren’t interesting. The majority of the anime-watching community seem to enjoy brainless, ditzy, high-pitched and disproportionate girls emasculating an already girly protagonist, but the entire idea has never really appealed to me. I bring this up because, as much as I am loathe to admit it, Elfen Lied is undeniably a harem anime. All of the ingredients are there: the faceless main character, the ample supply of unnecessary female characters, the spacious former hotel… anyone who says otherwise is simply delusional. …and yet, here I am, defending this title as not only a good anime, but a great one. Despite the pointless panty-shots, despite the random breast fondling, despite the girl-barges-into-room-with-hero-in-compromising-situation scenes, I was glued to the screen for pretty much the entirety of the series. This isn’t just something I’d recommend; I think Elfen Lied is one of the best shows of 2004. What makes this show excellent are not the harem elements; when all is said and done, the ecchi part of the show merely provides a basic skeleton for the creators to build upon. What they add is one of the bolder moves that Ive seen recently in anime. While most series nowadays are invisibly affected by some time-tested boundaries, Elfen Lied smashes just about every rule on what is considered acceptable within the realm of entertainment. The obvious example that many people have already brought up would be the gratuitous violence. Trust me, these people are NOT exaggerating; of the numerous animes that I’ve seen, this one takes the prize for most gore. However, what many people are failing to note is that the most disturbing parts of the show don’t really have anything to do with blood and guts. How many animes have you seen that involved animal torture? Child molestation? The total loss of conscience? These subjects have been touched upon before, but never with the intensity and prowess that Elfen Lied manages to achieve. In the end, the most criticism that this anime receives will be derived from the fact that the anime uses raw shock value to help bolster a relatively shallow plot. What they’ll fail to mention, however, is that this is not really a bad thing. When all is said and done, the unblinkingly savage nature works; Elfen Lied is absolutely fascinating in its sheer viciousness, and the ecchi part of the show only helps to contrast this brutality. If you’re worried about others accusing you of having “bad taste” in anime, then by all means skip this show. However, if all you want in anime is an engrossing, balls to the wall rollercoaster ride of betrayal, cruelty and fanaticism, then there arent a lot of titles that Id recommend over this.


StoryAlright... what we've got here is a messy little story as the synopsis hints at. What we have here is a species that has evolved further than your normal everyday human being. This species possesses so called "vectors", nifty little telekinetic things which are useful if you want to hang upside down in a tree and make a carrot salad... or let’s say, shred a human into tiny cute little pieces. Now, the problem here is that there are people who don't think that these evolved humans, or "diclonius" as they are called, should roam free. On the contrary, they should be subjected to various inhumane tests. And this will, obviously, anger these vector-equipped beings. You see, if you're too close to one of these creatures and accidentally drop a coin, (a quarter for instance) then expect to have it shot through your head faster than you can say "Barbequeonthedarksideofthemoonisgood" backwards. Or the short version: "Mess with a Diclonius, and you die." Alright, now we've got the basics down. One of these creatures escapes from this facility and loses her memory in the process. Kouta and his cousin find her naked on the beach, and from there things get a bit out of hand. This organization from which Nyuu escaped will do anything in its power to get her back, even if it means using other evolved humans. The show is very good. It's a very bloody and messy show: they won't hold back with the blood, bone splinters and intestines when a person is cut to pieces. This is one facet of the show, the killing part of the show. Then we have the drama part which reminds me a bit of Love Hina or (insert a high-school romance anime here). The thing is that Kouta's cousin has got a thing for him, and Nyuu is a very well endowed little girl who also happens to lack any form of common sense. So there are some situations which little Kouta might have a hard time explaining himself, but we'll leave it at that. There is lots of nakedness in this show, both upper-body nakedness and full body nakedness. It's not done in a forced manner but in a rather believable, understandable manner. To be honest, I thought a dark angsty violence storyline would clash pretty badly with a comedy/romance genre. but it didn't. It could've been a little less romance-focused though, and some things are quite cliché, but it's fully bearable. The blood/gore thing is a bit overdone at some times as well. All in all I'd say that some things are a bit over the top at times. The story is quite good and flows well. Characters are introduced nicely into the series and the various flashbacks etc are played at the right time. Nothing feels particularly forced. They also managed to create the "I want more" feeling every time an episode ended. Which resulted in me spending my afternoon watching the last 10 episodes in one go. The ending was superb and well executed and fit perfectly with the tone of the show. Something to be aware of is that the end isn't definite. The manga will most likely take the story further. AnimationThis is the only part that disappoints. The visuals are alright, but nothing above that. The colors are vibrant and the lighter colors of the palette have been used throughout the show. The detail level is medium and comparable to the later mid-nineties anime shows. The lines in the show aren't knife sharp but rather a little thicker and blurred. My real gripe with the visuals is the character designs. Don't get me wrong; I think that most of them are very good. Nyuu, when in evil mode, looks great with a more mature look and all adult characters in general also look mature. The problem is the teenage characters. Some of the characters look like the typical H-game adaptation style...together with Card Captor Sakura roundish head design, which I simply don’t think fits. The eyes are way too big and round. One of the children in the show rivals the characters in Shamanic Princess regarding the eye size. The faces are too circular, and the chin-cheek contour is very vague. I would've preferred the use of sharper lines, both for the eyes and for the head shape, like they did with the more adult characters. The characters are, however, well drawn if we look at them as a whole, with clothing, hair bands and whatnot. The characters display an aura similar to that of their personality. SoundThe Opening tune is a dark piece of material. It's a classical piece sung in Latin and this tune is used throughout the show in various shapes (piano-only version, string version, male vocal humming version etc). It's not overused, but rather used in passages where it's very fitting. The tune is a bit too flat for me to fully like it; it lacks dynamics and depth. It's well produced, well sung, well recorded and I like it when it's played in the show, but it's not a tune I'd play several times a day. The ED song, however, is a good happy catchy J-pop sung by Kawabe Chieko. I always found it a bit strange that they used such a happy tune, when the episode usually didn't end in a very happy manner. The background music is just "there". It's not something I "listened" to during the show. It does what it's supposed to do, nothing more and nothing less. CharactersWe have quite a bit of character development here. The main characters are introduced in a good manner and are then given time to evolve. The flashbacks give further insight into why some of the characters act like they do. This also helps to create sympathy and empathy, something they did quite well. The character personalities are also well executed and they were believable. I never felt that any character acted strangely or forced. The flashbacks certainly help in understanding the characters. OverallI give this show a well deserved 9. It kept me wanting more after each episode. It was a very well executed ending. The character interaction is good. The OP and, especially the ED was good. The story was interesting and well paced as well. The visuals are the only thing that drags down the overall score. It could've been better considering that it's a show which was released in 2004. There is a lot of bad karma in this show, and some people will view this as overdone. I don’t think so myself. There is a very strong "You reap what you sow" feeling throughout this series. The only difference is that when you inflict damage onto a diclonius it will be returned 100 times harsher...


StoryViolence and nudity lovers unite -- Elfen Lied has been created just for you! Really though, although there is somewhat of a plot to speak of, the main focus of Elfen Lied is the shock value, plain and simple. The somewhat thin plot revolves around the fact that a certain type of people exist that have horns (dubbed Diclonius). These creatures become terribly violent and homocidal, causing those who sit in power to worry. Lucy is one of these creatures who escapes from a maximum security facility (leaving much carnage in her path), and washes up (naked and bloody, no less) on a beach where the young Kouta and Yuka find her. Lucy, however, has somehow lost her homocidal tendencies and has reverted to Chii-like dumbness, acting like a 3 year old who doesn't even know how to walk. And thus, the story begins... Again, the plot itself is pretty weak, as far as I'm concerned. There are a few minor twists and the obligatory "people can't remember things from their past that were really damn important, which come back later in the series", but as a whole, the plot was definitely back burner for the violence and nudity (and I don't think anyone could argue with me on that). The violence? Really messed up. Honestly, I think this was the most disturbing thing I've seen as far as blood goes. I've seen quite a few really gory things in my time, most of which were really cheesy (Baoh, for one). Berserk is a good example of a series that isn't cheesy as far as the violence, but still is really up there on the violence scale. Elfen Lied leaves them all in the dust, giving us not only extreme violence, but very disturbing violence (Narutaru style) that is very graphic. For example, people often get their heads or limbs twisted off. This would be gruesome enough, but in EL, they are very careful that you see the bone sticking out of the limb that's left. Or, people sometimes explode and their organs fly out. Really nasty stuff, and really, really graphic. And like Narutaru, there are a few scenes that are just so wrong that you cringe. In general, I found it to be SO violent that I was laughing near the end when each messed up thing happened. Honestly, I think each episode tries to outdo itself, because as the series went on, each episode seemed to have something even more bizarrely grotesque than the previous one, and near the end it was no-holds-barred. The other facet was the nudity, which I really didn't enjoy and felt was extremely overdone. Violence I can understand because the plot revolves around these creatures being super violent... but nudity? Is there really a point to flaunting the character's naked (and sometimes underage) body? It even is plastered all over the intro and outro, including the very first shot of the outro that you always inevitably see when the episode ends. Come on guys, is this really necessary? I feel like the creators of the show must have accidentally ate 5 bottles of viagra and took it out on the female characters they were drawing, since I swear 60% of the time the diclonius girls are naked, many times unnecessarily. Unlike the violence, this was not effective as far as I'm concerned, except helping Anime Nerd #43243909 have an easier jack off session that evening. All in all, a somewhat thin but still interesting and unique plot that was enhanced by the brutality and lessened by the ridiculous amount of nudity. AnimationThe animation of Elfen Lied seemed good most of the time, but faltered at others. The backgrounds were definitely the most beautiful of the lot, and were detailed and interesting. As previously mentioned, the violence was excessive and effective as far as how it looked on the screen. Though it might not have looked completely real, it was creepily done and looked real enough to be disturbing, especially with the bone fragments sticking out and such. I think the only part I didn't enjoy so much was the character designs. At first I was impressed, but as the show went on I started to feel like they were a bit generic. They almost reminded me of Kanon, with the huge dating-sim eyes and the bright colors. All of the Diclonius girls had bright pink hair (which is never really explained), while everyone else tended to have normal colors. In general, the colors used were very vibrant and rich. SoundThe audio was probably the highlight of the series, and reminded me a great deal of Tsukihime. Beautiful orchestral singing dominated the series, with a woman at the helm most of the time. It fit the tone of the series, though just as easily could have had a techy/techno feel once in awhile, which it didn't. Voice acting was decent for everyone involved, though Nyuu's voice was fairly irritating and reminded me of Chii. In any event, her character seemed to be thrown in just for the fanboys, so I guess it needed a cutesy voice to match. CharactersThere was a decent amount of character development to speak of, but I don't necessarily think I was happy with a lot of it, hence the somewhat lower score. The crux of the development was definitely with Lucy/Nyuu, and Kouta. Like many stories, Kouta has a dark and hidden past that he has to discover, and Nyuu has two completely different sides that she ends up exploring in a strange way. The secondary characters have their own situations as well, such as the other Diclonius girls (developed weakly), Yuka, the cousin who has a crush on Kouta (wtf is up with the incest thing in so many anime series?), and various side characters as well. Again, the character development really is in the background as opposed to the violence and nudity, just like the plot, so you can't expect this to be another Infinite Ryvius or FMA. It was decent and enjoyable in part (hence the 7), but weak in other parts. OverallYou may be wondering why I scored Elfen Lied at an 8, even though my other scores are all lower. Well, I really did enjoy this series, even though I felt it was pretty weak as a whole. If it hadn't been for the extreme almost laughable violence, this would have fallen flat on its ass from the thin plot, beautiful but still generic animation, and somewhat weak characters. Elfen Lied is a fanboy anime, plain and simple... it appeals to people who want the super violence and nudity, and that's why it succeeded as much as it did. I agree that the violence helped the series be more enjoyable, hence the high score of 8... but if you are looking for something really deep and complex, without being flaunty, I don't think this is for you. For all others out there, don't be scared of watching this just because of the hype it got. Go into it knowing what type of show it is, and enjoy!

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