Elfen Lied

| April 7, 2005

Overall Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Publisher: ADV Films
Type of Anime: TV
Watched Subbed/Dubbed: Dubbed

If you like action/horror anime, Elfen Lied is a must own. Based on the manga by Lynn Okamoto, Elfen Lied (German for “Elf Song”) is a 13 episode action/horror/romance anime that stays fairly canonical to the first 6 volumes of the manga for the first 11 episodes and then diverges to tie up loose ends for the final two episodes.

You know you’re in for a wild ride when the first 10 minutes of the anime involve a humanoid agent of death escaping her confines in a government laboratory and wrecking havoc. Lucy is a cold blooded killer who takes down 20+ guards in under 5 minutes in a very gory showdown with human limbs and heads flying everywhere. She’s also nude when she makes her escape and dives off the facility’s cliff to freedom. No, this isn’t for small children or the faint of heart.

Some background – Lucy is a Diclonius, a genetically altered human with a deadly set of extra hands (or vectors) that can vibrate at high frequencies and cut through just about anything like it was butter. Visually, what sets Diclonius apart from normal humans is a set of horns – that almost look like cat ears – growing atop their head.

Two college kids – and cousins – Kouta and Yuka, are reminiscing about their childhood on the beach when Lucy walks onto the shore. Instead of continuing her murderous rampage, Lucy becomes Nyu, a childlike girl who can’t say any other word but “Nyu” – hence her name. She wears her emotions on her sleeve and has a very innocent curiosity about her – reminding me of an early Chi from Chobits – so the cousins take her home to live with them in the inn they maintain.

Unable to cut their losses, the government soon sends out a special assault unit to retrieve Lucy, and when they fail, Chief Kurama sends out Nana, another Diclonius who looks very similar to Lucy. When we first see Nana, she is naked, covered with blood, and chained to a wall. We learn that she’s been tortured and subject to very painful tests – so much so she clings to Chief Kurama as her papa to keep her will to live. Nana cares deeply for her papa, and as the story unfolds, it’s clear that he cares deeply for her. He sees her as his surrogate daughter – of the child he lost years ago when his wife died in child birth – and is extremely protective of her.

Kouta also has a tragic past. Years ago, Kouta’s father and little sister, Kanae, were murdered in front of his eyes. Unable to cope, Kouta no longer remembers the horrific details but lives his life as a protector who is willing to help anyone, especially girls in trouble, because they remind him of Kanae. As the story unfolds, we watch as Kouta slowly remembers and comes to terms with his painful past.

While Kouta plays the savior to young girls in need, Yuka, who is deeply in love with her cousin, becomes fiercely jealous of the other females who come to live with them. Often she’ll ask Kouta if he remembers something he said or did from his past, and when he doesn’t, she grows angry or breaks down into tears.

The anime does a fantastic job of balancing the romantic tension between Kouta and his girls with the menacing violence the Diclonius are capable of and engage in. The transition from the loveable Nyu to the chilling Lucy is well done – whenever Lucy emerges, you see a single, glaring eye emerging from behind her hair – and the gore, while explicit, is not overly done.

Elfen Lied also has a fantastic musical score, starting with “Lilium,” which almost sounds like a Church hymm and is sung in Latin. The theme is interspersed throughout the anime at key points, sometimes as an instrumental piece, other times with a Gregorian chorus. Must of the score is instrumental which can be gentle or intense depending on the scene. Finally, the closing theme, “Be Your Girl” is an upbeat, J-pop/punk tune.

I highly recommend this anime. Though it’s a bit of an emotional roller coaster – I was in tears by the end.

Animation:

My Rating: animation rating
The animation is beautiful with vivid colors and lush backgrounds. The intro frames are gorgeous, with the characters posing in vibrant patterns that reminded me of Ganzo’s rendition of Gankutsuou. The actual character designs fall along the lines of classic shoujo and range anywhere from simplistic to highly detailed depending on the scene.

Music:

My Rating: music rating
I love the opening theme, which has a dark, eerie feel. A woman sings passionately in Latin to a slow paced instrumental accompaniment. The closing theme has more of a pop/alternative guitar riff that transforms into a j-pop melody.

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Category: Anime Reviews

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