Sunday, May 20, 2012

Elfen Lied Anime Review

Elfen Lied
ADV Films
Complete Collection - 3 discs
325 mins. - 13 episodes
$34.98 (2011)
$39.98 (2009)
$49.98 (2006)
ISBN 814131018212
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Mamoru Kanbe
Studio - ARMS

Synopsis: A secret government facility studying a rare genetic mutation suffers a catastrophic breakout by one of its most powerful subjects.  Lucy is a Diclonius - a mutant with incredibly powerful psychic abilities and complete disregard for human life after years of intense torture as a test subject.  She literally rips the facility's security forces to shreds before finally being wounded by a high-powered rifle shot ricocheting off her head.
Lucy faces down a squad of guards during her breakout.  This
doesn't look like a fair fight.
Lucy falls into the ocean and washes up on a beach in Kamakura, completely naked.  She is found by Kouta, a college student, and his cousin Yuka who attends the same college.  The head trauma Lucy suffered from the ricochet has altered her personality into a child-like, innocent state.  Kouta and Yuka bring Lucy home and attempt to help her.  Little do they know a vicious killer resides within the body of the girl they rescued - who they dub "Nyu" because it is the only thing she says.
Nope, not a fair fight at all.
Diclonius is a mutant born from a special virus which infected a regular human male.  The Diclonii possess bone protrusions on their heads (kind of like horns) and strong psychic powers, called vectors, which make them tremendously dangerous.  The body count keeps rising as the government throws more soldiers at Lucy in an attempt to kill her.
Kouta and Yuka find Lucy on the beach - she's assumed the
innocent "Nyu" personality (obviously or else their heads
would be ripped off already)
Kouta suffered a massive childhood trauma which left him hospitalized for an entire year.  Yuka is secretly very happy that Kouta is going to the same college as her - she has strong feelings for him.  How can Kouta and Yuka stay safe with a ticking time bomb in their midst?  Especially when the government unleashes even more unstable and deadly Diclonii to take down Lucy?
Nyu (Lucy), Yuka, and Kouta share a moment in class
Pros: Nudity (mostly in the intro), terribly violent and gory, mature themes which make for compelling motivations, an interesting plot, suspenseful (you never know when Lucy will become the dominant personality and rip off all their heads), show still has a sense of humor while depicting ultraviolence, opening sequence pays homage to Gustav Klimt's artwork (famous for The Kiss), good ending
The girls of Elfen Lied - Mayu (w/puppy), Yuka (top), Nyu (Lucy),
and Nana
Cons: Blending of genres (harem, psychological, graphic violence) is jarring (but after the first episode you have been conditioned), brutally violent and unforgiving, two cousins having feelings for each other (i.e. incest) may be offensive, prosthetic arms/legs seem a little too easy to use
One of the fun tests the Diclonii endure at the research
facility - "Can you stop all of the bullets?  Let's find out!"
Mike Tells It Straight: I have rarely seen an anime this gory and violent yet simultaneously captivating and suspenseful.  Make no mistake - Elfen Lied is incredibly bloody and graphic.  It has mature themes and I must warn off young, squeamish or sensitive viewers - this show is not for you.
The innocent and child-like Nyu
Watch the first episode - you'll know within the first minute if this show is something you'll like (because the breakout is easily one of the most violent sequences I have seen).  Disclaimers in full effect because you can't let the cute looks fool you - it's brutal.
Lucy's personality resurfaces - this face is the last one you'll
see before your head is ripped off
Many people like this show for its mash-up of genres, but some also dislike it for the same reason - too many incompatible genres together.  Graphic violence and gore one minute and lighthearted cuteness the next.  I found the mature themes contrasted against the innocence of some of the characters to be masterful. Definitely not something you'll find successfully accomplished in many anime.
School life was especially difficult for a young Diclonius
...and the janitor
I give Elfen Lied a hearty, head-ripped-off-with-an-erupting-geyser-of-blood recommendation.  It took me awhile to finally watch this show and I was caught off guard (in a good way).  Not at all what I expected, not for kids, and highly suspenseful.  I might like the anime better since Kouta, in the manga, is much harsher to Lucy and completely unforgiving (well, you can't really blame him).

TO BUY and Recommendations: