Dennis’ Anime Reviews – Elfen Lied: The Complete Series

It’s October, so we need a good spooky animé filled with guts and gore, and blood, and that spooky stuff to get us in the Halloween spirit. Now usually, that isn’t my cup of tea when it comes to animé, but we got a request to review this animé series just for Halloween. So this week, we’re going to dive into the world of Elfen Lied. Now, just so we’re on the same page, it’s pronounced Le-odd (not lied, as in someone lied to you). I got thrown through a loop the first time myself, and I was trying to find someone named Elfen and find out who was lied to.

Elfen Lied, a thirteen episodic series, takes place in Kamakura, Japan, and focuses on the creation of  a new strain of the human known as the Diclonius. They are similar to human beings but different at the genetic level and notable due to physical abnormalities, particularly a pair of short horn-like protrusions. Lucy, the main character of the series, is held in a laboratory of the coast of Kamakura, where she is experimented on constantly to test the abilities that the Diclonius possess. However, she manages to escape and wreak havoc, but not before being injured in the process. After a gunshot ricocheted off the metallic helmet encasing her head, she develops a secondary, child-like personality known as Nyu.

Lucy is found by two local kids, Kohta and his cousin Yuka. After taking her in, they become involved with the attempts to recapture her by a Special Assault Team and a number of other Diclonius, who shift from oblivious to murderous. What they eventually learn is that the childish and infant-like Nyu (who can only say “nyu”), has a dark and murderous side that usually rises when she hits her head or is exposed to extreme violence.

One of the most recognizable features about this series is its amount of graphic violence and gore, including instances of torture, rape, as well as its high amount of female nudity and strong language. Anime News Network even went as far as describing the series as “mixing insane amounts of violence with a heavy dose of ‘ultra-cuteness.” (Anime News Network). Elfen Lied’s super cute candy bar wrapper covers a dark and sinful nature with just a pinch of comedic humor, and follows along the lines of other story setups in series such as Chobits, 3×3 Eyes, and the notorious When They Cry.

It is now time where we grade the animé based on our three prime categories; Originality, Story, and Characters

Originality – Elfen Lied takes a lot of chances with the intense amounts of gore, violence, and blood. This is not an series for a newbie searching for a good animé, and might be a little over the top for those who don’t like the sight of blood. It deals with a lot of adult matters, despite having a childish look and feel to it.  7/10

Story – The story of a human-like creature, tortured by humans, seeking brutal and bloody revenge against the species that created and treated her like a lab rat shows what happens when humans try to play God. I really liked the relationship between Lucy and her counterpart Nyu, which in a sense can be traced to the relationship of Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde. Nyu is the childlike entity that Lucy used to be, but with the treatment she got as a child by humans because of the lack of control of her powers, and eventually the torture and experimentation she endured in the lab, it’s interesting to see how Nyu has become this infant-like person, unaware of her violent past of present, and how Lucy seems to only emerge when Nyu sees horrific sights of violence. The storyline is sad, but it’s poweful in its message of men trying to create life.  8.5/10

Characters – The characters are all deeply tied into Lucy/Nyu’s life, even though they do not know it. Without giving away any major spoilers, pay close attention to the relationship with Kohta and Nyu, because those two are more connected than you think when you see them meet in the first few episodes. The introduction of the other Diclonius shows that not all of them have violent streaks, and shows them as the victims, and not the humans they kill. 8/10

Overall, Elfen Lied is not a series everyone can get into. The story is sad, despite having a few humorous and super-cute points, and even I had a hard time watching the entire series. If you enjoy animé with blood shed, violence, and a look at the ramifications of what happens when mankind decides to make life in their own image, Elfen Lied would be a good series to watch.