Thursday, August 29, 2013

Elfen Lied

I buy & watch a significant amount of anime. The result is that sometimes a series gets missed, overlooked, or lost in time, and ends up sitting on a shelf for months or even years before I watch it. But rest assured, I will watch it.

So I've decided to create a new review segment I'm going to call the Dusty Shelf Review. All of these reviews will be for series I've left too long.

Gore in the beginning. Gore at the end.

The first Dusty Shelf Review: Elfen Lied.

There are not a lot of anime that I actually regret buying. This is one. I had to wrack my brain to find an element I liked. It's not like the animation is bad - it's acceptable. Neither stellar nor terrible.

I will give a warning now, because I expect to reveal more spoilers in this review than in any other I have ever written.



The story:

A new subspecies of humans has evolved(?) on earth. Their only motivation - the complete and total elimination of all humans. This is preferably done in the most bloody and gory ways possible. Ripping heads and limbs off is common place, and seems to be a theme in every episode.

Lucy, one of these new subspecies (Diclonius) escapes a remote lab that is studying them, murders hundreds of guards, and escapes. However in the course of the escape a single bullet (from an A.T. rifle) actually hits her, causing her to develop a split personality. Now she is wandering around naked and is taken in by a college student named Kouta.

He's just returned to town after 8 years in order to attend college, and has his own place (which will promptly be filled with Lucy, his cousin Yuka, and a few others).

A strange boarding house... to say the least.

Now Lucy has the mind of a child, unable to speak or anything. Kouta calls her Nyu, as that is the only sound she makes.

Meanwhile an immoral mercenary is dispatched to kill Lucy.

Nyu breaks a treasured memento (from his past, that he has blocked because it is tramatic) and Kouta yells at her. She runs from the house to find a replacement.

A battle between her and the mercenary occurs, he is badly maimed. This prompts the remote lab to dispatch a second Diclonius, Nana (#7), to deal with Lucy.

Messier than a Jackson Polluck painting.

I'm going to skip a few details. Why? Because I want to get to the real messed up bits.

Okay so we know that Lucy is a Diclonius whose sole goal is to wipe out the human species and replace it as the new dominant species.

Or is she? You see this is the assumption of the remote lab's scientists. Most of whom are only scientists in that they wear lab coats. They are super stereotypical mad scientists who seem to be suffering from .

However we learn that in fact she is an abused orphan who had a dog murdered, beaten to death, by children right in front of her. She is unable to trust because of the lies of the children - one of whom directly led to the puppies death. Of course, then she slaughters every child. Then she slaughters families to squat in their houses...

Super Spoiler: Your Traumatic past is a plot contrivance!

Of course she is befriended by young Kouta. Emotional pablum occurs. They become friends, a bit of puppy love occurs. An insane voice tells Lucy to kill everyone, and she strangles Kouta. All is forgiven because, to put it bluntly, Kouta is far from the sharpest knife in the drawer. All seems fine, but then Kouta says that he is going to a festival with his cousin. He lies and says his cousin is a boy. Lucy catches them at the festival and, since she feels betrayed, murders everyone nearby.

It's one of the few semi-likable characters. She has character development!

So... Is she a tramautized psychopath? Is she a new species whose only drive is genocide? Don't worry, this will NEVER be answered.

But we will pile trauma on top of trauma. Seriously. He is an aside in the story: Young girl is raped by her step-father. Tells her mother. Her mother beats her for lying. She runs away. Look! Trauma.

But that's not all... seriously. This whole series is nothing more than gore and trauma, interspersed with a touch of nudity, and jealousy.I actually had trouble watching it all the way through. I did, although my DVD set was so old that it didn't have the OVA and maybe that single episode answered all the questions. If so, Wow. Way to not end a series properly.

Klimt's "The Kiss" and a version with Lucy.

Okay. I never leave a review with only the bad.

There are some good things.

For one, the introduction's artwork is an excellent selection of the works of , modified with the shows characters. This very beautiful... and really has no bearing on any other part of the anime.

The second good thing is the Intro music. The song is called , and I've linked it to the intro video and the lyrics. The lyrics are based around a Gregorian chant called, "Ave Mundi Spes Maria." Music and a music box play an important role in the series. Which is too bad... you see in my research for the series (after the watching), there is a character focused around signing called Nozomi who only appears in the manga. even worse, she teaches Lucy the song called '' - yes the shows freakin' title! They cut from the anime... why?

I think, perhaps, this is an anime that suffers very badly by becoming an anime. There might have been a strong story in the manga. There might not have been quite so much trauma for the sake of trauma. Characters might have grown, plots might have developed, and the gaping maw of a plot hole (Lucy's drive to destroy humanity - is it genetics or childhood trauma?) might have been closed.

Sadly, because this is an anime, I am only going to review the anime...

1.5 Stars

I cannot, in good taste, recommend this series...

If you must buy it, get it on BD. You'll get the OVA at least.
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