Elfen Lied is a dark horror anime lasting 13 episodes. It was first aired in 2004. When few girls are born more evolved than the rest of mankind, the dangerous nature of their evolution creates tension among high authorities who then decide to deal with the situation violently.
Another great horror anime : Shiki Review – The village surrounded by death
The story of Elfen Lied revolves around Diclonius, an evolved mutation of humans. Few girls are born with horns on their head and develop invisible hands called vectors. They inhibit natural will to kill humans. As they grow old, they become objects of mass murder. Eventually, the authorities notice these mutations and try to put a stop to them. Several Diclonius are caged in labs and experimented on for years. Others are executed the moment they are born. Everything goes according to the plan of the authorities until one day, a Diclonii named Lucy breaks out of the lab killing several people. Lucy after breaking out of the lab meets Kouta and is given shelter by him. Several events
The very first episode starts with a bloodbath. As Lucy (a Diclonii) breaks out of the lab, she kills everyone in her way. The first episode is filled with violence and blood. It seems like a lot of pointless killing not making any sense, but as the story goes, all the killing starts making a lot of sense.
Kouta letting Lucy live with him was quite unrealistic. True, it shows the act of bravery but makes the whole thing undigestible. Even though Kouta knows that Nyu (split personality of Lucy) is being hunted down, he tries to hide her in his house, lies to police, and lets her live with him knowing full well that he is putting his own life in danger. For a university student, that makes very less sense. Elfen lied has tried to cover this up by showing the unjust past of Kouta and how his past may be a trigger to let Lucy in, I still feel that such actions should at least have some flow to it and not just be a one thought decision.
The other thing that made the story less fun for me to watch was the way Yuka’s feelings for Kouta were being expressed. The behavior of Yuka has been shown as that of a “jerk” when it comes to her feelings for Kouta which was quite unpleasant. The main focus of Elfen Lied has been on Diclonius and has been done very well, but the lovely side story that they were trying to show between Kouta and Yuka has not been portrayed very well.
When it comes to showing the dark theme which the anime is actually based on, it has done that flawlessly. Most of the main characters in the anime have had a messed up life which shows how dark or cruel life can be. The constant killing of humans by Diclonius shows the cruel nature of Diclonius against humans. But, the animal-like treatment of Diclonius by humans also shows that humans are not much less than Diclonious when it comes to their behavior.
Both the intense power and innocence of Nyu makes every scene involving Nyu thrilling. Since Nyu (innocent personality) is another personality of Lucy(killer personality), there is no knowing when Nyu will snap and turn into Lucy which keeps the viewer on the edge of the seat. The intense destructive nature also contributes to the excitement because if Nyu snaps, most certainly a lot of people would die a very brutal death and it keeps things interesting.
Animation and Soundtrack
The animation in the anime is nice when it comes to the killing of humans, cutting them into halves, slicing into pieces. If we do not consider that for once, then I have seen much better animation in much less famous anime. In the scenes not involving any action, there is no character movement, the only significant movement is mouth movement which itself is dull. The overall animation quality itself is not the best either.
Soundtrack isn’t great either. There is lack of quality soundtracks for different scenarios. You’d expect a soundtrack to increase the tension and thrill in an anime like this, but the soundtrack here is just sad themed. It has very less to no contribution in igniting interest in the viewer for the story.
Personally, I do not like how different characters have been portrayed and development throughout the anime. For instance, Yuka and Mayu have no significant role in the entire anime, especially to the main plot of the anime. Yuka is initially seen as a loving and caring character when she first interacts with grown-up Kouta, but when her feelings for Kouta start surfacing her character turns from okayish to crappy. Also, the background of many characters like Yuka, Mayu, Nana has been given very less attention. There are only a few characters in the story, not building even their characters properly makes viewers lose interest.
There are some characters who have been well portrayed in the anime. Although the character development is still poor, the overall story behind the characters is appreciable. Kouta who is initially considered to be just a normal university student turns out to be a person with a tragic past. Although how they have shown his past affecting his present is again poor. How can forgotten memories lead a university student to house three unknown girl with him? Kurama’s is the character which I liked the most. He is the person who works with the organization to hunt down Diclonius. Initially, he is shown as a cold-hearted person who is just another officer running to hunt Diclonius on orders from superiors, but as the story grows viewers realize there is more to him than just that. The background story of Kurama and the actions he takes towards Diclonius at the end of the story makes him a positive character in the eye of viewers.
The anime has a good story and has been covered surprisingly well in 13 episodes. It does become a bit slow paced in some of the middle episodes. But as a person who is influenced a lot by quality animation and soundtrack, soundtrack and animation in this anime did spoil it for me. The most important question that the anime raises is who is the real monster, the Diclonius whose childhood experiences and memories have made them hate and kill humans, or the humans who hunt Diclonius like animals and kill them the moment they are born. This is a great philosophical question which spreads its roots deep in the mind of the viewer and makes the anime worth watching. (Let me know what you think about this question.)
The story in Elfen Lied is completely brutal and revolves around darkness, both inside humans and inside Diclonius. If you like watching a lot of blood, people getting cut into parts, monopoly, demonic nature of humans, then Elfen Lied is an anime for you.
Plot – 9/10
Soundtracks – 7/10
Animation – 6/10
Character Development – 7/10
Overall – 7.6 (giving 40% weightage to plot)