|Um, she just totally crucified that chick, but ooh, pretty music!||1 out of 1 user found this review helpful.|
Technically speaking, the background and character designs are very polished and neat-looking, with glossy presentation and passible animation. The moe style is a bit of turn-off, but for once, I was actually grateful that none of the characters looked realistic, because a woman getting her ovaries sucker punched by a horned psychopath would certainly be harder to watch if that were the case.
Going into Elfen Lied, my expectations were low. It is equal parts ad nausea horror and moe soap
opera. I’m generally not a fan of
horror, as I find it to be neither well-written nor particularly frightening
most of the time. I shouldn’t have to
explain my opinion of moe. (I’m sorry if
you like it, I really am, I don’t mean to offend).
To my surprise though, I found that there are three things at which Elfen Lied succeeds brilliantly. The first is that it really is enthrallingly scary. From the first few moments it goes relentlessly overboard with the gore, yes, but the truly terrifying nature of the show comes from a deeper level. Lucy is scary not just because of her abilities and murderous nature, but because she was arguably made into the monster that she is, and the existence of Nyu, however false or subconscious, proves that she too, craves sanctuary. Innocent people like Kouta always feel ready to die in grotesquely violent ways while in her presence, especially since she has already proven her willingness to slaughter such innocents if they get in her way.
The second thing Elfen Lied has mastered is resonance. It not only has a beautiful soundtrack, it uses sound to set the mood better than any anime I have ever heard (other than Cowboy Bebop, of course). “Elfen Lied” translates to “elf song,” and while I’m not sure what the hell this has to do with ANYTHING in the actual plot, it certainly sums up the tone well, as a beautiful lullaby suddenly transforms into an eerie dirge when Lucy is humming it. Unfortunately the sound lacks good voice acting in either language. Stick to the Japanese version, because as painfully average as it is, it’s much better than the frankly horrendous dub, which is screechy and altogether painful to listen to. The actor playing Kouta is easily the worst, and every time he opens his mouth I actually hope Lucy will rip him apart, if only to put an end to his bad acting. What’s more, the issues I have with the dialogue are more bearable when they’re subbed, rather than heard. Stick to the Japanese version. I should point out how much good voice acting can help a story that I probably would have tacked another half-star onto the rating had the voice actors been better.
The last thing Elfen Lied does well is emotional manipulation. From the very first episode it can draw an extreme reaction out of you, from the sickening gore, yes, but also from the fact that you simultaneously feel intense disgust and dread of Lucy, and sympathy for her. The scientists and agents surrounding her and the rest of her kind sometimes seem as demonic as the Dichlonious themselves, and as previously mentioned, are possibly partially responsible for their cruelty. You hope for Lucy’s capture and yet you don’t, especially with people like Bando tracking her and not caring who gets hurt in the process. Seriously, that guy just defines double douchery, from his pimp slap of that poor woman in the first episode to his wearing sunglasses in the rain. (Yes, I know there’s a reason for it, I was just kidding). This is random, but does anyone else think “double douchery” kind of sounds like a drink you’d order at a bar? Wouldn’t you just love to go up to the bartender and order a Jack and Coke, a Black Russian, and a Double Douchery? No? Just me? Okay, sorry, I digress.
Unfortunately, when I say that the last thing Elfen Lied does well is emotional provocation, I do mean the very last thing. Remember when I said that horror tends to be one of the more poorly written genres? Well, Elfen Lied is no exception. I can forgive the gaping plot holes (even the ones that appear in the first freaking episode, seriously, I don’t want to give too much away in case you haven’t seen it yet and were planning to watch it, but take the time to think about what you’re seeing, I swear I’m not pulling it out of my ass) because as an adaptation of the manga, the anime only takes away from the original material and it’s likely that they thought they were going to have more episodes. What I refuse to forgive is the characterization, or in this case lack thereof. Bando especially frustrates me because he could have been an interesting villain if not for his lackluster characterization. Over time, a lot more characters appear, and I could probably count the number of ones that actually matter on one hand. Likewise with a few exceptions, one line of dialogue could easily jump from the mouth of one character to another, and the fact that they’re all devoid of personality makes it much harder to care when their viscera gets all over the screen. I hate to sound callous in saying that, but it’s true, and the extremely annoying exposition about the already obvious motivations of other characters tells me that not only does Elfen Lied have some of the more sub-par script writing that I’ve seen; the show doesn’t want you to think about what you’re watching. (Blah blah blah, exposition blah, seashell, exposition, blah, and exposition split personality blah). If you did, you would see it for what it is, gratuitous immature smut dressed up in unimaginative blood spatters and bare breasts. No amount of such can give this story any real substance.
With that being said, I may have been harsh, but that doesn’t change the fact that Elfen Lied is certainly worth a look as a horror anime. I definitely recommend that every horror and moe slice of life fan check this out, but for everyone else, there’s better stuff out there. I definitely would steer clear if you’re a science fiction lover as well, because the sci-fi elements make about as much sense as the Avatar: the Last Airbender live-action movie trailer (really, so many questions). It is genuinely frightening and emotionally provocative stuff and I give it two cute, pink-haired sadists out of four.