Elfen Lied follows Lucy who escapes from an experimental lab and washes up on the beach. Of course the trauma from this causes a split personality with the ruthless Lucy and the overly sweet and fairly defenceless Nyu.
Elfen Lied is one of those anime that are kind of hard to explain to non-anime fans. Given you’ve got naked pink haired girls with horns that kind of look like cats ears being held in a laboratory, some extremely excessive violence (or just enough depending on your tastes), and inbetween this you get the super moe Nyu playing house with boy-next-door Kohta. Plus the horns thing means you can put all sorts of cute hats on Nyu.
Basically your enjoyment of Elfen Lied will be based on whether or not nudity or violence turn you away or whether you can stomach the sickly sweet bits inbetween. It’s kind of an odd mix and it seems like Nyu would make most horror and gore fans walk away whereas the Lucy moments are… well I like violence and gore and even I flinched a couple of times watching this.
Basically the show is based on the fact that beings known as ‘diclonius’ are being born. They kind of look like humans only they have pink hair, horns, oh and a bunch of invisible arms (vectors) that come out of their back and can apparently do more or less anything from launching them into the air, to slicing right through flesh and bone, to stopping bullets. They are all female and the ones we see are all young. Of course each of them have different abilities as some have more vectors than other, some are longer, etc, etc. What this means is we are setting up a situation where we can have a bunch of pink-haired superhuman girls fight each other to the bitter end.
So while Nyu is living with Kohta, who it turns out Lucy had a connection with in the past (making you feel extremely sorry for Kohta by the end), the lab starts sending out other diclonius to bring her back. This strikes me as a really stupid plan but given nothing else seems to work against them I guess they didn’t have any other back-up plan. It isn’t like they were experimenting for years with the girls in captivity. No way they could have come up with an emergency retrieval plan for when one of them escaped.
That’s pretty much the rest of the story. We alternate between the quiet daily life and then viscious attacks. We learn more about the characters and their pasts and mostly we see a lot of death and dismemberment. I think what really comes across well is that at first it seems like they are wanting you to view Lucy as a victim but as the story progresses you see that while she might have her reasons she actually is quite dangerous. It then makes you wonder if something could have been done to intervene earlier because now it is all too late and this tragedy is pretty much locked into place.
The music is different and the opening theme is quite memorable (though you may not like it depending on your tastes). The animation works quite well though it is starting to look a little dated. The fight sequences are varied enough to maintain interest and there’s some moments where they really manage to draw you emotionally into the story (though these are a bit sparse at times).
This is definitely not an anime that is going to be to everyone’s tastes but if you are in the mood for something a bit violent that attempts a thoughtful story underneath the carnage (though it doesn’t always succeed at that) then Elfen Lied might be a good way to kill an afternoon.
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