Also Known As: EL, Elf Song
Genre: Drama
Format: 13 Episodes
Allegiance: ARMS/GENCO
Director: Kanbe Mamoru
Vintage: 2004
Intelligence Agency Report by: Kuzu Ryu Sen
The course of evolution has produced a variation of Homo sapiens sapiens referred to as diclonii (sing. diclonius). Unfortunately, diclonii are genetically programmed to cleanse the world of humanity, and can do so very efficiently by way of “vectors” – additional invisible arms. As a result, diclonii are either exterminated upon birth or isolated for research. Inevitably, disaster strikes as a diclonius named Lucy escapes from a lab. However, she is seriously wounded in the process, and is discovered naked on a beach in a childlike state by Kouta and Yuka, two local college students. Lucy is taken in by her new guardians, and christened “Nyuu.” However, the organization who has been conducting the research will not allow her to escape… and there is the possibility that Lucy could reawaken and carry out her genetic mission.

Field Agent Report by: Kuzu Ryu Sen
Plot
Characters
Impact
Visual
Audio
7.00
8.50
8.25
9.00
8.00
Overall 8.25

Right from the opening credit sequence, it was clear that Elfen Lied isn’t your usual anime. After all, the opening credits contained a good deal of relatively detailed nudity, and the opening few minutes has one of the highest DD/s (distinct deaths per second) rates in anime. Yet, despite all the violence, this anime is hardly a slasher or horror; it merely presents a story using real world physics. After all, what’s the fun in eliminating the concept of bleeding?

Naturally, the first thing that strikes the viewer will almost certainly be the copious amounts of red decorating the screen. On the plus side, that copious amount of red is at least crisp, clean, and always presented in a unique manner. No two decapitations are the same, and the severed limbs are very detailed, right down to tendon and skeletal structures. Likewise, the backgrounds are very detailed, and the use of colour establishes mood and tone exceptionally well. Animation is also crisp, accurate, and fluid. Music, on the other hand, is a bit of a mixed bag. The theme of the series, “Lilium,” is a wonderfully haunting piece with Greek and Latin lyrics taken from various literary works. Unfortunately, it is also practically the only piece used, in various remixes, throughout the series. While that didn’t detract from the viewing experience, it didn’t earn the OST any bonus points either.

Thankfully, Elfen Lied, unlike many lesser anime, actually has some substance to back up its unique style. Each character, despite being a bit flat, has a certain charm in his or her personality that allows the viewer to connect emotionally. Ironically, given the fact that one of the main themes is evolution, Elfen Lied’s primary mode of characterization is through revelation, rather than adaptation. Despite this methodology, Elfen Lied thankfully never allows its characters to wallow in self-pity for long after any particular event (unlike… certain other anime). The vibrant cast is backed up by a plot that moves quickly, is full of surprises, and still explains everything clearly… up until the end. While the ending certainly accomplishes what it sets out to do, the producers also left (intentionally either for a sequel, or because it wasn’t a vital element) many things open-ended. Also, several characters were not utilized to their full potential. This does leave the viewer a bit disappointed, but it certainly could have been worse.

In the end, Elfen Lied is very powerful regardless of whether it’s being analyzed from an audio-visual aspect or a storytelling aspect. Its primary strength, the ability to personify a global theme, allows the viewer to ignore all the plot holes and the gratuitous blood and nudity, and just focus on emotion: the foundation of humanity.