February 12, 2006

Elfen Lied

Dark. Grim. Violent. Cute. This is the way the world ends.

Or, at least, that's what Elfen Lied would have us believe.

A mutation has begun to spring up in humanity, one that looks very much like us except for the horns (that look disturbingly like cat-ears) that form on the head. This mutated form of humanity is called a 'diclonius,' and it has abilities beyond those of normal humans... the ability to direct 'mental arms' called vectors.

These vectors are (more-or-less) invisible, immensely strong, and each diclonius has at least four of them.

And the diclonius despise humanity. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I first heard about this series after I was hospitalized back in October. The Duck U. Anime Club was in the middle of watching Noir (which I just remembered I still have to write about), which I own. When I took ill, I couldn't get the DVDs to the club president, so they had to have an unscheduled night of 'screener discs.' (aside: if you're an anime club and you're NOT on ADV Films' Anime ADVocate program, get on it ASAP. Free stuff, including preview DVDs!)

When I came back, the Club President told me about the series on that month's DVD, and how the first 10 minutes were mostly replaced by a black screen with the words "edited for content" plastered across it. I looked a little deeper into the series, and discovered that it actually sounded kind of interesting.

I was right... it IS interesting. And dark, violent, twisted... and excellent.

I still haven't seen the screener version of the first episode, so I don't know if it was "edited for content" because Lucy (the first diclonius we meet) is nude during the first 10 minutes, or because of the extreme amounts of violence that take place as she breaks out of her confinement (example: the very first shot of the show is a dismembered arm, still twitching).

I can't stress this enough: this show is extremely violent at points. Where Noir has an immense bodycount, but shows no blood (a stylistic choice the directors made), Elfen Lied got a discount on red paint... and isn't afraid to use it. People get dismembered, cut in half, heads get twisted off, and eyes get gouged out.

Lucy makes her escape... and just before she disappears, a sniper bounces an anti-tank bullet off her containment helmet and she falls into the ocean...

Kouta and Yuka are cousins, college-age kids that haven't seen each other for years. Kouta is just moving into town, and they're getting reacquainted by visiting all the old places they used to go to as kids.

At the beach, they're surprised when a girl with horns on her head walks out of the surf, nude... and all she can say is "Nyu." And she's got a head wound.

The artwork in this 13-episode series is outstanding. Locations are crisp, clear, and varied, character designs are attractive (there ARE shows out there that are hard to watch because the character designs are distorted) and realistic (no chibis here). Other than the dicloniuses (diclonii?), the haircolors are regular browns and blacks. By emphasising the normal in each person, the abnormality surrounding the diclonius is heightened. The storyline is deceptively deep as well, not just 'bad alien vs bad scientists with two kids caught in the middle.' In fact it's really so deep that talking about it without referring to massive spoilers isn't really possible.

I can't in good faith recommend Elfen Lied to everybody. As I've pointed out before (ad nauseum), this show is dark and violent... but it's not just physical violence that's tackled.

It's a series that deals with the dark side of humanity: pedophilia and child abuse are touched on. The way we treat that which is different is dealt with heavily. One of the main characters is a domineering jerkwad at times. Some characters are being treated as experimental animals that are 'put down' when no longer of use.

And yet... it's not all grim. Sometimes it's almost touching. Sometimes it settles into light domestic comedy. And the ending doesn't have you wondering if that razor blade is sharp enough to slash your wrists...

I'll admit it; I fell hard for this show. There's something about it that, despite the horrific aspects, kept me wanting to watch one more episode...

But don't bother with the "extra" episode that comes on the 4th DVD... it's a piece of crape that is completely off the tone of the rest of the show.

I enjoyed Elfen Lied... but it's hardly 'mainstream fare.'

Oh, and the title is in German; it's pronounced "Elfen LEED".

Posted by: Wonderduck at 05:37 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
Post contains 780 words, total size 5 kb.

1 Hi wonderduck, yeah i'm not surprised that they edited the first 10 mins- i have seen it and yes theres a few scenes of close up nudity and a lot of dismemberment and blood- but still its not as bad as you would think- I mean by editing it, it just makes us want to find the orginal or "uncut" versions to satisfy our curiosity or whatnot. Personally I believe that it bears a similar style to another awesome anime, "Hellsing", due to the fact or facts that she has "thos arms" and just the atmosphere Lucy portrays when she's badass! Just thought I'd let you know about this

Posted by: Lord_VamPIRE_Alucard at February 26, 2006 12:15 PM (XZHGI)

2 "...not as bad as you would think..."?

She throws two pens thru people's heads. She punches one guard's still-beating heart out his back. She twists a secretary's head off.

I've seen the 'unedited' version, I've never seen the censored. *shrug*

Other than both shows being dark, I didn't see much similarity between Elfen Lied and Hellsing, to be honest. I like them both, but Hellsing oozes style. Elfen Lied deals more with substance.

Please note, I own 'em both. :-)

Thanks for stopping in, Al!

Posted by: Wonderduck at February 27, 2006 02:38 AM (Ffvoi)

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