Title: Elfen Lied
Genre: sci-fi, horror, drama
Released date: July 25, 2004 – October 17, 2004
Director: Mamoru Kanbe
Animated by: Studio ARMS
Comment: Elfen Lied starts when a mysterious girl with horns escapes from a research facility, leaving a big pile of dead body behind. She is found by Kohta and Yuka at the beach and is taken to their home. I’ve seen countless of violent films and anime and I didn’t mind since they were the stories of adult but in Elfen Lied the violence is done on children. The anime also contains explicit nudity. The character design and atmosphere of the anime is colorful and bright but the bloody scenes (like heads and body parts torn off) often occurs so sudden that I felt as if I was punched hard in the face. Some scenes involve torture and even rape done to girls. These violence and nudity will surely turn a good number of viewers away. I don’t blame them since I was disturbed as well (at least initially).
But beneath the blood and gore, there is one good anime which is definitely worth watching. The drama is intense and the characterization is complex; each character had their problems to solve. Lucy, the mutant girl, had been mistreated since childhood for having strange horns and inhuman power. She later becomes a merciless killer but also had hidden alternative personally as Nyu who is innocent and harmless. Kohta experienced terrible loss in his childhood and he has been running away ever since by unconsciously forgetting and denying the very existence of the events and his meeting with Nyu eventually forces him to confront his past. Mayu is a runaway because she was repeatedly raped by her own stepfather. Other supporting characters like Nana, Yuka also have depth and developments. The script contains many interesting concepts such as the discrimination of the people by their difference and its terrible consequences, the purification of human race, the extreme contrast between human’s compassion and hatred. The anime also discusses about domestic violence. The strong graphic violence and nudity are probably put into the anime to reflect these concepts.
The animation is a technical achievement and the music is really beautiful especially the opening theme, Lilium. The ending is a bit unsatisfactory because some loose ends are left unsolved. Conclusion: the explicit content of Elfen Lied helps make the anime standout but it may also turn many people away. In which case, it is such a shame because Elfen Lied is anything but disappointment (for adults only, of course).