Imagine a scene filled with gore and blood. Severed arms and decapitated heads litter the room while shrieks of horror echo throughout the backdrop, all while a young naked girl stands in the center. This is the essence of the anime Elfen Lied. A true introduction into the story’s continuous tribute to pure gore and violence.
In the Elfen Lied universe, humans coexist with a race of humans known as Diclonius, distinguished from most other humans by horns protruding from their skulls and telekinetic arms known as vectors with the capability of shredding people apart with just a flick. The Diclonii exist to destroy humanity, and Lucy, our protagonist, is one such Diclonius who manages to escape a human laboratory while massacring security and researchers in the process.
During her escape, she comes across male interest Kouta and his friend Yuka, who unknowingly find Lucy’s childlike alter-ego Nyuu having replaced Lucy in the trauma of a gunshot. This brings about the beginning of a tense story following the interactions of our protagonist as she’s hunted down by the lab.
Elfen Lied imposes a strong contradiction between the innocent looks and nature of the protagonists and the violent telekinetic powers they possess. Nyuu’s scenes exude a sense of thrill and tension as viewers wait for her dormant violence to erupt at any point, with a glimpse of her power resulting in the loss of someone’s limb or head.
The interchanging personalities of Lucy and Nyuu add a fascinating dynamic to the anime. Nyuu’s innocence is both a blessing and a curse. It paradoxically helps keep her power hidden but also allows her to lose control at any point during the story’s progression. Nyuu also acts as a pivotal example of humanity’s actions and results, showing the effects of a child’s mental and physical abuse.
Musical score of Elfen Lied mimics the tone of each scene, with a power shift anytime the calm breaks and violence become the main theme. The opening “Lilium” is a work of art sung in hauntingly beautiful Latin with an artistic backdrop produced by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt. It’s various versions play throughout the anime during pivotal scenes to emphasize the emotions and tension coming from each sequence.
The secondary characters in Elfen Lied come across as very weak and don’t add much to the story. Kouta, for example, serves his point by progressing Lucy’s story, but he and Yuka essentially only act as a pointless romantic diversion, with characters so dull you’d much rather find interest in a broken light bulb.
The overall romanticism is laced with ridiculous cliched misunderstandings and tropes like tripping over each other, undermining breast-grabbing humor etc. which come across as tacky and unnecessary.
The voice acting is also subpar. Japanese voice recordings occur simultaneously, but the voices sound singular and detached throughout the anime. The english dub version of Elfen Lied is also available to enjoy this bloody tale.