This review contains spoilers
Ever since I first started watching anime about year ago, I've always meant to watch Elfen Lied but I never got around to it until now. It's a show that, while not quite as well known as perhaps your Bebops and your Evas, is still quite mainstream in comparison to other shows. It's reputation for violence is probably what makes it so well know, and it's this reputation that attracted me to the show. Needless to say, it didn't disappoint.
In terms of actual content, this show is probably the darkest show I've seen. This show really tries to cover all its bases from the super gory deaths, infant torture, baby murder, child molestation and more. I've never really seen a show go out of it's way to fit as much dark subject matter into it's story before and I think that is part of the appeal of the show, just to kind of see how far it goes. Whilst the show is dark in terms of it's content, it is let down by a really inconsistent tone. For all the scenes of death and suffering, there are also scenes that I can only compare to slice of life. If anyone on this forum knows me, they know I love Slice of Life and while the scenes aren't bad, per say, they are very out of place and ill fitting with the dark subject matter. Then there is all the Ecchi stuff. The show will go out of it's way to shove as many boobs in your face as you could possibly handle. Like if you played a drinking game where you drank every time you saw breasts, you'd need a liver transplant by the end of the series. I doubt it's Highschool DxD levels (Then again, I haven't seen that show) but, much like the Slice of Life elements, it's just very out of place.
Despite the tone, I actually really did like this series. For one, the story was enjoyable. It's not a complex story, but it's interesting enough to keep your attention. I was actually getting Shiki vibes from it, which is a good thing as I liked the story in Shiki too. Like Shiki, the story shows 2 species that are two sides of the same coin, both just fighting for survival. Whilst I don't think it is done quite as well here (Mariko just seemed genuinely malicious) it's still an interesting dynamic to watch. The story isn't really the main focus of the show though as Elfen Lied is all about it's characters. The show sports a pretty small cast but does does a good job of fleshing out it's characters. All of the main cast are given backstory, some more than others, and it really helps you to connect with them. Of course, the main character Kota has the best backstory and his backstory is probably the highlight of the show for me. Whilst after a couple of hints the reveal at the end of his backstory is incredibly predictable, the build up was well done and it really helped to flesh his character out as well as Lucy's. The only character that was poorly done was Yuka. Her character wasn't really fleshed out at all and all she did was whine and be selfish throughout. On that topic, I could have also really done without the romance subplot. I like the romance between Lucy and Kohta but the romance between Yuka and Kohta just felt kind of forced. Besides, I'm pretty sure they're cousins, but it's never really addressed that their relationship is incestuous. It's kind of weird they made them cousins as it's kind of unnecessary.
In terms of Animation, I thought the show looked pretty subpar. It always looked like it was missing details and the characters looked pretty muddled even in medium shots. I also thought the dub was pretty sub par all around, apart from Lucy.
While this show is definitely not without it's flaws, if you're looking for a show that really pushes the boundaries in terms of gore and dark subject matter, you can't really go wrong with Elfen Lied.
Original Publish Date: 7/9/15