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Elfen Lied review: the forgotten diamond of gore genre

Artwork from the anime Elfen Lied - Animated Apparel Company

(Copyright by Arms Corporation) 

As the years' pass and the anime market globalizes their distribution, productions have had to adapt in the best way so that their impact and sales exceed initial expectations. In the mission to generate content to keep sales at the top, many production companies have put aside authentic jewels of Japanese animation that have traveled the world, positioned themselves as the favorites of millions of people.

And this was the case of Elfen Lied, an anime that in the year of its release (2004) was listed as the most important gore production (genre) of the new millennium. More than 15 years have passed since its conception on Japanese screens and in that time, three generations have praised this anime and regret the never came off a second season. Since the open ending immediately directed them to the manga and making them known the true end of the story, all the fans harbor uncertainty as to whether or not the anime adaptation would continue.

However, none of the people who were in charge of its production have spoken about Elfen Lied again. No one knows what happened or the reasons why the manga's ending was never adapted. Despite having won multiple awards, this never helped to restart the project. For this reason, fans of the series are still waiting for some light regarding the adaptation; hoping that they will soon announce something that will assure the audience of their continuation.

What is Elfen Lied?

Image of anime girl holding item from the Elfen Lied series - Animated Apparel Company

 (Copyright by Arms Corporation) 

Elfen Lied (elven song) is an anime of 13 chapters, based on the homonymous manga, set in the 2004 Japan. It tells the story of a strange race of advanced humans that has emerged in recent years, whom people call diclonius because of its two bone horns that arise directly from its skulls. The plot begins when, in a laboratory dedicated to containing this “sickness”, a woman of amazing beauty, escapes from a capsule, killing everyone in a violent way.

Without a single weapon. Only a naked woman named Lucy, with a helmet covering her head, which in her path dismembers anyone who tries to contain her without lifting a single finger. Upon leaving the compound, the only scientist that she didn’t kill, indicates to a sniper to shoot her in the head; but at the last moment she turns around and the bullet breaks the helmet, passing out from the impact and causing the woman to fall off a cliff.

How was it?

Image of girl in helmet facing soldiers from the Elffen Lied anime - Animated Apparel Company

(Copyright by Arms Corporation) 

In later scenes, we see how a young man named Kouta, arrives in a town near the coast and his cousin receives him, locating him in a large inn that will be his home during his university studies. When they walk together on the beach, talking about the past, they meet the woman, but she presents a different personality. How she is hurt, they take her to the inn; while the laboratory sends soldiers to find her in the town where she has arrived.

As time passes, mysteries are revealed about her race and the reason why they cause so much fear among society; knowing how his powers, other types of diclonius and other devastating truths about the main characters of the series. Blood and emotions are the protagonists in this production, softening the violence of the plot a little with the connections of love and friendship that they establish between them, facing lots of challenges together.

What about the animation?

Image of Girl from Elfen Lied anime holding an object in hand - Animated Apparel Company 

(Copyright by Arms Corporation) 

The animation of Elfen Lied is quite curious, as it contrasts the beauty of ancient Japanese spaces and temples with constant blood, dismemberment, and beheadings. The design of the characters was done in a classic style, very similar to that of the manga; making them beautiful and realistic. Nudes during the development of the story are very common and are in accordance with real bodies of people the same age as the characters; what doesn’t makes the anime, although it has a certain amount of fanservice, something erotic.

The soundtrack throughout the story is one of the best that has been created for the anime. Each composition, inspired by classical, sacred and baroque music, gives a beautiful sound to each scene; making the connection between the audience and the plot naturally. The work done by the production house GENCO and the musicians is enviable and has become the model for many productions; finding years later, certain similarities in other gore animes.

As for the development of events, these are naturally narrated the first 10 chapters; in which we can get to know the characters in-depth and delight ourselves with the darkest and most violent secrets of the series. From chapter 11, what was thought to be the climax of the plot, gradually declines so that it reaches a rather poor and inconclusive end, where sentimentality predominates and the cruelty with which the story began is lost. This is disappointing to the more expert eye; especially since the outcome completely escapes from the original plot of the manga and recreates certain inconsistencies within the anime itself.

What does it represent?

Image from the Elfen Lied Anime - Animated Apparel Company

(Copyright by Arms Corporation) 

In my most personal opinion, I have to be honest about something. I saw Elfen Lied when I was 14 years old and it seemed like the best thing in the world; even without knowing where the story really ended. But at the time of writing this review, having seen it a second time after more than 10 years, I have to say that, although it’s a piece of art in many ways; that lack of elaboration at the end leaves us with a bad taste in the mouth.

The series keeps you on the chair’s edge in the first chapters, but as the plot progresses, everything becomes boring and monotonous. The main characters become quite annoying and sentimental; making us feel desperate to return the action from the beginning. Characters that at first didnt meet any basic archetype of gore, become common and predictable, and the development of the end is catastrophic.

But despite all this, my opinion from 10 years ago has still not changed. Elfen Lied is the best anime gore of this millennium. Nothing has been created yet that is as raw, realistic and logical as this series. The position that Elfen Lied has achieved will place it above all productions of his genre for many years; even if they decide never to continue the story and leave it as it is.


Kevin Tanza

Kevin Tanza is a Venezuelan writer who fell in love with stories, music and soccer/football when he was a child and since then, he hasn’t stopped writing about them. He has been published in multiple websites in both Spanish and English. You'll find his work at MusikHolics, Good Comis to Read, Gemr, The Busby Babe, Chiesa di Totti, La Soledad del Nueve, Sail Away, Colgados por el Fútbol, Genre, United’s Red Rain, Mariskal Rock, Sugati Fashion, Indie Artists Go and Music Existence. He has also published a series of short stories. Feel free to use the links provided below to follow Kevin on social media. For business inquiries, please contact him via email.

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