Lucy is a special breed of human referred to as "Diclonius," born with a short pair of horns and invisible telekinetic hands that lands her as a victim of inhumane scientific experimentation by the government. However, once circumstances present her an opportunity to escape, Lucy, corrupted by the confinement and torture, unleashes a torrent of bloodshed as she escapes her captors.
During her breakout, she receives a crippling head injury that leaves her with a split personality: someone with the mentality of a harmless child possessing limited speech capacity. In this state of instability, she stumbles upon two college students, Kouta and his cousin Yuka, who unknowingly take an injured fugitive into their care, unaware of her murderous tendencies. This act of kindness will change their lives, as they soon find themselves dragged into the shadowy world of government secrecy and conspiracy.
"One heck of a disgusting bloody gore manga with an eye-popping storyline tangled with complicated character relations."
Made famous by its anime adaptation, Elfen Lied is well known for being THE cruelest, goriest, and a highly perverted, piece of work ever. The level of bloody mess you will encounter throughout the story can haunt the unprepared for many moons to come. In short, one is expected to have a strong stomach to survive these 107 chapters. Consider ...yourself warned!
Elfen Lied is perhaps the most controversial story of all time. Opinions on it varies greatly with some calling it "garbage of the century" while others claiming it
an outstanding "masterpiece of all masterpieces". I prefer to stay away from these extremes but without a doubt naming Elfen Lied as the former is far from justified.
While it is rare to see "kawaii" horned girls brutally tearing bodies apart (or get their bodies tear apart), quite frankly Elfen Lied is infamous for that. However, that is not to say things just happen out of the blue and limps go flying for no apparent reason. In fact, it is evident that the mangaka put a great deal of effort into both explaining the background to this horrid power, and at the same time develop the story and character relationships. Many questions will likely come to mind as one read deeper into this manga. Questions like "why is this nude girl mercilessly killing innocents?" and "why do they possess these terrifying power?" will be among the first. Rest assure, that answers will be given in great elaborate details and the results will likely make heads go spinning, yet they will also cast an irresistible curse on you to keep reading.
The overall plot of Elfen Lied is truly amazing. It covers a wide variety of themes in great details, ranging from simple triangle love relationship, to the ever more common child abuse, to the horrid reality of non-ethical scientific research, to the threat of global terrorism, and lastly on human origin and our mutation/evolution. One can truly say Elfen Lied has it all.
However, nothing is perfect. What Elfen Lied lacked was some great artistic drawing. Although the reader can depict one action from the next, the amount of detail (ie. the quality of the artwork) is seemingly below what one would expect from such high quality story. But I guess we can also call it fortunate since if the artwork is better drawn, people might really start to faint from reading the manga due to excessive gore or result in severe nosebleed when the story gets to the more perverted scenes.
Strong character developments plus complex interrelations is another successful selling point of this manga. Although there are certain characters where we can easily identify as black or white (as in those we should love vs those we should hate), many actually belong somewhere in the gray region. Throughout the story you will find yourself rooting for a character in one chapter and surprisingly find yourself wanting to have that same character killed in the next chapter. It is precisely these types of character building techniques that make Elfen Lied loved and hated by many.
Finally I would like to once again remind my fellow MAL readers that this manga is not meant for young children and hopefully it will give you enjoyment rather than weeks of nightmare. I know I certainly enjoyed it to its fullest.
*This is my first manga review. If you think there are places to improve on (and I know there are tons), please send me a friendly PM or just leave a comment. Thank You.*
By giving this series an overall rating of 6 is me being generous. Elfen Lied to me feels like a series that had so much potential. The ideas behind the story were deep (extinction of humanity, the moral question of what is human compassion). However, the way they were brought out were horrible.
Nearly every other page contains somebody crying in drama; so much that it got old fast. To those that will eventually read Elfen Lied; prepare for a big cry-fest. Rest assure though, the artist does randomly throw in comic relief, which end up make those moments incongruous with the flow of the
There came a point when the story became predictable. Many chapters ended with a cliff hanger... Too many actually. Cliff hangers ended up being so absurd (a character being killed off way too soon) that when I started the next chapter, I could almost exactly predict the outcome. My thinking process was "Nope, the artist doesn't have the guts to kill him/her off yet."
As mentioned before, the delivery of the story could've been better. 107 chapters were not necessary. I enjoyed the anime more than the series; it kept the main themes of the story short and sweet without dragging on. Around chapter 80 was when I realized that the artist is now trying too hard to hammer in her themes.
All in all, Elfen Lied was a huge waste of potential. With better story telling antics and better character development, this could've been a great series.
I have written many anime reviews, but this is my first time writing a manga review. Please be gentle critics! Usually the manga is better than the anime...unfortunately, today we will be looking at an exception to that rule of thumb.
SPOILERS! This is a compare/contrast with the anime. If you haven't read the manga yet, skip this review!!!
Elfen Lied (despite the bashing it gets on MAL and 4chan) is actually my favorite anime of all time. I'm not even being ironic, I'm dead serious! However, the manga... kind of sucks ass. I personally preferred the anime for quite a number of reasons.
Firstly, Lucy's character
was more interesting with 2 personalities: 1 good (Nyuu) and 1 morally complex and greyish (Lucy), whereas the manga had 3 personalities with good (kaede) good (nyuu) pure evil (literal voice of DNA). This 3 personality path divided the character into clearly good and evil parts and robbed the primary character of much of her complexity. This also brings me to the next HUGE problem with the manga: DNA taking over and forcing people to be evil. The anime was much more ambiguous on the nature vs. nurture side of the diclonius killing instict, but leaned towards nurture since the only time we see a diclonius kill without prior heavy abuse is in Kakuzawa Jr's stories he told Kurama. Not exactly someone who can be trusted since nearly everything he says in the series is a lie. Although still debatable, the manga leans heavily towards nature and the diclonius simply being evil. This totally undermines the anti-discrimination theme that is a key part of the story, since it makes the discrimination and inhumane treatment seem justified. The Diclonius are wiped out in the manga, and we the reader are supposed to cheer this on! An entire human sub- race is simply evil at the genetic level and must be wiped out rather than learning to coexist with the rest of humanity. If the anime Elfen Lied was like X-men, the manga is basically "The Ugly Mushroom", a Nazi children book explaining to kids why Jews must be exterminated. Besides arguably having the worst moral of any manga EVER, it is also complete bullshit since DNA does NOT work that way! You can be genetically pre-disposed towards sociopathy and limited empathy, but DNA does not grab hold of your body and force you to be evil like Lucy's did when she sliced Kurama rather than allow herself to be shot.
Now we move on to Kouta, who is very average in the manga, whereas in the anime he just about the nicest guy ever. He is like Keitaro from Love hina, DBZ fused with Mohatma Gandhi. Although not the most realistic, I actually prefer this version of the character. At least he's memorable and interesting unlike manga Kouta who is just bland and forgettable. Another reason I like the anime is that I vastly prefer Kouta/Lucy to Kouta/Yuka. Lucy may have murdered Kouta's family, but the amount of remorse she feels and her desire to repent and become reborn (via Nyuu) coupled with Kouta's extreme kindness and forgiveness make them an interesting couple. They seem similar to Rodion and Sonya from Crime and Punishment. Rodion murders her best friend, but in the end she still loves him and forgives him following his extreme remorse and repentance. He goes through a Christian rebirth rather than an amnesia from bullet rebirth though. Kouta/Yuka is not only a rather dull couple, but Yuka is a truly irritating and unlikeable character. She whines more than any other character despite having had by FAR the best lot in life. She lashes out with violence every 5 minutes for minor shit ( Thank GOD she wasn't the one born with vectors). I also think Kouta/Lucy pairing is a far better reflection of the themes of repentance, love, and forgiveness, so it even adds better artistic aesthetics along with being more interesting and enjoyable.
Another thing is the tone of the anime under Kanbe's direction vs. Okamoto's tone and writing in the original manga. The anime has some silly ecchi moments, but the fucking manga goes so overboard, it REALLY makes the series difficult to take remotely seriously. Hell, there is an entirely wasted character who's only point of existence seems to be that her incontinence satisfies one of Okamoto's many fetishes. Kanbe stated he wanted to make an anime that could make 18 ups cry and challenge our assumptions on things like the limits of love, repentance, forgiveness, etc. Okamoto never took himself so seriously or had such a strong artistic vision. As proof, he personally made the first hentai doujin of elfen lied. I'm not fucking kidding, look it up! Kanbe has a strong resume in directing great anime and even made shoujo like card captors far better than they needed to be. He worked under Miyazaki himself on Nausicca for crying out loud! Okamoto has some good ideas, but is a writer with a bad need for an editor and has never written anything else of note.
Finally, as the plot in the manga went on we saw more and more silly shit that I could have gone without. If Kakuzawa had a whole clone army of totally controllable Marikos, why did he send the wild and uncontrollable original? The answer is that Okamoto clearly had the idea for babara and the other Mariko clones after the fact, and it creates a massive plot hole that makes Kakuzawa look even dumber than he already is. Did anyone think the Unknown man added anything other than a hilariously un-aerodynamic weapon? He got to make Bando a hero at least, which no one even wanted. Even Bando gets a second chance in this life, but not fucking Kaede? WTF?! We also get that admiral that looks like Itachi Uchiha and that god damned ridiculous vector tank! Overall, I will take an open ending over a bad closed ending any day! Why do people think having a closed ending makes something better? Brothers Karamazov: open ending. Birdemic: neatly wrapped ending.
PS. although minor compared to some of the manga's more grievous sins, the artwork in the manga is TERRIBLE! It sort of improves halfway through, but my god is it bad!
Oh how the times have changed. At a point earlier in my life, before I reached what was probably the half-way point of Elfen Lied, I would have given this an overall better score, but I'm afraid things did not allow that. If anything, elfen lied is a testament to having to finish a series before you have a good idea of how you're going to address it, and for that reason before I go on I want to bring something up. Elfen Lied might tempt you with scenes of gorn, but it takes a lot more than that before a series can be called
mature. Yes, you'd be right to say that it's not for the screamish, but the only thing that keeps it from being a shonen is the aforementioned trope. That aside, let us begin.
On the very cliche side of things, Elfen Lied follows an amnesiac protagonist, as the story progresses and they slowly regain their memories. What makes Elfen Lied stand out, is just how they lost their memory and what led to this eventual loss. For anti-spoiler reasons, a lot can not be said about what you'd see in the story, but what can be said is that it manages to stay to the end. Even though there are some very glaring issues that take away from the enjoyment, Elfen Lied remembers what its about to the very end, and if you can ignore it's other faults you will not be let down, the problem however, is that these faults can't go ignored.
Character design is very generic. It is of the variety where ever character that shares a gender has the same face with varying sizes, hair and eye color. What stands out in this series is how the mangaka draws the surroundings, and the military equipment that you'll see a lot. While I can't call myself a military nut, and it'd be wrong to say that they aren't generic, Okamoto puts enough detail into the weapon, but that's not really saying much. Of all of its traits, Elfen Lied's art is the second best, but that's not a hard accomplishment in the presence of its other scores.
There are a lot of problems I had with Elfen Lied when I originally read it, but ultimately they could be ignored when there was actually a good character about. Elfen Lied is done pretty well in the moral ambiguity department early on, so much so that at points I could be rooting for one character one moment, then completely root for their opponent the next. This excelled best with the character Lucy, who's split personalities provided a perfect parallel that made you like them both. Unfortunately however, this is completely thrown away. There are a lot of despicable bastards in Elfen lied, and at the half way point the more likable ones join them. This gets every bit worse, when the characterization is thrown out by the series end.
When I first started Elfen Lied, I did like it a lot. It was the first seinen manga I read, that actually made me care about the characters. There are a lot of issues however, that you'll see in a lot of seinen, namely the fact that people often don't know the meaning of mature. A lot of the "mature" content in this series could have been left out, and had it been, it would be been a much easier read. Another thing that would have made it easier would have been better handling of its end. If it didn't try so desperately to prove that it was a seinen, and it didn't suffer the fault that a lot of anime and manga fall for, Elfen Lied could have been great but sadly that's not the case.
I'd like to say "if you want a good sci-fi story, then Elfen Lied could easily be this for you." but such words can not be spoken in truth. While the story isn't trash, the art is unimpressive, the characters start overall good but quickly join the heap of other bad characters, and you'd have to be a very apathetic or depraved person, to say that your enjoyment of elfen lied is high. This very raunchy series has a lot of potential, but I do not judge on potential so thusly give it a 3 out of 10.