retroanime | review
by Tim Georgi
Lucy is a vicious killer. Nyu is a peaceful, childlike girl. It’s too bad they’re the same person. It’s evolution gone wrong when university student Kohta and his cousin Yuka get mixed up in a high-stakes battle for Lucy before she destroys everything. Top-secret government scientists have soldiers, bounty hunters… even her own kind trying to hunt Lucy down and stop her. Can Nyu overcome Lucy’s nature or is all mankind doomed at the hands of a weapon that can’t be controlled?
Elfen Lied revolves around the Diclonii species: a mutation of human beings in which the only obvious physical difference is the two horn-like protrusions on their heads. The not-so-obvious difference are the Diclonii’s invisible arms, called “vectors,” that can interact with things as if they are solid, but can also pass through objects. They can slice objects as well, which is how Diclonii usually kill their victims. The vectors usually have a limited range of a few meters, but as we learn throughout the series, the length varies among each Diclonius.
Elfen Lied largely takes place in the town of Kamakura, around 60 km south of Tokyo, and focuses on a newly mutated species, called “Diclonius.” Their appearance is similar to humans, but with several differences, namely horn-like protrusions on their forehead and the presence of invisible telekinetic arms called “vectors.” A Diclonus called Lucy was being held in a facility built for experimentation, just off the coast of Kamakura. She manages to escape from her high security confinement cell and begins to wreak havoc on the facility. She kills scores of people on the island and manages to escape into Sagami Bay, but is injured in the process. She washes up on the beach in Kamakura, but her injuries causes her to develop a secondary, childlike personality.
Lucy is found by two locals, university student Kohta, and his cousin Yuka. They take her in and eventually decide to call her Nyu, since that’s all she can say when they first find her. As the series goes along, Kohta and Yuka become involved with the numerous, often brutal, attempts to recapture her by a Special Assault Team and a number of other Diclonius, who shift frequently from oblivious to murderous.
A key point of debate throughout the series is the Diclonius propensity towards violence. Many have a vendetta against humans, and have ambitions to wipe out the human race and populate the world with their own species. It is disputed and contradicted during the series as to how Diclonii develop their violent behavior, whether it is part of their genetic DNA or whether it stems from abuse by humans.
If a Diclonius vector penetrates or even so much as touches a human male body, the “vector virus” is transferred to the human, causing their children to be born as Diclonii (when born from humans they are called “Silpelits”). An incident involving the escape of a child Diclonius during Kurama’s early years, where the Diclonius’ vectors penetrated him without causing him pain, resulted in Mariko being born a Diclonius and Kurama taking precautions against a recurrence by urging Bando to be sterilized. All Diclonii (Silpelits) born from human parents are sterile and female. There is only one Diclonius that is actually capable of reproducing: Lucy, the “queen”.
Elfen Lied is an exceptionally complex series on a variety of levels. The series examines a myriad of social themes of ranging from alienation, identity, prejudice, revenge, abuse, jealousy, regret and the value of humanity. It’s rare that an anime series will give us something heavy to think about that can have a profound impact on the viewer. The themes that the characters in Elfen Lied have to endure are things that we as individuals and as a collective whole have to deal with in our everyday lives.
The series plays like a twisted horror version of the typical haram anime, and tends to bounce in between the extreme points of playful cuteness and excessive violence. As a result, it’s not something that will appeal to everyone. If you’re adverse to mega violence, blood and gore, and nudity in your anime, this is one that you’ll want to skip. It carries a TV-MA rating for the violence, nudity and also language in the English dubbed version. You’ll want to keep the kids away from this one.
Elfen Lied is the only thing that ADV Films successor, Section23 Films, kept under the ADV banner after the liquidation of all of ADV’s assets following its bankruptcy. When S23’s Sentai Filmworks released the Blu-Ray collection, they used the ADV Films name for the release. The Blu-Ray version of the show is on par with the previous DVD releases. The video is a bit sharper and the colors have been corrected better than the DVDs, so that’s a plus for the collection. If your a fan of the series, the main reason to pick up the Blu-Ray version is the illusive OVA episode. The BD version of the series is the first time that the OVA episode, 10.5: Regenschauer, that was produced after the initial TV run ended, had been included (and finally legal) in the United States.
For Elfen Lied fans, this is the collection to have if you want to have the best version of the series (and the OAV!). There aren’t any real bells and whistles with it, but it’s the best on the content end of the spectrum. For those that haven’t seen Elfen Lied and likes their anime more hardcore, if you don’t have problems with the violence and nudity, it’s an intriguing look at many social issues, and while the solutions aren’t conventional, it gives the viewer opportunity to ponder the way that these issues affect the world around us and ourselves.
Lynn Okamoto, SHUEISHA/VAP, GENCO
Run Time: 300 min
Street Date: Sept. 3, 2013