Elfen Lied – 20 Question Anime Review

A 20 Question Anime Review for Elfen Lied.

What’s the show? Elfen Lied (2004).

And what’s that mean? I had to look this up, apparently it’s German or Dutch (or both) and it roughly means ‘Elves Song’.

I’m guessing since you had to look it up the show is not about elves then? Indeed, the Wikipedia synopsis is pretty spoiler heavy so I’ll just sum it up from how it presents itself in the first few episodes. It’s about a crazy naked girl with invisible arms who breaks out of a testing facility she was being held in and ends up staying with university student Kouta and his cousin Yuka, who look after her and try and discover what her deal is.

Pictured: Me, having to be restrained from buying everything when shopping in Akihabara.

Okay, sounds interesting. What’s ‘crazy naked girl’s’ name? Lucy, or Nyu, depending on who you’re talking to.

Huh? Let’s just say you’re better off talking to the child-like persona Nyu, you won’t like her when she’s Lucy.

Is that a Hulk reference? Yes, basically she’s crazy violent when she’s Lucy, this show doesn’t shy away from the violence and gore by the way.

Mona Lisa Smile.

And nudity, I assume? Well yeah, but I’m not complaining.

Right. So what are your complaints, I’m assuming you have some? Unfortunately yes, first 4 or so episodes I was not enjoying myself. Sure, it’s got an interesting plot and some nice animation, but aside from that I couldn’t get into the characters and I didn’t appreciate the jarring tone, between the violent and serious parts which comprise ‘the plot’ and the lighter moments when Nyu’s getting into all kinds of “misunderstandings” because she doesn’t understand cultural and societal norms.

The art is gorgeous sometimes.

So it was tonally jarring going between the serious scenes and the jokey scenes, but were the scenes on their own at least good? The serious stuff was good enough, it was suitably grim and sinister and mysterious but the light-hearted stuff was almost unwatchable, except for well you know… the fan service, I’m still a guy after all…

Aha, so when you said before you weren’t complaining about the nudity, you meant on a surface level. Yes, the nudity is fine, it is what it is, but the ‘comical’ scenes at home like where Kouta has to dress her and then his female cousin walks in and it’s just so obvious and lazy, it feels like it’s from a completely different show. It’s not funny enough to make up for the intrusion to the tone and simultaneously its not subtle or nuanced enough to seamlessly integrate with the rest of the show.

“I love donuts!” #GuessTheReference

Explain it to me like I’m, well… me. Right, it’s like your watching Terminator the original one, you know ultra violent sci-fi and then suddenly there’s comic relief courtesy of American Pie, or worse one of the direct to video sequels.

Yikes! Really sounds like you don’t like this show… No I actually do, if you skip to the bottom you’ll see I end up giving it a 76 out of 100.

Wait, what? Huh?! I was just about to write this show off completely and praise you for doing your first negative review on this website! How does what you just said end up with a show scoring 76 out of 100? Pretty sure, I said that that was just the first 4 episodes that were like that. And considering there’s 13 episodes, even if those episodes were total bottom of the barrel turkey trash, if the remaining 9 were flawless that could still technically be a 76 I mean if we’re talking averages. Though the first 4 aren’t complete trash, they’re high 50’s at worst.

So what happens in the remaining nine episodes?! Oh? So suddenly you want spoilers, weren’t you just the other day cajoling me into keeping these reviews “spoiler free”?

I… can’t come up with a funny caption.

Ugh, fine, without spoilers, explain how this show makes such a turn around? Character development, back story, emotional revelations, genuinely clever writing, believe it or not all these things are in this show, it just takes a quarter of the season to start showing the signs of promise

Wouldn’t you say that’s too little too late? For some people maybe, but I’m generally not in the habit of dropping shows.

‘Dropping shows’? It’s a common term in the anime community, when you watch a show and then get to a point however many episodes in and then decide not to continue. I don’t do it personally because even the worst shows have some redeeming qualities, plus I can’t give something a score unless I’ve watched all of it. But that’s just a personal rule, I can understand why people do it, there’s a lot of anime out there and only so many hours in a day!

There really aren’t enough good quality pictures of this show on Google. But it beats having to screencap shows myself!

Fair enough. So how do you go about recommending a show like this? Well it’s a classic series, I remember watching it about a decade ago and liking it a lot more than when I re-watched it a year ago. Maybe it hasn’t aged as well or maybe my tastes have changed, or maybe there’s just so much other stuff out there that it’s less special then it was back then. But if you haven’t seen the show I still recommend it, but there’s about a hundred shows I’d recommend before it.

Well okay then, final sc- No wait a second, I change my mind on that, if you’ve never watched anime before and you want something very dark and very violent and a little perverted but not like FULL pervert, then it’s probably a good place to start.

Nobody reading this has never watched anime, they’re all like you. True, and then for them I say if you haven’t watched it, and you’re not feeling it, at least try and give it ‘til episode 8. I know that’s a big ask in our fast paced world, but I think it’s worth it for how good it gets, even if it’s a tough slog at first. Final score, 76 out of 100.


Author: Cactus Matt

I love anime and more recently manga too. What else do I need to write here?

4 thoughts on “Elfen Lied – 20 Question Anime Review”

  1. This is a very odd anime. There’s some nice ideas and small moments where it really shines but overall the tone is pretty uneven and it definitely doesn’t shy away from the gore and blood. A lot of blood. Mostly because it can. And naked girls for some reason.


    1. Your comment went to spam! I only bothered because of your tweet, I do agree, a lot of the nudity feels like “yay this is an adult show so let’s do adult things”, which I mean normally I’m pretty okay with but in a show that’s trying to be so serious just comes off as silly a lot of the time.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It really does feel like they were pushing the envelope with both the violence and the nudity because they could rather than for an actual purpose sometimes with this.

        Liked by 1 person

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