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Elfen Lied Complete Collection
Violent, intriguing, powerful, and downright disturbing, Elfen Lied is an attractive show that grabs you immediately and makes an impression on you. Originally a manga by Lynn Okamoto Elfen Lied went from being published in 2002 to having a simultaneous animated run in 2004. Touted as one of ADV's most prominent titles in recent years it took a while for this thinly packed collection to come out. If you haven't already picked up the individual volumes you're probably asking yourself "Was it worth the wait?" The answer to that question is a resounding yes!
In many ways Elfen Lied pushes the boundaries of what you'd expect from the anime horror genre. It starts out as a gore fest with an orgy of blood and dismemberment and gradually trickles ideas into the plot that will put you on the edge of your seat. The main character is a huge draw for the series but it's the reaction of the world around her that truly gives Elfen Lied its voice.
In a mysterious research facility a tragedy is about to strike. Imprisoned inside a bizarre cage a masked girl is about to launch a daring and disgusting escape attempt. With no visible form of attack she begins ripping arms and legs off of guards, deflecting bullets, popping heads like they were zits, and even slicing bodies in half. This is undoubtedly a dangerous girl and despite the fact that she is baring it all (ie: naked) her physique looks to be that of a young girl. As she makes her way to the sea a sniper hits her in the head but instead of landing a killing blow the mask deflects most of the damage. She does not escape unscathed though and falls limply to the watery depths below.
Now, this wouldn't be much of a show if that was the end of things for this naked slaughter house. She happens to float to a nearby beach where Kohta and his cousin Yuka are talking and reminiscing about the past. Naturally the pair are kind of weirded out by the sight of the girl washing ashore but even stranger (from our perspective) is the fact that she seems to be a completely different person.
Speaking gibberish and possessing the intelligence of a puppy (more or less) this side of her is a far cry from the murderous alter ego. Kohta and Yuka name her Nyu (her real name is Lucy) because frankly, that's all she can seem to say. While they wonder what exactly to do with the girl the organization that was keeping her captive is hard at work with launching a mission to get her back. Their plan might just work too considering Nyu leaves Kohta's house and heads back to the beach where she was found alone. Unfortunately for the men in charge of the mission Nyu hits her head in the process of being captured.
A BIG part of Elfen Lied involves Nyu/Lucy's split personality. Whenever Nyu hits her head she reverts back to the bloodthirsty Lucy. On the flip side when she's presented with kindness or something that strikes an emotional cord Lucy will turn back into Nyu. It gives her character a certain unpredictable edge that works well in regards to the show even though this type of character trait is typically considered cliché.
Another interesting aspect to Elfen Lie is the way that Nyu/Lucy makes her mark on the world. The show introduces her as a Diclonius and states that she is a mutated human with "horns" that resemble cat ears and invisible arms known as Vectors. It's these Vectors that unleash Lucy's power and make her an unstoppable killing machine. Ironically as the show progresses we learn that there are more Diclonius out there and the laboratory uses them to hunt Lucy down. It's funny how some of these subjects are considered able enough to venture outside while a case like Lucy's is construed as being a tragedy against mankind.
Elfen Lied is a fantastic addition to the anime horror genre. The story is solid, the action is intense, and the atmosphere is handled in such a way that it will keep you guessing and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. If I have any complaints they are that the beginning was a little too slow and the ending was a little too open-ended but neither was entirely "bad". If you have been waiting to check this show out there is no reason not to pick up this collection. This truly is one of the finest pieces added to ADV's catalog over the past few years and a show that should be on the "watch list" for the otaku in need of something good.
ADV's collection of Elfen Lied comes with a sleek looking art box and three thin cases inside. The first disc presents episodes 1 thru 5 (even though the package for the disc says 1 thru 4), the second includes 6 thru 9, and the third holds 10 thru 13. Unfortunately for fans of the show the OVA once again is unavailable and not presented here.
Elfen Lied receives an exemplary transfer to DVD from the original 2004 master from Japan. The show is enhanced with anamorphic playback and outshines most shows originating from the same (or later) year. The image quality is just about as clean as you can get with no grain or aliasing to be found. There were a couple of very minor points where some compression is noticeable but those are probably attributed to the reduction of discs that this collection received. Even so the compression is not bad at all and easily overlooked when you're taking the entire picture in. Despite the gratuitous amounts of blood and body parts this is a vibrant and gorgeous looking show.
Once again the presentation marks for Elfen Lie are very good when you take the audio into consideration. This set is presented with both English and Japanese 5.1 tracks which is something of a rarity. The quality of both is very good and they each use the soundstage surprisingly well. Action sequences pound through with bass and a nice sense of immersion. Ambient sound effects and music play lightly on the rear speakers when the tone of the show calls for something more subdued. This isn't the most powerful presentation that the show could have gotten but it certainly gets the job done. The dubbing quality for both tracks is decent as well though I found that the Japanese language was favorable.
Since this is an ADV thinpak release you shouldn't expect anything in terms of bonus content. The first disc has some previews and that's all you'll find.
I have wanted to check Elfen Lied out for quite some time and was pleased to see ADV finally release this collection. The show started out a tad on the slow side and it left me with some questions when the credits started to roll but in between this was one fantastic ride. Few horror shows match this caliber of storytelling and suspense. There are many elements in Elfen Lied that could be considered stereotypical (amnesia, slight harem play with Kohta and company) but the atmosphere of the series keeps it feeling fresh. If you have not checked this show out yet, it should definitely be on your "to see" list. Highly Recommended