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Elfen Lied Anime Review

Elfen Lied Box Art

Elfen Lied

4.5 stars / TV Series / Drama / 16-up

Bottom Line

The most captivating anime in a long while.

It’s Like...

...A harem show crossed with a bloody shoujo tragedy.

Vital Stats

Original Title


Romanized Title

Erufen Riito

Literal Translation

Elfen Lied

Animation Studio


US Release By

Section23 (also ADV Films)


Horror Romance

Series Type

TV Series


13 25-minute episodes

Production Date

2004-07-15 - 2004-10-13

What's In It


Look For

Objectionable Content

  • Violence: 3 (significant)
  • Nudity: 3 (significant)
  • Sex: 1 (mild)
  • Language: 2 (moderate)

full details

See Also


  • None

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Plot Synopsis

Lucy, a Diclonius (a mutant born with the ability and purpose to destroy humanity), escapes from the lab where she has been in captivity, brutally murdering all in her path. Later, a young boy (Kouta) and his female cousin (Yuka) find a young, nude girl (who looks surprisingly like Lucy) alone on the beach. Seeing that she is homeless and without any recollection of how to speak, they decide to take the girl in. Are this girl and Lucy one and the same? And what about her makes Kouta remember a painful memory from his past?

Reader Review

This anime drags you in right from the start, as a young (and very much naked) girl mysteriously escapes from her confinement, and begins to kill all in her path. Her face cannot be seen, for it is covered with a strange metal helmet. However, it does not seem to obstruct her at all, as she spends the next five minutes killing over 20 people in what is probably the bloodiest and goriest scene ever animated (at least that I've seen).

She finally escapes to outside the facility, where a sniper shoots at her. However, she notices at the last second, and succeeds in dodging enough to avoid death. However, the bullet breaks off her helmet, and we get a quick glimpse at her face. What we see is what looks like a normal girl. She has long pink hair, a pretty face, and two small horns? We only see her for a moment before she disappears into the sea.

Fast forward to another scene. We are now in a normal everyday town. A young boy (Kouta) meets up with his long-lost cousin (Yuka) who had just recently moved into the area. The two decide to walk to the beach together where they find a young girl, naked, looking out at the sea. She has long pink hair and horns, just like Lucy. This girl however, is kind, innocent, and overall the complete opposite of Lucy. But why does she look exactly like her?

Kind of like Chii from Chobits, this girl cannot speak, and does not understand anything about the world, all the way down to not knowing what clothing is. The only "word" she can speak is "Nyuu," so Kouta and Yuka decide to name her that. Seeing that there is no way the girl can live on her own, Kouta decides to take the girl in to live with him. Thus starts the beginning of one of the most interesting animes I have ever seen.


The story is captivating, to say the least. Never have I seen an anime so flawlessly mix every possible genre together. We have: drama, horror, action, romance, thriller, angst, and even a touch of hentai (if you consider constant nudity most unnecessary - a touch of hentai) all thrown into one small package. There were several moments where I would be laughing aloud and then mere moments later flabbergasted by the insane amount of blood on the screen.

The anime disguises itself as the generic "guy lives alone in house surrounded by beautiful women" show, but underneath the disguise is a story that will keep nearly all viewers glued to the screen. This is one of the few animes where I watched the whole show in one sitting. I didn't even realize how fast time was going until the very end, when I looked at the clock and saw it was nearly 6:00 AM.

Does this mean the story is perfect? No, it does not. The story is still fairly generic, despite how captivating it is. If you take out all that I mentioned, it is simply a show about a powerful mutant that escaped from a lab and now people are trying to stop it before it triggers a chain reaction that will ultimately destroys humanity. So, how is a story so generic so fascinating? The answer lies in the characters' relation to the story.

Story: 3


Great characters truly do make a great story, which this anime proves a dozen times over. Each and every character is full of emotion, and has a deep past (except for Yuka) which makes them all extremely captivating and memorable. Probably the greatest of all the characters is who I will refer to as "Papa." From the first five minutes of the anime, we are already wondering "who is this guy?" By the end of the first episode alone, he was already one of the most captivating and mysterious characters I have ever seen.

Throughout the anime, we learn more and more about this mysterious person, and at the same time, a dozen more questions are asked. By the end of the anime, and his past is explained, you cannot help but feel extremely sorry for him, and also cannot help but view him as one of the most likable characters ever in an anime, which is a lot to say.

While "papa" is easily the deepest character in the show, it does not mean that the others are not great as well. Kouta begins as your stereotypical anime male. However, as the show moves on, you begin to realize that there is more to him than meets the eye, and that he too has a larger secret to his past than originally thought. Also, what is Lucy's role in his past? That question is asked several times throughout, and when you finally figure it out, it makes for a haunting discovery, and even more so when the show finally explains it.

Even Mayu (a homeless girl who ran away after being molested by her father) and Nana (another Diclonius who was sent to kill Lucy) are extremely likable characters, and one can not help but to instantly fall in love with both of them. The only character that I didn't care about was Yuka, who seemed to be thrown in at the last second to add romantic tension. Besides her though, each and every character is portrayed and developed perfectly. The only problem is that some more minor characters could not be developed properly due to the show's length. This problem is easily overlookable however.

Characters: 4.0


When I first saw this anime, I was surprised at the artwork. All the characters are drawn in your standard "cute," simplistic fashion, which contrasts greatly with the violence and seriousness of the show. This art, however helps to make the characters (especially the female ones) that much more likable. It is almost as if the art portrays the innocence that each character still possesses.

Just because the characters are somewhat simplistic in design does not mean that this show isn't beautiful. Every scene of characters getting torn apart (yet, torn apart) is painstakingly detailed, and well-animated. The animation is definitely above-average for a TV anime, even when compared to other 12-14 episode ones.

The character animation is fluid and realistic, and there are rarely moments where characters are shown entirely still. This supplies the character with even more humanity, making them that much more likable, and the violence that much more disturbing.

Art/Animation: 3.5


The music in this anime ranges from haunting to light-hearted. Every song however, does what it is made to achieve: set a mood. All the music works perfectly with the on-screen action and there is no other soundtrack that could work better. The haunting opening theme (Lilium) and the ending (Be Your Girl) are both great and beautiful in their own way (though contradicting to each other).

The sounds are also great. I can't imagine humans being ripped apart sounding any better than this.

Music/Sound: 4.0


Overall, Elfen Lied is more than just a good anime. It is a work of art, and like even the greatest works of art, it is not perfect, but its imperfections is what makes Elfen Lied that much more charming.

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Notes and Trivia

There is a 14th episode released as an OVA on the last DVD. I have yet to see it, though it is more of a side-story and does not have much relevance to the plot.

Official Japanese Site.

US DVD Review

The DVDs will be bilingual, and feature art galleries and clean opening and ending animation.

Parental Guide

Definitely NOT for children or teenagers. Extreme violence!!!

Violence: 3 - The violence is extreme. The only reason it got a 3 is the characters are not extremely realistic.

Nudity: 3 - More nudity than your average soft hentai. No detail "down there."

Sex/Mature Themes: 1 - Surprisingly, not much.

Language: 2 - Also surprising.

Staff & Cast

Original Japanese Cast

Bando: Nakata Joji
Kota: Suzuki Chihiro
Kurama: Hosoi Osamu
Mayu: Hagiwara Emiko
Nana: Matsuoka Yuki
Nyu/Lucy: Kobayashi Sanae
Yuka: Noto Mamiko


Design: Kishimoto Seiji, Okawa Hiroyuki
Director: Kanbe Mamoru
Original Work: Okamoto Rin


Available in North America from ADV. (Buy from RightStuf: DVD 1 (also w/box), DVD 2.)

Looking to buy? Try these stores: RightStuf (search) | AnimeNation | Amazon