Elfen Lied

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Elfen Lied
Elfen Lied

Original Manga Lynn Okamoto
Director/Artist Mamoru Kanbe
Format Anime (TV)
Episode Length 25 Minutes
# of Eps/Volumes 13


Action, Drama, Horror

Sum it up in a Sentence:

Elfen Lied is a violent story about Lucy, a mutant with horns and invisible arms that can deal lots of damage, and her escape from and subsequent pursuit by a government agency, and the guy that finds her, Kohta, a college student living with his cousin.

Main Description

Plot Synopsis

The series starts with Lucy's escape from a high security facility, where she suffers an indirect shot to the head, causing brain damage. She develops a split personality, Nyu, a severely handicapped girl. Kohta and his cousin Yuka find her naked on a beach. Over the next several episodes, Kohta, Nyu and Yuka develop a highly dysfunctional love triangle, other characters with tragic pasts enter the picture, and Nyu intermittently (and conveniently) switches back to the Lucy personality. All the while, a government agency pursues Lucy, the story of the mutant Dicloni begins to unfold, and Kohta's past catches up with him.


Opening Theme/s

"Lilium" by Kumiko Noma

Ending Theme/s

"Be your girl" by Chieko Kawabe

If You Liked This, You Might Like...

If you liked the horror of Elfen Lied but wish it was more psychological, this is a good show for you:

Vampires and some crazy scenes make this a pretty good choice if you like the violence aspect:

It's a crushingly depressing show about the very bottom of humanity, so if you liked that about Elfen Lied this has it in spades:

If you're looking for more characters with dramatic and horrible pasts this is the show for you:

This is actually a romantic comedy, but if you liked Nyu's antics check this out:

Personal Opinions


Elfen Lied can be a pretty polarizing show. Some people think it represents everything terrible in anime, some folks really rather like it. I fall into the latter category. Aside from very nice art, especially still landscape shots, and an excellent opening sequence, the show has sort of a terrific energy to it. Additionally, there is a lot of dichotomy present, with fairly mundane and vaguely comical everyday-life portions of the show followed by earth-shattering horror. It touches on some pretty heady themes, although never too deeply or, disappointingly, ever with any real introspection. Some things pop up in this show that don't usually pop up in anime, like sexual abuse (in a realistic manner), post-traumatic stress disorder, and the cruelty that some children can exhibit. It is all wrapped in a well done, tight narrative with several genuine and powerful moments of pathos. The characters are somewhat interesting, as well.

There is a *lot* not to like about the show, however. Many people see it as a massive collection of cliches. I would tend to disagree, insomuch as that is not the real focus of the series, but they are definitely there. The nudity has been called excessive, mostly because the nudity is really excessive. We honestly do not need to see these people naked as much as we do and it is hard to think why they put so much of it in, other than either pure titillation or slamming into your head a "pure vs. profane" theme. That's another point of contention, at least for me. I don't see most of the nudity as in there for fanservice, but more as a really heavy-handed attempt at symbolism (you see Nyu naked but never Lucy, pure vs. profane). If that is the intention and they weren't just trying to push more DVDs out the door, then they did a very, very bad job of it.

Still, flawed as it is, it is much more ambitious than almost any anime I've seen, and what it does get right it really gets quite right. It makes you feel sad for the characters, or disgusted with them, but mostly sad.


I have mixed feelings about this anime, and I think a lot of people do. It's one of the few animes that can generate such heated argument at it's passing mention. I believe one of the biggest problems people have with it, is that it's emotionally charged and sad, something that we usually associate with a deep, meaningful, serious business movie or anime, but it fails to convey a deeper message. It tries to tell a complex tale about exploitation and innocence, but instead it falls back on cliché devices like "puppy kicking", "big watery eyes", and "gratuitous abuse", which give it the illusion of depth. If you want to see an anime that manages to be melancholy and dramatic without cutting its own wrists, watch Gunslinger Girl.

(but off the record... it was Okay)


Come for the ridiculously awesome and gratuitously violent opening, then marvel at how the rest of the show has basically nothing to do with that. I've never been so disappointed.


Elfenlied is a show about terrible ghastly things happening to sympathetic people, especially kids. This has a hell of an emotional kick to it and is presented competently or perhaps gratuitously enough to make the series quite powerful. Elfenlied is not however a good show in other respects. The protagonist is an infuriatingly pointless everyman and Nyu/Lucy is an abomination. This is a shame since the side characters, barring the worthless cousin, are all vastly more interesting but don't get the screen time. Basically mediocre, but since ultraviolence and exploitation are pretty uncommon these days there's an audience that'll enjoy it.


It isn't surprising to see that there are already a number of opinions on this show, as Elfen Lied is probably one of - if not the most - divisive shows. I watched this dubbed (*shuuuun*), and the dub is pretty atrocious, except for the most important character of Lucy, who is brilliant.

At its heart, Elfen Lied is an incredibly fucked up Romance story that despite its hugely flawed execution, remains one of the most emotionally affecting animes ever made. The first 2-3 episodes are really gratuitous and unrepresentative of the final tone of the show. If I had watched the show now, rather than when I was younger, I think I would have dropped the series at that point. To do that would be a mistake. Everybody should watch this assuming they can bear prolific nudity and violence, because there is an off-chance you will absolutely adore this show.


Original SA Thread (archived) NOT WORK SAFE

Anime News Network Elfen Lied Entry