Review: Elfen Lied (2004)

Elfen Lied
From:
Directed by:


Distributed in Australia by:

This series is a disturbing mix of the salacious and the sick-making, with a side order of slapstick. The first 10 minutes or so consist of a bloodbath conducted by a fragile-seeming, pink-haired naked girl, strolling through the corridors of the facility in which she’s held. The soft curves and the long pink hair create a serious dissonance with her inhuman aspect: she kills without touching, and her face is hidden within a bulky metal helmet. She’s really an anime archetype: the femme fatale whose allure is irresistable but whose presence means messy death.

Obviously, this combination of sex and violence should delight lots of anime fans, and I can confidently predict that this one will be a winner. The frequent slaughter provides lots of slow motion blood splashes, while the frequent nudity of Lucy (and her siblings) lightens up the dialogue moments. The slapstick referred to earlier comes as a result of the crucial plot twist: Lucy is but one personality in this lethally lovely body. The other inhabitant, called Nyu because that’s all she says, is quite infantile. This makes for plenty of comic moments, as we see Nyu discovering the bath, Nyu laying unconcerned and unhelpful as Kohta (young male cousin) tries to change her wet clothes, and Nyu squealing with laughter while grabbing Yuka (young female cousin)’s breasts. Okay, I didn’t say it was innocent slapstick.

Whether or not you want to watch a series that alternates breast fun with bloody slaughter, you should at least watch the opening credits. It is without a doubt the most ethereally beautiful credit sequence I have ever seen. Ever. And that’s quite a claim. The visuals are based on several paintings by Klimpt: the rich colours and the sensuous langour of the models make his work some of the most glorious twentieth century paintings, full of splendour and eroticism. The music, a sublime and haunting melody sung in a clear soprano, is reminiscent of Abbess Hildegard of Bingen’s gothic masterpiece, A Feather On The Breath Of God.

Wikipedia has this to say about the opening theme:

The opening theme song, Lilium, is based on several biblical passage and the hymn Ave mundi spes Maria (Hail Mary, Hope of the World) in Latin (and a couple of words in Greek). The lyric and melody are authored by Kayo Konishi and Yukio Kondou, after being requested to make the song like a Gregorian chant.

Not for the faint-hearted, this series has more to offer than ultra-violence and slapstick sex comedy. It may well leave you moved and thoughtful, pondering on the nature of humanity and the capacity of violence to sully all we touch.

That is, if you make it through the breasts and the beheadings.

8 stopped grandfather clocks out of 10.
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