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Elfen Lied (Anime)

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The Elfen Lied anime series ran for a course of 13 episodes, also featuring one OVA taking place between Episodes 10 and 11. The anime was started before the manga was completed, therefore the story line departed from the manga canon in Episode 13.

Synopsis Edit

Like many anime series, it makes extensive use of music to set its tone. Its original creator was Lynn Okamoto, while the primary director for the anime was Mamoru Kanbe. The animation is considered top-notch, with note being given to the opening and closing credits, animated by Rin Shin for the ARMS Corporation, and using as their template, the haunting paintings of Gustav Klimt as well as the memorable Lilium sung by Kumiko Noma in the opening credits, and played as an instrumental by Kouta's music box.

The anime's use of gore and violence is even more explicit than in the manga, and the first ten minutes of the first episode are often called the most violent in all of mainstream anime shows.

While there are few or no anime-only characters, some characters who appear in the manga, like Nozomi, never appear in the anime, while others, like Isobe have their characters simplified, or, as in the case of Aiko Takada have their back-stories trimmed considerably. In Episode 12, Lynn Okamoto himself voices a minor character.

Many American fans know Elfen Lied primarily or exclusively through the anime, since the manga is not currently licensed for release in the United States. Plans to resolve the series seem not to have been successful. The Cartoon Network slot, Adult Swim, felt they could not reasonably air the series, since the content cuts needed to be able to show it would have left it incomprehensible. This is despite the fact that Adult Swim has aired other TV-MA programs including Metalocalypse, Boondocks, etc.

The series has seen several DVD releases, including the complete box set 'The Truth Revealed' released on December 20th, 2011. No Blu-Ray release is announced as of this edit (1/7/2012). A Blu-Ray version was released in 2013 including all 13 episodes + the OVA. This Blu-Ray was released both in Japan and internationally.

Production Edit

When work began on adapting the Elfen Lied manga into an anime series, director Mamoru Kanbe was recommended to work on the series by the series composer, Takao Yoshioka. Yoshioka believed that Kanbe's general Moe drawing style and composition would be ideal to adapt the manga, still in publication at the time, into an anime series. Kanbe himself, originally reluctant about joining the production, gained interest in it upon reading the manga.

Despite the manga having 107 chapters, Kanbe and the production team were forced to condense the plot of the series into thirteen episodes, even though they felt it was necessary to make more as several significant plot details in the manga which Kanbe felt he could have used to make the series more emotive were missed out.[1]

Kanbe originally thought that "this was a love story, and I could make it so that it would bring viewers to tears."[2] Thus, he made attempts throughout the series to provide a contrast of emotions, commenting that he could make the violence exemplify this throughout the series. The production team were originally surprised by Okamoto's choice of Kamakura as a setting for the series; however, after several visits to the area, Kanbe commented that the setting in Kamakura was, according to the production team, ideal for the poignant and reflective drama in the series to unfold, as its general tranquility and geography made for a reflective and yet eerie, deep-meaning backdrop to the series. [3] This can be seen in several examples, such as on top of a set of steps overlooking the coastline, where many of the interactions between characters take place. This is used as an important device in conveying the ideas of memory and emotional association, such as the contrast between Kouta and Lucy's conversation when they were ten years old in comparison with their conversation in the final episode.

Anime style and themes Edit

In the comments made by director Mamoru Kanbe on the Elfen Lied website, he intended for the anime to question and discuss values based on the way in which humans divide each other by difference, as well as the belief that atrocities such as those committed by Lucy in the series are strongly influenced by the way in which people are treated by their fellow beings. The series frequently discusses the events and treatment which define the human character in such a way, and the problems which arise from discrimination, as well as the wild contrasts between compassion and vengeance between fellow humans, through the strong vengeance of Lucy compared with her past memory of Kouta. Many of the themes are mentioned at the teasers at the ends of episodes in the series.

Themes such as genocide and the attempts to "purify" the earth from each other also appear in the anime between Diclonii and humans. Both species feel the need to populate the earth with their own species and wipe each other out. Kanbe quoted this in relation to the desire of humans to cast each other out and segregate each other.[4]

Throughout the series, there is a great deal of nudity, blood and gore, extreme graphic violence as well as psychological violence. One of the most prevalent motifs of the series is the humanity of the Diclonii, especially contrasted against the inhumanity of ordinary people. One reviewer described the series as "devoted to quite a few of the darker, more callous factors of human nature". Throughout the series there are various incidences of human sadism, casual beatings, child sexual abuse, animal cruelty, cruel experimentation, and outright killing.

Unlike other anime or manga which distinctively fall into a specific subcategory, Elfen Lied does not fall under any specific genre, containing elements of horror, comedy, drama, romance, action, science-fiction, and suspense. A majority of the episodes contain graphic amounts of violence and gruesome deaths. There is also a lot of female nudity and serious thematic material such as child rape and torture. The series also sometimes has strong language; the word "fuck" is used several times throughout in the English anime localization. Compared to the other anime of its time, the series is very radical, bold and daring in terms of its plot and content. The series juxtaposes many different tones and genres and was described by a reviewer as "mixing insane amounts of violence with a heavy dose of 'ultra-cuteness.'"[5] The series balances its darker themes with romantic sub-plots as well as many comic moments. Elfen Lied has been described as similar to, or borrowing elements from Chobits and 3x3 Eyes (i.e. Nyuu/Lucy's similarity to Chii/Freya of Chobits and Pai/Sanjiyan of 3x3 Eyes).


  1. Exclusive Mamoru Kanbe interview, DVD Extra - Elfen Lied DVD 1 (Vector One). Released by Madman Entertainment and ADV Films.
  2. Exclusive Mamoru Kanbe interview, DVD Extra - Elfen Lied DVD 1 (Vector One). Released by Madman Entertainment and ADV Films.
  3. Official Elfen Lied website
  4. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named

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