24 September 2011

'Elfen Lied'

And no. It is pronounced "lēd" or "lead" in leader, not "lied" as in a lie. >.<
(CREDIT: to the mangaka and the poet who wrote "Elfenlied")
RANK: 1.9 out of 5 <-- frustrating="">

"Don't judge a book by its cover." Damn, that phrase irks me every time someone says it. It's thrown around so loosely to the point that you just judge for the sake of forming an opinion. This time, however, that phrase is the best way to describe Elfen Lied.

This series is a literal disaster zone. Buckets of blood and violence with cute little moe-styled characters having their heads and limbs fly everywhere. Tons of fanservice and nudity more disturbing than those in shows like Ikki Tousen or Master of Martial Hearts. Excessive exposition, unanswered questions, sloppy writing, etc. etc. ALL of these things plague and stain the reputation of this series.

So why did I put myself through hell to read the manga? The anime was made before the manga finished; thus, to experience the "true" story with the "true" ending, I read all 108 chapters online.

On one hand, Elfen Lied, despite the annoying writing style, has a decently endearing charm to it that can be liked or hated. Like an amateur "theater group" trying to perform Shakespeare, Elfen Lied has such a crude facade that only certain people can overlook to find the quality behind it. At its core, Elfen Lied is about the pain, loneliness, and rage inside of a girl who fights against it every day. No matter how hard she tries to not kill and to live at peace with humanity, her powers and years of abuse explode and create an unwanted bloodbath. Yet you might be surprised of how emotionally attached you might be to Lucy in the last few manga chapters. Easily she is the best thing in this series.

Other characters get backstory, and some relationships are heartwarming. Lucy and Kouta's relationship went down a very predictable path until the last quarter of the manga, which allowed their conflict to end on a bittersweet, but satisfying note. Besides the main character, Kurama, Nana, and Bando were some of the most memorable characters in the cast.

Now, about that theater troop...

Elfen Lied is a good tragic drama with some really cool sci-fi elements that are easy to understand. That being said, if someone on this planet could rewrite the manga and anime by eliminating all the - pardon my French - bullshit, maybe this series wouldn't make people cringe.

The anime might be notorious for being extremely bloody (like Hellsing Ultimate) and full of fanservice... BUT the manga has an inexcusably monstrous amount of both. There are so many pointless and revolting scenes of nudity that it might as well be porn. I think Marilyn Manson's face would turn green if he saw this.

I really wanted to like Elfen Lied, even in the "so bad, it's good" kind of way. Yes, I cried a billion times at the manga's end and twice at the anime's end, but this series has such a thick, nasty outside that it might not always be worth it when you get to the good stuff.

At least the anime has beautifully haunting music.

Elfen Lied had a very interesting premise, with elements of sci-fi, drama, and tragedy morphed and twisted into a gruesome but different creature. With some serious work on rewriting scenes, humor, and events this would have been a more sophisticated work. Plus, cut out the disgusting fanservice: some of the nudity in later chapters were fine, but early on it was still horrendously overdone.

I don't regret trying this out but...*cringes* I seriously need a shower.

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