I just finished watching the Elfen Lied anime, which is based on a fairly long running manga. The anime was only 13 episodes long, with one 30 minute OVA being produced afterwards. This anime has been out for a while, so I’m a bit late to the party in commenting on it, but it was such a shocking series, I felt it deserved its own post.
The anime opens with Lucy, a young girl with horns, pink hair, and strange powers, fully nude walking through a building that looks like a cross between a bomb shelter and insane asylum. As she walks down the hallways, she is ripping guards and scientists to shreds using powers that are explained later in the series. Blood, bones, guts, and organs splatter everywhere. This scene sets the tone for the rest of the anime. I’ve read critics of the series decry this portrayal as over-the-top and gratuitous or simply sex and violence fan service.
If that’s all you watch and then turn it off, I would agree. But as you continue to watch the first episode, the mystery of what Lucy is, what that facility she was in is, and how that all relates to the college aged teens she meets who take her in to help her, is absolutely engrossing. That scene is not the end of the extreme violence and nudity.
As the first few episodes progress, you begin to see the reason behind the over-the-top approach to this anime. Nearly all of the characters are absolutely tortured. Without giving away too much of the plot, you have one character who witnessed his sister and father brutally murdered before his eyes at a young age, another who was sexually molested by her step father with her mother accusing her of lying and eventually abandoning her, one whose limbs are mutilated and is left for dead, and several who are tortured repeatedly in gruesome and inhumane ways by authority figures. The nudity and blood is simply a way to reinforce and help push the sort of emotional twistedness of the extreme horrors the characters have been through.
Nudity in most movies or series is usually a precursor to a love scene. In this anime it’s more closely tied to something bad, usually quite violent, happening to a character. It’s actually quite a brilliant mind screw and a good way to get you to empathize with the torture the character is experiencing.
So, yea, not for kids, this one.
My only complaint is that while the first four episodes and last four episodes were strong, the middle was very slow. This is a weird thing since anime is based on a rather long running manga. You would think they had plenty of material to work with, but it’s almost like the producers and writers just lost their way in the middle. The same fights and arguments were fought and argued again and again. Nothing new really happened. And the conversations just sounded very forced. I’m not sure why this happened. Maybe it was a brief reprieve before the torture started again? lol. Also, without giving away the ending, I will just say that it had a satisfying conclusion, but ended with the typical amount of loose ends that most anime series end up having.
The OVA was apparently never released in the USA, but it’s easy to find on the internet with subtitles. It takes place in the middle of the series and is rather light hearted compared to the series and answers a few questions that were not otherwise resolved. Honestly, they should have cut the middle four episodes down to two and added the plot of the OVA into the middle and the pacing would have been a lot better.
So, if you can tolerate watching something that will mess with your emotions and shock you with gruesome violence and gratuitous nudity, this is an anime I have to highly recommend. The series is on NetFlix.
On a 1-10 scale, I give this anime an 8. Now I need to go find something to watch on NetFlix that is more uplifting and less disturbing!
Eureka Seven: Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers is a fast-paced action-packed love story. It has a very different plot from the original Eureka Seven series, so don't expect a sequel!
That said, the plot does parallel the series in several ways. The basic premise of aliens attacking the Earth and humans fighting back remains. Where the series portrayed the aliens as basically misunderstood and unintentionally damaging, the movie portrays them as more generically malicious, even though they did shoehorn some more 'innocent misguided intentions' stuff later in the plot.
Eureka has changed a lot. She's more of a fusion of Eureka and Anenome in the series, including frequently yelling "idiot" at Renton. That took a lot of getting used to for me. Interestingly, Novak and Anenome basically replaced Norb and Sakuya's roles in the story. It will raise a few eyebrows at first, but it worked.
For the first 45 minutes, I was a bit disappointed. Character development seemed forced (probably due to trying to fit a series worth of plot into a two hour movie). However, it won me over at the point when Holland was explaining the Gekko crews' motives to Renton. This was one of my favorite moments because it actually gave a nod to the series! I'm not going to give it away, but it was really cool how they did it. After that, the story seemed much less rushed. It was still confusing at times, but a few characters were also confused by what was happening. So I figure confusion was intentional.
Trapar waves were completely unexplained in the film. So there is no clue what it is or how it works in this universe, but vehicles do use it for lifting, so it's there. Eureka has a sensitivity to light, but that is also never explained. You'll find "unexplained" being a bit of a recurring theme. lol.
And the ending, ahh the ending! It was truly unique to the movie and it worked! Just like the series, it showed love, sacrifice, maturity, and made up for the more confusing parts.
I love the original series. It is actually not just my favorite Anime, but my favorite story in any form. I love it! On a scale of zero to five, I give it 5/5 easy! However, I can't rate the movie that high. Don't get me wrong, it was a great story. I would give it a solid 4/5 star rating. If you liked the series, you will like the movie, even if just to get a little more of a Eureka and Renton fix. If you are not familiar with the series, you will still like it, but be prepared for a confusing ride.
And now some random notes:
- They actually give a reason for the "seven" this time!
- Very few references to the electronica scene this time (disappointing).
- Moon Doggie can apparently be in a KLF the Gekko at the same time! Plot holes resulting from reused animation cells can be funny. ;-)
- Baby archetypes can say one word and they tend to say it in an incredibly annoying voice.
- The final version of Nirvash in the movie kicks even more butt than in the series.
- The literal translation of the Japanese subtitle is "Pocket Full of Rainbows." I'm not really sure why they changed it to "Good Night, Sleep Tight, Young Lovers" as there were ample references to rainbows throughout the series. Sometimes subtitles are changed because something is lost in translation. Here, I don't know.
Anyway, I really hope Bones returns some day to the original series' universe. I still long for more!! :-)