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Reviews Comments: Too much fanservice; too little characterization. (Anime) Elfen Lied whole series review by Nat The Writer

Elfen Lied has an intriguing premise. At face value, it looks very nice. The writing is where it hits snags, and by the plenty.

Characters range from interesting yet unsympathetic to downright flat. The non-diclonii get the short end of the stick; Kouta and Yuuka have barely any personality. Meanwhile, Nana is interesting and adorable, while Lucy is complex, but unlikable. (No, her past does not excuse her actions.) Nyu is irritatingly bland and simply moe fanservice; Bando is stereotypical and flat. Though they're the interesting parts of the show, backstories feel tacked-on and forced.

Characterization problems persist throughout the show. After one character's arc ends, her characterization and trauma are dropped for the rest of the show without explanation. Characters act unrealistically, sometimes absurdly: one almost gets strangled to death and then asks, casually, "What did you do that for?" ...Okay, really? >_>

Onto the gore and nudity. These put off a lot of people from the show, so they deserve mention. Gore was less frequent than I expected. Nudity was sometimes justified; sometimes not: the diclonii in the labs, yes; the artistic opening, somewhat; the panty shots and close-ups on breasts, no.

In production values, though its animation is mediocre, it's definitely better visually than the manga. The manga's early artwork is awful, and despite evolution, it still looks stiff. This is done away with in the anime, though the art style can be off-putting in how it contrasts with the show's tone. On the other hand, the music is very good and (usually) well-used throughout. The backgrounds are gorgeous.

It's been said that you need to look past the fanservice and gore to truly appreciate the show. I can understand that. I tried to look past it and saw poorly-written characters, a forced message, and, well, the fanservice. It's still there, sometimes at the worst possible moments, killing the mood and making one wonder what the show intends to be. Does it want to be deep? The heavy fanservice and flat characters make its message—anvilicious at its worst—feel perfunctory.

If further depth were given to the characters and the fanservice were axed/minimized, then Elfen Lied would be a much better show. Instead, it's a mess.


  • 10th Sep 10
its better in the manga
  • NatTheWriter
  • 11th Sep 10
I agree that the manga is better than the anime, though still flawed. When I read through it sometime after seeing than the anime, I was surprised—it's not great, but jeez, there was some genuinely decent material in the second half that really should have made it into the anime. o_o
  • Bunai
  • 23rd Jan 11
hmm Oddly, I find that the anime greatly diminished the fanservice and explicit violence in comparison to the manga and focused on the characters present, perhaps not oh-so-deep, but enough to make you interested in them. However, in cutting a great deal of the manga source the anime was short and there was barely any form of backstory for the characters. It wouldn't surprise me if the "anime caught up with manga" thing came into play.
  • iheartmountains
  • 29th Jan 11
There's really little fanservice in this series aside from a few humorous ecchi moments. Aside from that, all the nudity is fairly tasteful and plot-relevant.
  • Vorpy
  • 5th Feb 11
I thought you said you absolutely hated Elfen Lied. :/
  • 5th Feb 11
If getting sexually aroused is really that problematic for you, see a doctor or something.
  • Jakob
  • 24th Feb 11
^ You know, i REALLY like Elfen Lied. i mean, why else would i have gushed so over it? I do not, however, like the fan service provided in the Anime, because it feels so much more blatant to me. Or fan service at all that has no purpose beyond getting the viewer aroused. If i wanted that, Id seek out a porno. If i want comedy, action, drama or story, i seek out something else. I prefer sex and entertainment separated.

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