Saturday, January 21, 2006
Elfen Lied - Vector One
I went to the video store this afternoon and hired Elfen Lied. This anime is pretty wild, in the same vein as Gantz.
A mutant girl (a *Diclonius*) escapes from a military facility where she has been restrained. Somehow she breaks loose from her shackles (she's like a very cute version of Hannibal Lecter) and starts ripping the soldiers to pieces with nothing more than her thoughts, so it seems. Naturally she is naked while she is doing all this. (Hurrah for fan service!) She manages to get outside and dives into the sea.
She pops up on the beach where Kohta and his cousin Yuka are having a chat. She is still naked and their eyes pop out a bit. She is not a violent psychopath anymore, in fact she is baby-like and can only say "Nyu!" so that's what they call her (her name is actually Lucy). What is the nature of her powers and why does she seem to have a split personality? That is what we want to know, and must find out. We must watch this series through to the very end to find this out, no matter how much over-the-top violence and gratuitous nudity we may be subjected to in the process.
Kohta and Yuka take 'Nyu' back to their place, a big ten-room building that used to be a restaurant.
Meanwhile, the head of the military facility sends a strike force out to recapture Nyu/Lucy. One of those guys is a sadistic freak who threatens his team members with his gun in their face whenever they say something he doesn't like. He really seems to like his job too much, as he says, 'What the hell are we trained for! We are trained to kill!' He really seems to like that part.
Yuka has long had a crush on Kohta, and there are comic scenes where she catches him and Nyu in compromising situations, none of which are at Kohta's instigation; in fact he is a very nice boy, quite the opposite of Kurono from Gantz.
In such animes, our Japanese friends manage to combine strong sexual and violent themes with those of a powerful emotional nature, so that one minute you may feel shocked and appalled, while the next, tears may be streaming from your eyes at a particularly moving scene of great emotional impact. I've found this in no other artform, and for that reason (among many others, for sure) I think these anime are so popular. Popular, are they? Well, my video store has a separate, and quite large, section devoted to them.
This series is off to a very promising start (actually, this is a 4-disc series and 3 are already out here). It's already sunk a big hook in me. Not only is the premise compelling, but the characters are likeable (except for that mean and sadistic strike force dude), the animation and background art is of a very high standard, the soundtrack is excellent (and that opening theme, a Gregorian chant, is absolutely breathtaking). It's really great, but if you have an aversion to strong animated violence and the occasional bare boob here and there, it's probably not for you.