Elfen Lied Collection (Thinpak) (of 1) (Mania.com)

By:Luis Cruz
Review Date: Monday, January 22, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, November 28, 2006



What They Say
A secret research facility has been doing "experiments" on mutants called diclonius. These mutants have extremely powerful, invisible arms that can literally rip people in half. As a result of these torturous experiments, they are extremely violent and will kill without warning. One of the more powerful ones, Lucy, has escaped the facility. If she gets out into the general population, it will be a killing spree like no one has ever seen before. The scarier thought is that if she reproduces, it could mean the end of humanity as we know it today. They need to do whatever they can the capture, or if need be, exterminate her. But there's a twist... during her escape, Lucy sustained a head injury causing an alter personality to surface. This turns her into a child-like, innocent, clumsy girl who can't say anything except "Nyu". Between the two personalities and new found friends, Lucy must discover the human side of her self and allow herself to be loved. With the military and a rogue assassin consistently on her tail, she must choose to kill or to be killed.


The Review!
All style and very little substance, Elfen Lied left a bloody but boring impression.

Audio:
I listened to the Japanese 5.1 track for my viewing sessions. This is a solid track that features great directional effects throughout the series. There were no discernible distortions, drop outs, or other audio issues. Music, sound effects, and dialogue were mixed well allowing each element to ring clearly at the appropriate time.

Video:
Elfen Lied is given a gorgeous anamorphic transfer that is free from any noticeable issues. Colors are vibrant and bring out the details of each setting. It is a very clean and sharp visual presentation.

Packaging:
A sturdy box holds three thinkpak cases; the box artwork is very stylish and really catches the eye. The cover art for the thinpaks features the artwork seen in the opening sequence. Back covers feature the requisite information though the first volume is missing the listing for episode five. Overall, it is a very attractive package.

Menu:
Menus are simple and static with a loop of background music. There are no transition delays allowing you to get straight into the content.

Extras:
None.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
What does Elfen Lied have going for it? It has a hauntingly beautiful theme song and some gory but stylish action. Unfortunately, the list of positives ends there leaving the actual plot bereft of anything interesting. The story opens up with a naked, shackled woman named Lucy breaking free from a standard military research island. She possesses supernatural powers and is able to cleave body parts within a two meter radius. Her bloody rampage takes her to the edge of the island, and a sniper's bullet sends her sprawling into the sea.

On the mainland, Yuka meets her cousin Kohta and prepares to take him to the house where he will be staying. Kohta has returned to the area to attend college, and Yuka harbors a secret crush on him that blossomed during their childhood. As they walk along the beach, they come across a naked woman. This alone is odd enough, but she also has horns on her head and can only say "Nyu". They take her back to the house and decide to take care of her.

They soon find themselves tangled up in the secrets of the Diclonius, a mutant race of humans born with invisible hands ("vectors") and a lust for destroying humanity in as bloody a fashion as possible. The cast soon expands to include Mayu, a young girl running away from her abusive step-father; Nana, another Diclonius that refuses to hurt humans; Kurama, the government researcher and "papa" of Nana; Bandoh, a mercenary as bloodthirsty as the Diclonius; and a host of other shadowy figures studying the Diclonius for their own ends. Toss in a shared past between Lucy and Kohta that involves his murdered sister and father that neither of them can really remember.

There are a number of interesting directions and themes the series could have taken with its premise and cast, but it abandoned all of them and went for a meandering stroll leaving a wake of blood and limbs behind it. It felt like the series simply did not know what it should be, that the writers were throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. In the midst of the carnage, it was trying to be a romantic comedy in the vein of Tenchi Muyo. Then, it would shift to commentary about humanity's cruelty. Another shift would send it towards a conspiracy to engineer a new human race.

After thirteen episodes, the end result was a boring, clichéd mess one was happy to see finally end. Visually, it did feature some stunning splatter work, but after the first few decapitations and dismemberments, it became tedious, repetitive, and had no purpose other than to ensure the episode had enough material to fill the minutes. Style was something Elfen Lied had plenty of, but that can only carry a series so far.

In Summary:
Elfen Lied packs a lot of bloody carnage but fails to support it with an interesting plot. It could not decide what sort of series it wanted to be. Was it a romantic comedy tinged with action? Was it a violent commentary on the cruel nature of humanity? A sci-fi conspiracy tale? Whatever it tried, it did not manage to balance these elements effectively and develop a cast or plot to hook the audience. While the visuals are stunning initially, they soon grow tiring through repetition, and you just want the series to reach some sort of conclusion. If you like splatter films, this will fit the bill adequately, but those looking for something more substantial should look elsewhere.

Features
Japanese 5.1 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Mitsubishi 27" TV, Panasonic RP-82, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Bose Acoustimass-6 speakers, generic S-Video and optical audio cable



Mania Grade: C+
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: TV MA
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
MSRP: 49.98
Running time: 325
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Elfen Lied