Elfen Lied Vol. #2 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: D
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: TV MA
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Elfen Lied

Elfen Lied Vol. #2

By Chris Beveridge     July 11, 2005
Release Date: July 12, 2005

Elfen Lied Vol. #2
© ADV Films

What They Say
At the core of a conspiracy for a new world order lives a mutant girl who’s made an army’s worth of enemies. Protected only by a couple of college kids, Kohta and Yuka, the horn-headed Nyu is pursued by those who would destroy her and those who would use her to destroy humanity. But, as her caregivers catch glimpses of Nyu’s past as the vicious Lucy, will they continue to risk their lives to protect hers? Is Lucy’s trail of carnage somehow connected to Kohta’s own dark past? It won’t take much to upset this fragile peace. Between the bubble baths and the bloodbaths, the predators and the puppies, the world of Elfen Lied is a world of pure innocence and explosive chaos. When the dust settles, the future of the human race depends on one horn-headed girl.

The Review!
Lucy/Nyu tries to figure out her best place in the world while Kohta finds himself pained to think of living without her suddenly.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. A rarity in general, but this release has a 5.1 mix for this language and it's nicely done for the most part though it's not a hugely immersive experience. Some bits of dialogue are thrown to the rears here and there and some of the action sequences provide an overall sound field but it's fairly minimal. When we do get the ambient effects there and music, it's done nicely to enhance the atmosphere but it's fairly brief and not terribly consistent. We had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2004, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Being of such a recent vintage, the source materials here look really good and essentially as clean as can be. The one area we were afraid of was with all the blood and red coloring but that came across without any problems such as bleeding or dot crawl. There is some color gradation effects visible at points throughout the show but that's more a source issue than anything else. The episodes here run the gamut of locations and different backgrounds but all of it just looks nice and tight and problem free.

Playing heavily to the black and red colors, the blood splotched cover features the invisible hands against the black so you can see them lightly while Nyu sits in the blood with a small semi automatic in front of her. The mixture of the blood, darkness and innocence of Nyu works well here though it's easy to understand why people would rather have the Japanese artwork. I like the almost minimalist approach of the covers so far. The back cover is done in black with splotches and streaks of blood across it with a small picture of Kohta clutching his head in pain. The summary covers the basics of the show and the discs extras are clearly listed. As has become a welcome standard, the technical grid lays out all the info needed to asses what makes up the disc in an easy to ready if slightly busy format. The insert replicates the reverse cover artwork without the series name on one side while the other provides a text interview with the series composer. The reversible cover is minimal in its own way as it provides the show of Lucy chained up to a wall by her arms as her body is covered in blood.

While there are a number of average or plain menus out there that simply exist, there are precious few menus in the anime world that I simply don't like by Elfen Lied managed to succeed there. Going with what I guess is some sort of in-theme piece with the medical/lab atmosphere of the first episode, it's a gray piece on a black background that has line art rotating through one part while another has a large black hand across it and the menu selections are listed along the bottom. Over the course of the thirty second menu, blood drips down as the creepy noises play out and then you get a big crunch and lots of blood flying. It just doesn't look good or sound good but is at least easy to navigate, if you get your selections made before the big blood spurt that is. Access times are nice and fast and the navigation itself pretty straightforward. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets properly and played without issue.

The extras are a bit thin here and are probably the extent of what we'll see for the remainder of the series. A pair of artwork galleries is included with one devoted to character artwork and the other to production pieces. The opening sequence is provided in clean format as is the end sequence.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In its first four episodes, Elfen Lied set out to shock with its violence and wanton destruction of the physical bodies of many people. It also went to contrast that violence with the caring nature of those who found the lead in a split mental state that allowed her to not remember the violence she caused. From there, it slowly began to explain the nature of what's going on and just how far to the extreme those who want Lucy back will go to get her.

Of course, if you're not easily shocked and already overly desensitized to anime violence and nudity, the first volume may not have the impact for you that it does for others. In watching it, I found it to be more clichéd than anything else and the kind of show that does some basic setup for what's coming instead of trying to tell too much of an actual story just yet. The real meat will come later, such as this volume, is what I wanted to believe.

We do start to get more revelations in this volume about what's going on though much is still shrouded in mystery. From those involved with the project, there's some tantalizing tidbits given about what the Dyclonius really are and how they fit into the larger picture but these are brief moments across three episodes, barely filling a couple of minutes of time. A lot of time is given over to a few key events that set up how things work from here on out. One of them is that we learn Mayu's past and why she's hiding in the streets. The revelation of her getting a new stepfather that abused her isn't surprising nor is the way we learn that her mother doesn't believe her, causing her to flee the household and find shelter wherever she can. What is surprising is that both Kohta and Yuka opt to truly take Mayu in and they get the documentation from Mayu's mother easily. More easily than you'd think a government would allow in fact. But Mayu's move from street urchin to resident with Kohta has her going back to school and being cheerful and upbeat again, a direct contrast to her first few episodes.

The other arc of prominence is where Kohta and Yuka actually go to school and they take Nyu with them – complete with schoolgirl attire – so they can keep an eye on her without any problems. Unfortunately, one of the classes that the trio shares is being taught by Professer Kurakama, the man we've seen previously that's heavily involved in Dyclonius research. The instant he sees Nyu he starts to panic about her presence until he realizes that she's not who she really mentally and he uses that to his advantage, convincing Kohta and Yuka that Nyu is really his brother's daughter and that they've been looking for her. Being an older adult, he's able to chastise them about their decisions to not go to the police and other things, enough to sound authoritative enough to keep her so he can take her back home. Nyu has no clue about any of this or what's being said, but the others are so overwhelmed by it that they leave her with the professor.

Since he never expected to get his hands on one, he talks at length to Nyu in the basement laboratory afterwards about how he wants to use her to eliminate mankind from the world and to become the new adam and eve in order to bring a new order to things and a new kind of peace and authority. His revelations don't quite work out as what he does ends up bringing out Lucy who would rather just let Nyu live in peace and quiet and be done with it by all appearances. But between the Professor's plans and the return of Bando with his mechanized gears, Lucy's given no real peace. In fact, the return of Nana later in the show who tries to figure out civilian life after being kept in captivity all her life as well as trying to master her new limbs gives Lucy even more to worry about.

Playing in the mix of all this violence and revelations about killing off humanity, we get some nice little tender scenes between Kohta and Yuka as they search for the missing Nyu and end up sitting inside a small shrine to get away from the rain. Yuka's feelings for Kohta run roughshod over her common sense and she starts with the evil question of asking him if he likes her but she doesn't let it go there and ends up kissing him passionately. This move of course makes you question how legitimate their claims to being cousins really is since if they really were you'd expect more of an outcry about it. There are plenty of loose relations in most families and extended families so it won't be surprising to learn there's no real blood relation, but either way it's a nice little interlude to the rest of the show.

In watching this series, I had figured that the second volume would reveal more of itself that would be the real hook. The violence in the first volume wasn't the true hook since it's just to get you for shock value and draw in viewers before it shifts to the real story. With these three episodes, I'm still wondering what the real story is since what little we get about the Dyclonius doesn't really tell us anything new. More time is spent with Mayu and her family problems as well as her encounter with Bando that plays out to much amusement. What little time is spent at the Project headquarters is more riddled with lies and the revelation of lies that nothing that's said there can be taken at face value.

In Summary:
Much like the first volume, I'm still wondering what the draw is because mostly it just seems to be doing things that are pretty clichéd. The complaints I had in the first volume are still the same here, from the lack of real dialogue due to Nyu's small vocabulary to the way they cut out from whenever a seemingly important revelation will be made to something else. The more I watch the more I hope that this is the kind of series where everything clicks at the end and you go "ah ha!" and it all comes together since watching it volume by volume has left me fairly disinterested in the show.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Character artwork and production artwork galleries,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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