Elfen Lied Vol. #3 - 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: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Elfen Lied

Elfen Lied Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     September 07, 2005
Release Date: September 20, 2005

Elfen Lied Vol. #3
© ADV Films

What They Say
Does time heal all wounds? Or are some cuts so profound that the passing of the years only makes them deeper? No one knows better than Lucy, the horn-headed outcast forced to kill by genetics and circumstance, and Nana, dismembered by Lucy and left to die, who’s made a long journey on artificial limbs to exact her revenge. But although Lucy/Nyu’s dark past doesn’t excuse her staggering body count, it does explain it. In volume three, the pieces of her mysterious puzzle begin to fall into place and shed light on her murderous ways, and opening a narrow window into the memories Kohta has so carefully blocked.

The Review!
With the series already half over and by the end of this volume it'll be close to the finale, it means its time to provide background, motivation and other revelations to try and give the series some meaning and reasoning.

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.

The cover for this volume is very heavy on the black background and shading that gives the foreground character so much attention with the few colors that she has. Of course, the massive amount of naked flesh in bandages probably draws a lot of attention as well. I continue to wonder at the inclusion of a series logo sticker on the packaging when the logo on the release itself is much cleaner to read. The back cover is done in black with splotches and streaks of blood across it with a small picture of shadowed marionettes. 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 cover artwork without the series name on one side while the other provides a text interview with the series music producers. No reverse cover is done with this release.

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 but 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 pretty much the same volume to volume. 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)
Elfen Lied's third volume provides a large amount of flashbacks and coincidences that attempts to draw things more tightly together. Both of the Diclonious girls that we're familiar with find themselves providing flashback sequences that go a long way towards explaining what they are and why they are the way they are and through that they touch upon a number of points that bring the other characters into their lives so that they can all meet again some fifteen years later or so.

Having found and rescued Nyu from the doctor who is now without a head attached to his body, she comes back to the house with Kohta and is relatively out of things due to all the activity. She seems pretty ill and unsure of things so when Nana tries to go off on her because of who she is, Kohta defends her so far as actually slapping Nana. This is actually fairly amusing as Nana goes on ranting and ranting about why she's coming across as the bad guy when Nyu really is the bad one and she's simply trying to do the right thing. It's amusing since she is right in a very strong sense and Nyu is getting off scot-free because of her dual personality amnesia like issue. Nyu doesn't understand any of this and Nana just gets all the more frustrated by it.

Nana ends up confiding in Mayu about herself a bit after leaving the house and finding it all to be terribly unfair. Over the course of this set of episodes we see how Nana was born to Kurama's wife and how her birth was the way they discovered that the creation of Diclonious children was actually a virus and not something else. Up until that point, children developed the horns and abilities at age three but Nana seemingly was born with the horns. The conflict for Kurama is strong since he knows that when they turn three that they'll use their powers to kill their parents and murder anyone else in their range but Nana could potentially do it earlier. The entire birthing went so badly for his wife that she's practically dead when she staggers into the room to see her husband choking the baby but it's enough to get him to change his mind to attempt to raise her in some form so that she may be controlled unlike the others. Her growing up different than all the others is a huge reason for her being much more under the groups' control.

For Nyu, her background is told in a very lengthy flashback sequence as she falls under the cloud of sleep from all that's gone on. We see her as a much younger child as her horns had just come in and the powers she has just start coming out and becoming something she can use. The things that set her off at such a young age and alert the group about her existence is the most basic of basics; she's bullied at school by some mean boys. Now, these are cruel boys since this series is focused on showing the cruelest of the cruel so they aren't your average bullies. Young Nyu is all cute and happy when she finds a friend in a little puppy but she keeps him a secret from all but one of her friends. When that friend gets pushed into revealing what's been making her so happy, they find the puppy and confront Nyu about it in the classroom. Nyu is so scared by what they could do that she overreacts to it and the boys love it. Kicking the puppy is like kicking Nyu harder than they could. So they proceed to bash the puppy into small bits and it just devastates her. It devastates her to the point where her powers kick in hard and she rips everyone in the room into large pieces.

This scares her just as much as the pup being abused so she ends up hiding out and trying to avoid people. She takes down a few other students that were giving her grief and lives in their house for a bit for food and clothes but for the most part she keeps away from people. To her surprise though, she comes across a young boy in the woods that's not afraid of her or mean to her named Kohta and the two of them end up becoming friends when Kohta proves himself to her. They become extremely close friends during this chaotic time in her young life and it plays out between scenes of her killing others without issue and trying to keep from the police that are looking for her since she's now labeled a missing child. A missing child in the midst of a number of high profile serial murders by some "bloodthirsty guy" that the police can't find.

The relationship between Kohta and Nyu plays out nicely at times and it has a lot of innocence about it that Nyu seemingly lost when she went violent but it's not meant to last as we know what happens in the future. When Nyu learns that Kohta is going home and that his last day or two is to be spent with relatives, including a cute girl cousin he's taking to the festival due to a promise he made before meeting Nyu, she gets jealous and the seeds of doubt in her alternate personality come out strongly and push her to kill him. She actually gets close to doing so but as it goes along we see why Kohta's blocked out this part of his visit here all those years ago and has spent so long in not coming back until the series started.

There's a lot of movement at times among the secondary characters in the show such as the assistant who gets dragged deeper into things at the start of the volume as she lugs around the horned head of the dead doctor she worked for but for the most part things are kept really to the flashback scenes of the two girls. The most interesting material for me was with regards to Kurama since he's the only one acting on choices and trying to do the right thing while the girls simply act on impulse, desire or the need to do right by daddy. When they started to show the idea of schoolyard bullying to be one of the root causes of things I had to laugh just as I did when Kurama's wife staggers into the room with blood dripping from her and the splish splosh sound of her feet from it as she walked so she could see her horned daughter. The show continues to try to go to the extreme to show violence and disturbing images but they've gone to that well so often so far already and half the time it still seems more comical than disturbing that it really loses its touch.

In Summary:
Elfen Lied doesn't tone down the violence as it goes through the pasts of several of the characters since kids can be torn to shreds just as easily as adults. We do get a number of big gaps filled in here and more coincidences than you can shake a stick at but it does tie things together into nice neat little packages and sets up the series for the finale in the next three episodes by letting the viewer at the least know what the core motivations once were and may continue to be, if Nyu remembers her dreams or the Lucy side re-integrates properly with her. I'm continuing to believe that I'm just too desensitized to this kind of stuff that it really doesn't make an impact overall but I can see how it would make others scream or cry.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Character artwork,Production artwork,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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