Elfen Lied Vol. #4 - 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. #4

By Chris Beveridge     October 28, 2005
Release Date: November 15, 2005

Elfen Lied Vol. #4
© ADV Films

What They Say
The mysterious organization protecting humanity from the deadly power of the Diclonius is faced with the devil's bargain. Will they unleash #35, the deadliest mutant yet, to hunt Lucy down? Or will they risk letting the notorious killer slip through the cracks? Things have never been easy for the young misfits at the heart of this battle, but they've never had it harder than this.

As Kohta learns how Nyu's past is inextricably tied to his life's greatest tragedy, he may find that protecting her means destroying himself. Even those who have already lost pieces of themselves to this brutal fight have more to lose. As Nana goes from hunter to hunted, and Bandoh from lawman to outlaw, the shadow of death creeps closer. And what of the man who the diclonius call "Papa"? How far will Kurama go?

The Review!
Elfen Lied comes to a conclusion with lots of girl on girl action.

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.

For the last installment we get one of the better images used I think with a shot of Lucy in her nice outfit looking reflective and almost a mixture of happy and sad outside of the residence as she holds onto the music box. The colors are really nice and the pinks and purples from her stand out well against the night time background. The back cover is done in black with splotches and streaks of blood across it with a small picture of Mariko. 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 translation of the opening theme along with notes of origin for it.

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. The new inclusion for the final volume is a look at the original Japanese cover artwork which I really like but I don't think would fit the same kind of retail selling points that the covers they used did here.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the last three episodes of the TV series bringing things to a conclusion, the show plays out a fair bit better here but it still contains some things in how its done that just rubs me the wrong way, much as most of this series has in general. With it being the finale, there's a lot of action and violence to be found here as well as more revelations from the past that weren't covered in the previous volume.

The first thing they do with the show is to bring in yet another one of the Diclonious creatures so that they can use her to take down Lucy and clean up the mess. This alone is annoying since it goes along with the idea of there always being a bigger and better Diclonious waiting in the wings to do the job and it furthers the completely stupid scientist stereotype. We're introduced to Saitoh, the scientist/doctor type that is the one that takes care of #35. This particular Diclonious, named Mariko, has been kept in what looks to be the strongest storage so far as her reach with her vectors being eleven meters in length. Kept deep inside this storage tank, the only voice she's heard for so long has been that of Saitoh who has taken on a mother role for her.

So with the oversight of Shirakawa based on the instructions for above, she and Saitoh let Mariko out so they can send her to kill Lucy. To ensure that she'll comply and behave, the doctors learn that a bomb was implanted in her just after birth, something that's shocking to them but makes so much sense you wonder why all of them haven't had that done. So we're quickly introduced to another pink haired young naked cutie who has no compunction killing anyone and everyone in sight, even with the knowledge of the bomb inside of her. They do manage to get her under control though and with a large armed guard and all of the bombs inside of her set to a timer connected to a cel phone, they head off to where Lucy is to try and draw her out to an open area to take her down once and for all.

While this is all going on, the domestic front at Kohta's house continues on nicely as Nana is inducted into the group after he teases her a bit about having to pull her own weight there. His wanting to help people is something that goes pretty far back into his past and it's something that Yuka reveals to Nana later on in private as she explains what happened to him when he was young and visiting there when there were the spate of murders and his sister and father were killed in front of him. Since we know from the previous set of episodes that Lucy was very much involved in all of this, we see the expansion upon their meeting to when he was leaving and how badly Lucy reacted to it, particularly due to the way that Kohta had lied to save her feelings about having to do stuff with his cousin. The brutality of the murders and what Lucy does then isn't hedged on at all and it clearly explains why Kohta spent a year in a hospital afterwards trying to recover mentally.

There are some really twisted scenes involved in this such as when Nyu tries to make amends for breaking Kohta's sisters shell, though she may be remembering more from the past, and she goes and cuts her hair to look like his sister and wants to be called by her name as well. This stabs a bit at Kohta but not as badly as you'd guess, but it sets his mind to be open to what comes next. When he's out later with Nyu, and they're crossing one of the bridges where on the other end is the armed guards who are trying to take down Lucy, when Nyu becomes Lucy and the bodies start getting ripped apart, the images strike so deeply at Kohta's mind that he simply breaks and can't stop clutching his head and screaming, one of the few reactions in the series that I thought was just spot on and well done.

A good portion of the final episodes are kept to fight scenes as the various Diclonious go against each other once Mariko arrives with the intent of eliminating Nana and taking Lucy back in to the compound. Kurama sets his plans in motion by using everyone's favorite blockheaded super assassin and the rest of the girls on Kohta's life try to figure out their own place and feelings about everything that they know. The fight sequences are a lot of fun, particularly when Mariko and Lucy go at it since Mariko has more vectors which makes it less of a stalemate and more of an actual fight. There are plenty of bloody moments and lots of bodies being ripped apart here and the tension is nicely done as it moves away from the larger groups that are involved and down to more intimate pieces as relationships find their own particular kinds of closure.

While this volume does play out better than the previous ones, it still has plenty of moments that had me laughing or rolling my eyes. The issues I've had with the previous episode still stand and they do some similar things in this volume by introducing plot elements that should have been applied across the board but would have made the story impossible to tell on some level. For a lot of people, the high level of violence here was fairly shocking and surprising as it pushed the boundaries of what they could get away with on TV (or rather, in the DVD releases where it was expanded upon) but that just didn't click with me or at least seem as violent as it was intended to be. While I'm certainly not jaded about shows, I've seen so much animated and real world violence that it does take more than what they do here to really get a reaction out of me and that was key to the beginning of the series. If it shocks and surprises you, you can really get into it and the decent storyline that runs underneath. If not, then the show has to work a lot harder and it's easier for the viewer to find it shallow overall and too reliant on a gimmick to hold it all together.

In Summary:
For fans of the show, this last volume is going to be controversial since it doesn't include the follow-up OVA release but the series does come to a very solid conclusion for the most part here while still leaving more than enough open for things to continue. A number of things are resolved but there's always room to do more. The flashback moments that clarify Kohta's trauma which was needed here and the action hits some good high notes as Mariko comes into play with everyone. The series overall wasn't something that I really got into however but the ending worked out better than I expected.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Character artwork,Production artwork,Clean opening animation,Clean closing animation,Japanese DVD Artwork

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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