Elfen Lied consists of 13 episodes and an ova between episode 10 and 11, there is also a manga for this anime as with many animes. The anime is published by VAP, inc which is a Japanese entertainment company, it was produced by GENCO, inc and animated by ARMS Corporation. In most cases mangas are usually more gory than the anime itself but in Elfen Lied it's turned around and the anime is more gory than the manga, which you will find out within the first few minutes of episode 1. The most interesting thing with this anime is that the characters portrayed in the manga aren't all in the anime, some are missing.
The theme of the anime is not just one of gore, horror and psychological thriller but it also portrays friendship and a much deeper meaning that is not widely realised. It shows how peoples actions and how they treat others can truly affect how a person grows up to be and how they react to things, their mannerisms and tendencies and how they ultimately see the world in a different light. The violence and abuse our main character sees and experiences when younger ultimately defines who she becomes and in part is why she is seen to have a split personality and sees the bad in the world. She becomes very childlike and innocent throughout almost as if going back to her childhood to a time when things weren't as traumatic as they are now for her. There are many flashbacks in the anime showing her past and the past of other characters, many twists and turns in the story to keep you interested and watching and wondering how things may turn out.
Our main character has two names, Lucy being her real name she has had since birth and grown up with. Lucy is what is known as the “queen” of the Diclonious which is a Semi-Human race, they have unique abilities which resonate as invisible arms that she can control which due to her violent past she mainly uses to cause harm. Lucy is in no way evil but she also isn't good, she's neutral, with her tormented past and her captivity she hasn't lead the life most people do and has grown up to fear and hate so the violence she shows is in her eyes justice for the treatment she received. Her other persona is Nyu who is innocent and childlike and slightly ignorant to the world around her. She knows almost nothing of the world of hardships people entail and she reverts to a childlike mind which causes her to temporarily lose her memory and the only word she is able to say is Nyu. This is why she is known to others as Nyu, a perfectly sweet innocent girl who has clearly had some sort of trauma affecting her ability to speak or see the world for what it is. This character is my favourite in the anime, not only because she is the main character but because I sympathise with her and understand why she is the way she is and why she acts the way she does. Her split personality can be seen as using her mind to put things into compartments; Lucy keeping all the bad, harsh, sad and tormenting things to one side and Nyu having all the happy, innocent and sweet parts. Being able to keep both separate requires a lot of thought and dedication and I admire her for being able to keep things separated almost as if she doesn't want to taint Nyu’s innocence.
Kouta is the male of the anime, he finds Nyu on the beach and being a gentleman and like any young chivalrous man invites her to his home. Seeing how innocent she is and unable to say anything more than Nyu he feels like he should help her, he is also reminded of his younger sister and treats Nyu as if she is his little sister. The way she acts and is reminds him very much of the sister he once had, Kouta’s sister was murdered at a young age, the killer unfound and the murder horrendous and gory. Along with his sisters death his father was also murdered at the same time, throughout the series events unfold and pasts are revealed that show what happened to his sister and how she died. Kouta is very innocent and always sees the good in people and likes to be helpful and generous, this comes from his past when he was a child. Unfortunately, due to the horrific and gruesome events that unfolded in his family's murder he repressed his memories and believes it to be an innocent death, nothing gruesome, to preserve his sanity and keep him the innocent good person we see. I loved Kouta for how he was, he accepted Nyu the way she was and wanted to protect and help her and throughout stayed true to his nature, even through events that would push the sweetest and most innocent people to their limits.
Possibly the most sweet character in the anime and so misunderstood, she is very much like Lucy with a bad and tormented childhood. She appears to be the age of a teenager but due to being experimented on and the tortures she has experienced her mental age and mannerisms are closer to that of a child of around 6-7. She is known as Nana or #7, there is a lot of backstory shown on Nana and I urge you to give her time, she will grow on you after you discover more about her. She may do bad things but she does turn herself around, to cope with what she went through she became attached to her captor, sort of like a stockholm syndrome effect. She is so sweet and innocent and just seeks the approval of her father figure.
There are other characters in the story who I will not touch on as they will include spoilers and give too much away on the story. I would much rather bring you into the story, tease you with my favourite characters and make you want to read and find out about the other characters for yourselves. There are a lot of varying characters who show a lot of different personalities.
This anime was one of the first I watched and I fell in love within minutes. The gore in the anime isn't hidden, it's right there from the start and continues throughout. The story development is superb and the way the characters are explained, their different personalities and their backstories just keep you even more interested and wanting to find out more. The music is eerie in places but also sweet and amazing as well as the graphics. This anime was one of those ones I didn't want to end, that made me want to watch more anime and started me off in my journey to watch more psychological thrillers. If you enjoy gore, traumatic pasts, stories with a twist or just good anime this is definitely one to be watched and enjoyed.