Elfen Lied (Spoiler Free Review)

So the other day I ended up watching Elfen Lied over the span of one day.
I just had nothing else going on at the time.

So here’s my review of it.

Spoiler free, because I just can’t bring myself to spoil anime unless it’s a sequel or I’ve covered it before on the blog.

Naturally, the fact that I binged this anime in a single day should at least hint that I enjoyed it. I’ve binged some less enjoyable anime before like this, but it’s not that common for me.

Super Basic Synopsis

A special girl with special abilities escapes a facility and washes up on a beach having lost her memories, sort of. Then she is taken in by a boy, the facility sends people to try and get her back, and madness ensues. Much blood is spilled throughout the story.

Very Bloody!

Well if you’ve followed some of my other reviews you’ll know exactly what I’m about to write here.

I love a dark and gritty anime! Anime that don’t hesitate to kill characters off, tear characters apart, and overall just go nuts. The violence and gore in this one reminded me a lot of Claymore, although I guess Elfen Lied came out first.

I’ll give my usual spiel: while I love my slice of life and happy anime, there’s just something so refreshing about watching a dark and gritty anime. Maybe I’ve just been looking in the wrong places but it feels somewhat rare to get an anime that commits to this level of gore, grit, whatever you want to call it. It’s a shame that the few anime like this that are out there are usually just written off as edgy. To me edgy is when something tries too hard to be cool, and I didn’t get that vibe here at all.

Anyways, Elfen Lied was very bloody.
It wasn’t as dark as it could have been, and it wasn’t as dark as I felt like it should have been. So take that however you will.

A Little Disorganized

Anyone else feel like Elfen Lied seemed a little disorganized? I thought the story overall was great, and it absolutely had me interested from the first minute of the first episode.

But I felt like there were parts and devices used that seemed a little clunky in the story. Many of these center around the protagonist, Kouta. I can’t really put my finger on it, but I guess it just seemed like many times the way the story interacted with him felt off. It’s hard to really delve into without spoiling anything, but he’s a very wishy washy character (with some issues) and personally I felt like he took away from the story at times.

That said, the flashbacks surrounding Kouta I really enjoyed, so I guess his character overall was really just a mixed bag for me.

In addition, as I mentioned prior, I felt like the story could have been much darker. Given the tone that was set very early on, I was actually hoping it would, but the anime sort of chickens out at times which I think is unfortunate. What I’d really love to see is a truly unapologetic anime in this genre, a real tragedy of an anime.

2004 Animation

Won’t spend too much time on this, but I did want to bring up that Elfen Lied looks it’s age. Not the cleanest animation I’ve ever seen, I was actually surprised to see that Elfen Lied came out in 2004 because it almost feels older than that. But then I see other anime that I’ve watched around that time and it seems consistent with the time period.

Some serious animation improvements or budget increases or something must have happened between 2004 and 2007. In 2007 we have anime like Claymore, Clannad, Baccano!, and other really clean looking anime. What happened in those 3 years? Increased use of digital animation or something maybe? Or perhaps I just don’t know what I’m talking about here, it’s not something I know much about.

Anyways, I don’t really care how old an anime looks. Even today anime are being churned out that have awkward animation and seriously cut corners. If anything, I guess the 2004 look just gives Elfen Lied a bit of classic charm.


Overall, Elfen Lied is a very thrilling anime, start to finish. There’s always some sort of tension, action, or mystery that keeps you hooked. The anime also uses a lot of cliffhangers which is great for a binge session.

I’ll give Elfen Lied a 8 / 10.
Great anime to watch on a rainy day. It’s got a couple issues I think that are story-related and don’t really want to spoil or delve into, but honestly it’s just such a fun anime to watch play out that my personal issues with it don’t matter too much in the end.

If you like dark and gritty anime then this is a great anime to check out.

And that’s Elfen Lied.
I’m sure most of you have already seen it, because I’ve known about it forever but just never ended up watching it until now.

What this anime makes me realize is that I’d really like to watch a truly tragic anime, one that doesn’t hold back. So if anyone has some recommendations I’d love to hear them!

Until next time,
Thanks for reading.

8 thoughts on “Elfen Lied (Spoiler Free Review)

  1. darkdaemonpk2

    I can’t handle too much bloody violence or gore so I’m stuck with anime that’s not too violent. Nice review. How about reviewing the Anime Sola next time?


  2. I’ve been meaning to watch this show in forever as well but I just somehow have not got to it yet. I’m glad to see a rather positive review because to my knowledge, the anime has gotten pretty mixed reviews. I guess I’ll watch this after all, soon, I think.

    Another one I’ve been meaning to watch is Serial Experiments Lain…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I havent seen Serial Experiments Lain, maybe I’ll watch it sometime. I didn’t know that Elfen Lied had mixed reviews tbh, but I can imagine a lot of people wrote it off as edgy after the first episode. A lot of people tend to do that with more visceral anime. Just like how ecchi often gets written off.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Yeah, I didn’t go for this series at all. Watched two episodes and never came back. Still love that OP though.

    Another one from that same era you might find interesting is Shadow Star Narutaru. That one I did finish, and if I were to describe it in a sentence it would be, “What would happen if pokemons ended up in the hands of middle schoolers with severe mental health issues?” There were stories back in the old days of parents mixing that series up with Naruto and innocently buying it for their kids (ha ha), not helped by the first couple episodes also coming off like a kids show before everything starts going to hell. It’s another polarizing series like Elfen Lied was; I’ve known people who really enjoyed it and people who hated it. It wasn’t really my thing, so I’ve never watched it again, but you might like it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ll keep Narutaru in mind, seems interesting enough.

      I never knew that Elfen Lied was polarizing, I just knew it was a relatively known name. I guess a lot of people shy away from anime with darker tones though. I do remember Akame ga Kill! getting a lot of flak for that very reason. It surprises me because anime is so chock full of happy anime that I would have thought people would like the change in tone, but I guess not.


  4. Elfen Lied’s definitely polarizing, and I think a lot of it is generational. I’ve heard people say that the first ten minutes of the first episode is as graphic as it gets and if you can sit through that then you can handle the rest of the show. Well I’ve been watching anime since 1998 and the first one I ever saw was the movie Ninja Scroll, which had plenty of gore and nudity and fully-animated scenes like a demon dismembering a guy and drinking the blood from his corpse, so the beginning of Elfen Lied didn’t especially shock me. But yeah, if someone’s a younger fan and their idea of “dark” anime is Goblin Slayer or something, then I could see where it would be jarring.

    I’ve also heard that the Elfen Lied manga is even darker and gorier than the TV series (and as usual for these things, continues on far past the point where the anime ended), but I’ve never read it so that’s just secondhand info.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Personally I thought Goblin Slayer had a darker tone to it than Elfen Lied. The part of Elfen Lied that fell through for me was the protagonist, he just seemed to take away from everything. Spoiler alert, he’s one of those amnesiac types, and for me, amnesia tends to kill a story. But I know it used to be a really popular storytelling tool, so it is what it is and I put up with it.

      Liked by 1 person

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