Blu-ray Review: Elfen Lied – The Complete Collection
17/08/2015 Leave a comment
Elfen Lied is a series that has been released multiple times over the past decade; but how does this Blu-ray instalment from 101 Films fare? Find out in our reivew of Elfen Lied – The Complete Collection.
A strange girl washes up on shore naked, unable to communicate, scared and alone. Another, a powerful mutant, uses her inhuman telekinetic powers to escape from her prison and leaves a trail of death and destruction behind her. These two couldn t be more opposite…except for the fact that they are both the same person. When two cousins give the strange girl shelter, will they come to realise the deadly secret that lies inside the mind of this horrible monster?
It’s brutal, it’s beautiful and it’s got one hell of a story to share; but are you up for the insanity known as Elfen Lied? Bloody Decapitation, secret organisations and a families past shrouded in mystery is what’s on offer in this thirteen long episode series and while some may find the show unwatchable, due to its heavy violence, questionable themes and constant nudity, it has a special place in my heart; and this Blu-ray re-release by 101 Films makes it all the better.
It all starts when a diclonius, which is a genetically modified human, known as Lucy escapes from a secret research facility and in doing so kills everyone she meets until she is ultimately wounded and left for dead in the ocean. Elsewhere cousins Kohta and Yuka arrive at their new home in preparation for their new school life; but while walking near the beach they find a girl unconscious and badly hurt. It’s a chance encounter which leads to Kohta and Yuka being warped into a world of misfortune and pain; but for now at least everyone can act like a happy family with Kohta and Yuka caring for the girl as if she was a younger sister.
This girl is of course Lucy, the diclonius who savagedly killed numerous guards and employees during her escape from the research facility, however due to her injuries her personality has changed to that of a child and now goes by the name of Nyu in the household; or so it seems at least. When push comes to shove Nyu’s personality changes to the cold-blooded-killer of Lucy and as a result she has constant confrontations with those who want to see her dead. Be it another diclonius, such as the papa-obsessed Nana, the psychotic scientist looking to best his brother or a mercenary looking for revenge – there is always someone willing to pick a fight with Lucy; and non of them end without some form of brutality.
Blood, Violence and some occasional foul language is the key-selling-point of Elfen Lied; not only was it different back in 2004 but here in 2015 the amount of violence is still something you don’t often come across; however its not just the violence that sparks interest in this shows as it’s also the phsycological ideas that it brings up in the process. Elfen Lied offers the premise that non of the characters have ever met before; but as the series progresses a harsh realisation is uncovered when its revealed that Kohta and Lucy have once met before – and it didnt end well. There’s also the backstory of Mayu, a young girl who is constantly out on the streets with a dog named Wanta; at first you think it’s just random occurrences that she keeps meeting up with Kohta and Nyu but in reality she too also has an emotionally depressing past.
Sure Elfen Lied can be brutal and the overall story itself, such as scientists trying to kill an escaped experiment, can be rather bland and cliche but it’s the episodic events and the characters within them which bring out the best of what this show has to offer. Ironically however don’t become too attached to these characters; as you’ll never know who will get killed next – and it does happen.
This Blu-ray edition of Elfen Lied isn’t just an excuse for an old series to be re-released into a better format; as it also comes with the inclusion of an OVA episode; an episode which was never included in the previous DVD instalments. As you’d expect however that’s not all that’s on offer.
Content that was previously on the DVD version, such as textless songs, Character Artwork and Production artwork, are all included here on the second Blu-ray disc and further ‘expand’ this already worthwhile collection. Instead of being listed in the extras the bonus OVA episode is placed on the main menu alongside the regular episodes; however to get the ‘best’ out of the OVA content you’d want to watch it after episode 10 for the optimal experience.
The OVA episode itself tends to focus on Nana getting accustomed to her new lifestyle living in the house with Nyu, Mayu, Yuka and Kohta while later segments of the episode showcase a flashback event with Lucy (Nyu) and Aiko Takada. In a sense this OVA episode attempts to ‘fill the gap’ into a few areas that may have felt incomplete in the series itself. While it’s nice that this bonus episode is included there is a disappointment to be had as nearly all of the characters have been recast by Sentai Filmworks and as such their voices are different. To be fair though this only applies to the English Dub and, at times, you may not notice much difference – I didn’t at least.
Media: BD 50 x1 & BD25 x1
Running Time: 4:25:50 (Disc 1), 1:46:00 (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DTS-HD 5.1 (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps
In a sense Elfen Lied follows the story of an injured diclonius, known as Nyu, attempting to lead a normal life with her new found friends Kohta, Yuka, Mayu and Wanta; but in reality the story is a lot more deeper and twisted than that. For starters when Nyu (or Lucy if you prefer) escaped the facility the idea was to contain or kill her; and as such countless mercenaries and even another diclonius are sent out to kill her. When these attack fail the story seems to move onto a more ‘darker’ storyline with backstories of these characters being told; more specifically an incident involving Kohta and Lucy, which he had long since forgotten, that resulted in the death of close family relatives and a scar on his mind. It’s psychological warfare with a violent spin on it; and it all comes down to final confrontation between two diclonius.
Elfen Lied is one of those rare breed of anime shows whereby it offers an interesting combination of brutal violence and progressive storytelling; but ironically when you are watching the show it feels like nothing is progressing… that is until the later stages. It’s not until around the eighth episode when things start to ‘get interesting’ as everything leading up to it just feels like mindless violence or precautionary measures taken by the research facility in order to protect their secrets from the world. There is reasoning behind it though; as it gives us time to get us familiarised with the mechanics of this world; and the unique abilities of the diclonius. When all is said and done though the ending is just as interesting and unique as the way it started; being abrupt and destruction.
Story aspect aside this Blu-ray release by 101 Films of Elfen Lied seems to be a partial replica of the original US Sentai Filmworks release; for starters theres an Anime Network trailer before you get to the main menu and the menu itself uses the same style and design as that of the Sentai Filmworks release. This is not a bad thing; but it does mean that we have 10 episodes on the first blu-ray disc – which is quite a large amount even by traditional standards – with the second disc having the remaining episodes and some bonus materials. Ironically despite this the picture clarity looks like everything I had hoped for and considering Elfen Lied was released over a decade ago the show looks as sharp, detailed and crisp as a series released today and much better than those of previous DVD releases.
In regards to audio options then both English and Japanese audio tracks are included, with the original ADV Films English dub being used for the TV Series and new English Dub being used for the OVA; both of which have been recoded into DTS-HD 5.1 as opposed to the original Dolby Digital 5.1 included on the DVD. The result is mixed; the background noises – especially on a 5.1 setup – seem to be louder than the spoken dialogue and as a result it can become difficult to hear what’s being said – especially during fight scenes. This isn’t a problem when watching on TV (or 2.1) speaker setups but it’s a slightly disappointment as the show generally sounds pretty cool in surround sound. Of course if you prefer to watch it subtitled then you will be welcomed with clearly presentable yellow subtitles throughout.
Overall Elfen Lied is one of those shows that must be watched by all anime viewers; it’s completely left-field to the norm and now with this Blu-ray release out and available in the UK fans can see it in its beautiful and gory glory – and with some added bonuses as well.
Elfen Lied – The Complete Collection is now available on Blu-ray as a Limited Edition Steelbook version; a bundle which also includes a 36-page booklet. We unboxed this item earlier in the year and the packaging is just as impressive as its on disc contents.