Elfen Lied (エルフェンリート Erufen Rīto) is an anime series which is based upon a manga of the same name which was written and illustrated by Lynn Okamoto. It is named after a poem by the German Romantic poet Eduard Mörike.
The show, which originally aired in 2004, follows the conflict between humans and an anthropoid mutant species called “Diclonii” who distinguish themselves by two horns on their heads and invisible telekinetic arms called “vectors”. Prominent themes of this anime are social alienation, identity, prejudice, revenge, abuse, jealousy, regret and the value of humanity. Its tone, brilliantly supported by the excellent score, is mostly sad and melancholic, however occasionally mellowed with elements of comedy. There’s an enormous amount of both graphic and psychological violence that conflicts with an overdose of uber-cuteness. However the show never seems to become distasteful.
The story takes place in Kamakura, Japan, where the main character, a female Diclonius called Lucy, escapes from a high-security facility in which she was held for experimentation. In the very first scene we see her tearing apart a bunch of armed guards with only an iron helmet on her head. Just before she finally manages to break free she gets hit by a bullet which leads to her developing a secondary innocent and child-like personality known as Nyu. Later she is accommodated by a student called Kouta and his cousin Yuka, who then become involved in countless brutal attempts to recapture her.
Lucy using a decapitated body as a shield
Elfen Lied is clearly one of the best anime series ever and you should by all odds give it a try. However, it ends with a very nasty cliffhanger, so I’m afraid I can only give it 4.5 out of 5 Kurisus.