Much like the series I'm reviewing this review is not for the faint of heart. If by any chance you have a low tolerance for opinions, read no further.
Elfen Lied attempts so many things and could have succeeded but it feels as though in the end it tries to hard to be profound and instead of real intruige we are treated to scenes for the sake of pure morbid shock value.
First of all keep in mind that the visuals and sound for Elfen Lied while not breathtaking are great, the animation is very smooth even if the art style is uninspired,and the music fits well along with most of the voices. As anyone who has even heard of Elfen Lied probably knows it's most famous for its immense amounts of macabre slaughter, which is primarily how we begin the story. At least half of the first episode is lead character lucy mangaling guards to escape from a high security secret lab. Gore is fine in itself but here it is employed only to make you squirm and not really add much. Sure you might be horrified at first but in time the never ending violence is all most humorous. Most of the time you'll be caring about backround characters only when they die a grisly, horrible death. Amputated limbs are not actual compensation for non-existant fleshing out of such characters. Along the lines of racy material there is also quite a bit of unclothed women, while I aprove of the opening credits depictions I thought that many of the bathing and other similar scenes were counterintuitive to what the series is supposed to be trying to accomplish, while pretending to be a truly inspiring series it also wants to attract the barely pubescent crowd of boys that just want to get off on cartoon chicks. This along with the addition of added pedophiliac rape cements that the series is doing things to be as blatantly adult as possible.
The actual story is of course the most important thing in any work of fiction. Heralded as a supposed horror story, I found horror elements in the series lacking, suspense boils down to whetehr Lucy will kill someone or not, while this is sometimes fine you never find Lucy to be all that frightning, the only scary thing about her is her sheer proficiency in killing which means there isn't any more to fear from her then from a guy with a gun. The action falters a bit as well, even if the animation is very fluid, not only are fights few and far between they are generally short and unsatisfying. Oddly the aspect that probably got the most people to care is the romance/tradgedy aspects of the story, throughout the entire cartoon we see countless sob stories of tragic past's and tragic present. Characters are introduced just to convey an extra sad story about how evil the world is and we as the audience are expected to care. The romance portions while still sort of rare aren't to bad but they have definantly been done before and done better.
Whether or not you can apreciate the show comes down most importantly to whether or not you like the characters, while they can be seen as one dimensional they generally fall under the category of depressing flashbacks leading to present day psychosis, whether you think schizophrenia, memory regression and developmental problems make the series psychological, or so its supposed to be, it feels as if these crazy characters is just a writers excuse to get the characters to behave a certain way. Ultimatley if you're sappy enough to sympathize with these train-reck characters then you've probably already watched this anime, if you don't feel like wading through tremendous gore and endless flashbacks to find anything resembling a plot then stay away.