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"Elfen Lied: Vector One" Love Hina, But Kill Bill

Ah, Japan. Home of unapologetic perverts who get off on both gore and nudity. With Elfen Lied they’ve now combined two of their favorite styles. The equation is almost mathematical: Take Love Hina, subtract the humor, then add Kill Bill-levels of Tarintino-esque violence. Or you could describe it in terms of the cliches it uses: There’s the standard harem show apartment building/mansion/restaurant. There’s the standard shy, underage character. There’s standard same-age, over-exaggerating and quick-to-violence character. And there’s the standard male who doesn’t have the cojones to do anything other than take abuse and get in compromising situations.

PWN3DYou’d never guess from its first few minutes that it’s going to mutate into a standard harem show. It opens with security guards getting ripped to shreds (and don’t forget that in Japan the blood pressure is ridiculously high, so that even minor cuts spurt geysers of blood) by a naked woman. Okay, yes, she deflects bullets with her mind, but nobody really proves to be a challenge. It doesn’t take her any time at all to rip off legs and arms and heads, and she’ll even use the body of a secretary as a human shield, proving that she’s an equal opportunity slaughter fiend. A quick blast that could’ve taken out a tank destroys her helmet, and then she’s off to the ocean.

That’s where Kohta and Yuka, two college students/cousins/life-long friends (that just runs the gamut of stereotypes right there, doesn’t it?) who have just recently gotten together again, are hanging out. Kohta’s whole damn immediate family seems to be dead, so he’s made a deal to live in an old restaurant/inn/apartment building in return for keeping it clean. While they reminisce about old times (like, the fact that Yuka sucks at arts and crafts, and that Kohta’s sister was just so cute she had to die), a naked, pink-haired girl with horns shows up. She’s apparently mute (well, she meows like a cat), so Kohta and Yuka do the obvious thing. They take this naked stranger into Kohta’s house, get her dressed, and don’t bother to tell the cops.

Smart move.

Especially when, over the course of the rest of the disc, the mysterious government organization (is there any other sort of government organization?) from which she escaped keeps trying to get her back. They’ll track her down by using badass assassins and little girls with similar powers. Along the way, Kohta will amass many more girls to live in his place (first the mute girl, then the cousin—which makes me look at Japan in a more Springer-ish way—and finally the young homeless girl), all while trying to not to be inadvertently ripped to shreds.

What?! These aren't chocolates the Easter Bunny left me?Elfen Lied might not be terribly inventive, but it certainly is interesting. “Lucy” and “Nyu”, the psychotic monster and the mute girl, both inhabit the same jailbait body. Lucy (and the others like her) have the power of “vectors”: long, invisible arms extending from their back, which gives them some cool maneuvers. Or, at least, it looks cool until we are shown the CGed arms, which is kinda like showing the wires in The Matrix movies, if you ask me. The gore is incredibly outlandish, but sometimes that’s just a fun thing. There’s also a lot of nudity, but hey, Nyu doesn’t know better (and we all sort of hope she never does). Balancing out the Mortal Kombat-inspired action is a love story that is only mildly creepy (aren’t they cousins?), but it’s not really highlighted. Still, you get the feeling that it’s headed down certain paths in future volumes.

Like the show, the extras aren’t very inventive: clean opening, closing, and previews. We get character and production artwork on the disc (oh, these would be so much better in, say, a mini-art book in the case), which actually take the time to show designs for characters that might be on screen for, say, ten seconds.

Despite it’s lack of invention, I’ll admit that I would probably watch future volumes, and that I would probably enjoy them. The show isn’t supposed to be silly, but it is. If you don’t mind laughing at a show that isn’t nearly as good as it thinks it is—and if you’re not the least bit squeamish—you might think about giving it a shot.

Episodes included on this disc:
Episode 1: A Chance Encounter
Episode 2: Annihilation
Episode 3: Deep Feelings
Episode 4: Attack

Related review: Elfen Lied Offers Bloodspray, Breasts, Cliché

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