Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Gratuity not included

Subject: Noir
So I've been trying to figure out what to say about "Elfin Lied".

After the first couple of episodes, it does get a little compelling. But I think more in the way that you feel compelled to slow down when passing the scene of a car accident than for any intrinsic value in the narrative.

Well, okay, that's a little harsh. But really, this show is an assemblage of gratuitous violence, gratuitous blood, gratuitious nudity, gratutitous child torture, gratuitous child molestation, gratuitous innuendo, and gratuitous emotional manipulation. It is a harsh show. I feel like I've been repeatedly assaulted by a blunt object.

And not really in a good way.

I'm not a particularly squeamish or prudish guy. I've revelled in the ballet of violence in John Woo's "Hard Boiled", and didn't blink at all at the mass nekkidness in Greenaway's "Prospero's Books". There's plenty of compelling and redeeming uses for all kinds of horrible or disturbing subject matter. In "Elfin Lied", though, they're used as a club to beat you over the head, to ham-handedly steer you as to how you should feel about this or that character or situation, often to just set you up one way so they can turn around and knock you down with a so-called twist.

A long while back I posted about "Gunslinger Girls", and said:
This one is just, how I can put it... evil. It's engineered to be so manipulatively heart-wrenching and tragic that you form a depression-inducing sympathy with these poor kids, and a terrible guilt complex when you're awed by the "cool" action sequences when they skillfully, and frighteningly, kick terrorist ass.

...and I liked GSG! But little did I know that I'd run into another program that more aptly fits this kind of description. Except for one thing. I wouldn't call "Elfin Lied" "evil". Instead, I'd use the word "wrong". Just... "wrong". "Evil" was an artful stilleto jabbing stealthy incisions into my heart. "Wrong"... well, "wrong" is a splintery two-by-four smacking me across skull. Blunt force trauma.

Another element about it is that it seems to be a construction built of bits and pieces from other shows. It's like they took a bunch of scenarios, characters, plot points, cliches, and attitudes, put them in a box, and shook it up. It's just another thing that lends to the "engineered to be manipulative" sense that I get from it.

And that's about it. I guess this just goes to show that I shouldn't go watching these sorts of series sober! If I had a few drinks, maybe I would have said it was "fun" or something... (Heh.)


maromi said...

I find elfen lied to be a sort of guilty pleasure. Not nessesary because I find it wrong, I just think that they put too many things in in a short amount of time. The only thing that keeps me going is Lucy and Kouta's relationship. I think that the only episode where the violence worked and wasn't overdone was 8, because it was more tense and dramatic. I've kinda guessed what happened to Kouta's family, and I hope that it is done well. If not I'm not sure this show will stay in my memory as much. Lucy will always be one of my favorite characters though. BTW I'm at episode 10. Did you finish it?

Fellini 8.5 said...

Yup, finished it back on Sunday. There's some good action, and like I mentioned before, I really dig Lucy's "badass" look (when she poses in between popping peoples' heads off like dandelions). But the usual "anime teenager relationship" schtick (and the various attempts at twists and permutations) is usually my least favorite aspect of most anime series. And I had a particularly hard time summoning my "suspension of disbelief" mode for this one.

(something which a couple of drinks surely would have helped with, I'm sure!! :) )

maromi said...

Disbelief! That was the word I was looking for. Not that the whole diclonus thing is too unbelievable(well it is but a lot of anime have a little unbelievable parts) it just seems so strange that they all live together without any problems or finacial issues and Lucy just happened to be on the beach right when Kouta and the annoying girl were there. The whole idea that Miyu is molested seemed a little overdone. But again, even I find so many flaws in this anime I still love it for Lucy. I just wish they would focus on her instead of everything else.I also love the opening song very much(absolutely amazing sequence). If the last episodes are really good, this might become a favorite of mine. Judging by episode 10 I'm not getting my hopes up too much though.