If the first volume of Elfen Lied was notable for its sheer visceral onslaught of blood shed, volume two will be remembered for how outright disturbing this series can be; rather than treating us to more of the nasty supernatural abilities that define the Diclonius monsters, here we are served up some decidedly human trauma; paedophilia, implied rape and physical abuse are but are few of the despicable terrors that befall the young girls of Elfen Lied and it makes for some utterly horrifying and compelling viewing.
Kohta and his harem of female house-sharers all seem to share less than pleasant histories; young Mayu in particular has had a horribly gruelling life up until now, having gone through such horrific experiences with her adopted deviant of a father and heartless mother. What we see here ends up feeling all the more shocking because every character comes across as so innocent and unassuming.
This unabated torrent of violence is at complete odds with how “cutely” Elfen Lied has been animated and no doubt, it is this soft aesthetic style that largely contributes to such an uneasy, unpredictable and macabre atmosphere; beneath all the flowing red hair, attractive looks and innocent manners of a character like Nyu lurks a gruesome, sadistic monster bent only on murder and exploitation of the worst kind.
This volume is by and large devoted to characterization and along with the above mentioned back-story of Mayu; we find ourselves knee deep in depravity and high school romance. Further confirming the extreme nature of this series, while Kohta and Yuka begin an uncomfortable and harmless relationship, the lost Nyu is engaged in an attempted raped by an insane Diclonius outcast.
Frankly, I’m amazed the BBFC have seen fit to slap on a 15 certificate for Elfen Lied #2; the first volume was largely dominated by unrealistic cartoon violence but here the horror fails to conceal several darker shades of red. If the flailing limbs and broken bones of previous episodes weren’t enough, Elfen Lied #2 presents us with several situations that while not as gruesome, are about as nasty as horror can get.
Elfen Lied #2 continues the series memorable juxtaposition of unflinching horror, innocent aesthetics and deplorable violence. With that said, this volume’s particular flavour of sadistic exploitation leaves a far more bitter taste in the mouth.
This is gripping and gruelling viewing recommended only to those with a taste for the most unsettling horror.