Elfen Lied OVA

What do you do with a sequel that's not really a sequel? That's the situation that ADV Films faced with the Elfen Lied OVA, also known in some circles as episode 14. Perhaps to justify the cost of spreading out a thirteen episode series over 7 discs, this episode was placed alongside the 13th episode on the Japanese video release. It's a strange bird in the Elfen Lied canon, played for comic relief in the first half and then delving into darker material in the second. The tone is uneven, but that's not the real surprise.  For those not in the know, it's surprising becuase it actually fits in the continuity around episode 11. It would be most appropriate if watched there, though placing the funny bits in the midst of the ending of the tragic tale makes that questionable as well.

We've seen most of this episode in some fashion, but Lucy is her "Nyu" catgirl self (and not her murderous Diclonius alter-ego) throughout. Nana is very wary of Lucy, knowing just what kind of power she holds, but she starts to warm up to the sweetly silly antics of Nyu. Both of them are still trying to find out where they fit into the scheme of things at Kouta's home. At the same time, we get a back story on Nana that helps explain who she is and why she is the Diclonius who isn't hell-bent on bloodlust.

All things considered, this wouldn't have been a terrible episode of Elfen Lied but an unnecessary one. Most (if not all) of the material here gets covered in some fashion during the show's regular 13 episodes. There's nothing to commend it in terms of an OVA; it's clearly the same style as the television show in every respect, which is good, but it doesn't look any better or last any longer. (And unlike most OVAs, this one features less gore and fan service than the regular episodes do.) Not including the credits, it barely runs 20 minutes. And if you've seen the TV show in full, this adds little if anything to the experience.

This does not mean that the episode isn't watchable. I enjoyed Elfen Lied, and I thought this was OK. Had I gone into the experience prepared for what it was rather than expecting a continuation of the story, I would have liked it more. As a purchase on its own, it would be hard to justify. However, if ADV Films repackages the whole series together and includes the OVA as a bonus, I think that could work. Aside from the tone issue I mentioned before, this episode does fill in some very minor gaps; if someone had never seen the show before and watched this episode in the proper continuity, I think it could be worthwhile.

I've decided that I can't really recommend the show, though I've given it my highest "not recommended" score. Diehard fans will pick it up no matter what the cost, and if it's released in some inexpensive format boxed with the rest of the series, I'd be fine with it. But as a standalone? Nope.

Elfen Lied OVA -- graphic violence, brief nudity (most in the credits) -- C+