13 episodes, 1 OVA, Rating: 17+
There is a certain thrill to exploring things you simply don't have a clue about. The fun mostly lies with the unsuspecting state of mind that allows possibilities of some very interesting and intense reactions, be it positive or negative. Especially with anime, 'first impressions' are really important. Like our Chupacabra-kun says, if it doesn't grab you within one-third of its first episode then the 'meh' with it. This reviewer prefers watching at least a full episode before judging, though.
And to think how Elfen Lied made even that 'routine' task so painfully difficult. Seven minutes into the anime, this reviewer was found gaping open-mouthed at the screen thinking of only two horrified words: Holy Mother. Yours truly honestly didn't know how else to respond to a scene where it literally started RAINING severed human arms and legs (and oh, heads as well) out of nowhere.
Elfen Lied, when it came out in 2004, created quite an intrigue with its usage of extreme graphical violence. The story revolved around the fictitious concept of the Diclonius (also Silpelit in some places), a mutant experimental branch of human females who can be identified by a pair of horn-like protrusions atop their heads that give them an elfin appearance. They also possess additional almost-translucent hands (known as infectious vectors) that can be used as deadly telekinetic weapons (and you thought all the bizarre superpowers were already taken). The Diclonius race, although created by the humans, were never accepted or well treated by them. This creates discrimination and mutual hatred between the two parties, triggering countless fights and bloodbaths. But even amidst all this chaos there are characters on both sides who still want to follow the peaceful path of humanity. The story followed these characters' lives, their choices and the ultimate outcome of their relationships in a tragic turn of events.
Anime-critiques had some very good reasons for having high expectations from Elfen Lied: it had beautiful opening animation with hints of Gustav Klimt's artwork, a tragic theme with reference to Eduard Mörike's poem of the same name, standard animation with notable background work and music capable of clinging onto you real fast ('Lilium' by Kumiko Noma, a bit depressing but beautiful nonetheless).
And yet, the anime failed miserably in living up to all those high and mighty expectations. A lot of things about Elfen Lied simply don't make any sense. Imagine having loads of violence and nudity tossed in your faces hinting towards the underlying tragedy of the storyline, and the next moment these ridiculously Moe characters (basically super-cute faced characters with really huge eyes and glossy hair) come out of nowhere and start strutting around living their lives in all happy-go-lucky merriment as if nothing happened: a double-ended shock, no matter how you look at it. This is the frustrating thing about the whole show- it's a messed up repetitive cross between a dark horror movie and a cheerful circus. The violence feels forced and has no art to it, it's more like a flying-limb freak-show. The animators probably couldn't decide whether to make the anime a dark sci-fi drama or a semi-ecchi slice-of-life and eventually ended up making a complete 'khichuri' out of it. The whole Diclonius-theory got a little too tangled up as the episodes progressed and the central theme of horror- that human beings can be more frightening than any other monster imaginable-nah, that sort of thing doesn't scare us anymore, does it?
This reviewer has heard many EL fans say that the ability of the anime in creating contradictory emotions inside the viewer is actually the real experimental genius of it. While yours truly fully understands the notion, a bit more tasteful execution couldn't really have hurt that much. In the end, EL still remains one of the most controversial topics among anime-lovers. Love it or hate it - the choice is yours, of course.
Useless E! News (You Could Have Lived Without)
By Shehtaz Huq
Such is the bounty of the free media. One click of a button, one flick of a cursor, and one's senses are bombarded by the plethora of information out there. Fossilised snails are being uncovered in some Arizonian backyard while NASA contemplates budget cuts to its space program and in the same breath former vice presidential candidate John Edwards finds himself embroiled in another sex scandal and oh, no, here is M Night Shyamalan with his increasingly dumbfounding cinematic visions in the form of The Last Airbender. And because one has only a finite amount of time and an infinite number of ways to while away said time by punching keys, I find myself at the forefront of Filtering the News One Receives from the Free Media. And I bring you this.
1. Megan Fox, hitched
The whole world minus E! News does not care, but executive producers of creativity-starved entertainment programs will beg to differ. Megan Fox, famously underdressed and coated in a slick covering of brake oil, finds her pouting mouth and bad acting skills on the top of the news agenda. She is married. Adolescent boys with Transformer robots tucked under their beds and foxy posters drawn from bedroom walls shall now wail in misery.
2. Jessica Simpson, blond, beautiful and dieting
One racks one's mind, and fails to recall, when the pop industry gave much weight to Jessica Simpson. In fact, if one can think back to when she carried any weight in the music industry one can only vaguely associate her with the leading man of some 90's boy band that has now long ceased to exist. Also, she was caught on tape not knowing the difference between tuna and chicken. One may jump to conclusions and blame her blondness but she has found redemption in a diet. Somehow that is relevant to the rest of the world.
3. Hair there everywhere
It is of no consequence to anyone as to how or why that crow's nest came to exist. If Robert Pattinson's agent was trying to exude that aura of deeply somber, pensive young man then the hair is terribly at odds. More terrible to behold are the throngs of screaming pubescent ladies lobbing stuffed teddy bears at his hair and then swooning when their misaimed swipes dismantle his 'do. Ladies, one day he will be bald. Then what?
4. The King is not gaga
Larry King, who after seven marriages and three hundred years of living, finds in the winter of his extended career sitting across his famous Larry King Live table from Lady Gaga. His ineptitude at interviewing this pop icon makes the E! News ticker. One wonders how the lack of news becomes news but then one is reminded that this is the land which spawned Sarah Palin and then one is not so surprised.
5. Beyoncé's fashion faux pas
Because celebrities are not allowed to stray beyond their threshold unless they are dressed to the nines, the straps of their D&G purses glinting gloriously in the L.A. light while their spray-tanned arms shield their Botox-laden faces from the sun.
6. Bachelorette's icy goodbye
The quest for love often winds up on broadcast television, where amidst seaside resorts and a hovering camera screw one man and one woman lock eyes over scripted episodes and find in their hearts the infinite beauty of pre-recorded love. And when said love sours, one is compelled to leave a no longer desirable contestant on the peak of an icy glacier and make off in a helicopter till the director yells 'Cut!' and the producer returns said vehicle to Universal Studios.
7. Closure in Bubbles
Michael Jackson, deceased king of pop, leaves behind a legacy of crotch-grabbing and high-pitched whinnying and an ageing chimpanzee that for some grief-stricken siblings become a source of closure. At which point said chimpanzee lunges through the bars in his cage and grabs a fistful of Latoya Jackson's hair. Such is the consequence of seeking closure from a pet primate.
8. What shall be Sandra Bullock's Facebook status?
An Oscar win and four months later the media is abuzz with Sandra Bullock's impending divorce, because for all we know the marital status of various Hollywood celebrities will someday impact our lives in such a profound manner that we shall all be stunned into one hundred years of silence. While Sandra Bullock's ex-husband frantically scrabbles to hide his neo-Nazi past his various mistresses lounge languidly against the couches of entertainment network and air their (skimpy) laundry for all to smell.
9. Martin out of the closet
Ricky Martin is gay. Come, let us step into a time machine and transport ourselves to the 90's when that might have actually made a difference. Oh, darn it. Time machine broke.
10. What Lies Beneath (this tent)
A decade and some odd years have passed since the Clinton scandal broke out. Since then, the president and his checkered past have faded from public memory. Until, of course, Entertainment Today stationed a chopper above Chelsea Clinton's rumored wedding venue only to discover that (and with some foresight) the plot had been sealed off with a tent. Still, footage of a massive white tent billowing in the Washington wind is newsworthy, and shall thus be reported. Because the free media is meant to be utilised like that.
The Raggedy Doctor
Matt Smith shines as the Eleventh Doctor
By Tasnima Haque Orin
It was 1:00 am and I just finished watching 'The End of Time' part 2, and the Tenth Doctor had just died. He was the first Doctor I saw and like millions of fans out there, I was heartbroken. He took me and a million others in his timeless journey across the universe. He revitalized the classic show that is such a big part of the British culture and gave it a whole new meaning to the rest of the world. David Tennant also brilliantly played the role of the eccentric mad man with the police box. And so, the tenth Doctor was my Doctor.
Naturally, when he was leaving and a new guy was taking over, lots of fans were a bit skeptical. And he wasn't to be greeted the best way possible. The British media, for example, thought Steven Moffat was crazy to select a young, little known actor with a weird face and “cavemen eyebrows” and wondered if he could play the nine-hundred and six year old Timelord. So, from January the first, fansites and forums were filled with speculation about the story and whether Matt Smith will be able to pull off the task he's been handed. The speculations and criticisms had gone so wild that Steven Moffat had to say at one point that everyone should wait until they see at least a minute of Smith's acting in the series.
The wait surely was a long one. However, after the mind-blowing season finale which left us in a trail of awe, we can conclude that it was worth it. Matt Smith had brought so much more to the show. He still is quirky, funny and talks the same way as Tennant did, but with his unique old schoolboy attitude, the bow tie, and in his willingness to do the things that the Tenth Doctor would have never done, he has brought has truly lifted the show to a whole new level. It definitely looked as if Matt had been playing the Doctor for years!
During the Russell T Davis era, sometimes the only ray of sunshine seemed to be the Moffat episodes. Now that Moffat has returned from working with Steven Spielberg on Tintin to take up the reins on Who, we can surely say that the storyline is in safe hands. Since the very first episode, Moffat has shown what he's got and what he's got does not fall short to delight the fans.
Another high point of the show is Amelia Pond, the new companion of the Doctor, who also happens to be a beautiful Scottish kissogram! Karen Gillan, with her boyfriend Rory Williams, teamed up with Matt Smith has made the show look a lot younger and fresher.
The TARDIS, too, got a whole new look. With the new Doctor, new companion, a brand new TARDIS, new head writer and new producers, the whole thing feels very different, with a definitely improvement in production quality. And it's good. All those who criticized Moffat for selecting this weird looking guy to play our favorite Timelord have been proven wrong. And right now, it looks like the Moffat-Smith duo is going to give us a wonderful ride for the years to come.