Serial Experiments Lain
Iwakura Lain is a quiet, unassuming junior high school student, not given to the chatter and gossip and socializing of her fellow classmates, until something strange begins to happen. Several girls at her school begin recieving e-mail from a dead classmate who had commited suicide a week earlier. Out of curiosity, Lain responds to the e-mail she recieves and begins to realize that the world she lives in may not be the only one there is ...
Serial Experiments Lain has to be one of the most visually effective, original, and yet utterly confounding anime titles ever to be dreamed up. From the opening scene to the cliffhanger at the end of the fourth episode (all that has been released as of the time of this review), I was riveted by the simple yet fluid animation, dreamlike artwork and haunting music. However, the casual anime viewer may find this title a little on the...well...odd side.
The artwork was what first caught my eye. The character designs are fairly simple, but the work that went into making their movements and integration into the backgrounds fluid is immediately obvious. Judicious use of CG allows for some of this, while not overbearing the senses and detracting from the art itself. The backgrounds especially are striking, one moment being carefully detailed, spartan and surreal the next. Those with any memory of the 70s may find the brief dialogue screens that pop up now and then, with their kaleidoscope of rainbow colors, slightly disturbing, but the overall effect is dream-like.
This series lends a whole new perspective to the human condition. In a nutshell, it's a story about communication. How we are all connected to one another, yet separated at the same time, whether it's through a phone or across a computer connection. The characters, from our quiet Lain, to her computer otaku father, snotty older sister, and gossipy friends aren't very deeply explored, mainly because there is no need. They are all easily identifiable as someone you might already know, which helps the plot along even more nicely.
And what a plot it is. After watching the first four episodes, I felt like my brain had been taken out and turned around backwards before being replaced. This is definitely NOT an anime for your Dragon Ball-Ranma-Pokemon crowd. It's deep and cerebral and forces you to think about exactly what is going on at every step. Just when you think you have something of the story figured out, it'll tie another knot for you to unravel.
And pulling it all together is the music. From the hauntingly beautiful opening theme by British pop group, BOA, to the hard rock of the disco club, where all the "bad" junior high kids hang out, to the complete LACK of music or even sound in key parts, the whole experience is aural as well as visual.
Now I know you're saying, "Well darn, that was really informative, but is it good?"
Yes, yes it is! Watch it! Watch it! Watch it! Just keep in mind that this is not your daddy's anime. It's more like something you might see on Liquid Television, but infinitely cooler. And if you do watch it and figure out exactly what's going on, tell me please, I'm still puzzling it out myself! SE: Lain is an anime experience that is not to be missed by any hard-core fan of sci-fi or the surreal.
Take away one star if you don't like surrealism with your anime, but add one star if you have an M.C. Escher painting on your wall, like to watch Twilight Zone re-runs, and wear a shirt to work that just says 'Be'. — Jason Bustard
Recommended Audience: Younger children (and for that matter, most teens these days) would probably be either bored silly, or so confused that they will need rehab afterwards. Definitely a show for the college crowd and above.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Serial Experiments Lain © 1998 Triangle Staff / Pioneer LDC
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