Posted on December 13, 2012 AT 02:59pm
Animes are usually pretty easy to pigeonhole into a genre or category. While Serial Experiments: Lain appears to be a simple sci-fi anime, it really defies all description. It is an odd little story, but odd in the good sense…I think. As I type this, I am still unsure whether or not it was good. It was a unique experience for sure.
The story starts out simply enough, Lain is a middle school student and a total introvert. She is not into the normal things most teens her age are, like computers and email. She appears to be perfectly indifferent to the world around her and her family seems indifferent to her. Her daily routine is always the same until a schoolmate commits suicide and her classmates begin receiving email from the dead girl. Lain’s curiosity gets the better of her, so she turns on her Navi (personal computer) only to discover she has an email as well. The email from the dead girl states she is not actually dead, but that she just left her physical body behind. All this seems linked to the Wired (internet) somehow and Lain begins a journey of exploration into this electronic world. The Wired begins to change Lain and she starts seeing things no one else sees; talks to “people” no one else can hear. She begins hanging out with friends at a local nightclub called Cyberia. It’s through these interactions with people in the physical and electronic worlds, she begins to see the world around her for what it really is.
The animation is stark and there are incidents when animation is just looped and reused, though not in a bad way. It usually involves scenes when Lain is going to and from school. Details can be scare in the background making viewers see the austere confines of the setting. The colors are muted and drab with the occasional pop of bright color. The contrast is heavy, but through the use of lighting and camera angles, you get a sense of the unbalance in the environment. The opening and closing themes add to the feeling of anxiety and the background music is well chosen for each scene. Honestly, it is all utilized so effectively that it completes the anime experience.
Serial Experiments: Lain is a hard anime to pin down. There are so many ways to interpret the story and what the author is trying to convey. There is no set moral that Lain is trying to send viewers away with and no real warning about the dangers of choosing a certain path. Symbolism abounds and includes religious connotations, like questioning the existence of God. One theme that is evident throughout, however, is the blurring of lines between the electronic world of the lives we lead and the real world that so many of us detach ourselves from. If you like a story that will spoon-feed you the plot, this is not your anime. Lain is very cerebral and will have a different meaning to each person that watches it. If you like thinking for yourself, than I feel comfortable recommending this as a “must have” for your collection.
One thing I can promise you, Serial Experiments: Lain will take you on an interesting ride.
The Good: The story is compelling and cerebral. Art direction and audio is well executed.
The Bad: Complexity won’t appeal to the masses.
The Ugly: N/A
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