Lain Iwakura, an awkward and introverted fourteen-year-old, is one of the many girls from her school to receive a disturbing email from her classmate Chisa Yomoda—the very same Chisa who recently committed suicide. Lain has neither the desire nor the experience to handle even basic technology; yet, when the technophobe opens the email, it leads her straight into the Wired, a virtual world of communication networks similar to what we know as the internet. Lain’s life is turned upside down as she begins to encounter cryptic mysteries one after another. Strange men called the Men in Black begin to appear wherever she goes, asking her questions and somehow knowing more about her than even she herself knows. With the boundaries between reality and cyberspace rapidly blurring, Lain is plunged into more surreal and bizarre events where identity, consciousness, and perception are concepts that take on new meanings.
When I sat down to review one of the most critically acclaimed anime, I found out it was difficult to describe the surreal experience. I watched Lain a long time ago, but it is still clear in mind as ever. It’s hard to ignore an anime like this, whether you hated it or loved it.
Old school art style, a dark atmosphere and a proper use of music- I loved the opening theme on that note- whatever area Serial Experiments could have failed on, execution wasn’t it. It makes you want to sit and watch the anime, even if you don’t understand half of what is happening at first or don’t find the plot interesting. Serial Experiments Lain is intriguing, if not anything else.
In short, Serial Experiments Lain touches on the concept of existentialism. It’s not something we haven’t heard before or know about, though it might be one of the few anime out there that actually dares tread the waters. The ideas portrayed in Lain isn’t groundbreaking in anyway, at this point most people have pondered over the subject and come up with their own negative or positive view of it. Serial Experiments asks a lot of question which though it character’s, which is interesting to watch, but it fails to provide any concrete answers.
It is incredibly slow paced, a point which might be negative or positive depending on the audience. For me, it was just fine, though I did wish for it to fasten up a bit towards the end.
Which brings me to the characters, Serial Experiments filters in and out from Lain’s perspective. From Lain’s point of view, it is detached, lonely and maybe a bit bothersome. From others characters’ view, everything that happens is mysterious and scary. There wasn’t really any scope for character development when it came to side characters, because in the big scheme of things, they were just plot points, emphasizing on the change in Lain.
Lain, herself, went though massive development. What first appears to be Dissociative identity disorder is slowly explained as the anime progresses. Let’s just say, Lain went from an awkward girl to someone with a clear view of things. The voice acting, both in the dub and sub, did a good job bringing out the nuances in her changing emotions. Dialogue was extremely parse throughout the anime but whatever there was, had its purpose.
Overall, Serial Experiments Lain might not be for everyone. However, it might be better to at least watch and form your own perspective on it.