Serial Experiments Lain
don't kill me please
Before I start this review... if you enjoyed this anime, don't read any further. I don't want to argue with anyone about anything, neither do I want to repeat hundreds of times that what I will write below this point is my own opinion and my way of looking at things only. If you have a few points, I'm willing to see your view on it, so long as it's a humble explanation instead of emotion-influenced discussion. If you fail to comprehend it and came here to argue, you will be ignored. Thanks a bunch for understanding.
Welcome to my review on Serial Experiments Lain, everyone who decided to read on. I just had to put that huge and ugly disclaimer there, since the views on this anime differ in many aspects from person to person. Now then, you might find yourself asking - what exactly is a review of an anime deemed a classic doing here, in the segment devoted to all the bad anime? The answer is simple - this classic, as original as it is, as loved as it might have been and as thought-provoking as it certainly makes people think it is... is indeed nothing more (and it hurts me to spell it out, dear Lain fans out there) than a fresh topic of old times, something that used to provoke people to think about what can be possible in the future back in the day (and we're talking 1998 there), that holds no meaning nowadays. Serial Experiments Lain (and I'll accent it once more, IN MY EYES) is a fad. It used to be an actual representation of what people back then called unknown, going out of the box with the theories that people found interesting, original. Right now it's but an echo of the past, the artifact of old times that doesn't stand any ground nowadays.
As I already mentioned, the views on this anime differ greatly from person to person. Before even attempting to write my tyrade on this anime I made sure to research the reviews on MAL and see how the community there perceives this title. As I thought, the views there are in vast majority positive - most of the reviews claim that the anime is too deep to comprehend for a normal person and is therefore disliked. That's the place where mine and their views do not go hand in hand - from my point of view, the anime is simply a pile of random events thrown together, and only if you dwelve deep enough, you will understand what was the originally intended meaning of it all. The question remains - why would you even attempt to understand it, if it's long overdue?
For an anime made before the Y2K, it's hard to expect any wonders if it comes to visuals. All it really took back then was going with a scheme that has been tested and worked, avoid excessive frame errors and people were satisfied. The creators of Lain, however, decided that if they're going to mess with viewers' heads, they might as well mess with their eyes a little bit. The visuals here consist of pretty much two layers - one of them is your ordinary pre-2000 anime look, with pointy shapes and all that, character designs with 'edges', that sort of thing. The frame erros, sadly, were all over the place. The other layer is the whole cyberpunk/mystery aspect... and it does look intriguing. Leaving alone the obviously futuristic aspects, so neons, lasers, mysterious machinery and all that, at certain points in time we're presented with scenes that do not belong - blurred colors, multicolored moving gradients, in short - as if they made it to represent the results of intaking LSD. And to be perfectly honest, I liked that. Thinking out of the box at its finest, producing an aura that makes the anime feel out of this world. And, not to end up with a score too harsh in the end, I'll remove an additional point for the bear pajamas.
I can't really say much about sound in this anime. It just... is there. The voice actors do their job well, and looking at the cast there, I'm impressed with the performance of English actors in the original version. As for the soundtrack... I have to admit, some pieces were really up my alley, and I was surprised to hear them to say the least, so huge plus for that. All in all, this paragraph pretty much does the series justice of saving it from the total doom I'm to bring about in the next bits. I'll just let those mild words soak in and we can move forward.
This part is what makes Lain what it is. And, truth be told, it's kept in a constant tempo, from the beginning to the very end. But we can't really talk about pace here, since what unfolds in this anime is not a story - rather, it's a series of randomly assembled riddles, that only solved, and only together, assemble an answer the viewers are looking for. Sounds noble? That might have been the idea behind it, true. But the way those riddles are presented leaves a lot to ask for. Lain Iwakura, a junior high student, leads a normal school life. Lain Iwakura, who isn't really into technology, decides to get herself a good computer. Lain Iwakura, someone who doesn't really understand how computers work, assembles a tremendous supermachine. Lain Iwakura, a normal junior high student, witnesses the suicide of her classmate. Sounds pretty chaotic, doesn't it? That's pretty much just how the plot works in this case. If I were to give the creators credit for their originality, I'd also have to add a hefty amount of whining and bonus points, so I just won't.
The problem with this anime is more on a fundamental basis rather than lying somewhere deep. For me it ended up forming in a simple question - 'Why bother?'. This question has been with me ever since the start until the very end, ans I still haven't found an answer. I believe I already mentioned in one of my reviews that the purpose of an anime is really significant to how it's percepted, but how does that work if the anime has seemingly no purpose other than the made up explanations for what happens in a fictional world. In this aspect, it slightly reminded me of a title I have watched before, a title that I still can't quite forgive for how bad it has wasted the huge potential it had. A title that was created years after Lain, but caused the same feeling of boredom and lack of interest despite my brain working at full speed just to comprehend what's going on the screen - ChaoS;HEAd.
I'm not quite sure how to tackle this paragraph. Given the nature of the anime, the only significant character the series relies on is Lain Iwakura, the rest of them falling considerably behind. Why? Lain Iwakura, as I have already mentioned, is a junior high student, who never really had any special interest in technology. One day she wants to try out what the Wired everybody talks about looks really, so she slowly dives into the vast world of what we would call the Internet. At this point the character development pretty much went to shit and Lain started doing things she normally shouldn't... and that's one of the big features I hold against this anime. I am aware that Lain is something else from the very beginning, but that doesn't justify going against the current and just skipping large chunks of character development for whatever reason.
If I were to describe the other characters in this series... Lain has a seemingly normal family. Her mother behaves odd no matter how you look at her, her father has all the money in the world for the computer parts and her sister for some reason imitates a phone call. Of course, some of it is explained later on, but I prefer to just look at things the way they are. The rest of the cast features Yomoda Chisa, Lain's classmate who killed herself (and that's not even a spoiler), Mizuki Arisu, who really wants to know what's going on with Lain, Men In Black who can't erase the memories of a person for some reason, Taro, the super knowledgeable kid who 'kissed an angel' and Eiri Masami, the Deus Ex Machina of this series... literally. Somewhere in this mess there once was logic, I've even seen it around, but I can't seem to find it anymore.
I'll be frank. The idea of this anime at first appealed to me. I was longing for an anime that would require me to use my brain, hiding a deep meaning that would make me question what is real, or, in case of this anime - where is the border between reality and virtual world. What I got instead was a whole bunch of stuff put together with Super Glue that imitated a really complicated Rubik's Cube. The catch is, solving the puzzle isn't precisely worth it.
I have hidden a message in this review. To uncover it you'd have to analyze the whole article with utmost precision and make quite a bit of research just to see what kind of encryption I used. And the typos, grammar mistakes and everything else are all intentional. I'm sure none of you will ever find what I hid here, and it's quite alright, because there's also no meaning for you to try and decipher the message. That accurately represents my feelings about this anime. It's just a whole load of time I wasted trying to enjoy the anime and the ideas behind.
Total score: 71/100
Judgement: NOT FOR PRESENT DAY... PRESENT TIME!