Serial Experiments Lain
(1998) was one of the first artistic/surreal anime series that combined a fragmentary narrative with collages of disparate visuals. Although she can barely deal with e-mail at the beginning of the series, 13-year-old Lain metamorphoses into a computer guru involved in The Wired, a cyber-dimension that represents the sum of human electronic communications. Her waxing strength attracts the attention of the Knights of the Eastern Calculus, a cabal of hackers fighting the staff of the sinister Tachibana Laboratory. The cyber-Lain grows bolder and more confident, but her real-world counterpart seems to be fading out of existence. Does she need a body any longer? Does she still possess one? Her father departs, announcing that their family has never been anything but a group of actors. The Knights, who seemed omnipotent within The Wired, lose a critical power struggle and its members are executed by Tachibana agents. Lain greets these questions and revelations with her usual fixed stare and little indrawn breaths. Complications multiply as Lain debates the nature of God and free will with Masami Eiri, who argues that human minds are linked like electronic circuits on a subliminal level. As the boundaries between the real world and The Wired break down, Lain insists, "What isn't remembered never happened," and rescinds not only the actions of her cyber counterpart--but perhaps her own existence. When Eiri, the self-described god of The Wired, loses a debate with Lain, he explodes into a mass of writhing tentacles and eyeballs, and the tone of the series suddenly shifts to anime horror. Director Ryutaro Nakamura uses hand-drawn animation, computer-generated imagery, processed live-action footage, and still images to create a disjointed narrative. The collages of conversational bits and repeated close-ups of Lain's eyes only increase the feeling of disjuncture. Viewers will either embrace this skewed portrait of an emerging computer-dominated world or reject it as pretentious and unintelligible: no one will watch Serial Experiments Lain
with indifference. The DVD/Blu-ray boxed set comes with a chunky volume of production artwork that includes neither captions nor credits. Rated TV 14: minor sexual content, violence). --Charles Solomon
(1. Weird, 2. Girls, 3. Psyche, 4. Religion, 5. Distortion, 6. Kids, 7. Society, 8. Rumors, 9. Protocol, 10. Love, 11. Infornography, 12. Landscape, 13. Ego)
Acclaimed artist Yoshitoshi ABe (Haibane Renmei, Texhnolyze) brings to life the existential classic that paved the way for blockbuster films such as The Matrix. Follow along as fourteen year old Lain driven by the abrupt suicide of a classmate logs on to the Wired and promptly looses herself in a twisted mass of hallucinations, memories, and interconnected-psyches.