We're all Connected... There is the world around us, a world of people, tactile sensation, and culture. There is the wired world, inside the computer, of images, personalities, virtual experiences, and a culture all of its own. The day after a classmate commits suicide, lain, a thirteen year-old girl, discovers how closely the two worlds are linked when she receives an e-mail from the dead girl: "I just abandoned my body. I still live here..." Has the line between the real world and the wired world begun to blur?
In serial experiments lain
, things get very weird very quickly, and they stay that way. A schoolgirl commits suicide, but several days later her classmates receive e-mail from the dead girl. One--an introverted 13-year-old called Lain--replies, and her correspondent claims not to be dead, but to have passed into the "wired world." Eventually, Lain must join her. What follows is a story that combines virtual-reality, nanotechnology, a host of other science fiction concepts, and a healthy dose of postmodern paranoia. It would be unfair to reveal much more about the plot, but the phrase "nothing is what it seems" applies to just about everything in this compelling anime
The beauty of serial experiments lain is the deliberate pace at which the story unfolds. Director Ryutaro Nakamura eschews the hyperkinetic style of many anime, allowing the plot to develop in slow motion and making every single image count. The first episode (a total of four are included) is a masterpiece of shifting moods and slowly building tension. Every detail--from the strange blotchy shadows to the ever-present hum of power lines to the slow tracking shots across the dazed face of Lain herself--helps create an atmosphere of unease, and as the truth is gradually revealed, that unease is amply justified. The art direction is superb, mixing computer graphics with traditional animation and making frequent use of high-contrast images that set deep shadows against a blinding white sky. The first four episodes of serial experiments lain combine the millennial dread of Neon Genesis Evangelion with the subtle menace of The X-Files to create a uniquely disturbing beginning to an imaginative and intelligent story. Stay tuned. --Simon Leake