What does one get when he or she combines criminal TV shows, Cyberpunk, Sci-Fi, a Dystopian society, and lots of psychological elements to make he or she think about the story? The result would be one of the older, classic, underrated series called Serial Experiments: Lain. When first getting into the series last year, I was so surprised by how an older series could have a story that was not so clichéd and did not have a simple plot for everyone. For those of you who do not know, I love anime that have very unique stories to them, not the cliché series (unless the series has good storytelling and memorable characters).
In Serial Experiments: Lain, the story begins with a girl named Lain, who receives an email from a girl who had just committed suicide, saying that she is still alive and that the email is one of those childish pranks. Lain is not one of those girls who is always online or checking her email, just like her classmates, so this surprises her. When Lain responds to the email, she becomes obsessed with using the internet and begins on a quest to save her new friend.
This plot can be very confusing for some of the audience, so I explained as much as I could in a way that will make sense for those of you who have never seen or heard of this series.
SE: Lain is one of those few psychological anime that really makes the audience think hard about where the story heads off to. In the very beginning In just thirteen episodes, the plot takes so many twists and turns and that confused me in the very beginning. At around episode four or five, I started having an understanding for the funky transitions because I had read a lot of thought-provoking literature and seen some shows with confusing plots in the past, so I was kind of prepared for this series. With mainly suspenseful sequences, crazy scenes with the main character, and some horror—if you really pay attention—this classic will keep the viewers on the edges of their seats and possibly leave goosebumps with a lot of the creepy scenes. During this anime, I literally had a piece of paper by my bedside and wrote about the different directions the plot was taking, which made the series more exciting to watch.
The other interesting aspect about this show is the way the viewers can learn about the horrors of the internet, have an idea on virtual reality versus realism, different ways individuals communicate with one another, and even question the technology our society may have in the future. Sure, the technology in the anime is a lot older compared to our devices today, but director Ryūtarō Nakamura begs this question to his audience, along with a few others. Will we all rely on the internet for our day-to-day lives? Are we going to improve our virtual reality technologies? If so, are we, as a society, going to replace that technology for what our reality has to offer in our future?
My most prevalent problem with this anime comes from the characters’ developments throughout the series. Yes, SE: Lain already a confusing story as it is for a lot of the audience, but character development sets the bars up really high for a thought-provoking and psychological. In order to have a great plot, there has to be more character development than just the little the viewers get to see on the main character.
What kind of suspenseful series would one have without music to fir each of the situations? Basically no series at all! For a 90’s anime, the music in this series is on par with a few of the modern anime soundtracks I’ve listened to, such as Your Lie in April, Hunter X Hunter 2011, Naruto: Shippuden, etc. One song in this series that does not have a suspenseful tone to it, though, was the opening song Duvet by BOA, a British band. With English lyrics that one will be able to hear clearly and a softer 90’s tune, the song surprisenly fits the series. I listened to the actual opening while watching the show, but after I finished it, I found the acoustic version of the song so that I could carefully analyze the lyrics to see if they fit with the themes, and sure enough, they do. I really wish I could tell you viewers about what’s inside of the lyrics, but I do not want to spoil anything at all.
Now, as for the art, this anime doesn’t have the bright colors like most 90’s anime, but I was fond of it. The darker scenery and objects have the bone-chilling appearances just based on those darker toned colors. There are points in this series, though, where the animation can be quite colorful and bright on the screen. An example would be the opening; the artists and directors add all of these bright tones to the animation sequences. Also, the covers that are illustrated by the creator are STUNNING! When I saw the first poster before watching the series, I was amazed by how the dark colors can give the viewers so many hints on what the show has to offer.
(I do not own these pictures. All credit for the pictures go to the creator and directors of the anime.)
As I have mentioned in a few of my previous reviews, I will watch anime in English Dubbed, most of the time. For SE: Lain, I was only able to watch the first four episodes in the English language because Funimation, the company who dubbed this anime, did not have any more clips in that English. Then, I had to watch the rest of the series in English Subbed, which did not disappoint me, actually. The acting in the anime is excellent in both Japanese and English, setting off a creepy atmosphere for the ears of the audience. In my opinion, I can’t choose which language I’d recommend you all to listen to; they are both stellar in their own ways.
Overall, is such a thought-provoking and suspenseful show that will keep the audience on their toes until the end, which is why I gave this series a four and a half star rating. This anime would have been perfect if there weren’t any plot holes and missing character development throughout. There are not really any series I could compare this anime to, except for Death Note, Cowboy Bebop (both of which I have seen), and Texhnolyze, which I have yet to watch. If you have seen any of those anime, I would definitely recommend this show to you. For those of you who have not seen anime or just getting started, I could recommend it if you have read some psychological books or have seen some shows with really slow plots, because this series can be a bit slow in the first few episodes.
Warnings: some profanity, suggestive themes.
Started watching the anime: 3/29/16
Finished the series: 4/14/16