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Favorite Episode
Actually, I can't really think up of an impressionable scene or episode that left a mark on me. Probably the ending, when Lain discovered that she's...But I won't spoil the fun for you, I think it's in the ending where everything is hinged.

Serial Experiments Lain
Synopsis | Review

I was surfing through the net one day, and saw that my favorite techie channel, Net TV, was showing Serial Experiments Lain. There's also lots of praises for the anime in their website. Actually, I've seen the name Lain every now and then in techie and geek sites, heaped with many webmasters' and reviewers' rhapsodies about it.

So what really is Seral Experiments Lain? Is it really worth all this excitement? At 13 episodes, I thought I should just go ahead and find out.

Lain Iwakura is an eighth grader, a loner with a penchant for wearing a bear suit with a bear hood as a sleeping garment, and illiterate as far as computers are concerned. Her personal computer is an old and very basic model, and she seldom checks her emails. That all changed when a classmate, Chisa, committed suicide. Several girls in the class received emails from the dead girl. Curiosity overtook Lain and she checked her email to see that indeed, even Chisa sent her an email.

"I still live here. I just abandoned my body."

So Chisa wrote in the email.

After reading the letter, Lain's life changed. She was befriended by three schoolgirls who tried to coach the quiet Lain out of her shell. Lain suddenly developed this curiosity on computers and desired a new Navi model, their version of a personal computer, of which she asked her computer geek of a father to get her one. She mysteriously receives a small hardware that when integrated into her Navi allows her to enter cyberspace, called The Wired. She transformed to a new persona when in the Wired, a Lain that's the complete opposite of the Lain in the real world. She developed an obsession with her Navi, constantly upgrading her hardware and software until her chaste, stuffed-toy-ridden bedroom resembled a computer hacker's headquarters. Two suspicious-looking men in black suits would camp outside Lain's house, observing her. And Lain's friends claimed that they've seen another girl who looks like her, only that she doesn't act like her at all...

Okay, so my synopsis doesn't make much sense. Serial Experiments Lain consists of random episodes with only the first and last of couple of episodes making particular sense. It's up to the viewer to make heads or tails of it. So if my synopsis reads a lot like gibberish, then maybe I wasn't able to make heads or tails of the anime at all -_-;

Essentially, it's about the Internet, and how Lain was transformed from shy teenager to an extrovert when she's in the Wired. Call it Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde if you will. It's fine in the beginning, there's a solid plot here. I tried to figure out the cause of Chisa's suicide, and her reason for sending emails to people with a cryptic message.

Then I watched the succeeding episodes--they call it by "layers", and I was lost. Scenes were inserted that don't seem to make any sense at all, and most of the time there were shots of black and white images, or swirls of color. There are even actual images from a video cam. I think it's the creators' attempt at artistry. Or else there's a reason for those images. In any case, it's again up to the viewer to interpret the ambiguous, seemingly nonsensical stuff. The ending of Lain, even though I wasn't able to follow much of the story, was more or less predictable, from an anime that makes you expect the unexpected.

The artwork is cool, if anything else. Lain is not pretty, but even with her bizaare sleeping clothes, the artwork makes her grow on you. The music is one of Lain's redeeming qualities; the opening theme entitled "Duvet" by a British group called Boa is nice. When I first heard it, I thought the copy I'm watching is the dubbed version (curiously, I don't like watching English-dubbed anime).

Obviously, I won't pretend to like Lain. Inspite of its 13 episodes--not really that long--I found Lain boring to tears. Literally, since I felt my eyes tearing up from sleepiness. I felt that the creators of Lain are computer geeks with a PhD in philosophy; they overdid their depiction of cyberspace with melodramatic philosophical stuff. I've seen it in Neon Genesis Evangelion. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I'm not into psychodramatic stuff. So is it my fault if I wasn't able to understand all those layers from Serial Experiments Lain? To each his own, they say. I just happen to have a different taste ^_^

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