What I’m Watching: Serial Experiments Lain

Serial Experiments Lain is a haunting story about a girl named Lain, living in modern-day Japan, who lives a largely computerless existence.

After one of her friends commits suicide, she receives an e-mail from apparently beyond death. This kicks off the narrative, driven by Lain’s quest to become ever more computer-literate. As the narrative progresses, she withdraws from normal society, growing withdrawn and distant at school, but ever more obsessive in her private, increasingly computerized life.

This anime has a very slow and deliberate pacing, making the first episode difficult to get through. It gets better as time passes and it builds towards the series’ climax. By the end, Lain has discovered things about the nature of reality that are terrifying and distancing, truly isolating her from the rest of the world.

The most interesting aside to this series is the sheer number of references to real world events.  This is the only Japanese anime that I have seen mention Roswell, and it talks about the conspiracy theories surrounding it in greater detail than I had inside of my skull already, and other references, obscure and obvious, abound.

I consider this a must-watch for the SF/F enthusiast, although the slow pacing is a definite barrier to the more casual watcher. The art style is also very interesting, it is rare to see an anime that goes so far out of the conventional art style as this show does. Overall, 4.5/5 stars.

You can get it on Blu-Ray/DVD here.

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