Serial Experiments Lain (1998) Anime Review
Many animes have been deemed underrated throughout history—titles like ODDTAXI, Steins; Gate, Erased, etc. have marked the anime industry, yet nobody seemed to notice them. You can also chime into the conversation with several series not adapted from manga or visual novels.
Serial Experiments Lain might be a good candidate for the weirdest and most confusing anime of all time. It tackles topics such as technology, mental health, societal issues, etc.
Before even trying out this anime, make sure that you pay attention to every detail because the one who created this might be an expert in hiding.
The story of Serial Experiments Lain might not be a typical linear path as it branches through different timelines and directions.
We follow the story of an introverted high school girl named Lain Iwakura. She lives with her older sister, her distant mother, and her technological-savvy father in a mid-suburban area in Japan. Her personality makes her socially distant from her classmates, and even some become wary of her presence.
Lain's life changed when she and her classmates suddenly received an email from a girl at her school who had committed suicide. Despite everyone ignoring her message, Lain wonders about her mentioning that she did not die but instead abandoned her physical self. She also says she became part of a virtual social media realm that can control all human communication networks, called The Wired, and claims she found God. This triggers a series of events circulating Lain's life when she becomes more obsessed with finding the truth and realizing that she is playing with the fabric of reality.
Serial Experiments Lain explores themes such as the influence of technology, mental health, reality, and many more. A few episodes talks about the psychological effects of technology, while some discover more on the theological aspect of things. What this anime brings in is that it perfectly mixes all of them throughout its non-linear narrative.
Let's talk about some of its outlying themes.
Communication has been one of the dominant themes of this anime—Lain Iwakura's introverted life circles around being socially disconnected from her peers. Her life turned when a dead girl communicated with them via a disturbing email. Throughout the anime, when reality and fiction get blurred, Lain disturbingly corresponds to a fragment of her mind.
Lain didn't have a perfect life like other anime heroines. She didn't have a supportive family, had no friends to speak to, and didn't excel much. Lain's lack of communication with almost everyone around her makes her go toward the second central theme of this movie, Loneliness. This anime may not explain the theme well, but it becomes relevant as the story progresses.
Lain's personality change as she gets disturbingly more disconnected from herself and around her. She develops a dissociative identity disorder that sometimes takes over her. The third dominant theme of this movie is mental health or mental illness.
There are still other themes that the anime explore, but these three might be the most dominant.
Overall, Serial Experiments Lain is not for the faint-hearted or easy-to-confuse watchers. It has a definite spin on things that may not be for everyone.
A perfect 5 out of 5 stars.