Serial Experiments Lain [SPOILER ALERT]

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Serial Experiments Lain [SPOILER ALERT]

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Postby TheAyanamiOtaku » Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:22 am

I feel like that thing needs a whole goddamn forum dedicated to it. Ridiculously interesting.

If you guys haven't heard of Serial Experiments: Lain, skip to the summary or, even better, just go watch it. In this thread lie spoilers! Anyways, this is the summary:

The story starts with a girl committing suicide, then sending her friends emails post-mortem, and ends up exploring the concept of reality, the internet, God, humanity, the human condition (what does it mean to be human), and other juicy topics.

So, a few days ago I watched all of Serial Experiments Lain with a veteran fan and my close friend at her house, sleeping over. That might've been a mistake.

Somehow I stayed living until 3am, went to sleep, woke up again, and finished it with her. I have reeled around thinking about it. I might a review/discussion on it, but I don't know where to start.

My friend (let's call her Lisa, for shits and giggles) used to say that forums equivalent to our EGF existed when Lain just came out. I'd just figure we'd be right up Lain's block. Now we just found this website, which was heartwarmingly comprehensive.

SPOILER: Show
http://www.cjas.org/~leng/lain.htm


So friends! Let us hear our voices - opinions? Links to material? Bunches of discussions?

spoilers ahoy! this is my opinion:

SPOILER: Show
I really liked Lain. I felt a bit bored the first few episodes, because I didn't recognize her change in personalties, and I didn't really appreciate the ridiculous imagery all over the place. Yes, it has been a veery long time since I had touched Evangelion, I know. Eventually, weird things started to happen, and I just kind leaned forward.

Lisa's parents didn't appreciate me with her in her room at early morning hours, so we did not pull off an all-nighter, which was good for my comprehension. Restarting in the morning, all of the episodes felt much more interesting, and well-built, instead of unexplainable and unintelligible imagery. I felt a bit more confident after that, lol. The conclusion felt satisfying but oddly expected, especially the superpowered, awkward and superficially emotionless girl with a heart of gold. cough. Anyways, I put Lain next to Evangelion.

Anyone else find Lain guiltily appealing? Or am I the only one here dumb enough to inadvertently sic'd the party van? I found her interesting to look at, when she had all of those wires stuck in her.
Last edited by TheAyanamiOtaku on Fri Jun 18, 2010 1:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby 0x2eleven » Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:34 am

Agreed. It's a great series with all the fixins'...except good animation. If I remember correctly, the animation in Lain is bad and only gets worse as the anime goes on. Still, the story makes it very much worth watching.

Wrong forum, by the way.
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Postby child of Lilith » Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:07 am

Serial Experiments Lain is my second or third favorit anime. I haven't watch it in sometime, but have been meaning to watch it again sometime soon.
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Postby Oz » Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:32 am

SEL is a great show. It's probably my favorite after Evangelion. A huge number of heavy themes condensed into a 13-episode mindfuck that has a challenging but extremely rewarding form.

@0x2eleven: That depends on what you mean by "good animation" because it seems to me that the laconic/minimal animation was done on purpose.
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Postby planet news » Wed Jun 16, 2010 10:28 am

Boy, I kinda disliked this show. Not hated. But the ending disappointed me. I'll have to watch it again. I know it is generally praised.
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Postby child of Lilith » Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:01 pm

Do you mind going into more detail as to why the ending disappointed you? I’m not trying to call you out or anything, I’m just interested in knowing what you didn’t like about it.
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Postby Oz » Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:32 pm

^ Same here. I thought the ending was the best part of the whole series.
"I'd really like to have as much money as you have, Oz" - robersora
"No you wouldn't. Oz's secret is he goes without food to buy that stuff. He hasn't eaten in years." - Brikhaus

"Often I get the feeling that deep down, your little girl is struggling with your embrace of filmfaggotry and your loldeep fixations, and the conflict that arises from such a contradiction is embodied pretty well in Kureha's character. But obviously it's not any sort of internal conflict that makes the analogy work. It's the pigtails." - Merridian
"Oh, Oz, I fear I'm losing my filmfag to the depths of Japanese pop. If only there were more films with Japanese girls in glow-in-the-dark costumes you'd be the David Bordwell of that genre." - Jimbo
"Oz, I think we need to stage an intervention and force you to watch some movies that aren't made in Japan." - Trajan

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Postby backseatjesus » Wed Jun 16, 2010 3:36 pm

My favorite part of the series was the buzzing of the powerline transformers. The sound created an amazing atmosphere.

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Postby ran1 » Wed Jun 16, 2010 4:36 pm

Lain is awesome for any filmfag. The framing in there was awesome, and the nature of the series itself was pretty amazing as well.
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Postby oOoOoOo » Wed Jun 16, 2010 5:25 pm

Although hardly one of my "Top Arbitrary Number Anime of All Time", Lain has a wonderful mood. The music and the colours and the way things are framed, shot, and so on... it is all very delightful. Delightful in a sort of depressing way.

I think I would even enjoy the show even without sound, like a silent movie. (I exaggerate.) Maybe that is what ran-kun is getting at, since he is a self-professed filmface.
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Postby Oz » Wed Jun 16, 2010 5:30 pm

I would like to add that even though Lain's framing and editing might be awesome the sound design is even more godlike. Nakamura uses sound masterfully in Lain (and also in Kino's Journey as well).
"I'd really like to have as much money as you have, Oz" - robersora
"No you wouldn't. Oz's secret is he goes without food to buy that stuff. He hasn't eaten in years." - Brikhaus

"Often I get the feeling that deep down, your little girl is struggling with your embrace of filmfaggotry and your loldeep fixations, and the conflict that arises from such a contradiction is embodied pretty well in Kureha's character. But obviously it's not any sort of internal conflict that makes the analogy work. It's the pigtails." - Merridian
"Oh, Oz, I fear I'm losing my filmfag to the depths of Japanese pop. If only there were more films with Japanese girls in glow-in-the-dark costumes you'd be the David Bordwell of that genre." - Jimbo
"Oz, I think we need to stage an intervention and force you to watch some movies that aren't made in Japan." - Trajan

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Postby oOoOoOo » Wed Jun 16, 2010 6:28 pm

Eeee~ you're right, the sound is divine. I just popped open youtube and was shamed by my silly idea that Lain could be a silent film.

backseatjesus: I concur, although I think my powerline fetish is entirely Anno-san's fault. >_>
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Postby child of Lilith » Wed Jun 16, 2010 9:20 pm

View Original PostOz wrote:(and also in Kino's Journey as well).

Yet another great anime. I’m not sure where it falls on my personal list of favorite animes, but still one I’d love to see again.
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Postby Eva Yojimbo » Thu Jun 17, 2010 12:55 am

Here was my review for Lain which I still pretty much stand by:
I wrote:
THE STORY:
Beyond the soft hum of information passing through cables, beyond the gentle glow of computer screens there lies another world. The world of the Wired. Lain is an introverted, but otherwise seemingly normal 13 year old girl. When a classmate commits suicide, and everyone from her school starts receiving e-mails from her, Lain becomes increasingly interested in the world of the Wired. The Wired is akin to our internet - accessed by computers called NAVIs. Lain asks her father for a new NAVI, and it doesn't take long before the barrier between the "Real World" and "The Wired" starts crumbling. What is the Wired? What is the Real World? Who is Lain? The only common theme you will find is that:

"We're All Connected."

REVIEW:
The one common word you will read/hear used to describe Lain is "weird". Yes, it is that, but it's much more. Being a Japanese anime, I can't be completely sure what its influences are, but Lain very much reminded me of a David Lynch approach applied to an The X-Files season with bits and pieces of Akira, Ghost in the Shell, and Evangelion thrown in. The thing that will throw most off is the completely abnormal narrative of Lain. We're shown inexplicable things without explanation, opaque symbolism crops up everywhere, and all the while the viewer is left to wonder "Just what is real?" and "Just what the hell is going on?".

To those used to Lynch's approach to film-making - especially something like Mulholland Drive - Lain MIGHT not be so confusing. That's because you become used to spotting "red herrings", so to speak, and understand that everything you're shown - no matter how emphasized at the time - may be inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. The best advice I could offer when going into Lain is to have no pre-conceived notions about what is or should be real or important. Let the narrative flow and if you simply take things as they come, without analyzing them, it will seem much less confusing than some make it out to be.

The animation quality in Lain is rather unspectacular. However, I'd say the visuals throughout are quite good. The animators play off dark/light themes with colors splashing the darkness to create a really psychedelic feeling which perfectly matches the mood of the series. This semi-minimalistic approach works extremely well and adds to the sense of mounting ominousness throughout. From the very beginning they're able to use this approach to create a sense of disconnect and discontent between both Lain and the Real World and the viewer and Lain's world.

The pacing is incredibly slow. If you feel the need for alot (or any, really) action in your anime, steer clear from Lain. At times, Lain is so slow it feels as if its standing still in its own dream-like world. If it's one negative thing I could say about Lain it's that the pacing is just a bit too inchoate at times, seemingly lacking direction or real motion. This was perhaps done intentionally to create the effect of being in some kind of dream - or at least being disconnected from anything that's real. It only "flows" in its own dream-like trance towards its ending, although at times you'll be wondering how it arrived there.

Lain will overload you with information. Government conspiracies, Aliens, nano-technology, psychic children experiments, secretive organizations both real and fictional, powerful computer programs and protocols... One episode interlaces the narrative with a history of certain scientific discoveries - and the people and organizations behind them. After viewing it, one wonders how everything connects. I'd be daft if I said that by the end, it all connects in a very neat, coherent manner. However, an astute viewer will likely be able to link most of the references to the fictional world of Lain in a roundabout manner. I'm convinced that most everything referenced plays an important part either as influence or to the direct narrative, but linking it all together would be difficult.

The ideas discussed throughout Lain are fairly extensive. Many are only touched on, but others go a little deeper. Just some of the ideas include the subjective nature of reality and self, commincation and the collective connectivity, the role of information both in a tangible and intangible sense (memory). Basically, there's the more tangible ideas discussed in the latter paragraph, and the more intangible ideas discussed in this one. In the end, you're left with a very complex and multi-layered narrative that just begs for exploration. Even if you're able to extract the main ideas on first viewing (like I was), you'll likely want to enter the world of Lain again to discover even more.

Are there other negatives I could find about the series? Only a few. The ending is rather disappointing after all that's lead up to it. This is mostly a pacing and amount of content problem. You'll find many anime series have this problem where they run out of ideas to fill episode time near the end, so they have to find a way to stretch things out. Lain does this quite badly. The actual "ending" just goes on too long, and doesn't give a sense of closure. Evangelion had the same problem with the TV ending, which is a big reason why they had to create the film to give fans that sense of closure. I'd also say it's only slightly disappointing from a dramatic standpoint. From the beginning there's this sense of ominous foreboding. Something big is brewing and poor Lain is right in the midst of it. But by the end, the "big evil" off in the distance didn't seem so bad afterall.

Even with a lack of adept pacing and a dramatic ending that gives a sense of closure (for my tastes) only amounts to small complaints. They're small when one realizes how truly rich the rest of Lain is. All in all, Lain still remains a highly influential and extremely original anime. It might've borrowed from many that came before it, but it melded and morphed into something that was completely new and different. For that it deserves all the praise it gets. Even though I can't say it is perfect, it is still superb. I even feel the creators have gone on to take the ideas and style they cultivated with Lain and utilized it to greater and more mature effects in future works such as Texhnolyze. But I still highly recommend this series to those looking for something truly unique, original, and yes, "weird" in the world of anime.
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Postby planet news » Thu Jun 17, 2010 12:34 pm

View Original Postchild of Lilith wrote:Do you mind going into more detail as to why the ending disappointed you? I’m not trying to call you out or anything, I’m just interested in knowing what you didn’t like about it.

1. Everything

2. Alright, just joking. I'm going to watch it again before I say anything. But it's not like I hated it. I quite liked most of it.
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Postby BrikHaus » Thu Jun 17, 2010 7:10 pm

Lain was awesome.
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Postby child of Lilith » Thu Jun 17, 2010 8:44 pm

View Original Postplanet news wrote:2. Alright, just joking. I'm going to watch it again before I say anything. But it's not like I hated it. I quite liked most of it.

Ok, planet news. I hope you find it more enjoyable this time around.
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Postby Teague » Sun Jun 20, 2010 8:18 pm

I loved Lain immensely, I found the whole thing passively powerful in a way...an opinion only strengthened with repeat viewingsI also found Lain enthusing to Alice while using herself as a NAVI emulator incredibly erotic
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Postby Enki v.2 » Sat Jun 26, 2010 11:14 am

Lain is excellent. I found TEL (linked above) to be a good jumping-off point for further research, and I found that to be the best part of the show -- doing a lot of research and fanwanking between marathon viewings. Last count I've seen Lain all the way through twenty three times, and I have yet to get exactly the same interpretation twice.

I was planning at one point to write an essay on the various interpretations I had of the series, particularly plot-wise, but even a casual mention tends to confuse other viewers, who have entirely different and incompatible interpretations. For instance, I thought the association with both Project Monarch and Microwave Audio Induction tech was obvious, but as far as I can tell I'm the only person to make this connection.

That's one of the great things, though. Like the library of babel, it's the gift that keeps on giving.

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Postby planet news » Fri Jul 02, 2010 12:42 am

View Original PostBrikHaus wrote:Lain was awesome.

Yeah pretty much. I'm on episode 10 rewatch now. There's something even better about it now... maybe it's just encouragement from this thread.
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