A week after Chisa committed suicide, her classmates begin to receive emails from her. Hearing rumors fly at school, a quiet withdrawn girl named Lain goes home that day, turns on her dusty Navi computer for the first time and has a conversation with the dead girl. Chisa’s message reads that she killed herself because she didn’t need her body anymore, and she now exists in The Wired. When Lain asks why someone would do something like that she gets a response: “Because God is here”.
Serial Experiments Lain has to be one of the most visually effective, original, and yet utterly confounding anime titles ever to be dreamed up. From the opening scene to the cliffhanger at the end of the fourth episode (all that has been released as of the time of this review), I was riveted by the simple yet fluid animation, dreamlike artwork and haunting music. However, the casual anime viewer may find this title a little on the…well…odd side.
The artwork was what first caught my eye. The character designs are fairly simple, but the work that went into making their movements and integration into the backgrounds fluid is immediately obvious. Judicious use of CG allows for some of this, while not overbearing the senses and detracting from the art itself. The backgrounds especially are striking, one moment being carefully detailed, spartan and surreal the next. Those with any memory of the 70s may find the brief dialogue screens that pop up now and then, with their kaleidoscope of rainbow colors, slightly disturbing, but the overall effect is dream-like.
This series lends a whole new perspective to the human condition. In a nutshell, it’s a story about communication. How we are all connected to one another, yet separated at the same time, whether it’s through a phone or across a computer connection. The characters, from our quiet Lain, to her computer otaku father, snotty older sister, and gossipy friends aren’t very deeply explored, mainly because there is no need. They are all easily identifiable as someone you might already know, which helps the plot along even more nicely.