Lain Iwakura, an awkward and introverted fourteen-year-old, is one of the many girls from her school to receive a disturbing email from her classmate Chisa Yomoda—the very same Chisa who recently committed suicide. Lain has neither the desire nor the experience to handle even basic technology; yet, when the technophobe opens the email, it leads her straight into the Wired, a virtual world of communication networks similar to what we know as the internet. Lain’s life is turned upside down as she begins to encounter cryptic mysteries one after another. Strange men called the Men in Black begin to appear wherever she goes, asking her questions and somehow knowing more about her than even she herself knows. With the boundaries between reality and cyberspace rapidly blurring, Lain is plunged into more surreal and bizarre events where identity, consciousness, and perception are concepts that take on new meanings.
Written by Chiaki J. Konaka, whose other works include Texhnolyze, Serial Experiments Lain is a psychological avant-garde mystery series that follows Lain as she makes crucial choices that will affect both the real world and the Wired. In closing one world and opening another, only Lain will realize the significance of their presence. – My Anime List
Based on 20 review scores:
Serial Experiments Lain is a must see, whether you like anime or not. It’s something not easily forgotten, for it challenges the viewer with many subjects and allusions. You will fathom how human minds came up with this 13 episode story.
The Anime Review
See Lain right away. Don’t see it with a group of people expecting an actionfest or a comedy. It’s best watched with an open mind with others who will at least appreciate a serious drama that isn’t easily understood. If you don’t fit that bill yourself, maybe you should skip it, but rent the first episodes anyway. You need to see what you are missing.
Practically any anime fan who craved something different from the jubilant and action-y fare has come across Serial Experiments Lain as a suggestion, and I will extend that again to anyone reading this today who hasn’t seen it. It is a product of its time, when the internet and new technologies were about to change the landscape of the modern household; shows like this simply aren’t made anymore. Those interested in science fiction, characters, and dark themes might find themselves sucked into the world of the Wired as Lain has.
Anime News Network
Lain is ambitious, ambiguous, and fearlessly experimental to its last frame. It is a series that spurns all conventional narrative structure. Like the best of David Lynch—whose reign as Hollywood’s prince of weird coincided, not coincidentally, with Lain’s creation—it is not a story so much as a fever dream; a hallucinogenic jigsaw puzzle that no matter how you assemble it always has a few pieces missing and few left over; that looks like it should mean something, but never quite means what you think it does. It leaves itself open to dozens of interpretations, each as valid as the next. Every watching yields new theories, new thoughts, new meaning. It makes a merit of confusion.
Fix It In Post
An undisputed classic of Japanese animation, this series is meant to challenge that viewer with a complex narrative and no clear answers.
There are so many bold and groundbreaking anime series that emerged in the mid to late 1990s, Serial Experiments Lain being among them. It’s a crazy mind trip from start to finish, though the finale episode admittedly leaves something to be desired. While the story is clearly set in an alternate version of a 1998 Earth, the Wired is both a believable and curiously entertaining parallel to the World Wide Web, with its focus being almost entirely on the exchange of information. There are rare instances where the show tries to draw parallels that are simply too far-fetched and irrelevant to what is going on in a given episode, such as an attempt to draw some very loose metaphors from the Roswell alien conspiracy. But as a whole, the show does a magnificent job of presenting a new spin on the sci-fi and existentialist genres by combining the two. It’s difficult to mention everything the series is about without spoiling important plot points, and patience is key for a fulfilling viewing experience. Serial Experiments Lain is equal parts eerie, strange, and creative, but it is thoroughly thought-provoking, something that is frequently lacking from its contemporaries.
If you cant stand having questions when whatching a movie or tv, then this anime is not for you. If you cant sit patiently, this anime is not for you. However if you can stand the scilence of the first few episodes and not kill yourself over the questions, you are in for an incredible treat. Serial Experiments Lain mixes questions on modern scientific development with philosophy, theology, and paranormal phenomena. The anime is both intense, and sometimes stressfull. If you like the psychological kind of shows that twist one’s morals and thoughts, THIS IS THE ANIME FOR YOU
I Hate 00 Critics
At the end I would like to say that this anime is a piece of art and like most art is not for everyone. But people who like food for thought with their entertainment and a good overall story and unique characters (lets face the truth, now-a-days good and unique characters are such a rarity in animes) should not miss out on this anime.
918 The Fan
Serial Experiments being the love child of Xana (from Code Lyoko for those purists who don’t believe in French “anime”) and Bill Gates. To tell the absolute honest truth, this series is nearly impossible to summarize so I greatly urge you to watch this series in its completion to see if you can make some sense of all the obligatory subliminal messages that it shoves in our faces.
One thing that also becomes clear after only the first episode is that this anime is trying to play mind games with its viewer. We see a lot of psychedelic shots and pans, and sometimes, people don’t even talk for half an episode. Overall, I had a good time watching this anime, though it really seems to be missing something. It really misses an element to make it awesome. What we have here is a solid title, a lot of time was spent on it, though it misses a certain X-factor to make it really stand out.
You shouldn’t watch this anime expecting to find character portraits or traditional “slice-of-life” drama. Just like any good existentialist movie (“Donnie Darko” comes to mind here) it won’t make too much sense until you’ve watched the whole thing and maybe even thought about it a bit. So if you feel like you won’t be satisfied unless you get your moral straight-up, then this series isn’t for you. It’ll make you think and will only provide you with more question, not answers.
I thoroughly enjoyed Serial Experiments Lain. The first couple of episodes were boring, but as the puzzle slowly began to put itself together I found myself more and more intrigued by this masterpiece. I wanted to see how the story would unfold, and what message it had to bring, and it certainly brought it. If you can’t tell, I recommend this wholeheartedly, as long as you’re ready to sit down at midnight, turn off all lights, and let Lain absorb you.
My Anime List
If watched with an open mind, Lain will do more than simply entertain. It is truly revolutionary anime for its time, and the amount of depth in the show is utterly staggering. Never in my years of watching anime have I seen a show as thought provoking as Lain. If one were so inclined to contact me, we could talk for hours upon hours of the religious symbols, and religious references that run about the shows course. We could then change the subject to comparing Lain’s character to that of philosophy of the Jungian Shadow. We could converse and discover deeper and more universal meanings as time progressed. Lain is such a show that the viewer doesn’t just watch it. The viewer must be pushed to think, and who doesn’t want to do a bit a of thinking once in a while?
Occasionally flawed in execution, but unique, precisely crafted surrealism that is intriguing and visually stunning
Serial Experiments Lain is nothing short of a psychological tripfest that will melt your brain if you’re not prepared for it. Quite honestly, I’m still not sure I understood everything about this anime by the end of the last episode, and will definitely be on my rewatch list for the future. While it does have its fair share of technical issues, it still manages to set the perfect atmosphere for this story.
The beginning of the last episode opens with Lain saying, “I’m confused again.” I agree. To me Serial Experiments Lain resembles those books one reads in high school English class that are supposed to be eye-opening but actually just sweep past the brain and go out the other ear. There is no denying that the anime is a groundbreaking and creative work, but it seems to have remained in anime history not so much for what it says as for what it represents. While the ideas are there, it has stumbled a little over its convoluted wording.
I have to admit, I am a bad anime fan. I have not heard of “Serial Experiments: Lain” until recently. The series originally aired in 1998 from acclaimed artist Yoshitoshi ABe. This very existential series has been said to pave the way for films like “The Matrix”. The word “existential” barely even describes this show show since it is one hell of a trip. If you are looking for a light watching material for an afternoon, this is definitely not it. It is a slow, deep and very intense series. I enjoyed it as a whole because I was able to marathon the whole series in one sitting. I think that if I had to watch this episode by episode over time, I wouldn’t be as optimistic. Overall, this isn’t my favorite anime series of all time but I did like the futuristic and almost sci-fi feel of it.
I really have no problem with the plot of Lain, when all is said and done. There are some fascinating and valid ideas being presented and the overarching plot has plenty of relevance to the modern world and science-fiction validity. If executed more masterfully, this series could have been great. It really seems unfinished in a lot of ways. There was plenty of room to flesh out concepts that were just hinted and develop actual characters that have purpose. What Lain fails to do is follow through with it’s seemingly vast possibilities and intentions. A lot of times a series will set out to accomplish something simple and succeed admirably by not putting too much on it’s plate. Lain is the opposite of this, where is series is so desperate to get across a myriad of themes, ideas and concepts that it misses the mark by a long shot and ends up the territory of incoherent curiosity.
Serial Experiments Lain has very nearly put me off mindscrew anime, not because it is strange, but because it is dull and pretentious to extremes. I do not feel that I can give a fair and objective analysis of this series, as it has managed to annoy me more than any other anime in existence. This is a personal failure for me as a reviewer, and the best I can say is that you try it for yourself. I personally loathed it with a kind of cold and detached frustration, but I seem to be unique in this.