English: Serial Experiments Lain
Status: Finished Airing
Aired: Jul 6, 1998 to Sep 28, 1998
23 min. per episode
R - 17+ (violence & profanity)
L represents licensing company
Score: 7.971 (scored by 57270 users)
1 indicates a weighted score
cyberpunk drama mystery psychological sci-fi
SynopsisLain Iwakura appears to be an ordinary girl, with almost no experience with computers. Yet the sudden suicide of a schoolmate, and a number of strange occurrences, conspire to pull Lain into the world of the Wired, where she gradually learns that nothing is what it seems to be... not even Lain herself.
Related AnimeAdaptation: Serial Experiments Lain: The Nightmare of Fabrication
Characters & Voice Actors
Every once in a while there's an anime that almost defies "description", makes the viewers think about how weird and unusual the anime is, and is impossible to give an accurate rating to due to it's complexion. Serial Experiments Lain is certainly one of those anime; Serial Experiments Lain is the most unique, rare and "different" anime out there. But, it's definitely not for everyone, especially those that cannot think outside the box and see the deeper theme/morale behind every action/event. If you don't like dark, sinister, and ominous anime settings then I wouldn't recommend this anime. Also, if you're looking for ecchi, romance and/or comedy then this anime isn't fit for you. This is an adult series, by which I mean that it doesn't talk down to its audience. It doesn't simplify/downplay any of the horrors of our reality. There are parts of it that really hurt a lot to even imagine, but that's because the anime wants it to hurt. In Serial Experiments Lain everything happens for a reason; every scene, every action made feels significant, however little sense it might make, and everywhere there are subtle hints and allusions to... something deep. Twisting, disturbing, and surrealist scenes comprise almost the entire first third of the series, and are where Lain shines as a masterpiece the most. This series lends a whole new perspective to the human condition. Briefly summarized, Serial Experiments Lain is a deep story about communication. How humans are all connected to one another, yet separated at the same time, whether it's through a phone, across a computer connection, or talking face to face.
The story is something which is best experienced rather than described. It starts out relatively simple enough: In a time not too far into the future from ours, the internet (which is dominating our society today) has taken one step further into becoming a world of its own; with powerful self-controlling systems called Navis, everyone from businessmen to kindergartners jumps into the Wired to interact, play games, make friends, and gossip. Iwakura Lain, our protagonist is a quiet, unassuming junior high school student who stays away from the Navis, despite her father being part of the internet business... Until suddenly several girls at her school, including her began to receive e-mails from a dead classmate who had committed suicide a week earlier. Out of curiosity, Lain responds to the e-mail she receives and gradually Lain's attitude begins to change due to specific causes. As she becomes more involved with her Navi, the world around her and her friends become increasingly more unstable. More suicides and bizarre killings happen one after another, and Lain is somehow connected to them... but how is she related to all those random deaths? It's through her experiences on the wired and face-to-face interactions with the people around her that she slowly awakens to some dark and startling discoveries of reality. People will probably wonder if the climax and ending of the show was good, and my answer to that is simply yes.
“Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.”
- What does it mean for something to be fiction, and for another thing to be reality?
"The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."
- Try to think about this quote and perceive it in your own way, for it has much to do with this anime.
When I said the story is best experienced than described, I truly meant it. The thing with Serial Experiments Lain is that each person who watches it will come away with their own perspective about what truly happens in each episode, and the underlying meanings that are ambiguously conveyed. The fundamental story is about technology and the blurring of the borders between the real and online worlds. There are numerous questions posed in the series, and even the answers are open to each person's own interpretation. The series asks us to consider whether it is more real than the "real world". Where do we really live? If we have real and wired versions of ourselves, which is genuine and which is the shadow or reflection? It also further delves into basic questions about reality and our perception of it. If no one can remember an event, did it really happen? If no one knows about something, does it really exist? Finally the deepest questions raised by this anime is about religious symbolism, such as life after death and whether or not God exists and if so, in what form. I really want to go into detail, but I'd have to spoil parts of the anime for you which would be blasphemous to even think of doing. It's truly symbolic and ingenious.
The characters in Serial Experiments Lain from our quiet, innocent Lain, to her computer otaku father, snotty older sister, and gossipy friends aren't very deeply explored, probably because there was absolutely no need for it. They are all easily identifiable as someone you might already know in reality, making the plot flow along more "realistically" and smoothly.
The music in Serial Experiments Lain is rather old classical, in the sense that it doesn't have epic themes, or tragic sad songs, but rather ominous guitar, or mysterious religious chants. The music was not my favorite soundtrack out there, but certainly the anime made it work somehow by placing the songs in at the perfect moment of each scene. The voicing of Serial Experiments Lain was rather nice, but there's not much to talk about that since we don't hear side character's voices very much and Lain is basically the only main character... As for Lain, Kaori Shimizu did an excellent job voicing the voice of a bright yet dark Lain (if you can put your head around that). The opening for Serial Experiments Lain was rather interesting, and the visuals of the opening were representative/symbolic of the themes in the anime. Want to find out more? Watch the anime. As for the art of the anime, it's one of those obscurely drawn, sinister-feeling graphics from the dim lightings, to the shadows cast upon things. Furthermore many ambiguous items are drawn up in specific ways for it to be recognized as a "symbolic" figure each to the viewers own opinion. The characters aren't your average big-boobed, red/orange/green/pink haired weirdos that you can't tell apart from others, they are each drawn in their specific ways. The eyes of characters were fascinating to observe, for they showed everything about a person, the feelings that they're feeling, the thought process currently revolving around in their heads. If you watch the anime you'll know what I mean, truly a very intriguing art style, and personally, I loved it.
There is extraordinary attention to detail in this series whether it be each minor detail in the plot, allowing no plot-holes to enter the anime, or all the symbolic themes that are presented through dark conceptions of reality, fiction and communication in both. A lot of work went into creation and presentation of an alternate GUI concept used by standard Navis which was nice to see. The anime is so mystifying, confusing, and challenging, but if you can grasp the concept around in your head, this anime will be so genius that your head may possibly explode metaphorically. I'd recommend this anime to anyone who has a brain and can actually process what's happening and use this to answer psychological questions about this world for themselves. It's truly a masterfully written piece of anime that takes focus to comprehend, and in conclusion to my review I will thank you for reading it~ read more
Review for Serial Experiments Lain by John Kim
Introduction: I find myself typing this review thinking more about the conceptualization of existence, than the anime itself. Above all, there are two standards I hold true for anime. There are anime that simply entertain for the sake of enjoyment, and there are anime that stretches the boundary of human imagination. Serial Experiments Lain falls in the latter category and for this reason Serial Experiments Lain stands out as a true classic. Serial Experiments Lain pushes the envelope of what the perceived notion of what can be done with television as a medium. The show doesn’t just provide entertainment; it provides insight, and profound views and beliefs about technology and the role it plays in society. With that said it's time to get on with the review.
Story: Given that Lain’s story progression is very disjointed, if the execution were to be even off by the slightest, the show would have been ridden with plot holes. Lain however doesn’t need worry about plot and story in the same sense as other anime, but instead relies on the atmosphere and the characters to tell the story. What little plot Lain does have, the show works with it fabulously. Now some may argue that Lain is completely plot driven, but to each his own. Personally I believe that Lain strays as far as it can from bland episodic story telling, and in essence is similar to Citizen Kane in the aspect that the story has little to do with the show. Lain above all is a character study, and the plot only moves forward under the characters.
Art: Despite the art being off center in terms of traditional anime, it hardly deters from the overall enjoyment of the series. It is important to note that the series actually benefits from the unique art style presented in Lain. Art is not a big pulling factor for Lain, so if you are a fan of high quality art, you may be in for a rough ride.
Sound: The series relies on a minimalist approach to sound and music. Dialogue is sparse, but very profound. Sound effects are seldom used but with brevity, and has a lasting impact on the viewer. Once again, this lack of a quality that would normally be detrimental to an anime’s enjoyment, but becomes one of Lain’s strengths. The sound of the electricity running through power lines, the empty sound of Lain typing on her keyboard, and the scarce use of music. These are all memorable pieces of sound effects that adds to the overall impact of the show.
Character: Now this is where Lain shines brightest. In a vast wasteland of mundane same-old, Lain sticks out as an anime that takes its characters to a level that most anime can only dream of achieving. The character of Lain is perhaps the most deep and relevant characters in anime today. To explain upon this point, one would have to watch the series and comprehend the various themes and motif’s on one’s own. But in order to be brief, Lain’s character can be summarized as ascending from human status, to near God like power through the prowess of the internet. Ahem, I mean, “The Wired.” It’s a simple concept and seems like it has been done before, giving credit to the argument, and it probably has. But the beauty here is the cast of side characters that surround Lain. Her sister, her father, mother, and friends, are all extremely deep characters, that although don’t appear to be, are actually extremely poignant in their own right.
Enjoyment & Closing: 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? read more
Boogiepop Phantom and Serial Experiments Lain are very slow-paced and have very little dialogue. They both attempt to be philisophical....
90's anime style ownage: dull atmosphere, squared character design, electro music on the background, overcrowded city depression, urban mysteries of the concrete-cable town, new age at its best.
strange deaths, beautifully haunting music, and strange color schemes make these two anime series almost siblings. . .
Both mess with your brain. However, Boogiepop creeps you out with supernatural, where Lain (which does have bits of creepiness) uses the modern phenomenon of internet and the decrease in human contact. Boogiepop is perhaps less philosophical than Lain and less conceptual
Also a very surreal anime with somewhat similar darkish style.
Lain and Boogiepop Phantom are soul mates; they deliver highly convoluted stories with intricate plots that are presented in a non-linear way, which allows for some extremely disorientating moments. The mood of both is very dark and menacing; virtually all scenes are charged with nervous tension. Lain is more coherently philosophical while BP is somewhat disjointed but they share the same spirit of subversive violence, enthralling confusion and constant questioning.
Both employ a philosophic style, approaching dark, almost disturbing themes and nonlinear, vignette-effect storytelling. The character designs are similar, not surprisingly because they are done by the same artist (Shigeyuki Suga). Both series also use sparse color palettes, with Boogiepop Phantom extending it further to noise-filled, sepia tones, to reflect the anxieties and tragedies of the characters as well as give the series an over-all psychological, surreal atmosphere.
It seems that Lain and Boogiepop share the same gothic approach to their respective views of the world. I like how both make you really think about their true meanings and how deep they really are.
Watching one is like watching the other. :-D
Boogiepop is a more violent, mysterious, horror version of Lain.
Both have schoolgirls as protagonists; both have some kind of “god” in them; both are creepy, confusing, and complex; both have awesome dark/electronic/industrial music, and the same character design, atmosphere, and slow pacing.
If you liked one, you’ll love the other.
Darkness, mystery, psychological thriller... highly recommended !!!
Total mind screw. Serial Experiments Lain is more understandable and has a (sympathetic and well developed) main character, while Boogiepop Phantom is more confusing and creepier.
Both are outstanding creative series, have a really alternative development, similar art, treat about dark stuff like suicide and gives a lot to think.
Both shows are very similar to one another, and both deal with the same basic thing, the degradation of the human mind. But while Lain deals with one single person, Boogiepop Phantom deals with a larger group of people who are all connected.
almost the same art style & similar atmosphere
This show shares the same character designer and key animator as Lain. It's also very dark, gloomy, and deals with how young people living in modern Japan are disconnected from one another. Boogiepop delves more into the horror genre and it's a little easier to follow, but in terms of atmosphere and storytelling style they are quite similar.
The two shows are both willing to progress the story without clearly defining it to the viewer in full. It instead lets you take the knowledge you have and attempt to piece the events from it. These both have effective, dark, dreary atmospheres. The artistic styles are similar and have a huge payoff when you get a full story out of it.
I'm sure everything about similarity of those two wonderful non-mainstream anime was said already so I'm just adding a vote.
similar psychologic effect, similar atmosphere
Both have strange deaths and haunting music. There's a creepy atmosphere to them both. With dull blurry-like colored backgrounds and characters.
Both series involve disturbing, psychological elements born through twisted technologies. Dark atmospheres encompass the lives of seemingly average students, each with their own past tragedies and/or mental instabilities. A first glance, the plotlines are confusing—albeit, both TV shows are intended for viewers who enjoy re-watching episodes to digest the subtle details, symbolisms, and intellectual undertones.
If you like complex thinking, you should watch this. Very psychological.
They're both very psychological and philosophical. Lain doesn't have Mechs or fights, but they're still rather similar.
Lain and Evangelion are intrinsically complex series. In both there is a strong presence of technology, which underlines the problematic relationship between individual existence and collective psychological archetypes of a symbolic order. These anime address topics such as the self, the body, the role of communication and the possibility of forging bonds. Lain is heavily intellectual from the outset and slow-paced through and through, while Eva only develops its conceptual core in the later episodes and is much more action-driven. Lain and Eva are prodigies of existential thought transmitted through a visual medium; and as such they go hand in hand.
Both are very deep, and make you think. They have somewhat similar theme, but the setting is very different.
Lain is no doubt a series to be enjoyed for every NGE fan that was attracted by NGE's psychological scenes.
Both have deeply complex plots and deal with the human psyche
Makes you think on what the hell is actually happening in the anime, and what the characters are thinking and what leads to their actions.
Dark, psychological, philosophical, mysterious, Lain and Evangelion are very similar thematically and tonally. If you like one (or if you didn't absolutely hate the last two episodes of Evangelion), you'll almost certainly like the other.
Both makes you think of life. (Що Лейн, що Ева дають підстави переосмислити життя)
Two great psychological anime. In both almost all the characters have their own individual inner world, incomprehensible even to themselves, do not speak already about others. Immediately recall the words of Gendo Ikari: "No one will ever fully understand another person".
So, to fully enjoy these masterpieces of psychological need to put it mildly, "to apply the brain." Well, if you're fans of the genre ala "Lucky Star", or "Azumang's" image not recommend.
I've watched both of this anime and i think that anyone who has watched Neon Genesis evangelion should also watch serial experiments lain.The most common thing between these two anime is the psychological aspect.Both of them have a complicated history and also characters.Even if the history is not the same (of course) they both have to do with technology and future.Also the main character are almost the same,with big personality problems and duple personality sometimes.Also i think that in both animes the characters surrounding the main characters are problematic and difficult to understand .
Both are science fiction titles that are also psychological thrillers.
Both these series are psychological in nature. It explores the idea of existence, self and being. You'll end up questioning yourself. Although NGE has more action and SEL has a slower pace.
Both have similar themes dealing with "god" and self discovery. They also share similar art styles and story telling mechanics.
Heavily influencing deep psychological thinking, themes like Existential philosophy and Depth in human inter-relations, both shows intersect in the point where the viewer is left with more meaning behind the plot and span of episodes.
If you like Complex themes, and thought-skewering eeriness, watch them both.
- Both are psychological and deep
- Both are mindscrewy (Lain more so than Eva)
- The last two episodes of Eva are the most similar to Lain
Revenge of the late 90s with these two unique pieces. Serial Experiments Lain is only similar to Neon Genesis Evangelion with the undertones, as well as the atmosphere and overall impression both series tend to leave with people. Evangelion will leave you somewhat shaken in what you consider to be "normal" in the ways of human psychology, as well as taking you through a detailed unraveling of the main characters, whereas Lain will leave you wondering more about the duality of the self and the responsibilities associated with near God-Like power (something that the viewers of the End of Evangelion wish had been discussed with a certain character). Both have a haunting feeling that I associate with them, as Demolition D+ would say, an "over your shoulder, God is watching" kind of feeling, an omnipotence hidden just beyond our view. If you enjoyed Eva, you'll enjoy Lain.
- both delve deeply into philosophy, and psychology
- both require your brain turned on
- both are complete mindfucks
Opening Theme"Duvet" by Bôa
Ending Theme"Tooi Sakebi" by Nakaido Chabo Rei'ichi
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