Aug 11, 2009
kurodayuchi (All reviews)
“I want to talk to someone. Who can I talk to?” - Lain, The Nightmare of Fabrication

“A man can be himself only so long as he is alone”. - Arthur Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Idea

This is a short story which is part of Lain Omnipresence in Wire art book. Not only does this book present absolutely awe-inspiring lithographs of original artwork from Lain but also the archetypal work of the multi-talented Yoshitoshi Abe continues to show his talents as a mangaka, illustrator and script writer. It is not only a beautifully crafted manuscript, but its images capture the likeness of a soul. It is visually stunning and the artwork contained within it is rich, unlike so many other art books I've come across that present you with bland imagery. This is the best art book I have seen. From simple sketches to finished artwork – you can see in every piece an astounding discovery, a masterful book and a visual treat.

I believe good fantasy and imagined art can be based on solid foundation of realism and I really think ABe is throwing in plenty of his own style / imagination based on what he sees and what he feels in this manga. There is no place for a landscape here, since everything is a suffocating enclosure (like a stressed mind), then capped with melancholic shading, dark colors, and outstanding texture. The figures are graceful, but alternative, elegant, yet perturbing, balanced and each mark combined to give poetry to the overall. The most important aspect of the work is the life that is captured in the drawing. That which is presented is that which is important, and everything else fades into the background. There’s a considerable amount of red through the pages, from Lain’s iris to a red string.

The plot is like an alternative story of Lain. Even though it is like a thumbnail sketch of some questions that are presented by the anime and contains one of the important characters of the series, Deus, this story also presents a character who is unique to the game of Lain released for Playstation in 1998 – the therapist. Like in ABe’s White Rain, we abruptly see a girl who does not know her location or identity. Her only companion is a stuffed little dog. She opens up his belly in order to discover if he really carries an existence, and also to give him the features which she wishes him to have. Then she starts to recreate her empty reality, filling it with her own conception of truth. She wants to recreate her mother, her father, her sister, her friend, and essentially herself.

The only background of the story is this dark empty room and Lain is all alone – it’s like the space around her is still "loading". This oppressive scenario, however, starts to be freighted by her frustrations. The prospect ceases to be a physical one and starts to find itself inside Lain’s head. Other characters are just presented as simply recordation of Lain’s mind as their existence is submitted by her memories. Eventually, Lain starts to wonder if she herself, this individual who she considers to be Lain - this girl who has this name, a place of birth and age - isn’t as well merely an interpretation of some data – and the darkness starts to fill the room once again.

We can see some plot devices in this narrative: the stuffed little dog acts as a Chekov’s Gun, Jonbar Hinge, and Framing device. Moreover, we see a unique space and time, and deus ex machina, exactly like in the classical theater (besides the fact that the story discusses metalinguistically both Aristotle’s conceptions of mimesis and catharsis). The plot explores human psychology and existentialism’s theories and the characters are usually more symbolic of the ideas they represent. In summary, we are presented with an alternative quest for God.

This dark room where Lain starts to recreate herself through the computer is probably a sketch that some people may identify themselves with. Ugly people doing beautiful profiles and pictures, quiet individuals talking too much on forums, lonely ones making a lot of friends in the internet. Everybody is trying to improve somehow, even if in the end it is a lie of who he/she really is – although, by a different point of view, this may be his/her real self. Familial problems, relationship problems are things everybody can identify themselves with. So it’s like not only the other characters, but the reader himself is dragged to the thoughts of the protagonist.

Someone once defined good art as something that can stab you in the chest. This masterpiece stabs you in your head, in your heart, and invites you to stab yourself, this lie that maybe you have been carrying. Know thyself. Sometimes, even if you drown yourself in the internet and feel like you’re surrounded by people, you still may be utterly alone. Even if you have a computer which you think is everything you need, in reality you may have nothing. People cannot really connect, that’s why it is so cold. On the other hand, “if no one knows, it can be the same as if it never happened at all” – a fabricated nightmare.