Posted by Lenlo on 10 May 2019 with categories: Currently Watching:, Serial Experiments Lain, Throwback Thursday

Welcome to week 2 of Serial Experiments Lain, or as I like to call it, Screw With Lenlo. This week 4 friends walk into a club with drugs and a gun. Sounds like a good time, so let’s jump in!

Starting off, I really need to remember when Lain was made. I got half-way through this episode critiquing its “animation saving” cuts, before I realized Lain was made in 98. Granted this isn’t a get out of jail free card, Cowboy Bebop was also made in 98. But it did renew my appreciation for cell-animation. It’s a very different aesthetic from digital, much… not rougher but maybe rustic? Regardless, as limited as it is I watched this coming off of One Punch Man Season 2 and whew. Lain is drastically more engaging. There is much less motion on screen, and yet the framing and direction make it visually interesting. Whether it be framing a man’s face through a doorway or some almost hallucinogenic sequence, Lain drew me in. Considering I still understood almost nothing of this story and was still engaged, I would call that a job well done.

Speaking of the story, Lain still confuses the hell out of me. I can’t tell what is real and what isn’t. Between hallucinations with the drug, the Wired and Lain’s… Lain-ness, I have no idea what’s real. On one hand, this is rather interesting. It leaves everything open to interpretation and lets Lain dive into some funky visual metaphors. On the other hand, this could really easily lead to insane BS viewer apathy. So far, Lain is safe from that. Its introducing enough themes, which I am also interested in, to keep me engaged. But Paranoia Agent also started strong, before starting to drag in the middle. Lain seem’s much less… grounded than Paranoia Agent though, so maybe that won’t be an issue. However, that is one of my current main concerns with the series.

As for what actually happened this week well, Lain made friends! Yay! However this left me very confused by the message Lain is trying to send. Lain is very focused on this idea of human connection and how important it is, showing us multiple different relationships. These include Lain’s friends, the club, and Lain’s parents. Lain also seems to portray it as a good thing that Lain is going out with her friends. As opposed to stay at home on her computer. Yet, her friends are taking her out to a drug filled club that ends in a murder-suicide. So I am unsure which one Lain is advocating for and which against. It’s entirely possible Lain isn’t doing either, showing both as legitimate forms of connection between people. However, considering the current central plot of the show, the drug, is literally technology I am a little doubtful.

On that, let’s talk about this drug for a moment. I really liked this thing. I have no idea how the science behind it works, but I like that Lain tried. Using frequencies and natural hormones to try and explain how it works. That was very cool and I am very curious to see how it is used in the future. As I said though, this drug is also technology. As in, people are literally taking technology as a drug. You couldn’t get any more on the nose if you slapped someone in the face. Lain was also released in 98, back when the Internet and technology was first getting widespread and into consumer hands regularly. So an anime pushing caution towards it wouldn’t be out of place at all. As someone who loves technology, I really hope this isn’t the case, as those ideas might sour me on it.

Either way, this drug is linked to Lain in very interesting ways. Seemingly causing the people taking it to see or become obsessed with her. I’m not sure if this is because she’s imagining everything, or because of some other reason. Like some kind of Matrix situation. Because Lain seems to have advanced quickly with her computer. Last episode she had to use voice commands and have her mail read out to her. She was almost tech-illiterate. Yet this episode she is typing and reading on her own, navigating without issue. Even using her phone to get her to the club using the 98 version of Google Maps. Were technology not the central premise of this series, I would be worried about inconsistencies in the narrative. As is, I can’t help but assume this is done for some greater purpose, involving Lain and the Wired.

Finally, here is my current take on Lain as a whole. It is my belief that Lain, our lead, is disconnected from everything. Her family, her “friends”, society, even reality and her own emotions. She is, at the start, wholly alone. We see that even while her family love each other, only her father the tech addict is really talking with her. While I have reservations about what it might do, I believe Lain’s current plan is this. To show the good and bad of technology, and how connected you can be through it. How it is not inferior to in-person connections, but that there are new dangers inherent to the medium. How if you embrace it to deeply, you can become like the drugged in this episode. I am most likely wrong, but 2 episode’s in, I don’t feel that bad about this take.

So tl;dr, how was this week’s Lain? Once again, it was interesting. Lain introduced us to more of its world and really started us down it’s central plot. I think. It’s hard to tell because Lain doesn’t make things obvious. With my habit of watching a good bit of Shounen, and how the most complex they get is “punchy punchy”, this is causing me some issues. Still, I just need to change my frame of mind. I have found that I need to mentally prepare myself, psyche myself up so to speak, before an episode of Lain. So that I am in the right frame of mind to experience it. Because if I watch this after a bad day, I can easily see myself just despising it. But if I am prepared? Well, then I end up thinking about it all week and taking forever to write this post.

7 Responses

  1. I don’t know if this will sound like conjecture or straw grasping, but, recall the name of the club, Siberia, usually connection means warmth…but y’know Siberia would suggest coldness/isolation.
    The clubs title strike me as ironic.

  2. Avatar jimmytimmy says:

    Without spoiling anything I’ll say Lain is definitely more cohesive and superior to paranoia agent in many ways. But it is definitely one of the weirdes anime around. Perhaps only technolyze is weirder. But Lain doesn’t suffer because of how weird it is (unlike paranoia agent).

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