“Layer Upon Layer” – Serial Experiments Lain (anime) – 9/10 Beach Balls


The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had. ~Eric Schmidt

Genre: Sci-fi/Mystery/Psychological/Supernatural

Review Status: Complete (13 Episodes/13 Episodes)

Licensed: Yes, this anime is licensed in the US. However, it is out of print.

Art/Animation: This goes for pretty realistic artwork, but with slightly rounder edges. Think Saotshi Kon but a bit cuter.

Dub Vs. Sub: I preferred the sub ever so slightly on this- Lain’s voice was just a tad too high in the dub for me to enjoy listening to her. However, all the other voices were equally good in the sub and the dub.

Summary: Lain 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. (ANN.com)

Review: When one thinks of mind-bending anime, Serial Experiments is the one that most people are familiar with, the one that most people will recommend right off the bat. Lain doesn’t start off flashy, nor is it one that goes for strange things right off the bat. It’s a slow build into the strange and unusual. She gets an email from a classmate who supposedly committed suicide… but the email is too recent, too strange to not be from her. In an effort to find out more, Lain asks for a new computer. Though she has no skills, she reads up on them, and builds and modifies. Time progression can be measured in how complex and complicated her computer gets, taking over her room until there is almost nothing left.

While she is doing this, Lain encounters people that say they know her, but she has no memory of having encountered before. She encounters things that were dropped or left by this other Lain, things that allow her to delve deeper and deeper into the wired. As she becomes more involved in the Wired, looking for the other Lain, looking for answers as to what’s happened, Lain begins to open up and make friends. Alice, a classmate, begins to wonder about her, and as she and Lain grow close, things begin to speed up and complicate Lain’s life.

Serial Experiments has spawned a thousand theories- what is Lain, exactly? What are her powers? What is the overall message of the anime? During the course of the anime, many questions are brought up about this. She is obviously more than human- the fourth episode makes that clear. But things are brought up during it that conflict and contradict eachother. Is she an alien? A god? Something more? These are things that the person viewing must decide for themselves.

As those who are close to Lain and come into contact with her fall to terrible fates, and Lain is isolated even more than she was, she must make a decision: Will her presence here make those she cares about more miserable, or should she try to stick it out in the ‘Real World’?

Overall, this was a great anime that threw me for a loop. This is definitely something for those who like mysteries and conspiracy theories.

Recommended: 14+. This has some seriously disturbing scenes in it. A man becomes a creature that cannot be described in words, but is disgusting. There is some drug use. There are several implied suicides and murders that happen offscreen, and one death by fear/psychosis that happens onscreen (non-gorey, just some thrashing around). Because the friendship Lain has for Alice is so deep, this has been accused of having shoujo-ai undertones.

Other titles you might enjoy:
Kara no Kyoukai (anime)
Darker than Black (anime)
Negative Happy Chainsaw Edge (manga)
Aoi Bungaku (anime)
Haibane Renmei (anime)
Ghost Hound (anime)
King of Thorn (manga)
Paranoia Agent (anime)

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