Every school has the quiet, mysterious one. Iwakura Lain sure fits that description to a T. She lives day to day in her drab, lonely existence… until the day she receives an e-mail from a classmate who had committed suicide a week earlier. Everyone else writes it off as a prank, but something about the message intrigues Lain. Never big on computers herself, she convinces her father to buy her the latest, most technologically advanced Navi to connect to the Wired. There she finds her calling…
summary by Kain
Highs: Twisted look into a seedy underworld; thought-provoking script
Lows: Soulless, plastic characters; tries too hard at times; bargain bin animation
For much of the first half of this series, there is very little in the way of conversation. In a sense, this parallels how I feel about this anime; the characters did little speaking to each other, and Serial Experiments: Lain didn’t speak to me much, either.
Technically, this is one good anime… for the most part. The plot is truly excellent; twists and turns permeate throughout, though really any seasoned veteran of thinking anime will have guessed a few of them beforehand. Lain is like a modern-day Jesus Christ play set to the tone of computers and the Internet. Such an anime will undoubtedly appeal greatly to those who spend much of their time online, like myself.
Still, I must admit the story had kept me glued to the screen from beginning to end, even if the characters had not. From Lain to her family to the MiB, there was no one who captured my attention nor asked me to care about them; everyone was so lifeless and whitewashed that their existence merely filled the roles necessitated by the story rather than defining those roles. Animation often found itself on the wrong side of the eyecandy scale. It’s obvious every detail in this anime was thought-out and intentional, but like I have said before, good intentions do not a good anime make.
Had Serial Experiments: Lain been up for Best Screenplay or some such award, it would clearly be the odds-on favorite. Unfortunately for it (and fortunately for you), a great anime must be more than the sum of its parts. Not having characters charismatic enough to carry the script is like driving a Ferrari on an empty tank of gas; sure it’s pretty to look at, but it’s going nowhere fast.