Anime Classics: Serial Experiments Lain Episode 1- Weird
Well, this is it. The first edition of my Anime “Classics” blog….
Again, I don’t know how many people read my intro, or even remember it at this point, but I mentioned I was going to do two episodes of Lain a week, each Thursday. After messing with multiple episode summaries with Kimi ni Todoke the other day, though, I decided to stick with just one episode, for now. It seems a bit more appropriate for this kind of anime blog anyway, and it’s not like Lain is an incredibly long series or anything. Plus, I can focus more on the content of an individual episode rather than speeding through two at time.
Oh, also, remember to hover over the screencaps for more of my goofy captions. :P
With that out of the way, on to the first episode!
Suitably for an anime of Lain’s mindfucking properties, the OP is pretty trippy. It has a really nice song though, which is surprisingly in English. With the English OP and dated animation, I was vaguely reminded of Blue Gender while I was watching it. In the actual OP itself, a significant number of scenes seemed to show Lain trapped inside a bunch of TVs (trapped inside electronics in general, maybe?) and there was also a scene at the end where reality itself seemed to freeze around her. I’m not sure if either is indicative of what’s to come in the series, but both those parts of the OP stood out for me. They might just be a warning about the psychological brainscrewing that’s about to take place, as well….
After the OP, we see a bustling city and hear a voice asking for someone to “come here”. The title of the episode appears, and then we see a young school girl bent over in pain and panting alongside a darkened street. We soon see her on top of a building, leaning out over the edge, having removed her glasses and hair band. She then lets go of the railing and falls to her death….
We then see Lain leave her house and head to school on a train. On the train, Lain has to tell a strange cacophony of voices to be quiet, momentarily disturbing the other passengers (who apparently didn’t hear the voices) and in the school yard, her fellow students briefly show up as squiggles to a squinting Lain. At her desk, Lain hears another girl crying, and learns from one of the students comforting her that both she and a number of other students received an email from Chisa Yamada, the school girl who killed herself in the beginning of the episode, leading many to believe it’s some kind of prank. Lain doesn’t know about the email, however, because she’s apparently not that into computers. Later on in class, Lain stares at the blackboard as it goes all fuzzy, and then looks down at her hand, only to see her fingertips produce steam or smoke that fills the classroom (and again, her fellow classmates don’t seem to notice).
At home, Lain decides to finally boot up her previously unused computer and open Chisa’s email. She then has a surreal chat with Chisa herself (email works like an instant messenger in the future?), who insists she is still alive, but has just left her body. She’s also aware that everyone else thinks it’s a prank, but pleads for Lain to believe her. When Lain asks why she died, Chisa enigmatically replies, “God is here.”
At dinner, Lain’s sister (I’m assuming?) excuses herself early, and Lain tries to strike up a conversation with her mom about the chat she had with Chisa, but her mom remains silent.
Later on, Lain’s dad comes home, and she approaches him about getting a new computer. While the dad excitedly sets up some new hardware for his already impressive computer set-up, he gives Lain some sort of speech about making connections with other people, both in real life and online, and offhandedly wonders why Lain’s mother doesn’t get that. He also asks why she’s suddenly interested in getting a new computer, but when Lain mentions wanting to get in contact with a friend, her dad has apparently become too engrossed in whatever he is doing online to hear her.
The next day, Lain is on the train to school again when it suddenly comes to a jarring halt. While the conductor explains that there’s been an accident and people wonder if someone was hit, Lain stares out the window and sees a strange black and red liquid dripping down from some power lines. Then, Lain suddenly finds herself jumping all over the place, from a busy crosswalk to her own home. She finally ends up on some misty train tracks, where she watches as a strange figure in a school uniform walks onto the tracks. She tries to leap over and save the figure from an oncoming train, but the light of the train reveals the sight of the figure’s morphing, distorted face and it ends up getting hit anyway….
However, a sweating Lain suddenly comes to in the middle of her classroom. After some stern words with an irate teacher, Lain once more stares at the blackboard and watches as it morphs into a message asking her to get back to the “Wired” as soon as she can….
After school, Lain is walking home when she somehow walks by Chisa (or her spirit…or whatever). When Lain turns around and questions Chisa about her existence, Chisa only offers an enigmatic smile before literally unraveling in front of her….
Next Time- Layer 02: Girls
Watch the full ED here (Not actually ten minutes…I’m guessing something went wrong when the dude uploaded the video)
Compared to the OP, the ED is much simpler and the accompanying song isn’t quite as memorable. It does feature a very naked Lain surrounded by an enclosing mountain of electronics, which I suppose might do it for some people….
Well, I’m not sure if I like it yet so far, but I’m certainly intrigued…and a bit weirded out. :D A big part of the fun of blogging this series will probably come from trying to figure what exactly is going on in the world of Lain, and I’ve already noticed that going back and doing the summary and taking the screencaps gave me a chance to think about certain aspects of the episode a little bit more. For example, although I didn’t mention it in the summary or get a screencap of it, there were instances during or between scenes where a little multicolored screen would come up with a brief message from an enigmatic sender. I noticed one saying, “I…don’t need to stay in a place like this.” right before Chisa killed herself at the beginning of the episode, and after the weird scene with Lain and her smoking fingertips, another one read, “What’s it like when you die? It really hurts! : )” with a little emoticon and everything. I’m starting to wonder if they might be messages from Chisa to Lain (or Chisa…and something else), whereas when I initially watched, I just dismissed them as more random bits of weirdness meant to confirm to the watcher that something freaky is afoot (which is, again, why I failed to mention them before), I’m betting that there’s going to be a lot of little things in each episode that might become important later on, so it will pay to give everything a second glance. So far, I’m wondering if the strained relationship between Lain’s mom and dad will bear any significance in the future, if what appears to be Lain’s sister will have any further appearances, if the one crying girl (named Juri in the episode) will having anything to add to the enigma surrounding Chisa and, in regards to Lain herself, why she seems especially childlike (with her lack of knowledge about computers and, well, you saw her pajamas, right?) and if that, or something else about her, is why she can so easily communicate with Chisa, along with all the other strange things she’s seen. I’ve already got a bunch of theories about all those questions floating around in my head, but it would probably behoove me to wait until I’ve seen a few more episodes before I start in on the crackpot theories. ^_^; Still, the fact that I’m already thinking so much about the series is a good sign that it will continue to intellectually intrigue me as I continue watching, and that’s definitely something I look for in an anime.
(As usual, if anyone has any constructive criticism about the blog in general, from the screencaps I take to the layout of the summary, etc, please feel free to share it with me! ^_^)
I didn’t realize it until I started watching it, but Lain really is a rather…dated series. ^_^; I’m generally not one to quibble over the animation of even the most archaic of anime, since the story and characters always come first and foremost in my mind, but I realized that the aged quality of the series might not make for the greatest of screen caps, especially compared to all the shiny, computer-enhanced caps of the newer anime on this blog. So, as I bonus for the aesthetically-inclined, I’m going to include some of the concept artwork for the series, by one of my favorite anime/manga artists, Yoshitoshi ABe.
I believe that this is either an illustration from one of ABe’s artbooks, or possibly art of a promotional advertisement for the series.