Serial Experiments: Lain
A Parent's Guide to Anime
Recommended for Mature Audiences
Reviewed by Jeffrey Schrab:
Serial Experiments: Lain (referred from here on as SE:L) is a 13 episode series that confronts a real world issue: youth exposure to "The Internet". In Lain's world, what we might call the Internet is referred to as "The Wired".
SE:L starts out with young Lain being exposed to the suicide of a classmate. Yet, after her death, email messages from this girl still float around The Wired, seemingly from beyond the grave with the message, "I just realized that don't need my body anymore. I still exist. Here. In The Wired."
Lain is a young teen-aged school girl with little time or interest in computers or The Wired. This changes - abruptly. Very soon she is up to her ears, and beyond, in computer equipment, super-hacker groups, black market technologies, a doppleganger self interfering in her personal life, and the Men In Black watching her every move with laser targeting eye goggles. Meanwhile the un-reassuring hum of electric transformers is everywhere. Eventually, circumstances cause Lain to question the very nature of her existance.
And then things start getting very strange.
Parent's Guide Rating:
red (recommended for mature audiences)
SE:L can get psychologically "raw" from time to time. Briefly, here are but a few of the disturbing issues that arise:
- In Lain's world, black market technology that has drug like effects is available to children - with unpleasant results.
- Another story incident is the case of a small children's online game of "tag" got crossed connected with an adolescent's online deathmatch "Quake-like" game. Though it is left to the imagination, it is suggested that line between reality and The Wired blurred to end the life of a small child by "phantasm" gunshots. There is no blood, only a lump in a bed sheet at the top of a building with clothes lines which is far more chilling than straight gore.
- Another story touches on Lain discussing with a dying scientist an experiment that abused the psychic energies of children's minds.
- Lain's older sister losses her mind over an encounter with her phantom self from the Wired - or so it would seem...
- None of this even touches on the subject of children committing suicide because a hacker group persuades them to do so.
Even putting all of this aside, SE:L is still a very adult story because of its complexity. Issues of "As self aware beings, what are we? Really?", the nature of god, the manipulation of children, and many other disturbing issues are presented. SE:L is best described as The Lawnmower Man meets TRON meets Twin Peaks in the The Twilight Zone with X-Files overtones thrown in for good measure. This is clearly not subject matter for children or even some adult audiences as well.
Be prepared to think.