25 November 2002 | PDNickz
Rekindling My Faith
Anime existentialism, generally speaking, is largely inaccessible to western audiences... and it's almost totally inaccessible to myself. I'm not ashamed to admit that I had to watch Akira three or four times before I fully understood it, and Ghost in the Shell had to live in my VCR for a couple weekends until I was satisfied I'd eked whatever shred of understanding out of it that I could. I grew very tired of essays on where mankind came from and where it was going. I decided, at that point, that I would never understand anime to a degree where I could be pleased with it, and abstained from watching it for a while (with the exception of the occasional Ranma1/2 episode, at the behest of my then-girlfriend).
Then, along came Lain.
I was very, very skeptical about watching Lain. Not only did it look like your typical "what is it all about" anime, but it was a thirteen-episode series, clocking in at well over five hours. I figured I'd watch the first four episodes and scrap the rest.
Lain sucked me in.
I can't stress how shocked I was when I swapped DVD #3 for DVD #4 and looked at my watch to realize I'd been sitting in one place for over four and a half hours. Serial Experiment Lain is simply incredible. There's enough mystery and enough seeds planted to keep the viewer watching from one episode to the next. The artwork is friggin' incredible... minimalist yet so rich that each shot breathes with its own life. Even the opening title sequence draws you in, with its careful attention to camera, style, and its mournful score.
Mournful, indeed. I don't make it a point to cry when I'm watching cartoons, but Lain beat the living hell out of my emotions. In very broad strokes, Serial Experiment Lain is about family, alienation, friendship and humanity. It analyzes the differences between obligation and true love, and comes down to the question of what is right and what will make you happy... and most importantly, what happens when we're forced to choose between the two?
Lain takes a lot of chances with style and presentation, and is a truly refreshing breath of fresh air from a medium that has grown far too comfortable with itself. The combination of cel animation with computer graphics and live action footage creates a world not unique to anime, but totally unique unto itself. Serial Experiment Lain rekindled my faith in anime, which is saying a lot. It is a great experience (I wouldn't be here telling you about it if it wasn't) and a great piece of film. If you've got a few hours to kill, step into Lain's world for a while, you won't be disappointed.