(Welcome to Ani-time Ani-where, a regular column dedicated to helping the uninitiated understand and appreciate the world of anime.)

For a couple of months now, I’ve shared with you some recent anime and a couple of older ones to both showcase the state of anime today and help those of you who unfamiliar with the medium to familiarize yourself with some genres and tropes. But since Halloween never ends in my house, and because being on the Internet feels like an endless horror movie, it’s time to revisit one classic anime that didn’t get the attention it deserved Stateside. A lot of people know about Cowboy Bebop and Neon Genesis Evangelion, but not nearly as many people are familiar with the tale of Serial Experiments Lain. Before some of you sharpen your pitchforks, I’m not saying that it’s a completely unknown anime, just that it wasn’t as influential or talked about.

Do you like mind-bending tales of psychological horror that will hit way too close to home in this internet-age? What about a sci-fi anime with non-linear storytelling and one of the darkest depictions of the internet and social media? Well, you’ll love Serial Experiments Lain. The show opens with a teenage girl committing suicide by jumping off a rooftop. Then we meet our protagonist, soft-spoken 14-year-old Lain Iwakura, whose life is turned upside down when she receives an e-mail from the girl who committed suicide earlier in the episode, claiming she has ascended to a new form within the “Wired” – the show’s version of the Internet. 

The show then deals with Lain entering the Wired, and experiencing some of the darkest corners of 1998 internet that look surprisingly like today’s internet. At the same time, she has horrifying realizations about her identity and reality itself. It’s a mind-twisting avant-garde, cyberpunk mystery about identity and what it means to be able to reinvent yourself in a place that isn’t technically tangible.

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Ghost in the Shell TV Spots

(Welcome to Movie Mixtape, where we find cinematic relatives and seek out interesting connections between new releases and older movies that allow us to rethink and enjoy what’s in our theaters as well as the favorites on our shelf. In this edition: Rupert Sanders’ Ghost in the Shell.)

Elon Musk is on the verge of shoving AI into our brains, and Scarlett Johansson hits theaters this week to sell us on how cool becoming a cyborg can be. After almost three decades in the public consciousness, first as a gorgeously challenging manga and then as boundary-busting animation, Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell has evolved into human form.

Finding films to watch alongside it isn’t hard. The cyberpunk exploits of Public Security Section 9 chasing down a mind hacker have inspired the technological imaginations of plenty of modern movies (not to mention launching a franchise of three animated movies, a TV series and several Original Video Animations).

Ghost in the Shell is the godmother that came along at the perfect time to re-launch a vision of the future fueled by the incipient internet, our relationship to AI, and the near-inevitability of our fusion with machines. It turns out the only difficulty in hunting down its peers is finding examples that see that future as optimistically as it does.

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