Posted on Wednesday, November 27th, 2019 by Rafael Motamayor
(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.