Ross founded the UK Anime Network waaay back in 1995 and works in and around the anime world in his spare time.
Serial Experiments Lain Vol. 1-4
Date 12 Dec 2004
Welcome to the world of Lain. At first glance it's a perfectly normal place, but like ADV's recent Boogiepop Phantom, Lain is a world where everything has a double meaning, and it all starts with the death of a teenage girl.
The first thing we see is the apparent suicide of Lain's classmate, which naturally enough has the school buzzing with rumour. But soon, the classmates start to receive email messages from the dead girl, claiming that she has no need of her body, and resides in the wired world of the internet. And that's the start of what becomes a Twin Peaks style trip into the strange and downright weird, as Lain becomes increasingly fascinated with her IT, and discovers that not only does she have a gift for it, but that she herself is more than she appears.
Lain Lain is a dark, twisted story. Its a series that demands your attention, and after 10 minutes it damn well gets what it wants - you'll be scratching your head wondering what the hell is going on, only to be teased by the series with an answer that just leads to more questions. It's like some sublime puzzle that coaxes you in and toys with you endlessly. I first saw this series as a fansub a couple of years ago, and was fortunate enough to have all the episodes - which I watched in a day. Sad? Possibly. But this is a series that will grip you like nothing else.
Its not just the games the series plays with your mind either - the whole thing is achingly stylish and wonderfully understated. This first disc introduces Lain's strange family, her friends, the weird visions she's having and details of a certain game called "Fantomas", and its link to the unexplained suicides. Nothing is what it seems here, especially Lain.
The series itself spans 13 episodes (referred to as "Layers") making it a nicely compact little series that's well worth collecting. The DVD itself is a nice package too, with menus presented much like Lain's own "Navi"screen. The extras are limited to promotional vids and some concept sketches, which are nice but hardly a revelation. Forget them though, because the real prize here is the series itself, which deals with the "Wired" world in a fashion that beats "The Matrix" hands down.
A genre defying work of art that captivates with breathtaking ease.