Serial Experiments Lain Vol. #1 (of 4) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, July 13, 1999
Release Date: Tuesday, July 13, 1999
What They Say
We're all connected...
There is the world around us, a world of people, tactile sensation and culture. There is the wired world, inside the computer, of images, personalities, virtual experiences and a culture all of its own. The day after a classmate commits suicide, lain, a thirteen-year-old girl, discovers how closely the two worlds are linked when she receives an email from the dead girl: "I just abandoned my body. I still live here..." Has the line between the real world and the wired world begun to blur?
Going by my ratings up there, can you guess my general opinion of this disc? I thought you could...
A couple weeks ago, I was lucky enough to get a promotional VHS copy of the first episode dubbed. While there was the warning that some things were possibly not yet completed, the show was pretty much intact. I don't know how the regular VHS versions will compare, and how much of a difference my S-Video connection is now making, but this disc was just so beautiful, I was smiling during so many sequences. The colors are never over saturated, the visuals range from dark moments with no hints of any pixellation or artifacting to incredibly busy CG sequences that hold up amazingly well. This is definitely a new reference disk in terms of anime quality that can be achieved on DVD. Little flashes of color that I didn't notice during the VHS preview were so vivid and beautiful that it reminds me again and again why I have a hard time going back to that format.
And let's not forget the audio. While yes, it's basically a stereo mix from a TV series, there are a lot of great moments. During the first episode when Lain is staring at the blackboard and the words and other pieces start changing and there's the thum thum sound going along with it, it was unremarkable in the dubbed version on VHS, but is very much an active element of the story itself here. The hum of the wires as Lain watches them while on the train is much more closer to reality as well, bringing the sounds so much more to life.
Pioneer looks to have gone outside of their normal group I believe with Mind Meld. The menus and interface on this disc is very slick. Easy access to each "layer" or episode, many chapter stops and an overall excellent design. Kudos!
As for the show itself? Yeah, it's definitely one "freaky/weird/bizarre" show. And if you couldn't guess, it's definitely right up my alley. I love the strange, the unexplained. I was one of many sitting on edge watching shows like Twin Peaks, V.R. and Millennium. Serial Experiments Lain goes along similar routes and begins to unravel the mysteries slowly.
There's been a lot of speculation on how well this show will do over here, and while I'm very positive and hyped about it, I'm unsure of how it will fare. On the plus side, there's only 13 episodes so it's a short series and a minor investment overall. But man, it's out there!
The great thing about shows like this is how open to interpretation it is to each person. It's a cerebral show and as such, each person gleans different things from me. One forum regular put it best, and this may contain minor spoilers, so skip over it if you're even minorly afraid of reading anything before seeing it;
It's a cerebral piece, and people are going to have different interpretations for it. I see it in a very Mage (as in the White Wolf RPG) light; (and this is where you get lost if you have no idea what I'm talking about.) Lain is a newly-Awakened Virtual Adept, whose Avatar's been roaming the Wired (their Digital Web) somehow without her knowledge. That part has yet to be explained, but is obviously plot. Hell, she even tossed a Forces 1 bolt at that MiB, trashing his Matter/Forces/Correspondence scanner. I don't blame her, I'd be peeved to if a pair of MiBs were checking me out at night, while I was in my underwear in my room.
Lain is also "rated" as 16+, which is definitely something that should be noted. This isn't a show aimed at kids. I don't recall the exact time Lain rain on Japanese TV, but it was a late night show to be sure.
The disc contains several spiffy extras too. Some short promos for the CD's release in Japan and 30 screens worth of conceptual artwork as well. On the main menu, you can select the "E" in Experiments in the logo for an extra goodie, though I haven't a clue as to what it is. Are they the eye-catches from the TV run? If so, why weren't they included in the show?
Also noteworthy on this disc is the great ambient music. There's a lot of subtle pieces scattered throughout as well as the great Cyberia music. I'm definitely enjoying the Cyberia mixes and hope there's more to come.
If you're looking for something beyond the norm, something you haven't seen before, something without gratuitous fan service or lumbering mecha. If you thought the final episodes of Evangelion were easy to understand, hit this disc and live it. Get wired. I'm there and loving it!
English Language,English Subtitles,Japanese Language,Extra Stuff
Toshiba CF36H50 36" TV, Pioneer 414 codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE915 DD receiver, Monster S-Video cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: A+
Audio Rating: A+
Video Rating: A+
Packaging Rating: A+
Menus Rating: A+
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Serial Experiments Lain