Serial Experiments Lain Vol. #2 (of 4) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999
Release Date: Tuesday, August 24, 1999



What They Say
Fulfill the Prophecy....

“KNIGHTS” – a super hacker group that has large effects in the wired. No one knows who the members are, but they control information and sometimes develop and distribute illegal information equipment. The KNIGHTS are trying to make Lain do something.... When Lain metamorphosizes her physical self into the wired to search for an answer to incidents of kids committing suicide, she finds that the KNIGHTS are behind these incidents. One day, a group of men in black suits contact Lain. They ask, “Are those people who you live with really your parents?” “Are you Lain of the wired?” and ‘Who are you really?”

The Review!
The second volume of Serial Experiments Lain brings us to the halfway point in the series. More questions are brought up, and no real answers given yet. And I'm still loving it.

The video quality is still gorgeous. There looked to be a few scenes that may have been hard to encode (the kaleidoscope sequence early on, some of the live images) come across beautifully with no distortion or pixellation. This continues to be a reference series in terms of video.

Not that the audio is too shabby. Though it is just a stereo mix, it's well done and directional across the front soundstage at several really useful instances. Both language tracks are pretty clean and never sounds distorted or tinny. There are the usual changes in the dub that makes no sense (from "This is going to stain" to "Now I'll need to get it dry-cleaned") and such, but the general feelings seem to get across. Lain's voice actress gets to express more emotion and feeling this time around, so those who may have been unimpressed with her earlier performance may like it more this time around.

The packaging continues in the slightly washed out style that was done in the Japanese releases as well. Personally I find these covers to be quite eye-catching and great to look at (though I had hoped that the original Japanese release covers would be included in a gallery somewhere), it's nice to see the original artwork used and having menus and other bits used based off of it. And I still get a chuckle out of their tag in the Special Features box on the back that it contains "Extra Stuff".

The menu is very similar to the previous release, very Lain-stylish and creepy while being very functional and easy to use. Excellent menus all around. And there's a hidden easter egg in there too! Highlight the following section if you want to know about it: From the main menu, when you have the selection on Play, you can shift left and highlight Lain's eyes for a goodie. On DVD-ROM, you can just move your mouse over her eyes.

One thing I do want to mention is that the scene access menus are perfect. Every TV series should use this style and it'd never be an issue. Perfection!

There's a lot of things going on during these three episodes, not all of it makes sense. Episode six seems to be the most linear and easily understood, but there's still a lot of questions without answers and more things to be explored. Lain's new personality, or her wired personality, is a lot more outgoing than her real life personality. Her confidence level at some points are quite unlike how she's been during the first four episodes.

There are also some interestingly done live action sequences seen through a camera that are quite well done. Usually when live action is mixed with anime it's with mixed success (see the Venus Wars for an example) but it really fits the mood here. And any show that has steam valves this size for personal computer systems to keep cool are just that, cool.

This installment of Lain also provides more stickers as a bonus. I still have the large sticker from the first release on my empty bay cover on my PC. I always enjoy seeing it when I open the cover to pop in a DVD.

Lain is very similar to the first release. If you were intrigued at all during those episodes, the second disc is highly recommended!

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Conceptual Drawings (15),Non-Credits Opening


Review Equipment
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.
MSRP: 29.99
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Serial Experiments Lain