Serial Experiments Lain Vol. #4 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, February 18, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, November 23, 1999
This entire series has been somewhat of an experience for me. By far, this is one of the most deep and complex Animes I have ever seen in my life, and the last three episodes certainly live up to the same standards as the previous three volumes.
Technically, this disc is worthy of all the acclaim that most Pioneer titles get. Audio is crisp, there are no bugs anywhere to be found on the disc, and the video is good enough quality that it felt like I was looking at the actual hand-drawn Cel on top of a background. My only complaint in video is the same as it is for most Pioneer discs from a TV series - interlacing. I know I whine and moan about this a lot, but honestly I enjoy watching DVDs on my computer with DD5.1 audio, and the interlacing problem really bugs me. In some scenes it's much more pronounced than in others, in fact there are a couple spots on this disc where text appears on the screen and is very flickery (like looking at a monitor after you've set your refresh rate way too low) but then gets totally solid. I don't know why Pioneer and many other companies do this, but it really is one of my pet peeves.
The packaging is the same as the previous volumes, which in some ways is good and in some ways bad. It fits in just fine with the other three volumes (although volumes 3 and 4 have VERY similar colors, making it hard to distinguish which is which by the spine alone, unless you know what to look for) but looking at the spine next to all my other Anime DVDs, it certainly doesn't stand out very well.
The menus are the same as all the other discs, with a few extras, although some of the commercials were on previous discs (I think on Volume 1). While they're fast and functional, they aren't terribly appealing. Previous Pioneer releases have really been outstanding in the Menus department (Tenchi Muyo in Love 1 and Tenchi: Manatsu no Eve especially) which disappoints me as I haven't seen Pioneer do a snazzy menu in a long time.
As for the content, as Chris said in his review, everyone will interpret it differently. Frankly, I'm going to reserve my comments on the ending until I watch the series all the way through again, hopefully to get a more cohesive picture now that I know what happens later. It certainly raises a lot of thought-provoking questions, a lot like Ghost in the Shell, but it's style can be very cryptic.
I really like the whole animation style of this series, as it is something very different from what I've seen in Anime before, especially the eyes. It's very simple, but effective - almost a polar opposite from the show's story. The lack of a lot of feature lines and the more roundish drawing styles (there are very few joints, looking at the girls standing it almost looks like they have no knees) separate it from a lot of other drawing styles, however I don't find it unappealing, rather a fresh new look for a series.
If you enjoyed the previous Lain discs, you'll enjoy this one. If you look at it one way it's just more of the same stuff, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Serial Experiments Lain