Serial Experiments Lain Vol. #3 -

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Mania Grade: A

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: C-
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: MVM Entertainment
  • MSRP: 19.99
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Serial Experiments Lain

Serial Experiments Lain Vol. #3

By Dani Moure     October 30, 2006
Release Date: April 05, 2004

Serial Experiments Lain Vol. #3
© MVM Entertainment

What They Say
There are rumors that Lain is stealing people's secrets and spreading them in the wired. Her friends, including Arisu, abandon Lain and even her parents leave, telling Lain that they are not her real parents. Lonely and confused, Lain then encounters a man who calls himself "God" in the wired...

Includes episodes 8-10: Rumours, Protocol, Love.

The Review!
Everything changes as Lain tries to find out who she really is...

I stuck with the Japanese audio track for this disc, having seen the entire show dubbed before. The sound is nice and clear, and I noticed no dropouts or distortions. There's not all that much depth to the track, but it's pretty solid with no technical problems. Spot-checking the English track showed up no problems. As always, I feel the need to mention the opening song, "Duvet" by Boa, which is a fantastic and catchy song that's perfect for the show.

The three episodes on this disc look pretty good in general, even given the show's relative age. The transfer is a bit grainy, more noticeable during the darker scenes, but that's to be expected form an older show. There are no other compression artefacts that I noticed, or any aliasing or cross-colouration. Overall this is a nice transfer.

The front cover has a really nice image of Lain sitting on the floor at home with a brown hue, with the show's logo off to the centre-right, and the volume number and title at the top of the front. The back cover features the usual summary of the volume and show's logo at the top, with an episode listing (with a screenshot from each) on the left, and staff credits on the right. Technical information, including MVM/Madman's standard technical box, are at the bottom of the cover.

The menus are much the same as previous volumes, which means they fit with the show well, but aren't all that exciting. They're all static menus with the relevant buttons in place (though the main menu has a series of stills in the background instead of just one image). Selections are nice and fast, and it's an easy menu to find your way around.

The extras are much the same as before in terms of what they are, but just new versions. We get the same Madman produced DVD trailer (as the disc was authored by them), along with a gallery of conceptual drawings.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It's a testament to the quality of Lain that this review is being written over two and a half years after the review of volume 2, and yet there was such familiarity as I watched this volume (which was the first time I had watched the show since early 2004 when I began reviewing it). I remember the story and the characters, it was just so easy to slip back into the world of the Wired. It certainly proves to me that this series is a real gem in a sea of many forgettable, pointless shows that I've seen in between.

If the first volume of Lain was focused on introducing the characters and the Wired, and the second explored the virtual world and how it related to the real world, this one is all about Lain herself; who she is and what her role in everything is. It touches on some interesting topics and explores some thought-provoking ideas, such as the use of gods, the Knights, and the way humans react to certain situations.

The first episode is quite aptly titled "Rumors", since that's exactly what it deals with. Lain is continuing to struggle with finding herself and trying to figure out what exactly is going on in the Wired. She starts to ask questions about her own existence, starting with her parents. But when she asks them if she really is theirs, they simply stare at her blankly rather than reassure her. Then Lain's friends start talking about an incident in the Wired that apparently Lain was involved in, and then she feels isolated when they leave without her. She soon sees Arisu in a compromising position with her teacher, and a distraught Arisu questions Lain as to whether it was her spreading the rumours or not. Lain also comes face to face with the other her, the one in the Wired, as her two separate existences seem to be starting to merge.

The next episode sees Lain learning more information about anything from a documentary on the Roswell incident in 1947. The film she watches takes centre stage during several scenes, giving the names and details about several people involved in that and later events related to it. Meanwhile, Lain is given a chip from the Knights when she visits Cyberia café, and uses Taro to try and find out what it's for. Under the premise of a date, she takes him back to her home and, in her room, confronts him. It turns out, he is working in part for the Knights, and the chip will rewrite memories that already exist. As the documentary draws on, it leads up to the creation of the Wired and even more ideas, and leads Lain to a confrontation with one of its creators.

Faced with Masami Eiri, Lain discusses the essence of a true god with him and indeed, now believes she is a god in the Wired herself. As she struggles to figure out whether her presence is even needed in the real world any more, the lines between the Wired and the real world start to crumble. She loses her family and it seems as though, at school with her friends, she doesn't even exist. But even as she thinks she may be a god, she realizes she doesn't want to be alone and needs some followers...

Though it can be hard to follow on occasion, Lain continues to impress because it never panders to the audience. The script maintains the same level of complexity throughout the show, and even as revelations come in abundance, it never relents and continues to be as cerebral as ever. Even so, we learn a lot in this volume as the show is thrusting towards its conclusion at its own pace.

Lain has now become like a god of the Wired, with the ability to influence people and do almost anything she wants in the virtual world. Sure enough, with the power she seems able to wield in the Wired, she is effectively a god there. But what makes this transition so compelling to watch is that we are seeing her journey of discovery unfold before our very eyes. We get to see as her family crumbles before her very eyes (as we finally discover for sure that her "family" were only there playing roles for her), as she agonises over the actions and role of the other digital Lain in the Wired, who has become infamous amongst the entire network, and as she finally comes to terms with her role, and everyone else's in this world. Everything seems to point back to her at the centre of the world that is the Wired, and watching as she grows in confidence and gradually becomes the digital Lain that she doesn't like to start off with is extremely engrossing. We now know who Lain is, and so does she, which will make the three episodes on the final disc a very interesting watch.

In Summary:
Lain might not have the widest appeal because it's a real thinking person's series, but if you are willing to invest some time in the show and really pay it the attention it deserves, not only will you admire how well written and constructed it is, but you will likely be just as engaged as I was while watching this disc. It's hard for me to talk about the series and do anything but gush, because watching it now reminds me why I loved it so much when I first saw it, and why it still stands the test of time even given the way the world has changed technologically speaking in the 8 years since it aired. This is a top-class series and deserves a place in any anime fan's collection.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Trailers,Conceptual Art

Review Equipment
Philips 28" Pure Flat Widescreen TV, Philips DVP5100 code free DVD player, JVC gold-plated RGB SCART cable, standard stereo sound.


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jnager 3/13/2012 9:19:45 AM

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