Serial Experiments Lain Vol. #4 -

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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. #4

By Dani Moure     November 03, 2006
Release Date: June 07, 2004

Serial Experiments Lain Vol. #4
© MVM Entertainment

What They Say
"Who am I?" The question is asked over and over again throughout the noise. Lain destroys her own creator and loses her best friend, now she must decide what to do - should she delete herself from everyone's memory? If she does, will she have ever really existed?

Includes the final episodes 11-13: Infornography, Landscape, Ego.

The Review!
The story comes full circle as Lain makes the final discoveries, and decisions, about her existence.

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 standing in front of some stairs with a reddish 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)
And so Lain comes to its conclusion, and in much the same way as the whole series so far has played out, it never panders to the audience and allows us to interpret things in our own way. It can be a hard show to follow at times, with ideas and themes bursting at the seams, but stick with it and you really do come to realise what a great show it is. And best of all, it stands the test of time and has plenty of rewatch value.

This final volume starts with a clip-show of sorts taking up the first half of the first episode. Lain is now at the point where she is unsure of what her existence is and what it means, so she takes to examining all the evidence to try and find what she is. In the Wired, she pulls up various memories and other incidents that are presented to us in a rather... haphazard fashion. Despite this, ultimately as it all comes together it starts to make perfect sense and encourages you to start forming opinions of what has happened so far. Then things take a turn, as Masami Eiri appears again and Lain uses him to question what exactly she is. Rather than being a piece of hardware though, as she suggests, Eiri refers to her as "software" and though she tries to fight against it, she does seem to be that way.

Lain soon encounters Chisa again, as well as the man that died in Cyberia. With new realisations fresh in her mind, she visits Arisu and tells her that she's broken down the barrier between the Wired and the real world. As such, she can do almost anything and vows to take back what has happened, essentially erasing the past. Watching Lain become this omni-present, god-like character is somewhat disturbing (and interesting at the same time). Seeing the final scene with Arisu and the school girls, as it becomes clear that Lain has changed the past so Arisu's fling with the teacher never happened, just demonstrates how much power Lain has and one of the many ways she can use it.

With everyone's memories of certain events erased, Arisu can't help but be curious about Lain's new abilities and also the reason why Lain left her being able to remember everything. Arisu is naturally drawn to Lain's house, where she gets slightly more than she bargained for. Lain tells Arisu that she did it all for her, realising she could break down the barriers between the real world and the Wired, because Arisu is her only friend. Masami Eiri is quick to make an appearance though, talking about the need (or lack thereof) of a body and soon Lain is forced to fight Eiri.

The final realisation comes though as she watches Arisu's reaction to everything. As she realises that all she's done to help her one true friend was wrong, there is one final thing she is able to do: the ultimate reset. And thus, Lain erases every memory of herself from everyone else, effectively removing her from existence.

A lot has been written about Lain since it aired, and yet so many people still go away with their own slanted interpretation. It really is one that has to be watched carefully and followed to pick up on the nuances that aren't always noticeable first time around. But one thing remains consistent, and that is the amount of praise heaped upon it. Lain really is a modern classic, in no small part because even all these years on, it still holds its own legacy and remains as enjoyable as when you first watched. The writing is first class, developing a really intricate story with some nice twists and slants on things along the way, and the cast of characters hold up the story really well.

One of the most interesting things is how, particularly in this last batch of episodes, Arisu provides our viewpoint, often reacting in ways we are probably expected to react. Lain has certainly gone on quite the journey, and even the bittersweet ending is reflected in Arisu meeting up with Lain again, only she doesn't know who Lain is.

Lain's journey is of course the main focus of the show, and it's quite amazing when you think back to the beginning when she was a very timid girl who secluded herself on the Wired to what she has become by the end of the show. Of time she has definitely made some questionable decisions, but in the end the goodness comes through and, although not perfect, she does her best to make amends for the suffering she has caused, in particular to Arisu.

Looking back on Lain eight years after its original airing in Japan, you can still see all sorts of metaphors with the real world. In fact, given how the world has changed in that time, particularly in regard to things like broadband internet and its penetration in households, and it becomes even more relevant. In effect, we're now even closer to the reality of Lain than we were back when it aired. It's a testament to the show's creators that the series stands the test of time in such a way, and also that the series is just as memorable now as it was back then. It might be confusing at times, and you certainly have to pay attention to get the most from it, but I consider that one of the show's strengths.

In Summary:
Lain might not have the widest appeal because it's a real thinking person's series, but it's one of the best and most intelligent anime series you can find, even eight years after it originally aired in Japan. It has a great multi-layered story, a fine cast of characters and an amazing atmosphere. The writing and direction are superb, and it's hard to not call Lain something of a masterpiece and a modern classic. There's certainly not much anime from recent years that will stand the test of time, but Lain is one of the few that will be around for years to come.

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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