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Welcome to the Reclusive Essayist’s Anime Junk Bin…the section of my blog which I devote to going over the various obscure and unknown animes I’ve collected over the years in my endless quest for good anime…which usually ends in finding a pile of crap. Unfortunately, my collection is mostly riddled with crap…which means there’s going to be a lot of stinkers in here you should avoid like the plague…and which most otaku already do. It’s “stupid” otaku like me that end up saddled with it. And when I say “saddled”, I mean saddled.

Take this bit of trash for example. After watching it once I tried to resell it on eBay for half price. Nothing doing. Then a quarter price. Not even one person looked at it. I brought it to ACen and asked random strangers to buy it for $10. Then $5. Finally I was just trying to give the thing away or barter with it…and still I can’t get rid of it! This must be the Yugo of anime series…and you know what? I can believe it.

“Serial Experiments: Lain”

What’s the best way to describe “Serial Experiments: Lain”? Well, first of all, it’s not really about serial experiments. A pity, because then it might have actually been interesting. The plot can mostly be summed up like this…

Picture one of those existential “dream world”/”technology”/”alternate virtual reality” type deals involving advanced AI and heavy metaphysical content that’s interspersed with eye candy and lots of exciting action and battles to keep the audience’s attention, something like “The Matrix”…or, in this case, more like “The Matrix Reloaded”, in particular the one with all of “Colonel Sanders'” jargon at the end you have to watch five times before you understand. Now…imagine that same movie set almost entirely in two or three mundane locations, one of them being an average house, about three times the metaphysical jargon, and absolutely none of the action. Presto…that’s “Serial Experiments: Lain”.

What follows is one of the most boring approximate 4 hours and 20 minutes I ever had to endure. There’s a general rule I’ve found in anime over the years. If it’s a 13 episode anime, it’s probably 9 episodes too long…and boy does that ever show here. Most of the time is spent watching the protagonist, a weird, creepy girl named Lain with a hairstyle I’m pretty sure no one uses, sit around and stare at things while listening to news reports and such that refer to 90% of the show’s action “off screen”. She becomes aware that her world around her is changing in the wake of new widespread computer technology for the eerie. How eerie? Well…more than “suspicious murder mystery” eerie, but not quite as bad as “Japanese horror film” eerie, which leaves something in kind of an ambiguous limbo. In fact, it would be nicer if more creepy stuff did happen, because most of the time, the viewer is sitting around just waiting for something, anything, interesting to occur!

Instead we get treated to an extended treatese over the course of 13 episodes outlining how these computer processors got intentionally linked up to the ley lines of Planet Earth and functioned as a tremendous neural network to actually bring the planet “to life” as a sentient organism…and guess who it ends up being? That’s right…Lain. But if you think that suddenly learning one day that you’re a god incarnate could lead to a stimulating series, you’re wrong…especially when you’re a god whose only real power seems to be subconsciously killing people and wrecking things from time to time. Most of the series at this point, like I said, is Lain listening to a phantom version of the programmer of this system slowly describe what’s going on while subjecting the audience to random bits of confusing sequences that make no sense even once you do learn what’s going on somewhere around the 9th episode or so…all while doing weird things that make no sense such as mummifying herself in computer wires so she can download a processor into her brain that makes her even more unnaturally destructive.

At around the 11th or so episode, Lain finally reveals her only real desire as god of Earth…to love the only classmate at her school who ever reached out to her. That’s…uh…sweet, I guess. Unfortunately she keeps freaking her out by involuntarily messing up her life and, when she fixes it, Lain modifies everyone’s memory in the world except hers so she can remember how much Lain “loves” her by doing that. Predictably, all it really does is freak her out. Doesn’t help when she walks in on Lain after being gone for several days and finds her having transformed her room into a supercomputer while sleeping under a pile of cables…

In the end, Lain does a “cosmic reset” to try and erase herself from existence and undo everyone who died as a result of her…but once this is done is surprised to find she still exists as a sentient entity. So what does she do? She waits a few years and then comes back as a human girl to say, “Hey there, hi.” to her old classmate in passing after she’s grown up and got married.

13 episodes of BS for that crap?!

Ugh, did they make this garbage a 13 episode series because no movie theater would have put out the 90 minute version, which they could have easily done? I don’t think in the worst of the Francis Coleman movies on MST3K did anyone have to wait endlessly for something to happen!

I think you’re supposed to watch it while taking some of those “nanite drugs” in the movie so that you don’t have a hemorrhage waiting to see something interesting. Then again…maybe blowing out your brains like the poor bastards in that movie would be a small price to pay to not have to sit through this drivel.

Rating: 1 star out of 5.

Close the DVD case. .niaga ti nepo reveN

What you should do with this DVD set: Shove it into a hard disk drive and spin it until it blows up like the head-mounted spy cameras in this boring lump of sh’t.