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"Serial Experiments Lain"
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Reviews & Ratings for
"Serial Experiments Lain" More at IMDbPro »

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71 out of 79 people found the following review useful:

couldn't leave his rant unanswered

Author: jovin6 from Stanford, California
26 November 2004

I feel like I have to say a few things about zetes's rant. For one, it's kind of depressing when people watch 4 episodes of a show and feel like they know everything about it. To put things in perspective, this is like watching the first 35 minutes of a movie and being convinced that it's worthless. But onto his points:

1. Yeah, a lot of effort does go into making the show more mysterious, but eventually it really does touch on themes that would appeal to those looking for something intellectual, especially functionalism, descriptive materialism, and the problems with a wholly materialistic interpretation of identity. Don't expect hardcore analytic philosophy, just a nice sprinkling of references and some interesting perspectives.

2. When you first start watching the series, it makes absolutely no sense, and every episode just seems to be adding to the complexity by introducing new aspects. But by the time you finish it, I guarantee that all of these things will make perfect sense (even why Lain's family seems so shallow and undeveloped). In this sense, the series creates perfect order out of total chaos, an aspect that I particularly liked.

3. I'm not going to pretend to be a film critic, but the directing seemed pretty effective at creating the kind of atmosphere that the series needed. And many of the episodes ended with great "what the hell just happened?" moments, that forced me to revise all my theories and definitely made me want watch more.

No offense to zetes, but you shouldn't watch this anime expecting to find character portraits or traditional "slice-of-life" drama. Just like any good existentialist movie ("Donnie Darko" comes to mind here) it won't make too much sense until you've watched the whole thing and maybe even thought about it a bit. So if you feel like you won't be satisfied unless you get your moral straight-up, then this series isn't for you. It'll make you think and will only provide you with more question, not answers.

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44 out of 51 people found the following review useful:

Engaging, surreal, intelligent, bittersweet all at the same time

10/10
Author: Andy_K
18 June 2003

As most have already pointed out, `Serial Experiments: Lain' is a rather unique Japanese anime series. Watching `Lain' is not an easy trip to take, certainly, but one that is totally engaging nonetheless. Although exactly what the show is `about' is subjective and is open to interpretation to all who see it, I believe some people are completely missing some key points. Some have complained about the lack of character development during the series. But one must understand, that's the whole essence of the series: alienation. Look at the shots in Lain's classroom when the teacher is writing on the blackboard; all the other students except Lain are grayed-out. Look at the scene where Lain shows her father the Psyche processor and look how far she stands from him. Even look at the name of the club, Cyberia (as in Siberia: a cold, desolate place of exile). It's all done to emphasize how far, how detached, how alienated Lain is from everyone else. The direction in `Lain' is brilliant in depicting this. We, the audience, exist in the real world as we watch Lain, but we hardly ever get to know her. Yet we know she has a deeper personality because of what other characters say about her (`weren't you the girl at Cyberia?' Etc). These facets, which we only get a rare glimpse of, are her `online-self'. There have been studies that have shown a paradoxical relationship between time spent on the Internet and isolation and loneliness. Japan is one of the most `online' nations in the world, with almost 40% of the population having Internet access. At the same time, Japan also has one of the highest suicide rates amongst developed nations (which brings to mind a scene early in the series of the girl who commits suicide). Many are concerned with Japan's trouble youths and the increasing difficulty many have forming meaningful relationships with others. The only meaningful relationship we, the audience, see Lain have with another person is with Arisu. Other than some brief instant messaging via a palm pilot, Lain and Arisu's relationship exists entirely in the real world, not on the Wired. So, to me, the entire series is a metaphor for this increasing isolation of Japanese youth in an ever-expanding high tech world. For those having troubling getting into this series, I say focus on the directing, the atmosphere, the metaphors used throughout. Come to your own conclusions. I highly recommend this bittersweet, highly unique series to any who want to branch out from familiar territory.

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28 out of 33 people found the following review useful:

Woefully unknown piece of anime

10/10
Author: Mulliga from United States
30 September 2003

"SE: Lain" is a great anime series. It's not godly perfect or anything, but it gets up there...way up there. From the killer opening title sequence (with a great opening song, by the way) to the strange "previews" (they only consist of a girl talking and her body parts - I'm not kidding) for the next show, "Lain" certainly has a fairly unique style. But it goes beyond style and gets into substance.

The story is simple at first and seems half-predictable in these post-"Matrix" times. After a classmate seemingly commits suicide, Lain gets e-mail from the dead girl. Apparently, her consciousness is still on the net...or is it? From then on, things get weird, complicated, and interesting.

Splicing in elements of Matrix-style cyberpunk, X-Files conspiracy, and the David Lynch-esque surreal, "Lain" is, like the Wired world it portrays, a synthesis of disparate ideas and personas, all thrown into a blender for the viewer to interpret. The interpretation's the thing, and those looking for action or comedy may come away slightly disappointed. After 13 episodes, there will probably be more questions than answers, but isn't real life like that, anyway?

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29 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

Brilliantly subtle, thought-provoking series...

Author: packgrog from Farmingdale, NY, USA
6 April 2000

Last night I finally received the last of 4 DVDs in this mind-blowing series. This series is to anime in general what films like American Beauty are to movies in general. Don't let the word anime turn you off, folks. Doing so would be like comparing Schindler's List to The Kentucky Fried Movie...

The story follows Lain, a shy, adolescent school girl. After receiving an email from a classmate who committed suicide a few days earlier, Lain begins to examine the world, society, god, self, technology, and how these concepts fit together. The fact that such an email could easily be faked is irrelevant, but instead we focus on how Lain's perspective changes as she learns to deal with life. This 13-part series, spanning 4 DVDs, is the best aspects of American Beauty, The Sixth Sense, 2001, and (to a lesser degree) The Matrix rolled into one subtle and beautiful story.

Note that this is NOT an action-packed story, nor does it lessen itself by trying to cater to the lowest common denominator. Nor does it ever come straight out and explain itself or what is going on. That's not the purpose of the story. The purpose is to make you think about your own place in life, and how you deal with it. The story is never judgemental, it simply gives you things to think about. It raises more questions than could possibly be answered given the limitations of language. The answers can only be understood, never explained.

In keeping true to the Zen Buddhist traditions of Japan, the animation style is often minimalistic, offset by the frenetic chaos of the computer animation added to it. This is an intentional counterpoint to the more natural looking animation, often consisting more of still paintings than movement, and the effect is stunning.

So if you are looking for a thought-provoking way to spend about five and a half hours of your time, I cannot recommend this more. If you understood what made American Beauty such an incredible movie, you'll love Serial Experiments: Lain.

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24 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Subtly creepy anime

Author: grendel-25 from Tulsa, Ok
30 October 1999

You normally don't think of subtle and sci-fi anime in the same sentence, but that's what Serial Experiments Lain is. The atmosphere is slightly sinister all the way through, with beautiful animation. The story could be compared to the Matrix and the Sixth Sense, while the atmosphere and style is reminiscent of Twin Peaks, eXistenZ, and the end of Neon Genesis EVA.

The ending makes this clear that you won't be getting any easy answers.

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17 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Forever altered my perspective

10/10
Author: rushnerd from United States
16 June 2009

This series not only opened my eyes…it literally changed my life. I've experienced the whole series many times, always letting it probe my mind to provoke thoughts I didn't know existed. This isn't a review, if you want to know what the series is like, watch it, or rather let it watch you. After studying the series for a while I became deeply interested in computers, computer science, philosophy, mind-expansion, and theory.

I related to Lain on such a personal level that the show almost seemed to transcend the subtext of it just being a work of fiction. But then again Serial Experiments Lain blurs the thin boundary that is reality and the virtual. The concepts and information shown at parts is very much worth looking into as well (E.I. Shuman resonance (commonly)7.83Hz). The integration into the story seems entirely possible in the future. The concept of the wired is in itself one of the most intriguing and glorious things i've ever heard of. Cyberpunk nirvana I suppose would be a way of looking at it. I could write for days on this work of art, but i'll limit myself here. If you do decide to watch it, you must commit to the whole series, or you'll probably be confused or misled. The series comes full circle like i've rarely seen any other do before.

On a side note, the series is also an incredible psychonaut tool.

- Don't pass this one up.

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20 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Masterpiece of Anime and Animation

Author: Tony (Rirath_com) from USA
22 June 2003

Lain is by far one of my favorite animes of all time. The story is deep, well thought out, and very entertaining throughout. The characters develop perfectly, the atmosphere is incredible, and the story is flawless. Some of the story is left slightly open ended, leaving the viewer to fill in his or her own conclusions.

Tech heads will relate to this story effortlessly. The Wired is easily a souped up version of our own Internet, and the history isn't outrageously far from our own and well explained. The parallels between our world and this fictional world really make things interesting. This series really hits a sweet spot for sci-fi technological dramas.

Every anime fan should see this series, but be prepared for a brain twister. I've watched it a good five times and I can honestly say I still find new tidbits of the story every time. You just can't sit back and put your brain on cruise control; You must make an effort to follow the story or it will leave you mercilessly lost and confused.

And remember folks, this is fiction. You have to be willing to suspend belief a few times and accept the universe of the work at hand. Those unwilling or unable to do this, need not apply. Think of it as a deep mystery novel. Even when following the concrete parts of the story with great attention, there's enough misdirection to leave you wondering what if... and that's half the fun.

If you simply can't accept that the story isn't handed to you neatly gift wrapped, and that you may have to fill in the details from your own imagination, then go watch a simpler anime. This isn't for you. If you like the confusing story of animes like Neon Genesis Evangelion, or Boogiepop Phantom then you'll love this. If you live and breath technology, you'll only love it that much more. All in all, this is a masterpiece of animation.

- Rirath_com

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17 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Rekindling My Faith

Author: PDNickz from Los Angeles
25 November 2002



Anime existentialism, generally speaking, is largely inaccessible to western audiences... and it's almost totally inaccessible to myself. I'm not ashamed to admit that I had to watch Akira three or four times before I fully understood it, and Ghost in the Shell had to live in my VCR for a couple weekends until I was satisfied I'd eked whatever shred of understanding out of it that I could. I grew very tired of essays on where mankind came from and where it was going. I decided, at that point, that I would never understand anime to a degree where I could be pleased with it, and abstained from watching it for a while (with the exception of the occasional Ranma1/2 episode, at the behest of my then-girlfriend).

Then, along came Lain.

I was very, very skeptical about watching Lain. Not only did it look like your typical "what is it all about" anime, but it was a thirteen-episode series, clocking in at well over five hours. I figured I'd watch the first four episodes and scrap the rest.

Lain sucked me in.

I can't stress how shocked I was when I swapped DVD #3 for DVD #4 and looked at my watch to realize I'd been sitting in one place for over four and a half hours. Serial Experiment Lain is simply incredible. There's enough mystery and enough seeds planted to keep the viewer watching from one episode to the next. The artwork is friggin' incredible... minimalist yet so rich that each shot breathes with its own life. Even the opening title sequence draws you in, with its careful attention to camera, style, and its mournful score.

Mournful, indeed. I don't make it a point to cry when I'm watching cartoons, but Lain beat the living hell out of my emotions. In very broad strokes, Serial Experiment Lain is about family, alienation, friendship and humanity. It analyzes the differences between obligation and true love, and comes down to the question of what is right and what will make you happy... and most importantly, what happens when we're forced to choose between the two?

Lain takes a lot of chances with style and presentation, and is a truly refreshing breath of fresh air from a medium that has grown far too comfortable with itself. The combination of cel animation with computer graphics and live action footage creates a world not unique to anime, but totally unique unto itself. Serial Experiment Lain rekindled my faith in anime, which is saying a lot. It is a great experience (I wouldn't be here telling you about it if it wasn't) and a great piece of film. If you've got a few hours to kill, step into Lain's world for a while, you won't be disappointed.

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22 out of 35 people found the following review useful:

A movie to overthink

Author: Masticina Akicta from Holland
2 May 2004

It's not an easy movie, no..it's neither a slow movie like some wish to call it. It's mere a non judgemental movie..taking many layers and angels in reality and fiction. In 12 episodes it's build a thing....to nullify it in the 13th ( last ). Leaving you with nothing in your hands..and many questions. You know you seen a thing..you saw it grow..you even began to understand it..then it nullified. Bringing you back to where you started..but not really back...just different. It doesn't leaves emptiness, but constructivness. And truly shows an art of movie making ... which doesn't needs allot of action as support. It uses a definit way of following, where the path is more important as the message, but on another level the message is more important. And again it's not important! Lain = Lain, Lain = Wired...it's all written over it... Some might not understood it, or sought a more moving action. This movie is... different... like Akira is dares to ask things ..and then.. dissolve things. A deep multi layered movie which is not easy to understand....yet such shouldn't stop a good watcher. If you want pure action there is enough out there, if you want a nice movie to enjoy with your girlfriend... this movie probably isn't the best choice. If though you have 4 hours time left and need to fill it up with some quality... this is your movie.

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9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

One of the most strange Japanese anime serial

9/10
Author: shusei from Japan
4 September 2007

Generally speaking,Japanese anime products,as its by-product known as "otaku" culture, are full of contradictions. First of all, anime's "artistic" level has never been adequately estimated in its homeland(namely by audience, critics and mass medias) and usually "discovered" by foreigners(most sad example is "Inoccence--Ghost in the shell", Mamoru Oshii's best and probably last artistic film). Secondally, anime's highest level in dramaturgy had been achieved before it was "discovered" by world film festivals and foreign audiences(French people is said to have believed "Candy Candy"'s not a Japanese serial, because it was so sophisticated).

"Serial experiment Lain" is a accidental postmodern masterpiece,made after anime's classical achievements("accidental", because no one had intended to make a work of art). "Lain" uses plenty of postmodern devices: citation from purely historical materials,stylish eclecticism,"open" ending or circular structure and showing its own media's limitation(many scenes are openly "two dimensional" and look like rather abstract "picture").

Having been made in the time of imitation and citation of past anime "classical "serials of 80s and later 70s, "Lain" is superb in its originality and the sense of the contemporary.After seeing this serial, "Evangelion" seems to be boring and too long(experimental works must be not so long as ordinary "genre" works,it is the rule from the time of silent era).

I recommend to compare this serial with "Kairo" by Kiyoshi Kurosawa,the latter will seem to be some kind of a little out-dated remake of this serial.

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