Serial Experiments Lain – God, existentialism and what it means to be human

It’s about time that I talked about arguably my favorite anime and when better than

The show is not fully horror, it does mix up some other genres like sci-fi and thriller but it is by far one of the creepiest things that I’ve watched that I just had to add it. It’s directed by Ryūtarō Nakamura and produced by Yasuyuki Ueda for Triangle Staff.

The story revolves around Lain Iwakura, a young middle school girl who receives a disturbing email from a schoolmate who recently committed suicide where she tells Lain that her soul has escaped onto the wired and is now free. Once she opens it she starts to dive deep into “The wired” which is something that closely resembles the internet, just a more advanced version. Once she starts getting addicted to the wired and starts diving deep into a rabbit hole as she discovers several notable groups including “The Knights”  that are basically an evil and more powerful version of Anonymous.

Right from the start, we can see that there is something different with Lain and her life. She is a very introverted person with a distant family where her mother is too distant and her father always seems to be lurking around her and having some sort of ulterior motive and wanting to get her more and more into computers. And her sister… Her sister has a mini story arc which might be the creepiest part of the show.

But the plot overall is not the most important aspect since the entire story is very hard to piece together mainly because there are possible multiple timelines and the series itself is very ambiguous and told in a nonlinear way. It is a very deep and psychological show which tackles various topics that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about.

For example, as I said mentioned before there are characters that give up their bodies in order to enter the wired which is starting to merge with the “Real” world and is slowly becoming one. Are those people the same people or are they just a copy of the original which shares the same thoughts? What makes us what we are? Who exactly are we? Are we real? What even is real? This is what Lain tries to find out throughout the series.

As the show progresses it becomes creepier and creepier. It always ads something that makes you think, that weirds you out and at times, flat out disturb you with a continuous creepy atmosphere that keeps you constantly on the edge accompanied by simplistic but very effective animation style.

It’s hard to talk about a lot of the philosophical aspects without spoiling it like God, the knights, the collective consciousness (it is not as weird as it sounds) and Lain herself and there really is a lot to talk about. I think a good way to explain a decent amount of the main theme of the series is a quote from Lain herself: People only have substance within the memories of other people. Something that we get to explore a lot the topic of “If no one knows us we don’t really exist”.

It’s really fascinating to watch this how and how it predates and predicts a lot of things like our constantly growing addiction and connection to the internet as well as alternate reality games. Oddly enough it is very relevant to this day because it tackles so many philosophical and technological topics more effectively than most other shows/movies in general. It has become a cult classic which has fans trying to figure it out decades after it’s release. There was even a deep web website inspired by Lain which was possibly a part of an ARG growing a substantial following making it probably the most talked about “underground” anime. The best thing about this show is that even the creators themselves have said that there really is no wrong interpretation.  In a lot of shows, this could be very damaging but in Lain, it shows just how amazing a concept like that can be. There is an entire website which was made for this exact reason – which I would not recommend visiting if you have not watched the show. It talks about a lot of the characters, symbolism and the scientific concepts and idea that are in the series.

It’s hard to go deeper without revealing too much and since this is a show not a lot of people know I will refrain from spoiling more but then again it’s a series that I would compare to Twin Peaks since I could tell you everything about it before you watch it and after you finish the show you would still be confused, which reminds me, I really should rewatch Twin Peaks.


Final verdict: 10/10


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