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      CommentAuthortallman
    • CommentTimeSep 20th 2006
     
    Whoa.

    It's taken a little while to sink in, and I'll probably have to watch the series again to really straighten things out, but it seems like it's a great series. It's a little mystifying, as there appears to be quite a bit of "unreliable narration" in which Lain is being lied to (or memories being implanted into her).

    Very, very strange, though. Sometimes I felt it was a little too obtuse. I don't mind a series treating me like an adult. I don't want it to talk down to me, but at the same time, the narrative is deliberately confusing, I think. However, I do get the impression that everything works out and that there is an underlying structure that is obscured by some of the unreliable narration.

    Again, strange, and filled with intriguing concepts. I'll probably have to watch this again sometime. Alas, I rented it through netflix, so I can't just pop it back in and honestly, I should probably start making my way through more of the queue. Maybe I'll buy it. I hear there's a big sale on geneon anime series, Lain being one of them...

    Has anyone else seen this? I know Sam has... what were your thoughts?

    ~tallman
    • CommentAuthorSamael
    • CommentTimeSep 20th 2006
     
    I have, indeed.
    I think that one of the things that makes Lain so difficult and challanging is that it doesn't conform to standard visual story-telling techniques. I think that Lain is sort of like the Lost Highway of anime- there are a lot of layers of meaning and intention, and the creators decided that the actual story is secondary to the concept. I think it works wonderfully, but it's definitely a challange, and it's definitely the sort of thing that I think you have to watch more than once to make the most of.

    I think you've got one of the most important aspects nailed, though- there's a *lot* of unreliable narration. Ultimately, I think that's one of the major points/themes of the whole series. It's dealing a lot with lonliness, the shifting nature of reality (both our perception of reality, and what even counts as "real"- I mean, how many times do they have you questioning whether the series takes place in the "real" world or not?), and communication.

    Honestly, every time I watch it, my opinion changes a little bit, and I notice new things or change my interpretation of things that I've already seen. Which, honestly, is one of the things I like about it. It's definitely not everyone's cup of tea, but I think it raises enough really interesting questions and does so in such a beautiful and thought provoking way, that I think everyone should at least give it a try. And, seriously, tell me that's not some beautiful animation. You definitely have to be in the right mood to watch it, because most of the episodes are pretty slow- but some of those sequences are just amazing. I love the use of text and voice, and the sounds- the buzzing coming from the high tension wires.

    Maybe I'll rewatch that this weekend. It's hard for me to get too specific since I haven't watched it lately.

    You should check out the wiki article about it, though. I'm always cautious about wiki articles about movies and anime, because, of course, interpretation is subjective to a large degree, but they do a decent job trying to make sense of what counts as a plot in Lain, and they note a lot of the same concerns about plot that I have- namely, that it's hard to say for sure what actually happens because so much of the point seems to be that reality isn't stable for Lain. There are some interesting trivia pieces on there, too- like

    I think that some of the implications are interesting (but that might be because I'm a big fan of the philosophy). Like the comment that one of the characters makes about how "if nobody remembers, did it really happen?" or something to that effect- essentially saying that if everyone forgets something happened, then it didn't happen. You can see parallels in the "real world" (don't you hate it when people put quotes around "real world"?). It's sort of like when Sarte questions who we are- are you the same person you were yesterday? What about the same person you were 10 years ago? Do you believe the same things that you did a decade ago? If not, have you changed? Have you become a new person? What happened to the old you? Did you even exist back then? I mean, obviously, a lot of this is purely mental masturbation, but, on the other hand, some of it has interesting theoretical implications. If you and I are the only two people to experience something, but we remember it differently, which one of us is right? Are we both right? Neither?

    Maybe I'm way off, but I think that, at least on some levels, is dealing with a bit of an extreme form of those kinds of questions- Is Lain's perception shaped by reality, or is reality shaped by Lain's perception?

    Okay, that's enough from me, I think.
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      CommentAuthortallman
    • CommentTimeSep 20th 2006
     
    Yeah, the unreliable narration would be a little less confusing if there weren't so many ways it worked. I mean, you've got a "real world" version of Lain and a "Wired" version of lain. At one point, I got the impression that there were even more Lains than that (something to do with memory. If you exist in someone else's memory, is that the same you as the real you? Does that you exist independently of you?). Then you've got the Wired bleeding into the Real World. Finally, you've got all this manipulation of memories - either being implanted or erased - that cause confusion. There's also the subconscious connection we all share which could have been active in the story, though I'm unclear as to the exact implications of that (and all of the above)

    As for the philosophical implications, I think you're dead on. It seems to be all about reality, memory, and perception. If a tree falls in a forest, but no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Indeed, did it even fall?

    At this point, though, I'll definitely need to watch it again to make a coherent argument about how each of the forces I'm describing are actually acting in the story...

    I checked out the Wikipedia article, which does help in terms of making sense of the story, but I still want to watch it again so that I can put together the specifics. The devil is in the details, as they say.

    I also read this explanation by Steven Den Beste, in which he argues that the series is essentially based on Christian dogma. He makes a reasonably compelling argument, and again, though it helps me make sense of the story a bit more, I still need to watch the series again. Devil, details, etc...

    ~tallman
    • CommentAuthorSamael
    • CommentTimeSep 20th 2006
     
    Hmmm. That's interesting. I hadn't read that analysis before- I think I will watch Lain this weekend, and see what I think, in regards to that perspective. That's certainly a neat way of looking at it, that I hadn't considered.
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      CommentAuthortallman
    • CommentTimeSep 22nd 2006
     
    Definitely let me know what you think upon your next viewing. As I said, I definitely want to watch it again sometime, but I'm not sure I'm ready for it just yet. Then again, the longer I wait, the more I'll probably forget...
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      CommentAuthorDyre
    • CommentTimeSep 23rd 2006
     
    I love Serial Experiments Lain but, really, haven't seen it anywhere near recent enough to go into anything. I just read that Christian dogma explanation and it referenced a bunch of stuff I had completely forgotten about. There's some stuff in that explanation that I had assumed as well when watching it, although I wasn't connecting it with Christianity per se, just some of the ideas. Primarily the Lain is in everyone/Lain as a manifestation of something that's in everyone idea (and that's why she's recognised by Arisu at the end even though she reset everything).

    I do remember that watching the whole series at once is extra heavy and very immersive, although you do need five and a half free hours. The whole thing is so layered and yeah, a lot of the confusion I think comes from unreliable narration, but that seems to be where a lot of the main philosophical stuff about memory/what constitutes reality comes into play. Like it's not confusing just for the sake of being confusing, the confusion adds to the point once you start seeing your way through it. I suppose maybe the same point could have been pushed across without as much confusion but I feel like it's almost a reward to start to see what the meanings might be in this case, whereas with a movie like Mulholland Drive, after finding out what everything was supposed to mean, I felt like it was made unnecessarily confusing and that it's meaning didn't warrant that much symbolism and mental exercise.

    I don't really have much to add because I haven't seen it in forever. I've been meaning to pick up a copy of the whole thing for a while. I have a kinda crappy rip on some CD-Rs somewhere that a friend made me. Maybe I'll dig that out (if I can even find it now) but I'd really like a clean copy I can watch on my TV.
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      CommentAuthortallman
    • CommentTimeSep 24th 2006
     
    I don't know if I could handle watching all 5.5 hours of that series at once, at least, not the first time. I needed some time to let stuff sink in. Perhaps when I rewatch it, I could handle that.

    As for the confusion, once I started realizing what was going on and once that sank in after thinking about it for a while, I'm willing to give them a pass. Still, a part of me thinks that they were being a little too obtuse. Perhaps that will change after a second watch...

    As for purchasing, this guy has the lain dvds for $5 each ($20 total)
    http://www.animecornerstore.com/laindvds.html

    Sounds like a bargain:P There's lots of other anime available as well: http://www.animecornerstore.com/dvdvibabafas.html

    ~tallman