Serial Experiments Lain is another classic from the old Pioneer/Geneon stable that has been license rescued and re-issued by Funimation in a premium BD/DVD Combo Pack complete with art booklet. It's a very impressive package. Whether you will regard Lain as equally impressive depends on you.
Lain is from the same artist who created Haibane Renmei: The Complete Series (Anime Classics)
(also recently licensed rescued by Funimation) but the two series could not be any further apart. Where Haibane is full of wonder and light, Lain is dark and creepy. Both are weird, but Haibane is joyful weird whereas Lain is anything but! So don't pick this up if you expect another Haibane; you could be in for quite a shock!
At first it seems like a normal anime with a young school girl by the name of Lain, her parents and older sister but this soon changes when she receives an email from a classmate who recently committed suicide! But claims that she still lives on the net which here is called "The Wired!" And then it really begins to get creepy! Slowly Lain gets sucked into the wired and begins to lose touch with the present. Or is it the other way around? What is reality? What is fiction? If this is beginning to sound a bit like The Matrix? Then I guess in a way it is!
The closest animes I can compare this series to would be Paranoia Agent, Perfect Blue and Texnolyze. It's that sort of series. It was made back in '98 when the internet was just really getting rolling so don't expect state-of-the-art animation. But it does blend elements of The Matrix, Ghost in the Shell and Cyberpunk all in one weird and very disturbing package! Is her life real or fiction? Is Lain God or delusional? What in heck is this story really about? Just 13 episodes of increasing weirdness very well done. I guess you could almost call it an art film. A very highly crafted one.
If you like this sort of series, dark and introspective, mysteries within mysteries, no clear plotlines or perhaps even an understandable ending? Then Serial Experiments Lain may very well be one of the best ever made and you should seriously consider it. It is a true classic! But if you like series with clear plotlines. lots of action and a clear ending, then you should steer clear of this!
Two stars for those into the likes of Dragonball Z or other action oriented series. Five stars for those into the likes of The Matrix and their ilk. Personally, I'd rate it a three since I'm not really into this sort of storytelling but I have to admit; it is very well done if confusing! So I'll compromise and rate it a four. Depending on your tastes, your rating will undoubtedly vary from one extreme to the other!
Highly recommended for those who like them dark and mysterious. Not recommended for those who don't!