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ANN Book Club -- Serial Experiments Lain.


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Aromatic Grass



Joined: 31 Dec 2003
Posts: 2424
Location: Raleigh, NC
PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 1:41 pm Reply with quote
Hello, everyone! Welcome to the Serial Experiments Lain "Book Club" discussion thread. Smile

Following JesuOtakau's "ANN Book Club" idea, we will be watching and discussing Serial Experiments Lain together over the next few weeks here. This will be my first time viewing Lain, so this discussion may be even more of an experiment than the other two series being discussed because of my unfamiliarity with the show. I was actually inspired to watch this anime (as well as Texhnolyze) after watching and discussing Chiaki J. Konaka's Ghost Hound series from Production I.G, which is one I'd recommend to those of you posting in this thread once it's licensed.

Also, if you are interested in the other series being discussed by the Book Club, please see JesuOtaku's Kino's Journey and Haibane Renmei threads.

Traditional forum rules will be followed and enforced, but there are two additional rules for all of the Book Club discussion threads:

1.) You may skip ahead of schedule, but please do not discuss episodes ahead of time in this thread. It cannot be made any clearer than this. All participants are to discuss the episodes listed for that week ONLY. Slight foreshadowing is allowed, such as "Remember what happens in that scene, it will be important later on..." but absolutely NO SPOILERS.

2.) Please, don't be afraid to speak up about anything and everything you notice in the show, so as long as you find it interesting or meaningful. Your opinions and participation are what will make this thread memorable and hopefully spark new life for old series for a while here on the ANN forums, so speak your mind!

This is the current index of discussion as of today. I will be updating this list soon, but I am sure this is the number of weeks over which we'll be discussing the Lain.

INDEX
July 1 - 7 discussion
July 8 - 14 discussion
July 15 - 21 discussion
July 22 - 28 discussion
July 29 - August 4 discussion
Final thoughts and ideas

Thanks to all participating in this thread for putting up with me (being a first-time viewer and all) and for being a part of this idea to resurrect fresh discussion for older series. I hope this turns out to be a lot of fun for everyone! Very Happy


Last edited by Aromatic Grass on Wed Aug 06, 2008 9:52 pm; edited 6 times in total
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Aromatic Grass



Joined: 31 Dec 2003
Posts: 2424
Location: Raleigh, NC
PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 1:42 pm Reply with quote
Anyway, here is the schedule of episodes for July 1-7:

Episode 1 -- "Weird"

Episode 2 -- "Girls"


Obviously, this is just an introduction to Lain so that we can all take it nice and slow at first. Like I said, I'm not at all familiar with the series and so possible topics for discussion will mostly be decided as we go along. I appreciate the help of any members who bring up interesting ideas for discussion (though without spoiling any later episodes).

Again, thanks for participating! Have a happy viewing experience starting July 1.
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JacobC
ANN Contributor


Joined: 15 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 4:42 pm Reply with quote
Hooray! Nice thread design, AG! Very Happy

Well, as far as proposing things to look at for Lain, it's very difficult, but the motif of buzzing powerlines and purple shadows from above is a good thing to track as more of the "layers" of the show are peeled back.

That's another thing. When I first saw this show, I thought it was weird that they called the episodes "layers," like they were trying to be clever or something. But watching this show really is like peeling back layers to something big under all the packaging. The scope of knowledge just gets bigger for the characters and the viewer.

Anyway, excited to start episode discussion on the 1st! Very Happy
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Zin5ki



Joined: 06 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 5:02 pm Reply with quote
Skimming over the review has made me unsure about this show. I'd probably be in a continual state of unease whilst watching it.
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JacobC
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 5:17 pm Reply with quote
Zin5ki wrote:
Skimming over the review has made me unsure about this show. I'd probably be in a continual state of unease whilst watching it.


I've probably said this a billion times before other places, but watching the show is like watching a Shyamalan movie. It REALLY is. If you don't like Shyamalan, (and I mean his good movies, as Lain is really good,) you might not have a taste for this, but if you do, there's nothing much more disconcerting than the content that was in Unbreakable[/] or [i]The Village or something.
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BrothersElric



Joined: 06 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 5:34 pm Reply with quote
Zin5ki wrote:
Skimming over the review has made me unsure about this show. I'd probably be in a continual state of unease whilst watching it.


Well if it has anything to do with being confused as to what's going on, don't worry about it. I'm a little worried about that myself, especially considering I've heard about how most people didn't get it until after multiple viewings, but the actual continual discussion that'll be going on in this thread I think will help a whole lot with making sense of things. Especially also considering that there'll also be people who've already seen it, possibly even multiple times in here as well, who'll probably help us out with that as well. In fact, that's really the main purpose of all these book club threads. So no need to worry. Smile

If not and it just looks like the actual atmosphere of the series might make you uneasy, well, I guess I can't help you out much with that. Anime smile + sweatdrop I'd at least suggest giving it an episode or 2 before making a final decision on what you want to do about it though. Who knows, you may acutally end up liking it. Wink

Anyways, this looks like a pretty good structure for the thread here AG. Smile This should make things more organized and easier follow. I'll probably be watching episode 1 tonight then, episode 2 probably sometime on Wednesday or Thursday or something like that. Can't wait to discuss it! Very Happy
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HellKorn



Joined: 03 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:53 pm Reply with quote
JesuOtaku wrote:
If you don't like Shyamalan, (and I mean his good movies, as Lain is really good,) you might not have a taste for this, but if you do, there's nothing much more disconcerting than the content that was in Unbreakable[/] or [i]The Village or something.


Just a contrast: I'm not fond of Shyamalan but lain is one of my all-time favorite anime.

BrothersElric wrote:
Especially also considering that there'll also be people who've already seen it, possibly even multiple times in here as well, who'll probably help us out with that as well. In fact, that's really the main purpose of all these book club threads.


Since I fall under that label, I hope I'm at least somewhat helpful here.

It'll be interesting to see people's reactions as the series progresses. The first episode is iimpenetrable aside from laying the themes and groundwork down, and there are various moments that appear to be nothing more than asides or small deviations that actually become truly important later on.
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BrothersElric



Joined: 06 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:58 pm Reply with quote
HellKorn wrote:
JesuOtaku wrote:
If you don't like Shyamalan, (and I mean his good movies, as Lain is really good,) you might not have a taste for this, but if you do, there's nothing much more disconcerting than the content that was in Unbreakable[/] or [i]The Village or something.


Just a contrast: I'm not fond of Shyamalan but lain is one of my all-time favorite anime.


I for one actually like Shyamalan quite a bit (or at least some of his stuff anyways) so in hearing that it makes me feel a bit more comfortable about getting this series myself. Except for the fact that admitedly Sixth Sense had me totally confused when I first saw it (granted I'd never seen anything like it before at the time) I was able to pick up on everything else from his movies just fine, so I guess we'll see then.
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Psycho 101
Oscar the Grouch
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 9:38 pm Reply with quote
BrothersElric wrote:

I for one actually like Shyamalan quite a bit (or at least some of his stuff anyways) so in hearing that it makes me feel a bit more comfortable about getting this series myself. Except for the fact that admitedly Sixth Sense had me totally confused when I first saw it (granted I'd never seen anything like it before at the time) I was able to pick up on everything else from his movies just fine, so I guess we'll see then.


personally I think Lain can be a bit confusing if you don't pay attention. I think as long as you pay attention you'll be fine. Plus you'll have the discussion here to help as well. that's just my opinion of course. I did re-watch a few episodes when I first watched it just to make sure I didn't miss anything. This is one of those shows I think those who have seen it before can still easily get new enjoyment and a new perspective from after re-watching it. So I'm definitely up for it. Of couyrse now I gotta dig this back out too lol.
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Aromatic Grass



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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 9:51 pm Reply with quote
Oh, I forgot to mention that I'll be gone all day tomorrow. I still have the chance to watch the two episodes but I won't be posting till the next day, so go ahead without me. (I'm sure JesuOtaku will help out the discussion, too.)

Happy joy. Smile
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Ggultra2764



Joined: 21 Jan 2004
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Location: New York state.
PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 12:37 am Reply with quote
I've seen Lain multiple times and it can be quite the mind job depending on how you like your anime. If you can't stand baffling plots, then the series won't be for you. But, if you like challenging yourself to understanding the underlying symbolism of events in an anime series, then Lain will be for you.

You can also expect me to take part in this discussion as episodes progress since Lain is one of my personal favorite anime titles. Very Happy
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HellKorn



Joined: 03 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 1:24 pm Reply with quote
Looks like I'll be starting off the discussion, then.

Just to give a bit of potentially tedious background of my experience with Serial Experiments Lain (if you aren't interested, skip on down to the next paragraph): I started to get more into anime starting around late 2003 to early 2004 It wasn't until 2005 that my tastes started to make some drastic changes that wouldn't solidify themselves until 2007. The experience that triggered it was my viewing of Evangelion as the Platinum DVDs were released. The series and consequent film really changed my mind of what anime (and storytelling as a whole) could really do. I noticed that a lot of people who were into these "mind f***" anime such as Evangelion also frequently grouped it along with a series titled Serial Experiments Lain. So my interest grew in that, and only that series for a while even after learning of other works that yoshitoshi aBe involved himself in (to think that I initially dismissed Haibane Renmei because of the halos, wings and seemingly muted premise... I was young). After buying the Signature Series box set and watching it, I was amazed. Didn't have a concrete idea of what I just watched, but I knew I liked it, and I knew that I must seek out everything else aBe did.

Which leads me to talk about aBe. While his involvement in the creation of the four series (lain, NieA_7, Haibane, Texhnolyze) range wildly, there are ideas that can be considered his and/or Yasuyuki Ueda's trademarks: connectivity and interdependence of people, determining true values in a materialistic world, and the purpose of transient aims that some humans aspire to. The importance of each theme in the series also vary like aBe's involvement, but it can be argued that, out of them all, lain exemplifies all of these elements equally.

For the interactivity, it's made clear in lain from the very beginning. In episode two, Lain announces to the distraught addict that "no matter where you go, everyone is connected." This is also emphasized in episode one when Lain goes to her father and queries him about the Navi, as well as the wires, computers and the Wired, etc. It lays a fundamental concept that the series will go on to explore in both metaphorical and literal terms.

Still, while that much is clear (without spoilers), first-time viewers will be left in the dark with many things; most of all, they will be wondering, "What is UP with Lain?" She's an odd character. She's openly reserved, hardly the sociable type as shown in episode two; yet she isn't emotionally stunted to the point beyond expression (made clear in episode one on the train; her curiosity and disappointment in regards to the Wired and e-mails, respectively). She fades in and out with her focus to the environment and people around her (check out any scene at school). Above all, her actions in Club Cyberia point to the possibility of dual personalities.

That last point is a particularly interesting one, and possibly the largest hint of Lain's nature in the first few episodes. The addict has taken Accela and kills people afterwards, specifically blaming Lain and asking her why she's making him do this. Remember his remarks (and the circumstances which he makes them; consider that it explicitly told to us that Accela "accelerates the user's awareness"), because they'll be important later. Also, do not forget what Chisa says in episode one in an e-mail to Lain: "God is here [in the Wired]."

There's also a few other nuggets worth paying attention to. In the opening theme we see Lain over various television screens, becoming fuzzy at towards the end and eventually time halts around her. The ending theme shows a naked Lain lying about a mess of a network of computers and wires around her. The title of the series: Serial Experiments Lain. There are a few others, but I'll keep it at that, for now. (In my subsequent post I'd like to talk about the aesthetics of lain. The art direction is just too cool.)

Your thoughts?

Psycho 101 wrote:
personally I think Lain can be a bit confusing if you don't pay attention.


That's putting it mildly.
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Ta-kun The Black Kitty



Joined: 24 Jun 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 4:06 pm Reply with quote
It's a series you have to watch time and time again to understand, and yet, there'll always be some things left without an explanation.Another thing that sort of surprises me is how Lain's spoiler[family gets suddenly off the scene]. I agree with HellKorn. Lain might have a dual personality.
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Jedi General



Joined: 27 Nov 2006
Posts: 2485
Location: Tucson, AZ
PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 4:26 pm Reply with quote
Thanks BroEly for letting me know [via IM] about the thread. I haven't had much time to post here lately, so I probably would have never noticed this otherwise.

My previous attempt to watch Lain (which was several months ago) failed to get past the first DVD, since I just couldn't make any sense of it. This time, though, I'm quite positive I'll have a much better time of it. I've since gotten much better at comprehending anime of this nature and have since found that shows like this are one of the main reasons why I love anime so much. I'm also coming of an anime high, having just finished yesterday what is unquestionably the best anime of 2007: Mononoke.

I'll watch those first two episodes ASAP and post my thoughts.
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BrothersElric



Joined: 06 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2008 4:58 pm Reply with quote
Well I'll probably watch episode 2 probably sometime tomorow or on Thursday, so when I watch it I'll have to keep some of those things Hellkorn mentioned in mind. Those were really helpful, thanks. Smile

Anyways, after watching episode 1 there's a few things I'm thinking about here. One is taking note of JesuOtaku's comparison between this and a Shyamalan movie, which that in and of itself makes me think about how in the Sixth Sense in particular there were certain interactions Bruce Willis' character had (or at least looked like he had) with people that played a big part in the big plot twist latter on, so in this I'm also trying to pay close attention to Lain's interactions so far, those being that dinner she had with her mom and sister, that conversation she had with her dad, and of course the other kids at school, as well as that little chat she had with Chisa. Of course I understand that nothing is a for sure thing in this series at all, but the ones I think stand out the most were the conversation with her dad and of course the chat with Chisa, although the dinner scene I can't help but think there were certain things that could possibly be important as well, if only to add on to what the conversation with the kids as school was all about, that in telling us just how much of an outcast Lain is. I definitely, like Hellkorn said, took immediate interest in that last little "God really does exist" line Chisa said though. I don't think there's a question in my mind that'll be important latter.

Also thinking about Shyamalan movies, there definitely seems to be a lot of visual things I felt I should take notice of myself. Of course the obvious one is all the focus on the power lines, in which I really get the feeling that this "alternate world" that's supposed to exist in this series has a lot to do with electricity/technology, basically anything connected by wires. Which of course, is why Chisa was able to contact Lain and that other girl via the internet, but I'm also interested in how everytime Lain seems to be close to those power lines she hears all these really creepy voices. There were also a few other little things I noticed that seemed to have somewhat a possible future significance, however I'm not sure. In fact if anything it's just speculation. And quite honestly, even if they do I have no clue as to how they could, but we'll see. Wink But first of all, there seemed to be somewhat a little bit of a focus on stoplights, specifically ones that were on red. Another thing I noticed, which probably is an obvious one, is that little keychain on Chisa's backpack after she jumped off of that building. Lain had a whole bucket of those same keychains in her room. I also took note of what was written on the blackboard when she was having those really trippy sequences of dreams or whatever the heck they were. I couldn't exactly make out what exactly it was trying to say, or if it was even trying to say anything at all, but I did take note of what was on there anyways. And then of course, there was that conversaton she had with her dad, in which he inserted some kind of password to open a certain file, which I think is the more likely thing to take note of for future references.

Also I'm thinking about what JesuOtaku said about these episodes being called "Layers," meaning this series' plot unraveling each new layer each episode. If that's the case then, as is the naturally normal case with most other series, this being the first episdoe I guess it's okay to feel a little bit left in the dark, just as long as you be as observent as you can, regardless of not knowing it's meaning. So basically, one could say that the 1st layer of this series is simply put "there's a lot of really f'ed up crap going on here." Laughing

Of course I'm probably just overanalyzing here. Anime smile + sweatdrop But like I said, we'll see.

Also, pertaining to what Hellkorn said about the OP, that's definitely something I found very interesting, albeit quite creepy...... But if those shots of her on a fuzzy television screen with time halting around her, the ED picture of her, and the series' title itself are indeed important, putting all that together with that conversation she had with her dad, could that possibly mean her dad is performing some kind of f'ed up sequence of experiments on her via computers/wired technology?
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