BAD REVIEW: The storytelling of Serial Experiments Lain

Spoilers ahead

There are a lot of layers to this cult classic anime, but the ones that I’m interested in is how this show presents its ideas.

There are four layers to the presentation of serial experiments lain, and I hope to analyze each one.

Layer 01: Lain

Serial experiments Lain would not be effective as a show without its titular character. Through Lain, the viewer has a vehicle to connect with the themes of the series there are a few things about Lain that make her a compelling character for the show.

First is design


Her large eyes and adolescent feature gives her a cute appearance, and this cuteness immediately creates a sense of empathy within the viewer as humans are biologically wired to protect end emphasize with cute things (like babies). This cuteness actually becomes an element in the whole series as Lain becomes an element of admiration for both the shows fans and the people in the world of Lain. Second, Lain asymmetrical hairstyle and small pupils show her alien nature to the rest of the characters. This emphasizes how Lain is an outsider in the world of the show, which is where she begins her journey to become more enveloped with the Wired.


The second thing that makes Lain a compelling character for the series is that she is as confused to the events of the series as the viewer is. Serial Experiments Lain operates as a mystery show with Lain trying to understand the events happening around her. This means that both the viewer and Lain are trying to unravel the mysteries of The Wired, which means Lain is just as confused about the events of the show as the viewer is. She also reacts the way you would expect a girl her age to respond to these events like in when she begins having flashbacks of the train accident she witnesses. This empathy allows the tragic events of the series to have more impact and gives emotional weight e when lain eventually starts talking to the viewer.1518612779_I'm here, so I'll be with you forever.

Lain having the same amount of knowledge as the viewer allows the more abstract ideas and events of the show to become more palatable as Lain is trying to understand these events as well.

In summery Lain’s character design and actions in the series, help foster a sense of empathy with the viewer but also allow the viewer to ease into the events and themes of the show. The show not only uses lain as a vehicle to tell the show’s story but also metaphors.

Layer: 02 Metaphors

One of the aspects Serial Experiments Lain that might be a barrier for new viewers is the show’s emphasis on visual metaphor. The series uses the imagery to communicate what Lain is felling. There are two specific moments I would like to talk about. One is in the first episode when Lain is in the classroom, and the words on the board start to fade into meaningless blurs.  This scene is supposed to communicate the moment in class where what the teacher is saying is so incomprehensible it becomes pointless symbols. This transitions to another visual metaphor where smoke starts drifting off her fingers, which I believe is supposed to represent her attention floating away from the classroom.


The second visual metaphor comes in the 8th episode Rumors when Lain becomes completely isolated from her classmates as a result of her split personality spreading rumors of her classmates around the Wired. At this moment, Lain finds herself all alone and crying, seeing that she only has one friend left. In this moment of despair, she causes an explosion around her, destroying everything in her path. This moment is supposed to represent a state in depression where you close yourself off from anything around you, as a result, lain destroys her surroundings as she only cares about making things right with her friend.

So if you are having trouble grasping what is “really” happening in a scene, try to think of it as a representation of what lain is feeling at the moment

Layer 03: Horror

Lain is much as a horror show as it is a sci-fi mystery. Multiple events are borderline supernatural, and we can begin by looking at the inciting incident of series with the suicide of Chisa and her ghost emailing other students. There are also the visions that lain gets of people with shifting faces like in the second episode.


There are two reasons why I think horror is incorporated in serial experiments lain.

One is that it depicts that the technologically advance can become similar to the supernatural, a thing that we cannot understand.


Second is that the rapid and uncontrolled change in tech can be horrifying as the technology can become dangerous and controlling of others. The dangers of rapid technological innovation can be seen by the fates of multiple characters, including Lain’s sister who goes insane after her mind is split from her body and sent to the wired.

The presentation of horror is critical to the themes of the series, but there is one more type of genera that Serial Experiments Lain falls into.

Layer 04: Maturity

Finally, serial experiments Lain is a coming of age story.

Lain grows up in a sense by becoming the god of the new technical world, and this progress is showed throughout the series through Lain’s room.

Image result for serial experiments lain room

In the beginning, Lain’s room is full of stuff animals, and she wears a bear set of pajamas when she is home. As the series progresses, Lain becomes more confident in both the wired and real world wherein episode 6 Kids she dawns fashionable clothes and makeup, and her room is drastically consumed by computer technology.


Finally, by the end of the series where she has fully developed in her powers, she no longer needs computers to access the worried which is why she destroys her machines the room to defeat Eri.

The ending of Lain is a bit tragic because she has to leave her only friend behind and become a passive observer in her new godhood, but that is what happens when you grow up you have to leave your friends and innocence behind as you move on the better things.

And as all things end, so does this post, but I hope that I have deepened your appreciation to this series.


5 thoughts on “BAD REVIEW: The storytelling of Serial Experiments Lain

    • Same here I’m starting to pivot I my blog to focus more on anime so I wanted to start with a series that I really enjoy.


  1. Pingback: BAD Sunshine Blogger Award | Bad Reviews

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