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Cth's DVD Buys

or

Kaneda!  Tetsuo! KANEDAAAAA!! TETSUOOOO!!!

by Cth (cth@clickcom.com)

   

This Weeks DVD selections were brought to you by:

The letter "L" and the number "42"

Serial Experiments:  Lain

Cover                           5/5  (great color choice, not "busy", conveys a mood well, eye-catching, atypical)

Direction/Story             4/5  (Experimental animation techniques, non-standard animation, subplot killed)

DVD Layout                 4/5 (animated menus?  what's that?  Poor choice on chapter listing)

Extras                          4/5 (Different stills would be nice, no ads, 3 audio tracks that are great)

OVERALL                    4/5  (Highly recommended to Anime fans or computer hobbyists; Well worth $)

COVER

All the other Anime companies can take a hint from the designer of this cover.  It stands out at you among the sea of other anime that look similar.  The stylized logo also helps to draw the casual glancer in and gets them to pick up the DVD, giving it great shelf presence.  It has a watercolor feel, which perfectly conveys the mood of isolation that the film has. 

DIRECTION

As the title suggests, there are some experimental techniques used in this film.  First and most notably, is the meshing of computer graphics into the animation without being intrusive and offensive.  Scenes such as those appearing on TV, rather than animated and looking flat, have been replaced with live video capture of existing animation.  This gives it a fuzzy look much like you'd see on a TV from a distance. Small things like this go a long way in terms of showing you've put some effort into making a movie like

this.  The design of the computer interfaces showcase some excellent attention to detail that makes sense. Also, the repetitious pattern builds a "theme" and also draws you into the feeling of the surrounding world being monotonous and boring that the main character feels.

STORY

This is a pretty straightforward movie, in other words, don't watch it expecting to see demons or mutated figures punching one another, etc.  All the characters are portrayed in a very realistic manner.  The story goes like this:

Lain walked home from school with a girl one day, only to kill herself soon thereafter.  This girl left an email message behind to most of her classmates stating she wasn't dead, and that she's finally free from this world and to join her.  Lain, a computer novice, begins her journey of discovery of both the computer world that surrounds the existing world, and herself.  Her friends in an attempt to break her quiet nature, bring her to a local club, where she observes someone killed in front of her.  There's a computer hacker group that causes trouble, and rumor has it that Lain has ties to it.  Lain begins taking on another persona polar opposite of her own.  The hacking groups, the Knights, are looking for God in the machine.  God doesn't want to be found, and brings the hacking group into the light where they are caught easily.  Only Lain meets with God and discovers God isn't too pleased when she rejects him. God turns out to be a software designer who was fired and in dying passed over to this world. God tries to tell Lain she's software and doesn't exist.  Suddenly everyone hears rumors about Lain breaking into people's files and spreading their secrets online.  Lain convinces God to step in this world to prove his power, where she destroys him.  Lain then fixes everything right before locking herself inside of her own world.

LAYOUT

Again, non-animated menus, especially for an animated film, is pointless in my opinion.  I'd have much preferred to see a different intro/end credits for each episode, or ideally, neither.  These episodes have a movie feel to them, but it gets broken up with the serial nature of it, which could have been handled better I feel.

The chapter listing was annoying as well.  I didn't see any need to split the chapter layout into two sides other than to be different.

EXTRAS

Some production/concept sketches, which are unfortunately the same on all the DVDs.  You also have an ad area for all the other anime the company produces which is in my opinion tacky.  If you want to have a sales ad, at least offer some video footage/trailer like the SIN DVD does.

DON'T MISS              

Highly recommended is the episode that's almost a surreal 2001 trip.  When Lain tries to hook herself directly into the feed unfiltered and almost dies.  The blaring guitar and schizophrenic nature of this episode truly captures the feeling of it happening.

FINAL WORD

If you like anime, you should love Lain.  If you like well written sci-fi, you should love Lain.  If you're curious about how a unique animation film should look like (Don Bluth fans take note), get Lain. My best advice is to do like I did pick up the first DVD.  It kept staring at me for weeks to get it and I generally dislike anime for it's cookie cutter story/animation, but this DVD is anything but that. Look around online, there's some deals on the set, including a lunchbox carrying case if you're so inclined for the same cost to pick them up at the local store.

Copyrightę2000 Cth