Category Archives: Reviews

Serial Experiments Lain – Review & Modern interpretation

After watching fabulous guys doing some figure skating, I decided to go a little darker again, and caught up with Lain, which I’ve been wanting to watch for over 15 years now. I remember watching the first episode back in the early 2000’s, and although it was captivating, I never got around to watching the rest. Maybe that’s a good thing, as I don’t think I would have looked at it the same way I do now, with technology being the very core of our modern existence, which is what Lain portrays. But enough about that, as I’ll dig deeper into it after a short review, for those who might not know what it is about.

The series focuses on a schoolgirl named Lain, who is the silent and shy type, with barely any friends, and nothing much to do outside of school. After a schoolmate commits suicide, and a lot of students get e-mails from her after her death, Lain decides to dust off her old Navi, and see if she has any mails. And she has one! Her dead schoolmate starts chatting with her through mails, and keeps telling her to leave her body behind, and come into the Wired.

Intrigued by it all, Lain asks her father for a new Navi, which she promptly gets, as he is very much into this technology himself. He does tell her though, that the Wired is not the real world, and that she should stay safe. After this, things start getting really weird, as there is apparently a Lain doppelganger in the city, who acts nothing like the Lain we know, but seems to be immensely popular.

As Lain digs deeper into the Wired, she starts questioning her very existence, and although a friend tries to help her through all the mess that seems to surround her, all she does is hurt the ones she loves, including her own family. As if that wasn’t enough for the young girl, some mysterious men seem to keep an eye on her, and know more than she does herself.

Looking at Lain with modern eyes

Serial Experiments Lain is from 1998, and was far ahead of its time, almost predicting the future. Let me first warn you though, that the following text is full of spoilers, so don’t read on if you want to watch the series yourself, and build your own theory.

By the end of the series, a lot of questions remain unanswered, but it’s no secret anymore, that Lain is in fact a goddess, and can control both the Wired and the real world. “Everyone is connected” is the main title of the series, and it couldn’t be more true. Whenever Lain wants to, she can erase people’s memories, appear as an image in the sky, and other things no normal human being would be able to. It is stated, that she was in the Wired before it was invented, so Lain basically is the internet, and humans kind of just freed her.

Throughout the series, she acts more like a person with multiple personalities though, not knowing anything about what she did the day before, or why people know her from the Wired. Of course, a goddess can be wherever she wants, at any time she wants, and that’s exactly what Lain is. She doesn’t remember it because a part of her chose to be human though, and wants to live a normal life. It is quite obvious when looking at her family, that something is utterly wrong with it. At first, it seems like every other family, where the kids have their own stuff, and the parents go about their days, but there is no love in this family at all, not even when they sit together and eat.

It is of course shown later, that Lain has no real family, and that it was all staged, because she wanted to try out the human life. The funny thing is her father though, who says that he loved her, although he hated being a family man. Other parts of the series tend to make me think, that he actually IS her dad, but in the Wired. He knows a lot, can manage a Navi with ease, and always takes care of her, and is even there for her when she gets lost. He must have some sort of power, and maybe that power is being her creator, the real god of the internet and humans. Maybe she is really just a teenager who wants to explore the world, and her father is there to guide her.

Anyway, looking at the way the Wired is portrayed and explained, it’s basically just what the internet is now. Seeing as the series is almost 20 years old, that is one heck of a foresight! I couldn’t help but think about all the social media we have now, and how some people act as if they were gods, as soon as they become popular on the net. Lain’s many personalities also seem to me like the faces we put on when entering the internet. Are we truly ourselves, or are we what we want to be? Many seem to be someone completely different on the internet, than they are in real life. Again many enjoy the anonymity of the internet, like the floating mouth, or the dolls without faces shown in the series.

In the end, Lain resets everything, and people actually seem happier. If that is also some sort of prediction of the future, I wonder if we would actually be happier without all our modern technology, and of course the internet. Right now, we are all connected, be it via the phone, computer, or even something as simple as a handheld console. We are all in the Wired, and we have many faces. It’s a scary thought, isn’t it? If you have watched Lain, then maybe it is, because as of right now, we’re not thinking about it. It’s just a part of our everyday life, and we don’t think…

Yuri!!! on Ice – Review

First off, I’d like to update you on the state of my PC, haha. I just had a guy from the shop over to look at the PC, because since they changed all parts, it started making weird noises, and I was afraid something was wrong with it, and basically left it alone. Nothing seems to be wrong though, and after some testing with other parts, he found out that it’s the bottom cooler where it’s plugged in. He’s gonna test the same cooler back in the shop, and then call me later to tell me if there is anything I can do about the noise. It’s not loud or anything, but once you hear it… it’s there! Anyway, the new parts work just as intended, and it’s not restarting over and over again, no blue screens pop up anymore, and I get no errors at all. Basically, it’s all fine! I got it back in, uhm, June or July, and it’s been making trouble ever since, so I lovingly named it “The Troublechild”. So, Troublechild is up and running now for good, with or without some noises, we’ll see. I’m just happy to be sitting in front of a working PC again! 😀

EDIT: He stopped by with a new cooler, as it seems the other one had a brand issue, so all the coolers of the same kind from that brand made a noise. Now I’ve got one from a different brand, and it’s so silent! I almost can’t believe it! *has no music on for once*

Okay, now to the promised review!

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I actually wanted to watch and review Slayers, as it was one of those old series I wanted to catch up with, but after episode 14, I just couldn’t watch it anymore, as it didn’t seem to have a consistent story. I really wanted to like it, and to some extend I sure did, but it just wasn’t enough for me. So I decided to watch Yuri!!! on Ice instead, as I wanted to pick that one up afterwards anyway. Boy, does that series have a catchy opening!

The Japanese figure skater Yuri Katsuki comes home after being away for a few years, not only due to him finishing college, but also because of him failing horribly at the Grand Prix Finals, which haunts him. He doesn’t know what to do with his life now, but decides to go figure skating for fun. While he copies every move of his idol, the Russian world champion Victor, he is unknowingly being filmed by a friend. The video goes viral and around the world, until it is actually being watched by Victor himself, who decides to visit Yuri in Japan, without anyone knowing.

As Victor makes himself at home in Yuri’s house, freaking the poor guy out in the process, he tells him that he wants to become his coach. As someone who basically has given up due to failing at his profession, Yuri can’t believe his ears, but can’t say no to his big idol, and agrees to do his best. This includes losing weight, as he has become rather fat after being lazy for so many years. Of course, the news of Victor being in Japan to coach someone who is known for failing can’t be kept a secret, and other skaters and coaches quickly find out. This again leads to another Yuri showing up in Yuri’s house; the Russian figure skater Yuri Plisetsky, who gets dubbed Yurio to tell the two apart.

Angry as hell over Victor’s decision, Yurio decides to prove his worth against Yuri, whom he already deemed unworthy at the Grand Prix Finals. Victor has already promised to coach them both, but as this is not possible, they all agree on the two Yuri’s skating against each other in a local competition, where the winner gets Victor as coach. It’s probably needless to say, but Yuri wins, and Yurio goes back to Russia to train there, and win the next time they meet. This is not only the beginning of a new chapter for Yuri, but it’s the first chapter in the rest of his life, as nothing will ever be the way it was again.

First off; it was hard not to compare it with Free!, as that series already set the bar for bishonen sports anime pretty darn high (and that J.J. Sousuke…), but after a few episodes I quickly realized, that there was no need to compare. Yuri!!! on Ice tells its own story, and feels completely different. What I think dragged it down a bit though was, that the quality of the art changes a lot during the first half of the series, even to the point where characters look like someone else for a few scenes. During the skating scenes though, the animations are really nice, and quickly drag you in.

The main focus though is of course the relationship between Victor and Yuri, which starts out pretty awkward, for reasons explained later in the show. While it’s never officially announced in the series, that they actually do love each other, it’s hinted so often, even so heavily at some points, that you have to pretty dense not to grasp it. Does it make it a shonen ai series then? Nah, because as stated; it’s only hinted, and not shown. You don’t have to like shonen ai to enjoy this show, and you don’t have to like figure skating either, which brings me to my next point.

While the sport takes up a lot of screen time, due to the plethora of secondary characters that we have to watch skate over and over again, it’s more about the drama behind the scenes. Yuri starts off as a failure, but evolves into a budding star. While the same can’t be said about Yurio, as he already is a promising skater, he too has to evolve a lot to keep up with the others. Victor on the other hand has already won the world championship 5 times, but as this is his first time as a coach, he too has a lot to learn. The character development is the main focus of this show, and it’s good! I just hope that some of the secondary characters get more time during the second season (yes, I root for a second season), because they lack depth, but bring so much humor into every episode.

Deadman Wonderland – Review & Opinion

This series isn’t exactly old, but it’s still been on my to-watch list for a while. Seeing as it has a massive fan base, I decided to catch up with it. After watching Nanbaka, it felt like jumping from one weird prison to the next. Now, was it worth the jump? I’d say meh… I really don’t know if it was, but let me write a short review before I slam my honest opinion onto the table.

Ganta is a normal schoolboy, who is talking with his friends about how they’re going to visit Deadman Wonderland on a school trip. And visit the place he shall, as a prisoner, after his entire class is being slaughtered, and he as the lone survivor gets framed for the crime, and put to jail as a walking deadman. As expected from the name of the prison, inmates sentenced to death are being used as entertainment for visitors, but not in the good and fun way. No, they die in the most horrible ways before the eyes of ignorant people, who think it’s all a show with special effects.

The prizes for winning such entertainment events include money and candy, something that’s necessary for prisoners to survive, as candy neutralizes the poison being pumped into their bodies from a collar. Of course Ganta wants to survive, so he sets out to enter some events, with the help of the mysterious girl Shiro, who seems to know more about the boy than a stranger should.

While trying to survive, Ganta notices how he is able to control his own blood as a projectile, an ability he was given by the one who really murdered his entire class, a guy he dubbed the “Red Man”. Gantas primal goal, other than living on, is finding this man, so that he can prove his innocence. By doing so, he finds both new enemies and friends, and some of them are able to control their blood as well, leading to some heavy fights.

Okay, this basically sums up what the series is about… ooor does it? Uhm, it sums up the first half at least, and now I’m gonna write my opinion about the second half, which is full of SPOILERS. You’ve been warned, so read on if you’ve watched it already, or you just don’t care.

So, half way into the series, it takes a radical turn into a very different direction. While it used to be about Ganta wanting to survive, it’s now about Ganta wanting to escape. I can see why of course, as no one in their right mind would want to be inside Deadman Wonderland, and Ganta is a really weak shit, always relying on the help of Shiro, who we eventually find out is the Red Man. No, she is not a man, but she apparently dressed up as one just to kill all Ganta’s friends, and make him go to the prison she lives in.

But it stops there. The entire Red Man plot, which used to drive the story forward stops right there. We now know something very important… but it doesn’t matter. Also, candy, which seemed so very important in the first half, becomes completely obsolete until the second last episode, where it’s suddenly mentioned again for plot convenience. I could go on about the awful storytelling in the last half of the series, but I won’t, as nothing makes sense at all, and the ending is not wrapping anything up.

Let’s move on to the characters, as they are plenty, and new ones show up in every episode. Actually, there are so many characters, that many of them get killed off fast, or simply disappear for a while every now and then like Makina, or vanish completely when not needed anymore, like Yoh, who only got a mention by his sister in the end. What bothers me more though is, that we get to know just about every character’s backstory, but it doesn’t matter, because the chance that the character you just got to know stays on screen long enough for you to care is slim. To be honest, the only character I really liked was Senji, and he is one of the few characters we get to know nothing about.

While we’re at Senji, did anyone notice how he was the only character who made Ganta develop in any way? Because during the whole series, not a single character develops in any way, not even Ganta, until he asks Senji to train him and get stronger. When Shiro told Ganta to his face that he is weak, I agreed so much with her. Granted, he learns how to shoot his blood, but it’s such a lame ability, and it doesn’t do any good until his training with Senji. No one changes personality though, other than Nagi, but he was on drugs, so it doesn’t count. When you meet a character, you can be darn sure, that he/she will stay exactly the same during the time he/she is on screen. It’s sad…

This series needs either a second season to make up for the mess the second half has left behind, or an OVA to quickly wrap up the questions it has left unanswered. Sadly though, I think it’s not gonna happen, and it will forever be a broken anime. I can recommend the first half of the series, but I’d tell anyone to avoid the rest, and make up their own story before Ganta decides to try and escape.

On a side note, I would have liked the series to end with Makina leaking information during the inspection week, ending all of the insane slaughtering of prisoners, and the world finally opening their eyes to what they witnessed during their visits in the park. I could have lived with some open questions, if only it had an ending where you knew that something actually ended.