by James Alsup III
With the technological advances science has made, it is no surprise that people are fascinated by the concept of the cyborg. In "The Cyborg Handbook", Chris Gray defines Cyborgs as the products of the combination of man and machine. In the real world, the application of technology to the human body has given us pacemakers, artificial joints, and replacement intestines. Science fiction writers dream of a more elaborate application of technology to the body. The artificial joints become reinforced with kevlar armor and titanium alloys. The replacement innards allow a person to go without food, or exist underwater for an extended period of time. The pacemakers become artificial hearts, which allow the cyborg to live on forever.
In recent years, cyborgs such as Priss, Motoko Kusanagi, and Angel Cop have been featured. Now, we have the next big cyborg, Lain. Lain isn't a cyborg in the traditional sense. She has no mechanical parts, save her personal computer, or Navi. The Navi is her door into the world of the Wired, which is similar to our internet.
Lain begins with a suicide. One of Lain's classmates jumps off of a building. A few days later, all of the students receive an e-mail from the recently deceased. "I've just abandoned my body. I still live here..." it says. Lain is the only one of her classmates to take this message seriously. She begins to experiment with her computer, and begins to discover the world of the Wired.
We don't learn much about the Wired in the first tape/DVD. Most of the time on these tapes provide the exposition for the rest of the series. We learn about Lain's father, who is anxious to help is daughter explore the wired. We learn about Lain's indifferent sister and domineering mother. We even get to see the obligatory black suit-wearing secret agents. Who are they? What are their motivations? I'm not sure, but my curiosity was piqued.
I found the voice acting in this series to be pretty good. Pioneer usually does a good job with its english dubs. There were no awkward lines and the voices seemed to fit the characters. The voice actress who portrayed Lain did a great job portraying the normal problems of being a 13 year old who is also starting to discover the world of the Wired. I watched the Dub with the subtitles on. With a few exceptions, the dialogue in the sub and dub are almost the same.
Visually, Lain is very minimalistic. The buildings don't have many lines. Exteriors shots are shadows and buildings. In the shadows are red splotches. The power lines hum. Is the "real world" merely a figment of Lain's imagination? Have I seen The Matrix too many times?
Normally, I don't like to review one part of a series. Looking at one part of a whole is like looking at the Mona Lisa's face only. Sure, it's part of a whole, but you don't get the full impact of the painting. The same holds true in this case. The whole story hasn't unfolded, yet I've been drawn into the story. I think you will be, too.