Given the stay at home orders, the internet has really been getting hammered. I’ve been bingeing on a lot of older anime I missed along the way. Apparently so have lots of other people. When I go to stream something I often have to try several times to get it to start. Once I get it started, it buffers and frequently locks up.
It took me 4 hours to work through four 24 minute episodes of SEL. That’s how difficult to make and hold a connection was. The review of SEL is a few paragraphs below.
Lain wasn’t the only anime to suffer. Funimation and Crunchyroll were both giving me stream unavailable errors and locking up multiple times during all their shows. For a couple of weeks, even my cable TV news programs were pixellating and freezing. They have to share the same bandwidth as everyone else, especially when pulling in a report from the field.
It isn’t just anime. Governor Newsom of California addressed the state yesterday and today about the updates in the state’s COVID-19 response. There is a very long term plan to open the state up post-pandemic as well as additional economic aid for those hardest hit. For an entire day, I got nothing on the stream. Eventually, it cleared up.
Personally, I prefer NY Governor Cuomo’s press conferences. They are comparatively information-dense and apolitical. I don’t feel like I’m being talked down to. I get the feeling he understands the details. Watching the drama play out in NY state teaches us lessons for how the other major COVID clusters will play out. Gavin Newsom delivered less actual information in the same hour.
With time, digital constipation cleared. But it is just another sign of the internet bogging down. I suspect there is bandwidth triage going on, which is to be expected.
My mains sources for hard news online are The Conversation and the New York Times. Some of the Times articles require a free account to access and some do not. Except for Newsy and BBC News, I don’t do much cable channel news. Those two don’t seem to have an agenda to flog.
Minor spoiler alert…
Lain is a curious anime. In many respects, it is Neon Genesis Evangelion with no mechas and a different ending. Episodes are called “levels.”
Warning… the opening scene of episode one is a girl committing suicide by jumping from a building. Just in case that sort of thing bothers you.
There a girl, Lain Iwakura. She is a shy girl, an introvert who wears frumpy clothes and has a nondescript figure. She has friends at school who try to coax her out of her shell, most importantly Alice Mizuki. Her older sister is annoyed by little sis’ existence but that’s pretty normal. Mom and Pop are not particularly warm towards their younger daughter.
Lain uses a “navi”, the show’s word for a personal computer. Instead of the “internet,” they call it the “wired.” She doesn’t have much of a knack for academics but when Dad upgrades her navi, she develops quite a knack for computers and online life. Over time her PC is upgraded again and again. By show’s end, it fills the entire room with electronics and a massive liquid cooling system.
She discovers it is more and more difficult to separate the wired from real life. She develops an online personality that evolves independently of her, behaving in ways that cause her emotional pain. It is even able to create a bio-holographic body that interacts in the real world. The original Lain starts to become invisible. She is told by the wired to abandon her physical body and live on the wired as a god.
Conflicts escalate. Some of the later episodes are almost stream of consciousness, random and chaotic. It takes more than a bit of thought to understand what is going on. As the barrier between the wired and the physical world begins to fall and Lain’s proposed fate emerges, I see a strong parallel with the Human Instrumentality Project of Evangelion.
The series started in July 1998 and ended in September of the same year. The creator was Yoshitoshi ABe who later created Haibane Renmei. The animation was pretty typical for the time and not well done by contemporary standards. Evangelion had come out a couple years earlier so that could explain the influence I’m seeing. MAL gives it an 8.01 which is a very decent score.
If you liked the original Evangelion, I think you’ll like this. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. There is some violence and some very minor sexuality but there are people who found it super uncomfortable to watch. Others thought it incoherent. There is speculation that Serial Experiment Lain is really about a schizophrenic breakdown. (There goes another parallel with Eva!)
The opening song is Duvet by Boa which you can get on her album, twilight or on the OST. It is one of my all-time favorite openings. The ending music, Tooi Sakebi, performed by Reichi Nakaido didn’t even make it onto the US version of the OST album. I don’t find it very interesting but, of course, YMMV.
You never see that much skin in the show….