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Anime Review: Serial Experiments Lain

Posted on January 27th, 2016 by jkenney@private.bpl.org in Movies, Programs, Reviews - Staff, Reviews - Teens, Teen Services

serial lain

Serial Experiments Lain [R 17+] is a powerful science fiction anime series from 1998.  This psychological thriller centers on the experience of Lain Iwakura and her introduction to cyber-life in “The Wired” [Internet].  After a tragic suicide by a girl in her high school class, she and many other classmates receive emails from the girl after she has died.  This mystery sets the scene for the main thrust of the story.

Other characters include Lain’ best friend Arisu Mizuki and her larger circle of friends, Masami Eiri – apparent designer and god-like figure of The Wired, Knights – “men in black” who are ambiguously involved with the wired, Lain’s family and father who is a computer expert, and a group of younger children who provide another perspective to the developing sense of cyber-life.

Masami serves as the main foil in the series.  A large portion of the plot centers on ideas of self, divinity, physical versus spiritual, real versus virtual, and other wrenching questions often faced in the teen years.  The visual palette contains strong use of “white field” contrasts and fills as well as other shadow fills using “blood pool” and collage-like patterns.  The white fields get repeated emphasis as a sunlight effect in the morning scenes as Lain leaves her house for school.  After a few appearances, the technique is familiar and the artistic style of the series is clearly set apart.  Its continued use serves to amplify the sense of drudgery and emptiness that Lain experiences going to school.  At the same time, the technique itself is stark and almost blinding, creating a confusing crosscurrent to an otherwise static and low energy scene.  It’s truly masterful.  The soundtrack is very strong with its selection of music and an audio “hum” effect that is used to represent the ever-present activity on The Wired. It is usually combined with views of power lines and transformers at scene changes.

Serial Experiments Lain has received notable praise from the critical community and I strongly recommend it for Anime fans.  You can watch it for free on Kissanime.com and Animefrost.com

Scholarly Books on Anime

Posted on January 25th, 2016 by jkenney@private.bpl.org in Books, Movies, Reviews - Staff, Reviews - Teens, Teen Services

anime napier anime adapt

The Hyde Park Branch recently added two books on Anime to our Teen non-fiction collection.  Anime from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle, by Susan J. Napier and Anime and the Art of Adaptation, by Dani Cavallaro.

Napier’s work was well researched and effectively supported with lots of end notes and references to the works she examined.  She covers a lot of ground including controversial genres and the edges of popular culture.  She also provides a lot of insight on the influences of Japanese political and economic history.

Two titles she analyzed in particular were of great interest to me.  Akira, the groundbreaking film from 1988 and Serial experiments Lain, a powerful television series from 1998.  With Akira, she interprets the surrealistic and cataclysmic ending in a different way than I did.  I did further research and found corroboration for my interpretation from criticism of the original Manga and film versions by other authors.  Still, the symbolism and dramatic devices she addressed are clearly present and used to great effect in the film.  Serial Experiments Lain is a mesmerizing psychological thriller in the form of cyberspace science fiction.  Napier’s analysis inspired me to watch the series.  Lain lived up to her criticism and I was very impressed with the visual and audio effects in the series.

I have only just started Anime and the Art of Adaptation, by Dani Cavallaro.  I was pleased to see a still from Grave of the Fireflies used as the cover for the book.  It gets analyzed in chapter two under the title “The Nightmare of History.”  The atomic bombings that ended WWII had a deep and far-reaching impact on modern Japanese culture.  It’s effects can be seen in many different areas of the Anime genre and should be explored by all fans.  We Anime Otaku [Anime Fans] are all too familiar with the challenges of adapting Manga titles to moving animation and I look forward to reading more.  Cavallaro’s book is also well researched and includes a filmography and extensive bibliography.

YALSA Teens’ Top Ten

Posted on November 9th, 2015 by Mary in Books
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Teens Top TenThe Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year! Nominations for favorite books are listed during National Library Week in April and then teens vote for the 3 favorite books from August to Teen ReadWeek , this year was October 18-24, 2015. Following is the winners for the 2015 Teens’ Top Teen:

10. The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

9. Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

8. The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

7. The Young Elites by Marie Lu

6. The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare.

5. Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

4. My Life with the Walter Boys by Ali Novak

3. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

2. I Become Shadow by Joe Shine

and the number 1 book is The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen

How many books have you read from this list? If you haven’t read any of these titles but are interested, click on the title and it will take you to the catalog.

Enjoy!

 

One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest – A Review

Posted on July 3rd, 2015 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
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one flew over the cuckoo's nest

(Book 3 of 8 of my Summer Reading book reviews.)

Title/Author: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

Read by: Anna, Teen Central Librarian

Summary: In Nurse Ratched’s ward of the mental hospital Chief Bromden is a patient pretending to be deaf and dumb for the last twenty years. When a new patient, Randall Patrick McMurphy, walks through the door, swaggering larger than life, Chief watches him begin the hard task of rallying the other patients to challenge the dictatorship of Nurse Ratched with fishing trips, alcohol, gambling, and even women. Along the way, however, Chief realizes that McMurphy isn’t just challenging the other patients, but Chief as well.

Series/Standalone: Standalone

Genre/sub-genre: Classic Fiction

Diversity: Yes.

Relatable characters: Yes.

Would I recommend this to others?: yes.

Personal thoughts: This is not for the feint of heart. It’s a very dark book covering some dark topics, some that are only hinted at, while others are blatantly spelled out. That being said, I loved this book. Along with Chief, I was able to watch the men slowly regain their personalities, regain the right to be human against a nurse who sought complete control over them, which was a beautiful thing to see. The ending came as a huge surprise I wasn’t expecting, and yet, I found it oddly fitting for these characters. While it was published in 1962, I also think it’s still very relevant in today’s world. I highly recommend it.

The Illustrated Man – A Review

Posted on June 23rd, 2015 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff
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the illustrated man

(Book 2 of 8 of my Summer Reading book reviews.)

Title/Author: The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury

Read by: Anna, Teen Central Librarian

Summary: In the arcane designs scrawled upon the illustrated man’s skin swirl tales beyond imagining: tales of love and laughter, darkness and death, of mankind’s glowing, golden past and its dim, haunted future. Here are eighteen incomparable stories that blend magic and truth in a kaleidoscope tapestry of wonder–woven by the matchless imagination of Ray Bradbury.

Series/Standalone: Standalone

Genre/sub-genre: Science-fiction

Diversity: Yes. For example, one story, “The Other Foot”, deals with the interplanetary segregation of blacks and whites.

Relatable characters: Yes.

Would I recommend this to others?: yes.

Personal thoughts: I enjoyed reading each story and was very glad they were extremely short as I don’t think they would have been as enjoyable had they been longer. However, I did feel as if I was meant to learn a lesson with each story, which Bradbury has done with his work before, so I wasn’t too surprised. For example, there were a few about what would happen if books were banned and one about perseverance when you feel as if all hope is lost. I think the one that really stood out for me, though, was the very last one entitled “The Rocket”. The outcome of that story was not what I was expecting at all, and so heartwarming, compared to the others. It was the perfect way to end the book. If you enjoy science-fiction, I highly recommend this collection of short stories set in the future when interplanetary travel has become “the thing to do”. When reading this, you very quickly realize that just because it’s the future and we can travel to other planets, that doesn’t mean our human problems have gone away.