The Serial Experiments of Lain is a work of modern art. Its twisted plot is used by the makers as a tool through which different themes (or layers) are shown. What is real, what is simply imagined and who is imagining it is never explained in the series. The true nature of many aspects and details of Lain have been debated for years by fans.
The idea of layers within a plot was famously used on the X-Files. The true nature of what Agent Mulder uncovers on the X-Files is never revealed to not be another coverup and conspiracy itself.
So who is Lain? She seems at first to be normal but very shy 13 year old school girl. The opening scenes show another girl, Yomoda Chisa, commit suicide. Soon after, you learn that Chisa was Lain's classmate. The first signs of the Wired appear when Lain finds out people in her class have been getting emails from their dead classmate. But, are they really? Or, is it wishful thinking projected onto reality?
All episodes (layers) deal with different aspects of the main themes of communication, reality perception and loneliness. Lain, for unknown reasons, gradually starts to exert great influence over the Wired. The perception of the real world of a introverted and detached girl slowly becomes everyone's reality.
Lain isn't the only one to have influence over the wired and in a slow but well paced manner the other protagonists are revealed. The beauty of the fact reality is determined by other's influence means that viewers are never certain who is contributing to the scene and if they have corrupted reality.
The production values of The Serial Experiments of Lain are fairly high. The animation quality is not jerky but some scenes are used over and over again. This is arguably for dramatic effect but it gets annoying to watch during the tenth time it's shown. The main theme "Duvet" by boa, a British band, is sung in English and one of the best opening tracks I've heard.
Honestly, Lain has become a classic and I would have to be out of my mind to not recommend it. I'm not. I give it 4 out of 4 stars and that's without a bonus point for Lain's bear pajamas.
Lain is full of references to real world people and products. All of which are distorted by the influence of the Wired.