"I have only abandoned my body, I still live here" - are the words emailed to friends of Chisa, several days after her death by suicide. As Lain delves deeper into the world of the "Wired" (also known as the internet), the line between it and reality becomes more and more unclear. Close the world, open the nExt.
While visiting her grandparents on a remote island, Shiina Tamai, our young protagonist, inadvertently finds a strange star shaped creature, which she names Hoshimaru. This creature, while seemingly harmless and unusual, holds many secrets. As Shiina and her new friend Akira soon find out, their creatures are much more than they seem to be...and against their will, they are thrown into a dangerous and hostile situation of trying to save the world from others who would use their dragonets to enslave it.
Narutaru and Lain have a similar dark and gloomy atmosphere. Not only is the mood dampened, but you'll also run into some plot twists you won't see coming. Narutaru is more disturbing though while Lain has a tad more of a story (if you can understand it, that is :p).
From the depths of the human imagination comes Twilight Q, a Twilight Zone-style set of two tales based upon the paranormal and supernatural. In one story, Mayumi and Kiwako find a camera that supposedly came from the future, with very interesting film and already-taken pictures inside. Secondly, a tale by Mamoro Oshii which chronicles a strange occurance of planes turning into carp in mid-air, much to the dismay of private investigators and the media alike.
Ersatz realities, elliptical narratives, and innoucuous beings with a surprising place in the universe - both are pretty good examples of the mind-bending variety of anime.
Both SEL and the second episode of Twilight Q are really trippy anime. They both create a pleasantly confusing atmoshere and contain a character that may or may not be a god (or godess).
At a typical elementary school in Japan, yearly chores are being distributed. Yuri and 3 other students are chosen to be the beneficiaries of the alien hats for the year. Alien hats?! Yuri's sentiments, exactly. Despite her misgivings, she and her classmates must round up stray aliens that have escaped from a crashed spaceship -- with the help of the alien hats, of course.
Both Lain and Alien Nine are scary, quirky, and off-beat. Both series are also brief but well-executed story-telling gets the point across. (Alien Nine doesn't have a definitive ending.) Both stories center around a timid girl put in bizarre situations, and nobody else seems to notice.
Also, if you really appreciate clever soundtracks then you should watch both of these series. They're total opposites but they're very effective. Lain sounds like electric buzzing, city sounds, and techno; Alien Nine sounds like a magical girl show with happy J-Pop despite the horror on-screen.
Shirase Akira is a genius hacker who has earned the nickname "Battle Programmer Shirase" (or BPS for short) for his incredible talent. From saving corporations to global security, BPS is always willing to help a hand -- for the right price. But for skills like his, money is not an option, so be sure to have specialized computer parts, sold-out tickets, or huggable life-sized cat girl posters to spare! With BPS in charge, no computer is safe! That is, if he can manage to stop being a complete slacker...
Both anime feature a computer freak as main character. Battle Programmer Shirase is much more funny and repetitively ecchi, whereas Lain is dark and serious; but if you thought one was cool, you're going to like the other.
Years have passed since Captain Harlock disbanded the crew of the starship Arcadia, and he has not been seen since. Most of the space pirates are now either in hiding or are being imprisoned by the new Earth government, which is being run by the invading race called Illumidas. One day, however, Harlock resurfaces in the nick of time to save the life of young Tadashi Daiba, just moments after his father Professor Daiba was killed by the mysterious beings called Nu. Now, the two will join forces and once again the Arcadia will take to the skies with the reunited crew, in an attempt to save the galaxy from the Nu.
Serial Experiments Lain and Captain Herlock: Outside Legend are Lovecraftian horror in the guise of science fiction.
Lain is recognizably cyberpunk but, as written by Chiaki Konaka, it bears a stylistic and thematic resemblance to the works of the gentleman from Providence. The TV series explores the possibility that reality lies elsewhere and present day and time are an illusion, an idea introduced by Lovecraft in 1926's The Silver Key. Outside Legend is a tale of ancient, forgotten gods worthy of the Cthulhu Mythos. Lovecraft's maxim on the nature of fear ("The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.") is at the heart of Harlock's odyssey. The space opera explores the risks of knowing what should not be known and the maddening results of attaining such knowledge.
If you enjoyed the psychological horror of one series, you'll surely enjoy the other.