A Serial Experiments Lain alternate reality game called Layer 3301: De-Cipher will be launched in celebration of the 1998 science fiction anime’s 25th anniversary.
Details on the upcoming ARG are currently light, but the press release describes it as an “immersive” experience that will allow fans to “unlock new aspects” of the surreal and cerebral anime’s storyline. The rewards for completing Layer 3301: De-Cipher will come in the form of limited memorabilia of the digital, physical, and “phygital” variety and “never-before-seen” original cel art from the show.
Notably, fans will be required to purchase digital collectibles called Protocol Keys (named after the show’s “Protocol” technology) in order to participate and “interact with [the ARG’s] digital elements.” These Protocol Keys will go on sale on the Serial Experiments Lain website this month, ahead of the ARG’s currently unannounced start date.
“By venturing into a digital universe accessible exclusively through the interactive collectibles, the lain community can now further explore the concept of Network Spirituality, a theme that has captivated viewers since the series’ inception,” says the press release.
Serial Experiments Lain premiered in Japan in July 1998 and ran for 13 episodes. The anime follows a quiet teenager whose life takes a strange turn after a classmate’s suicide leads her to the internet-like Wired. Ryuutarou Nakamura (Kino’s Journey 2003, Ghost Hound) directed the show at TRIANGLE STAFF with Yoshitoshi Abe (Texhnolyze, Haibane Renmei creator) as original character designer, Takahiro Kishida (Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Haikyu!!) as character designer, and Chiaki Konaka (Digimon Tamers, Ghost Hound) as series composer. A Twitter account for the anime was opened in March of this year.
Crunchyroll describes the series as:
Acclaimed artist Yoshitoshi Abe (Haibane Renmei, Texhnolyze) brings to life the existential classic that paved the way for blockbuster films such as The Matrix. Follow along as fourteen year old Lain—driven by the abrupt suicide of a classmate—logs on to the Wired and promptly looses herself in a twisted mass of hallucinations, memories, and interconnected-psyches.
Layer 3301: De-Cipher is a collaboration between studios Kasagi and Anique, both of which are involved in the business of digital collectibles. (Anique sells digital images of Serial Experiments Lain, among other anime, and previously hosted a digital exhibition for the show. The “estimated value” of these digital images can be as high as 75,000 yen, or roughly US$536.) The ARG was created with the supervision of Serial Experiments Lain producer Yasuyuki Ueda.
In a statement from the press release, Ueda said, “I hope that this will be a new possibility not only for lain, but also for animation culture as a whole. My hope as lain’s creator is that it can represent the spirit of experimentation, not bound by genre, social norms or economic agendas.”
According to Kasagi CEO Kendrick Wong, there are other upcoming initiatives aside from the ARG as well, and the Protocol Keys will “give fans exclusive access to everything the team has in store for the [anime’s] 25th anniversary.”
Source: Press release