On Monday, MyAnimeList, a popular anime database/social media site that allows fans to track their progress in seasonal shows and discuss new and old series in forum posts, announced the website is down due to emergency maintenance because “a malicious individual overwrote anime database information with data of their own.” Their crime? Forcibly rewriting history so that the supernatural anime, Serial Experiments Lain, is the only show folks have watched and given glowing reviews. [Please play Bôa’s “Duvet” in a separate tab for complete immersion].
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“To protect our community, we cannot restore the website until we are fully confident that all hacking methods used by the attacker have been identified and resolved,” MAL wrote in its emergency maintenance post. “Our team is working diligently to bring MyAnimeList back online as soon as possible. We appreciate your understanding during this difficult time, and apologize for the continued inconvenience.”
On Friday, MAL’s official Twitter account informed users that it expects “to resume service in ~22 hours” from when its post was made (12:08 A.M. CST)
“Thank you for your patience and support during this emergency maintenance,” MAL wrote at the end of the post.
WTF is Serial Experiments Lain?
Serial Experiments Lain is a psychological horror anime that follows a hikokomori (shut-in) junior high schooler named Lain Iwakura. After receiving a strange email from a deceased classmate, Chisa Yomoda, revealing that she’s not dead but living in the virtual world of The Wired, Lain gets caught up in a string of bizarre events that ultimately lead to her questioning the difference between the real world and the internet.
By and large, the show was pretty popular in its heyday. In 1998, it won the Japan Media Arts Festival’s Excellence Prize award for “its willingness to question the meaning of contemporary life” and its “extraordinarily philosophical and deep questions.”
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Hacking MAL to recommend Serial Experiments Lain is hilarious in a cosmic sense considering the show tackles how being permanently online can be detrimental to your health and how easily susceptible people are to persuasion when it comes to recommendations from cyberspace. For example, Lain, after viewing an advertisement promising she can make friends online, falls too deep into the internet’s enticing promises of a better life and becomes damn-near inseparable from the virtual world.
All my anime, gone?! Nah, you’re good
One major concern among MAL users is whether or not the hacking of the site would either purge their curated list of shows from their profiles or worse, reveal their personal information. Regarding the latter, MAL says its user information is “handled and stored in a manner which meets government regulation” and that their investigation into the hack “has not revealed any data breach of our users’ personal information.”
“We can restore the affected anime database titles and user list scores to before the attack,” MAL wrote.
As of the time of publication, MAL’s mobile app (kinda) still works in that you can view your anime watchlist and take a peak at which shows are airing this season and which release this summer. However, the app’s “clubs” (i.e. discussion forums for specific shows) are currently unavailable and you won’t be able to update your viewing process on shows you’re watching. Trust me, I tried updating my progress on Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans for a while last night to no avail.
The internet thinks the hacker was kinda based, all things considered
MAL users on Twitter and Reddit appear to have taken the hacker’s albeit direct approach to recommending their favorite anime in stride by treating the inconvenience as roundabout W because it (forcibly) helped promote Serial Experiments Lain in the most Serial Experiments Lain way possible: promising a positive outcome to folks attached to the hip to the internet via hacking.
“What a perfect way to introduce Lain,” Redditor Altruistic_Jicama_52 wrote.
“Most sane Lain stan,” Twitter user nijigasakilove said.
“That is certainly one way to end the whole no.1 ranking anime debate,” Reddit user mrnicegy26 wrote on the r/anime subreddit.
I’m not saying the hacker’s cybercrimes are justified, however, the results of their actions have moved Serial Experiments Lain up the totem pole of classic shows I’ll get around to once I finish and rate shows accumulating dust on my watchlist.