Despera—any fan of Yoshitoshi ABe or at least, the titles he worked on with Chiaki J. Konaka like Serial Experiments Lain would know this one.
There are a few differences between the serialized version and the collected volume.
The story centers around a 12-year-old girl named Ain, who often builds devices despite the lack of scientific background for them. The sci-fi alternative period story is set in Tokyo during the Taisho era in 1922, one year before the 1923 Great Kanto earthquake.
Ain (あいん Ain) - A 12-year-old girl who resides in her workshop inside the basement of the Ryōunkaku in Asakusa, Tokyo. A technical genius with no prior scientific knowledge, she is able to create electronic devices far beyond the capabilities of the current era. Some of the devices created include early versions of a modern computer, complete with typewriter keyboards and cathode ray tube display monitors. In the novel version, one of her ongoing works is a mysterious robot which she refers to as Father (お父さん Otō-san). Despite being 12 years old, she often displays a mature expression of an adult. She also displays an uncanny ability to generate electricity from her hands when she takes on a tank squadron later in the story.
Takeshita (竹下 Takeshita) - A man in his 30s who is an associate of Ain's. In the prologue chapter of the novel, he claims to be able to see the future through the displays on Ain's computer monitors. In the novel version, he sells these information, known as prophecies, to the Japanese military and the aristocracy to fund for Ain's inventions. In the serialized version, he has no name and is only referred to as "the man", and his face is unseen throughout the illustrations. In both versions, he is described as being emotionless, and only displays deep affection for Ain.
Enoki (榎木 Enoki) - A military officer who works for the Japanese army's science institute. He holds the rank of 2nd lieutenant. Enoki is sent to Asakusa to investigate the unstable electrical discharge occurring in the vicinity of the Ryōunkaku.
Kimiyasu Fuenokōji (笛小路公寧 Fuenokōji Kimiyasu) - A Japanese nobleman with the title of viscount. It is unknown what relationship Kimiyasu has with Ain, but he is interested in her unorthodox inventions. He has a primary residence in Sanbanchō of Chiyoda-ku, and a second residence at the Kanda-Surugadai district.
Barbara Andrei (バルバラ・アンドレイ Barubara Andorei) - A Russian woman of aristocratic origins, Barbara is a refugee who escaped from Harbin during the disownment of the presence of Russians by the Chinese Republic. She lives in the Kanda-Surugadai residence owned by Kimiyasu who has taken her in. Ain is particularly uncomfortable of Barbara's presence as she is frightened of her pale white complexion, presumably having never seen a Russian before.
I think it's quite the must read for any Lain fan (like myself).
Published by Tokuma Shoten
Let's all love Despera!
Yeah, I liked Lain, though people in the comments spoiled it a bit (I guess that's what I get for streaming it from Funimation's Youtube page and looking at comments).
I won't say Lain is kind of anime that is easily spoiled though (since it will always have multiple interpretation, I think the only thing that fans agreed on was the themes and the ideas it tried to present about identity, anonymity and internet)
But I sure love that kind of anime, after all.
I remember hearing ABe saying that the west care about "Despera" way more than the Japanese site. (and probably that's why the anime production has been a bit slow even after finding a new director)
Ain is particularly uncomfortable of Barbara's presence as she is frightened of her pale white complexion, presumably having never seen a Russian before.
Well, yeah, just like the author if he seriously names his russian character BARBARA ANDREI. Though, admittedly, at least it looks like a name, she could have very well been called Elektrichka Sapsan like that poor girl from Pretty Cation.