Posted by Lenlo on 24 May 2019 with categories: Serial Experiments Lain, Throwback Thursday

Hello all and welcome to another week of Throwback Thursday, posted on a Friday, for Serial Experiments Lain! This week Lain answers a lot of questions, introduces a lot more and dives into the surreal. So lets jump in!

Starting off, like I said Lain answers a lot of questions this week. Addressing the drugs, Wired, Lain’s prevalence in the world and how they all fit together. All without explicitly tying them together with direct callouts. Meanwhile it also introduced many more questions in regards to the Knights, and the line between the Wired and reality. Yet with all of this ground covered, it all felt like natural consequences of the story. Saving spoilers for after the break, I was very impressed with how so little managed to connect so much. Giving so much relevance to an episode title or the smallest grin from a character. I said last week I have to be in the right mind to watch Lain. This episode reinforces that belief for me. Enough dancing around the spoilers though, let’s talk about suicide, woo!

So like I said, suicides. Apparently the one we saw at the start of Lain was not the last. With multiple people jumping off rooves and what not. Almost as if it is spreading, which seems ridiculous for something like this. However Lain manages to have this make sense by tying it to the Wired, via this game called Phantoma. I will get to Phantoma in a second, but what I like about this is how it uses technology that is still really just emerging. Things like ARG’s and VR, while still playing into Lain’s themes about reality and what is or is not real. It’s not something I would have expected from a ’98 anime. It’s like someone making a movie about climate change back in the 80’s- oh wait, Nausicaa exists. Tangents aside, Lain surprised me here.

For Phantoma itself, what was incredibly interesting to me was how it tied back into Lain. We have previous evidence that Lain has been seen around the wired, regardless of never having really used her Navi before. Yet with this ARG, and the back-door connecting it to other programs, this suddenly makes that a lot more possible. I am still confused by the seeming inability to interact with/knowledge of what’s going on in the ARG. But Lain has answered my questions before, so I believe time will reveal this to me as well. Regardless, Phantoma is clearly responsible for the suicides mentioned previously. Painting it as a very prevalent game in the world. It makes me really curious how Wired Lain connects to Real Life Lain at this point, through Phantoma seemingly. Though for now let’s move onto the Phantoma episode we witnessed first hand.

This was outright crazy, and I was not expecting Lain to go down this road. Killing a little girl via connecting an ARG game of tag to Phantoma? Shocking. Yet, it was at this moment that episode 2 suddenly clicked for me. I previously thought it was the drug that drove him crazy, along with the sight of Lain. Yet now I believe that the drug just gave him greater sensory awareness of the ARG Phantoma. Or effected his mental state to be more susceptible to it. It was the ARG Phantoma that caused him to actually see things that weren’t there, to confuse the Real Lain for the Wired Lain. I am 100% sure there is more to it than this, but even if I am wrong, Lain is letting me draw these conclusions. To feel like I am connecting the dots, so future surprises don’t completely side-swipe us.

That all said, lets move on to Lain and her… changes? She was a very different character this week, though it was only clear because of how extreme she was at the start. Being emotionless and veritably silent. Now however we see her smiling, chatting, her face is more animated. She is also hiding things and lying to her friends now. Its like she is gaining more and more of a personality as we go, when she started as en empty shell. What concerns me, narratively not to the quality of the show, is how little her friends noticed this. With only Alice really acknowledging it at all, while the rest just brush it off. I am curious if this is similar to the Cyberia club, where none seemed bothered by what happened. As if they are just brushing off changes in their life.

Next up, the most interesting aspect of this episode to me, the Knights. They were mentioned last week, but I didn’t pay them much mind. I should have expected Lain wouldn’t drop them in out of nowhere. It really pushes them as this sort of unorganized group, unified by an idea than any central goal. Tying them back in to the title of the episode, I wonder how they involve Lain. Are they a cult of some kind? Regardless, what’s most interesting about them to me are their real world parallels. The Knights are really similar to a modern day Anonymous, hacking without any central leadership, just a general ethos to guide them. I am really curious where Lain goes with this, because I want to see if this is just a coincidence, or just how deep the connection goes.

For example, the men in black, with the laser dots on their head? First off, clever callback to the Cyberia club and any possible trauma Lain may have developed from it. Flashing those red dots across her face while making it clear where they are looking. Loved that. But secondly, are they are part of the Knights? Hunting down Lain for some reason? Or are they perhaps part of some government organization who oppose the Knights? I would ask if they existed at all, but Lain’s sister met them previously. Almost as if the sole purpose of that scene was to ensure us they exist. Regardless, they did a great job this week of showing us how Lain can directly affect the real world through the Wired. How that isn’t just drugs or hallucinations, but that Lain is legitimately in both at once. Creepy.

So, all in all, how was this weeks Lain? Confusing, but satisfying. I feel so much more informed with Lain than I did with Paranoia Agent. In Paranoia Agent, the whole show was a mystery. With each episode kind of being its own little thing, splitting off to each character. It worked because Kon is amazing, but it had a lot of issues. Lain however lets us follow a single character, and while its still a mystery, its one that is actually unraveling as we go. The Knights arn’t new to this episode, we learned of them earlier. The Wired and Reality were blending as far back as episode 1. So little of this is new, its just being presented in different lights, slowly connecting it together. I understand none of it, but I am enjoying it. So I suppose that counts for something.

One Response

  1. Avatar evafan says:

    Damn it! I must catch up with you before I can comment here. It’s been a while for me…

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