Posted by Lenlo on 31 May 2019 with categories: Serial Experiments Lain, Throwback Thursday

Welcome one and all to perhaps the weirdest episode of Lain yet. This week we get preached at, Lain’s sister gets lobotomized and Lain herself becomes a National terrorist. Lets jump in!

Starting off, the production. Lain got, to put it simply, weird this week with the visuals. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it was definitely very striking. From the flashbacks (?) with Lain, to the Sister’s slow fall into the Wired. In some cases this was incredibly interesting. I loved some of the visuals at the end. With the Sister, and Lain herself staring into the monitor. Those were cool! In other cases though it was just weird and I couldn’t follow what was going on. This is mainly aimed at the flashbacks, which are my biggest problem with the episode. We will talk about those in detail later. Visually, they weren’t terribly complex. But they came from nowhere and were so disconnected with everything else going on, that they really confused me. Because of this, and their story beats, they really halted the pace of the series for me.

Now, the actual story! This week Lain focused almost entirely on Lain’s sister, Mika. By the end, this became a smart choice. It let us see what getting caught up in Lain’s Wired bullshittery is like for a normal person. With reality virtually falling down around her. Initially though, up until about the half-way point, it felt a lot like a side-story. It was only at the end, with the context that this segment was being used as a soft time-skip, that it felt right. As with Lain, Mika’s screen time also blurs the reality between the Wired and Reality, but with her, she actually notices. Or at least cares. Unlike Lain, who is apparently a prophecies Saint of some kind, Mika has no idea what is going on and it helps drive home what Lain’s expressionless face cannot. Combined with the ending, and Lain earns itself a horror tag.

To go along with Mika, and her final fate, we have Lain’s parents. Lain confused me for a second here, but after sleeping on it, what happened became obvious. Mika, and most likely their parents, was lost to the Wired. Her true self, her personality and all that makes Mika ‘Mika’, was lost. Thats what the “ghost” was, which is creepy when you look back at episode one and the suicide student. This of course makes you wonder, what about her body? Mika is still up and walking around. Is someone else from the Wired in it now, or is Lain controlling it subconsciously? Can she get it back, or is she just gone? And my personal favorite question, has this happened with Lain? I am leaning towards no, as Lain has actually gotten more expressive as the series goes forward. But it makes one wonder, who all are drones?

As much as I enjoyed this section of Lain though, it definitely dropped the ball on its other story thread. Straight up, I did not enjoy the flashbacks (?). They, and by extension this episode, felt like I was getting preached at. Most of this Lain has already shown in its story, so a lot of it was seemingly rehash for those not paying attention. It felt like Lain was throwing its Philosophy at me like a brick of exposition, in the most obtuse way possible. Sure there are definite subtleties to the scene to look into. Such as Lain’s parents being on the same expository level as a Doll and a Mask, showing they are already mentally gone. Plus the flowery language each apparition said, and Lain seemingly being more active and expressive when she was younger. However none of this negates just how annoying I found the scenes.

Back to what I did enjoy though, I found Lain’s ending to be fantastic. For all the issues I had with the flashback segments and philosophizing, this segment at least made good use of them. All these questions about prophecies and what is or is not real, culminating in the “real” Mika and such. It also wrapped back enough to question earlier segments as well. Making you wonder whether or not the Shibuya incident actually happened. If Lain was actually there, or if Mika was just seeing things. Clearly the hacking of the monitor was real, as Lain’s friends brought it up at school. Yet it looked ominously similar to Lain at the end. Staring into the monitor as the world around her falls apart. I suspect this is where Lain is going to head off the rails.

So all in all, how was Lain this week? Mad, interesting and just a little bit disappointing. There was plenty to like about it, and maybe I have started to expect more than I should from Lain. But aside from the flashbacks, there was a lot to like about this week. It feels to me like the final prequel/setup episode. Everything is laid out now, side-lines have been explored and though we sort of ignore the main plot this week, we do seem to have reached. Terminal Lain. A sort of tipping point in weirdness for the character. Where she becomes more weird, more Wired, than grounded and real. So all things considered, I am looking forward to where the series goes. And I am a little terrified of what it may become.

5 Responses

  1. Avatar evafan says:

    So I watched (just) this ep just now. Disclaimer: I don’t claim to know wth actually happened.

    I’m not sure why address those scenes as flashbacks, I think they are more of a flashback-like styled inner monologues, like those in Evangelion, where the character may appear younger to imply influence of past memories/experience or skewed perception of self.

    “a lot of it was seemingly rehash for those not paying attention”
    I don’t remember what was shown before and stuff, but I I disagree. I think Lain, like few other shows out there (Ergo Proxy, Eva, etc) and unlike most of the others (like Utena) are not trying to be symbolic and give vague depictions, rather try to tell a very clear and very articulate message/idea. I find it to be their strong point actually.

    In this episode:
    – 1 “Cant tell you anything new if you know everything already” which implies that the Wired is the final stage of evolution, i.e., the TRUE state of being. Leads to 3
    – 2 “Prophecies…” pondering whether everything (life, evolution, etc) is not just part of grand design, leading to
    – 3 “real world is hologram” Brain and Wired are conceptually same and body only confusing us that they are not. And Wired is extending real world, but it is the real world that is the hologram as it is the Wired that has all the information. This is such an important idea.
    – 4 “is wired just electricity?” Wired in primitive form existed before internet, meaning creation of the modern Wired could be intentional. Considering the power of the information in the Wired, Wired could house a true God, who controls real life by “inception”, seeds of prophecies that bring about intentional results.

    So what happened in the episode is
    1 Mika being contacted by Wired nudging her to execute certain prophecy.
    2 Mika becoming a hologram. She is Wired’s puppet and her real self is dissociated and lost from everyone’s senses, thus other’s only see her hologram. It’s a twist on what the ‘flashbacks’ were talking about – from the point of the Wired, she has been saved from hologram into real state of being.

    “If Lain was actually there, or if Mika was just seeing things.”
    I think Lain was never there and it was actually confused Mika who was standing on the road.

    “hacking of the monitor was real, as Lain’s friends brought it up at school”
    I think they were talking about hacking of the network to screw up the traffic lights, not the monitor.

    “Yet it looked ominously similar to Lain at the end.”
    I thought it was clearly her. Lain or Wired-Lain telling Mika “I see you, you who left instead of helping me” although after the (according to me) reveal that it was Mika standing there all along the purpose changes to “I see you, and that you have dissociation issues”, which can now be interpreted as “It was me who (indirectly?) caused you be like this”.

    The scene at the end “Who’s next” can be interpreted that this is happening intentionally and it targets specific people.

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      I think my attempts to not tell people what to think on a show backfired on me here. I tried to make it clear that I wasn’t sure either.

      It was clearly Lain at the end, though I was more referencing how Lain staring into the monitor at the end was very similar to the Lain we saw on the monitor in the Shibuya streets. Making it seem to me like it actually happened and we saw her camera.

      I love the comments, its an interesting show. Lots going on and lots I probably miss. I need to be clearer with how I write when talking about something as complex as Lain it seems though. Unlike the simplicity of a Shounen, Lain loses a lot in my meager translation I think.

  2. Avatar evafan says:

    While I do understand how the philosophical info-dumps could be considered uninteresting, I feel works like this are the pinnacle of the medium. I don’t know.

    This has always interested me – why people seem to have issue with info-dumps and author articulating himself, particularly in sci-fi. You hear these complaints even in Mahouka! Am I the only person who likes Mahouka infodumps? Pew pew, oscillating psions, pew pew One-true-God-Tatsuya-stue, pew pew, wave interference!

    But I’m sure people who enjoyed Ever 17 or Remember 11 (basically the Infinity series and perhaps all of the writer’s works) understand. Some of the use of technology and pseudo-physical ideas in those games was very clever (certainly beyond Stein’s Gate lvl), which necessitated several very long expositions on quantum physics and other stuff. Personally I liked it, even if it was dumbed down for average Joe to understand – it still elevated the games for me.

    Another example would be Ghost Hound. One could argue it just babbles about pseudo-scientific ideas and indiscriminately affirms them all in its world to create a meaningless mess, but I found it and all its infodumps about crazy theories very interesting. Its food for thought.

    I feel like Lain, instead of depicting a genesis of post-internet world, trying to highlight potential problems we are gonna run into goes so much farther and questions the very core values/premises we take for granted. And I very much welcome the “read this wiki page” of X and Y for 10 minutes style of these works.

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      I dont have an issue with info-dumps in particular. They are a necessary evil for a lot of sci-fi because of how complex their worlds are. It makes sense, and they can be done well.

      My issue with Lain’s right here though is 2 fold.
      1) It seemed very… messy. Vague. I can’t find the right word, but perhaps unnecessary fits it best. There wasn’t anything in there I don’t think Lain couldn’t have shown elsewhere. Its a very interesting show that does a lot. So its less the info-dump and more that I didn’t think Lain needed an info dump.

      2) It just kinda broke the pacing of the episode/series for me. This was the first one were it feels like we didn’t really… progress the plot? Thats not entirely accurate, as Mika’s fate opens up new dimensions and such. But it felt like it was mostly acting as a time-skip of sorts for progression, when I really enjoyed the previous ones.

      All that said, I wanna make it clear, I enjoyed this episode and still enjoy Lain. The ending was great and if I have to have those info dumps to get it, I will takem.

      • Avatar evafan says:

        I see.

        Well, I called this the pinnacle, but Lain isnt like my fav show or anything, I think I even rated it 8/10, which is not ‘masterpiece’ rating by any measure. But I I love the offerings of dementia genre – it’s just my thing, so I may be giving off a bad impression.

        In short, I also think Lain is a mess, but I find it very easy to overlook that in this case.

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