Posted by Lenlo on 12 July 2019 with categories: Serial Experiments Lain, Throwback Thursday

Welcome one and all to a 2 parter for Serial Experiments Lain! Apologies for missing last week. Between end of season reviews, first impressions and a boxing match, I was a bit busy. But we are back on track with some Lain weirdness, so lets dive right in!

Starting off, I once again was forced to appreciate how good Lain looks and sounds. It’s nothing flashing, like your modern sakuga showcases. Lain doesn’t show off the same way Mob Psycho or Attack on Titan do. With huge showcases from big name animators. Lain does much better with pointed imagery and interesting composition. So my eye roams the screen during the stills, and I don’t notice the lack of animation until it’s moved on. At the very least, it succeeds here more than Paranoia Agent did. The sound design also caught my attention. Specifically episode 11’s opening, with the sink and dishes, the dripping water. I don’t know what it stood out to me, such a simple thing. But I still remember it a week after watching the episode. I wonder what happened to get this kind of effect. Still, enough with production. Onto the madness!

First up, that crazy opening segment. It took me longer than I care to admit to realize the two were talking in each others voices. Or perhaps through the other’s body. It was a very creepy, and pretty effective when combined with the rest of the episode, way of demonstrating Lain’s issues. Throughout this episode she appears to be falling apart, losing her hold on who she is and if she is even real. That she ever existed in the flesh at all. Of course, this was caused by her deleting herself from everyone’s minds previously. But I love how Lain is showing that. With her desk missing from school, her house empty and even the teacher ignoring her in class. Never does Lain say what is happening, put it into words, instead focusing on showing us. Even drawing parallels to what happened to other characters.

What I mean there is what happened to Mika, Lain’s sister. This breakdown of her psyche until she rejoins the Wired entirely. Just like Mika she seems to be losing her sense of self, becoming a veritable ghost. Leaving a husk of a body left in the real world. The question then becomes, does she actually have a real body, or was Masami telling the truth? I lean towards she does myself, as Masami comes across as the classic abusive lover/parent. Gaslighting all of her worst fears, while trying to shut down every hope she has. Drawing her closer to him without any real thought for her. This, if nothing else, is what makes me lean towards the Men in Black actually being the good guys. If there are any in a series like Lain. Though her father Yasuo makes a good case himself.

Near the middle of the episode that man shows up to save the day. He, in one fell swoop, probably without even meaning to, flips that around. For the first time in the episode a person we know is real, acknowledges Lain’s existence. Says she’s real, and that they cared for her. Even if it was a fake family, Yasuo did love her. I am unsure how much of what he did was for that Men in Black organization. Pushing her towards the Wired and such. But unlike Masami who seems to want something similar, Yasuo doesn’t appear to be sugar coating it. He is brutally honest in what happened and where he stands. Which really helps his credibility with the positives of his little speech. It’s a nice little wakeup call for Lain I think. And without this moment, I think Masami would have won.

Sadly for Masami, Lain pulled a power move, and just outed every single member of the Knights. Most likely in retaliation, killing off Masami’s “worshipers” and seemingly gaining at least one of her own in the Men in Black. What this means, I don’t know. Maybe she inadvertently becomes another Masami in the next edition of the Protocol. But she looks a bit messed up with how she is hooked into the Wired. I don’t think this retaliation was good for her. She basically went all in on a drug in order to get revenge. But the Men in Black seemed to appreciate it, and Masami seemed rather peeved. All in all, a lot happened in this episode, and I would wager I didn’t understand half of it.

As for episode 11… I am unsure how I feel about this one to be honest. Half of it feels like a recap, yet it’s not done simply as a recap. To make an example, Avatar: The Last Airbender has a recap episode right before the finale as well. Ember Island Players. Yet it is quite obviously more than a recap and one of the series best episodes. I don’t think this is one of Lain’s best episodes, however it is clearly more than just a simple recap. As to me it seems like Lain is supposed to be reviewing everything that has happened so far. Memories she forgot, erased or still have. After last week, this could be for various reasons. A hint to fight Masami, just for the hell of it or, more likely, as proof that she existed.

In that sense, it does it’s job. As between the flashback’s and the dialogue Lain is really focusing in on her being a real person. With Masami even calling her a machine and Lain rebuking him for that. The other aspect of all of this though seems to be Lain mulling over the idea of suicide? Killing herself and becoming like Masami, which seems to be what he wants? We have seen evidence that other people have done this in the past. From the old hobo to apparently the girl in the first episode. This makes me continue to think the series will end with Lain supplanting Masami in the new Wired Protocol being worked on by the Men in Black. Though perhaps as a more… generous God than he was. All in all though, while it was more than a recap episode, the flashback’s didn’t do much for me.

So all in all, how were these two episodes? Confused. Mesmerizing. Terrifying and with a dash of disappointment at the recap. I suppose the best way to put it is that Lain has successfully interested me in its last 2 episodes, its ending. Masami has established himself quickly as a threat, bringing out both the best and worst in Lain. They are now on a collision course for control/freedom of the Wired. There are legitimate stakes in the whole thing as Lain’s grasp on reality is basically in the balance for this confrontation. All the side characters, from Arisu to the Men in Black seem to be ready to play an important role. All I need is for a last minute revelation where the entire show clicks into place. Even without that though, Lain has done enough to make a lasting impression on me. It is wholly unique.

6 Responses

  1. That scene where the “father”/Yasuo admits to everything is one of the standouts in the show for me.

  2. Avatar Jimtim says:

    This is so right –>”It is wholly unique.”

    Most people regard lain as a very good show. But even those that don’t have to admit it’s one of a kind and a must watch.

    • Avatar Lenlo says:

      That is about where I am at. I don’t think Lain will ever be one of my favorites, its to experimental and vague in places for that. But even more so than Paranoia Agent, I can’t think of a single anime I have ever seen or heard of that is quite like Lain. Maybe the old movie Angels Egg. But even that is something that I could classify as “wholly unique”.

      So even though Lain isn’t a favorite, I can’t say I regret watching it.

  3. Ah, angels egg, the crown jewel of Oshii’s career for me, I’ve seen it three times and feel like I’ve lived in it.

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