Posted by Lenlo on 20 July 2019 with categories: Serial Experiments Lain, Throwback Thursday

Welcome, one and all, to the penultimate episode of Serial Experiments Lain! This is a weird one, yet I feel like I got it on some level. As Lain questions peoples perception, her place in the world, and Masami’s words, let’s just dive right in.

Starting off, I haven’t been bringing it up as much recently, but I want to draw attention to Lain’s production. This was a really good week visually, rivalling 8 even. The outstanding finish aside, which was incredibly fluid, the presentation of Lain’s house and Masami were great. Lain really nailed the atmosphere of the virtually abandoned home. The entire thing trashed and dirty, Mika sitting upstairs and droning on like a modem. It was incredibly creepy and disconcerting, with only simple stills and a locations history to really go by. Meanwhile, the aforementioned final scene was the episodes capstone. Really belying the fact that Lain is from the late 90’s. None of this is even mentioning the sound design. So yeah, I suppose the only thing to say is Lain had a good week production wise. Now let’s take a look at the story.

Starting off, the first thing about the episode was the question of perception. That how a person perceives you defines who you are. Lain opens this dialogue up by saying that you “Only have substance in the memories of others”. For me, this is effectively asking the question of are you a different person around different people. Similar to how Lain exists differently for seemingly ever character in the show. They perceive her differently, so are they all the same Lain? Or is she essentially a different person for each of the? It’s sort of the inverse of the Ship of Theseus in a way. And a very interesting question on modern society and the masks we wear based on who we are around. However, this isn’t the only possible way to look at this question, and on further thought, I found a better one.

The better interpretation I think is that you only exist so long as other people remember you. That you only matter in so far as your relationships and the people who know you. That without them, you might as well not exist, as you have no effect on the world. No one will remember you, not the world, not the universe. And so without those relationships, can you be said to have even existed at all? This fits a lot better with Lain as a series for me. Particularly with Lain’s current predicament. Having deleted herself from everyone’s memories, she effectively ceased to exist, as we saw last episode. As we basically saw with Masami this episode, who unlike Lain, legitimately has no body. Without people’s belief in him, without Lain… does he truly exist? Is that why he made that body at the end? Lot’s to talk about.

Before we get to Masami, let’s take a detour to the Men in Black though. I wasn’t expecting what happened to them this week. Granted, I had no idea where they would go, but I wasn’t expecting this. Murdered, I assume, in a parking garage. Their client having basically duped them into working for Masami. It was an interesting twist I suppose, to isolate Lain even more and help him take over the Wired/World. I just don’t quite get what happened to them though. Did Lain take them out, on accident maybe? Or was that part of the breakdown between Reality and the Wired? It looked like it was completely vision based though, so why not take off the headsets? This section at least was a bit lost on me, but it cleans up the story abit, so I am ok with it.

Now we can get to Masami and Arisu. I have to say, I don’t think I understand all the subtext that occured here. The loving friendship of Arisu vs the controlling abuse of Masami. On the surface level, Arisu is Lain’s last connection to reality. She is the last person with memory of Lain, who “perceives” Lain, thus Lain only exists so long as Arisu does. Meanwhile the same can be said for Masami and Lain. If Lain leaves him, will he still exist? I thought it was a clever turn around, especially Lain reversing his abuse tactics. If Lain doesn’t exist, is only software, then what about Masami? What makes him different? Can he prove it? Because the only person who remembers him is Lain, and if she leaves him… then what? It made sense on a surface level, while allowing you to dive much deeper. Well done.

So all in all, how was the penultimate episode? Interesting to say the least. Like the rest of Lain, there is a lot of subtext to everything it does. Most of which I am not smart enough to figure out. I am sure this makes these posts rather boring, but I am a Computer Scientist dangit! Not a Philosopher! My big question at this point is just where does the story go from here? Is the final episode more of an epilogue? As Masami seems relatively defeated at this point. Unless he comes back in some big, Akira style monstrosity. However that doesn’t seem to fit Lain as a series. I suppose we could deal with the consequences of a merging Wired/Reality. Or Lain’s journey back into humanity. I suppose we will have to wait and see next week, on Lain’s finale.

One Response

  1. You have no idea just how much ruminations on/to do with memory appeal to me greatly as an armchair philosopher, lol it feels like gold to me to listen to long intellectual jargon.
    And the erased from memories thing was depressing for me =< I liked that and think this show did it way better than Madoka.

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