Serial Experiments Lain – Episodes 12/13

Episode 12

2:33 – So now Lain herself is speaking in that “come join us” prologue bit, and it seems she might be a little drunk on world-hacking power

3:36 – Oh man, this is so tragic. In order to save her one legitimate connection, she’s come around to the viewpoint that the real world is just more information to be altered and rewritten at your convenience. So good!

I was enjoying this show before, but this is actually some classic, awesomely illustrated material here. I guess I just really prefer human stories, and as this show has gone on, it has shifted from being more fully concerned with its mysteries and ideas to really illustrating the relatable human desires at the core of Lain’s actions

3:53 – “People only have substance within the memory of others.” Jeez, that sounds a whole lot like “Gods can only exist if they are worshiped,” doesn’t it?

6:44 – So a “person” is actually just the accumulation of information that happens to be housed inside an organic machine, huh? Good news, Lain, you’re human after all!

8:39 – Masami Eiri isn’t dead… whether he had a body or not never mattered. Hm… who do we know that doesn’t have a body, but seems to be both alive and have a strong interest in Lain?

10:40 – Oshit, so it WAS a third party all along, just using the G-Men. The Knights were just competition for control of Lain that needed to be removed… so Eiri could take control, right? Hm…

16:57 – Just realized Lain’s ensemble is a crown of wires

18:37 – Man, why’s this guy gotta be such a dick

20:06 – Okay, here’s the confirmation. He inserted the code; he’s Eiri.

And Done

Wow, that was some extremely crafty work by Lain. Did she just use his obvious ridiculous ego to trick him into manifesting in a physical form, so she could bury him in a place where his consciousness wouldn’t be scattered through the Wired? But how can she avoid having him re-integrate? Well, they haven’t really explained how people integrate in the first place, so maybe that’s coming

Episode 13

2:33 – “Who is the me that is speaking?” Transposing classic philosophical questions on the definition of self against the complicating factor of internet personas and the questionable “eternal life” pure information (and by proxy the creators or holders of that information) is granted therein is a great idea, and this show definitely succeeds in making the connection between those two explorations so complete as to be seamless. I do wonder if they plan on actually taking a stand, though, or if they’re just interested in raising questions

4:18 – A nice image. All the trappings of her Wired identity compressed in a corner as Eiri’s gravestone – Lain clinging to the one person who matters.

4:50 – ALL RESET. Goddamnit Lain you are terrible at fixing things

7:20 – I like this jaunty pop song undercutting the tragedy of Lain erasing herself from history for the sake of a friend who never really understood her anyway

10:23 – Hah, that’s great. Like with the Knights, the reality of Eiri is just some disgruntled, muttering salaryman.

11:22 – “What isn’t remembered never happened. Memory is merely a record. You just need to reqrite that record.” Somehow I don’t think the show actually believes that. Could it possibly be because every prior attempt to change the record has resulted in unforeseen tragedy? Hmmm

12:03 – Bringing up the intro static Lain and downtown lights halfway through. This is so awesome. I love how this show worked so hard to establish various “chapter marks” and visual ticks with specific significance, and so it can now use the assumptions the viewer has vested in those markers to play with the narrative – it’s built its own vocabulary to abuse. That trick is so smart, and has so many potential applications, that I feel like I should write… it… down…

13:27 – “Dead people’s information isn’t leaking out of the Wired anymore.” Well, it’s always nice to receive direct confirmation of a prediction from ten episodes ago…

16:15 – “It’d be so much easier to be God. Much easier than being a person.” Don’t listen to her, Shinji!

17:25 – Alright, just gotta make sure this is clear in my head. Lain really did exist as information, and however knowledge of her spread, her own influence and ability to perceive spread. So for her, existence really was based on “memories of her,” or information of her in the Wired (which was why she was so much more powerful there), or etc – and now that she’s willfully removed all data on herself, her perception has shrunk to nothing. Right?

19:32 – Oh hey, isn’t that her OP outfit/bridge? Hmmm

It’s also nice to see a show where the visual design is distinctive enough that characters are recognizable even if they’re much older (like Arisu here) or completely shifted in wardrobe, hair, and temperament (like Eiri)

21:10 – So what’s the message here – that legacy doesn’t have to be a catalog of memories of you, and your life can matter even if the people you help don’t know it was you?

And Done

Whew! I liked that escape route of an ending. It cleared up a lot of narrative loose ends (though outside of “a program designed to integrate the two worlds,” Lain’s original identity was never outright stated), and actually followed through on the show’s ideas to arrive at a specific perspective and opinion on identity and the Wired. I’m not really sure where the show ultimately fell on how Lain’s identity is constructed – she clearly rejected the idea that you only exist in the reflection of others, but I can’t articulate exactly what she replaced it with – obviously that scene with Arisu indicates she still has the power to manifest physically, and she seems pretty much as powerful as ever, but… hm…

Okay, so between that and the scene with her “father,” I’m guessing it was the love they both expressed for a Lain that did once exist in their memory that helped her maintain ego (or just gave her the confidence to believe she should still exist) in the aftermath of the hard reset. Which is a nice bit of contradiction as well, since whenever a character expressed their love for her in the series, it was pretty much by way of apology – “I’m sorry I couldn’t do anything for you, but I want you to know that I loved you.” And yet, in the end, those expressions of affection seem to be what made “life” worth continuing or perceiving for her. And that scene with her “father” would in that case be an expression of her mental realization that she reciprocates that love, and that feeling means she exists (kinda paralleling the scene where she listens to Arisu’s heartbeat, which was what broke her away from Eiri’s philosophy in the first place). If this interpretation is correct, I think all the pieces fit.