Serial Experiments Lain Episode Summaries
Chisa Yamoda, an ordinary if somewhat shy high school student decides that she can no longer live in the world that surrounds her and resolves to escape through suicide. Lain Iwakura, an ordinary if somewhat shy high school student, begins to realize that the world that surrounds her is very different from what she has come to expect. These two events might seem unrelated at first but as Weird unfolds, the two are carefully woven together in a web of mysteries and unrealities. Is Chisa Yamoda really sending messages from beyond the grave and if that is the case why entice Lain to discover the Wired?
Everyone is connected. As Lain begins to explore the virtual world, her friend Alice tries to get her more involved in the real world by inviting her to a local nightclub called Cyberia. It is a place filled with fast and furious techno beats, which make it a favourite haunt for hackers and cyberpunks. It is also a place where all the latest drugs are readily available. In Cyberia, Lain will get her first inkling that something may be off about her and that she may indeed be very different from everyone else.
Lain is left pretty shaken after the events at Cyberia and she’s beginning to have trouble telling the difference between what’s real and what isn’t. After she discovers an envelope with what appears to be a computer chip of some sort she decides to return to Cyberia and ask one of the patrons for information on the device. Once there, she is surprised to be recognized by a man she doesn’t know. Lain finally finds a few kids who turn out to be hackers and explain that the chip she’s holding is actually a “bushuke”, an extremely rare (maybe even unique) device which gives one access to the entire Wired. We also see the appearance of two strange men in business suits and sun glasses who seem unusually interested in Lain.
Lain is changing, she’s more confident, more sociable; she has even taken to customizing her Navi all by herself. Maybe this is a change for the better. Maybe now she will finally start making friends at school but why is it so sudden? Her sister and her father or starting to get a little worried. Could it be that Lain has become “obsessed” with the Wired? Some people even start thinking of the Wired as reality. In fact, some strange game over the Wired seems to be seeping into reality, as quite a few of the players are starting to take their own lives. What exactly is happening, and who are those men who keep spying on Lain? Perhaps the Knights hold the answers. This secretive organization is considered a Religion in the virtual world and Lain must find who they really are.
Things are starting to get a little creepy as we see Lain’s doll slowly telling Lain about the nature of prophecies. Lain sits on floor, completely absorbed by her doll’s tale. Meanwhile, back in the real world, cracks are beginning to show. The central traffic control system has sent out incorrect information causing numerous accidents all over town, but this should be impossible. Mika is trying to make her way through the downtown streets where a man hands her a napkin with the message;” The other side is overcrowded. The dead will have nowhere to go.” She notices Lain standing in the middle traffic for a second before her image is broadcast from a huge electronic billboard on a nearby building but when she asks Lain about it, her sister denies the whole incident. For the rest of the day, Mika is haunted by vision. She sees ghosts and apparitions but most disturbingly, she keeps encountering the cryptic message “Fulfill the prophecy”. Eventually, these events take their toll on her, and she begins to loose her mind.
Lain’s room now looks like a scene from a futuristic science-fiction movie. There are wires everywhere and a dozen screens are bathing the room in soft light. Lain feels that time is running out, but for what? Even she doesn’t quite know. In the Wired, she has discovered traces of some secret experiment code named Kids. Fifteen years ago, a renowned professor found a way to measure what he calls “Psi” in children. The results showed that individually each child’s “Psi” is rather weak but when the children are brought together it is possible to fuse their “Psi” into a force to recon with. The experiment came to an abrupt end when it was discovered that the consciousness of the children had become trapped in the program making it impossible for them to exist in the real world any longer. Now, someone has found the remainders of this deadly program and seems to be running it over the Wired, but why? Lain suspects the Knights of playing some part in all of this and she intends to find out just how great a part. Just as she is about to begin her investigation, the two mysterious men in business suits persuade her to come out. As leaves her house an explosion rips through her room. The men quickly explain that a bomb had been planted in her cooling system, by the Knights.
Alice can’t help but notice how distant Lain has become of late. She seems in a different world. She is in fact. Lain can help but ponder over the latest rumours that have emerged in the Wired, she knows that the Knights are reputed hackers involved in several illegal activities but why have people linked her to them? What is this great power she supposedly has? When she gets home, the men in the sunglasses are there once more. Hoping she might finally get some answers, Lain agrees to go with them in order to meet a man named Shinbashi. Unfortunately, Shinbashi doesn’t have any answers for her, only more questions. He asks her several odd questions such as “do you remember when you where born?”, “how did your parents meet…” When Lain finds that she is unable to answer any of his questions, something in her snaps. Once more, we see a very different Lain.
When Lain gets home, she finally asks her parents if they are really her parents. Instead of reassuring her, they only stare at her. After this wonderful start, Lain’s day goes downhill. When she gets to school, a distraught Alice who is blaming her for starting some vicious rumours greets her. When Lain goes on the Wired to find out what’s going on, a disembodied voice tells her that she doesn’t actually exist in the real world. Lain is actually an avatar of the god of the Wired and she can exist in more than one place at once. Lain then sees herself sitting on a bed, spying on Alice, everything leads us to believe that she really did start those rumours. However, Lain refuses to believe anything she’s seeing. She knows that this couldn’t be her; she would never do such a thing to Alice. But who is Lain really?
As the episode starts, we see a series of images from Roswell while a voice over gives a brief description of the incident. Lain searches the Wired to find a way to “undo” what has happened. When she meets the voice again, she asks it about her own origins and the voice tells her that since its creation, she has always been in the Wired. The scene then changes to an image of an older man who, we are told, is Vannebar Bush. In 1945, he invented and developed MEMEX, a system which could record information on microfilm and then project it onto a screen. This system was in fact the ancestor of the modern day computer and Navi. We now see Lain in Cyberia where JJ hands her an envelope containing a computer chip. Once more the scene shifts and we now learn that a man names John C. Lilly once conducted a series of eccentric experiments trying to connect his consciousness with cosmic entities. He called his cosmic guides E.C.C.O. for Earth Coincidence Control Office. Back at the club, Lain convinces Tado to come back to her place. Once there, she forces him to tell her all he knows about the Knights and the computer chip. All he can tell her is that the chip contains some form of volatile memory that can override existing memory. Ted Nelson, a scientist who studied under Bush and Lilly, proposed to store large electronic libraries on satellites so that they could be accessible by anyone from anywhere on Earth. This concept later took the form of Hypertext. We know that the Earth itself emits a constant resonance called the Shuman Resonance. We also know that the number of humans on Earth is rapidly approaching that of the neurons in the brain. Taking these two things into account, Dr Douglas Rushkoff proposed that the consciousness of the Earth itself could be awakened if all creatures on earth became somehow connected and could be brought to resonate at the same frequency. Lain states that there can only be one truth and one God. A voice answers her: “yes, me…”
Finally, we learn that a man named Masami Eiri wrote an essay stipulating that all humanity could become connected on an unconscious level without any kind of outside device. He decided to test his theory without the knowledge or permission of his superiors, by inserting the Shuman resonance factor into a 7th generation wired protocol. When his experiment was discovered, Eiri was fired and soon after he was found dead. Lain is looking at a strange man.
As the episodes opens, Lain is talking with the strange man from the previous episode but the dialogue is off. It’s almost as if the strange man is talking through Lain. We find out that when Eiri died, he only abandoned his body and continued to exist within the Wired. We also find out that a stock of compressed information was hidden in the Wired containing not only general data but also Eiri’s memories, thoughts and feelings. This way, he could essentially live forever. The conversation becomes very philosophical and “god” tries to convince Lain that she no longer needs a body. However she’s not willing to give her body up quite yet. Lain steps back into reality but she seems to have lost her place there. No one notices her at school, her desk has disappeared and even the teacher acts like she can’t see her. When she gets home, she can’t help but notice that her room has been searched but before she can assess the situation her father comes in. In the strange conversation that follows, Lain’s father tells her that he loves her but that he has to leave now. That his job is done… At this point, Lain desperately needs to understand what exactly is happening to her. Once more she believes the Knights hold all the answers unfortunately, a list of the Knights’ members has just been made public and they are getting killed one by one. Lain decides it might be time for one more confrontation with God.
Lain has created a virtual Navi in her own brain. Essentially she is now a “living” computer, able to store vast amounts of data and perform complicated protocols. When Masami Eiri warns her that loading too much information into her brain could be dangerous, she disregards his remarks. We then see a few surreal scenes in which people who should be dead are talking to Lain, trying to convince her to leave her body behind. We then see Lain talking with Alice. Once more Lain assures her that she didn’t start the rumours, that some other Lain must have but that she is working on setting things right. Lain explains that she has destroyed the boundaries between the Wired and the real world and she no longer needs any hardware to access either. Alice doesn’t understand really understand anything but when she gets to school, she realizes that no one has heard the rumour; it’s as if it never happened.
Lain is talking with everyone at school. She’s calm happy and outgoing. Alice knows she should be happy for her friend but she can’t help but feel that something is amiss. She decides to go visit Lain at home after school to get to the bottom of things. When she gets there, nobody seems to be home but she opens the door and walks in none the less. Much to her amazement, Alice notes that the house is in a pitiful state, thinking something might be wrong she hurries up the stairs to Lain’s room. Once there, she is shocked to find Lain connected to a multitude of wires. As Lain tries to calm Alice down, Eiri appears (he is invisible to Alice…) and tries to convince Lain to bring Alice into the wired. When Lain refuses, Eiri becomes very angry and starts creating a material body for himself out of nothing. This sight terrifies Alice even more but Lain remains calm and uses her own powers to destroy Eiri.
The world is at peace. We see Lain’s street and the electrical cables crisscrossing. We see students getting to school but where is Lain. It seems that Lain never actually existed.