First Serial Experiment–[Lain]–Layer 04: Society; Rumors–[Emergence of the Other]

Text version and links:

Layer 07:
Layer 08:
Also on Hulu and Funimation.

This video contains music by:
1. Julia Holter – (City Appearing)
2. Animal Collective – (Untitled)
The rest is from the Serial Experiments Lain OST.

If episode six was Serial Experiments Lain being uncharacteristically honest, episode seven is the moment when the series truly opens up. Right from the beginning, Lain outright states that the Wired version of herself is getting away from her, and throughout the episode she is pretty declarative of the thoughts and feelings that had until now been mostly subtextual. It’s as if the show were trying to make sure that if you hadn’t figured out the most important things about Lain’s character yet, now you’d have the chance to catch up. This is necessary because in this episode, the focus changes from being solely on Lain, and opens up to a broader view of [Society~Layer 07].

A lot of this episode is spent showing us the Knights in their real physical bodies, and giving us more information on what they are, and how society perceives them. Given the time that this show was made, it probably would’ve been pretty shocking to see that members of the super hacker group would be as much housewives and big business gurus as they would be net-otaku and crazy people. That this seems utterly plausible to us now is another sign of how far ahead of its time Lain truly was.

We also finally get to learn more of the relevance of the dudes in black suits who’ve been monitoring Lain since the beginning. They appear to be a faction that opposes the Knights, viewing them as more threatening than simply anarchist punks who think a prank is a revolution. No seriously, how did Konaka predict Anonymous so well?

When Lain is confronted with a bunch of questions about her family and background, which are no doubt important things for the audience to start thinking about as the series continues, we witness a surprising development in the way Lain transitions between her two personas. After being driven into shock by the questioning, there is a definitive moment of transformation from soft Lain to hard Lain, which suggests that Lain may indeed suffer some kind of dissociative identity disorder. This would explain why Lain always locks up when asked about her actions as hard Lain–it’s possible that she’s vaguely aware of the fact that she has multiple personalities, but doesn’t share the same memories or thoughts between those two personalities. Lain’s innocent persona may then not be an act, but an entirely different manifestation of her consciousness.

Shit just got real. Episode eight is where the drama gets ramped up, and everything we’ve learned throughout the series about Lain and the dual nature of her existence comes to an emotional head. Lain has her first real encounter with the God of the Wired, who explains that he and Lain are one and the same–an omnipresence within the Wired. And with the supposition that the wired is laid over and interacts with the physical world, this essentially means outright omnipresence in the physical world.

This episode shows that, just as Lain can create a version of herself in the Wired in full range and full motion, so to can her Wired self create a version of herself in the physical world in full range and full motion. At this stage, even though both of these entities are Lain, they are effectively completely different Lains with their own motivations and personalities. Moreover, with the overlapping of the Wired and the physical world, there’s no reason that Lains couldn’t make constant reproductions of themselves ad infinitum.

Lain’s Wired self, which may indeed be an omnipresence in the Wired and therefore essentially IS the Wired, seems to be intent on teaching Lain a sort of lesson by trolling her in this episode. At once, she takes away Lain’s anchor to the real world by doing cruel things to Alice, and Lain in turn. Through this, she finds a way to show Lain her real power and make her act upon it, only to remind her right afterwards of how this proves her lack of singularity. It seems that the idea here is to convince Lain that her physical self is somehow less “real” than the version of herself that exists in the Wired, and that once she can grasp this, she will achieve unparalleled power.

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