Mindbender marathon: Lain/Kon/Ōtomo simulwatch

WMD

Death Scythe
It was, yeah. I don't know about you, dude, but that reminded me somewhat of the bare-bones minimalism of the final episode of Evangelion. In fact...
Yeah that's true. I get the feeling the creators of this were big fans of what those last 2 episodes did. It also reminds me of the opening scene of Noein where the characters become very fluid and then the colour drains as they become sketches in the explosion.


Absolutely so, and Lain as a series is pretty unflinching in the atmosphere it wants to create, to the point that it can be so cold as to be actually frigid, like in that very scene.

Honestly, I find myself admiring creations that stick to their guns like that — there's this, there's Eva, obviously (both the original and Rebuild), survival series Gantz... and another recent one that I feel like I want to mention is The Dragon Dentist. That's prepared to go to some pretty dark places during its final act, and I really can't help but applaud the creative freedom of that.
Absolutely. I'd also include shows like Texhnolyze and From the New World as shows that just build an atmosphere just you just feel like you cant escape. I also feel like the early noughties was a time when anime was allowed to go a bit wierd. Ergo Proxy, Noein, Stand Alone Complex, Gilgamesh, Texhnolyze are all pretty out there shows in their own ways.
 

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
I get the feeling the creators of this were big fans of what those last 2 episodes did.
Yeah, I get exactly that same sense. Lain delivers the phycology without the giant robots, just like the last two episodes of Eva.

I haven't seen Noein, and I haven't seen From the New World, but I always hear good things about that one.

For the sake of keeping up with this simulwatch, I actually watched Lain episode 9 yesterday, and funnily enough the post I typed up mentions Ergo Proxy. 😯
 

WMD

Death Scythe
I haven't seen Noein, and I haven't seen From the New World, but I always hear good things about that one.
Noein is one of all time favourite animes. It's a quantum mechanics sci fi that stretches the concept to borderline magic. There's one set of characters living a dark gritty life and another set of tweens having a SOL drama/comedy and the two worlds get smashed together.

From the new world is very good. I've only seen it the once and need to give it a rewatch but I remember it being very different to what I expected and very unique in the way its built its world. Well worth a watch.
 

WMD

Death Scythe
Lain 9

Theres a very interesting discussion on truth and fact vs fiction going on in this episode. The little narrated history asides really playing with this idea. Starting with the Roswell incident, a famous conspiracy theory where we dont know the truth of what happened naturally leading into asides about real scientists (I'm not sure if everything in these middle ones is factual but I'm sure wiki could shed some light on that) which then blend into the history of the world of the story. Which is fact from the point of view of the shows internal dialogue but is a fiction for us, the viewer.

Lains own story in the epsiode also nicely dissects this idea. This comes to the fore when shes discussing things with Taro about the truth of what's going on and Taro mentions that the truth has power. But the knights plan is built on memory manipulation and creating a new truth from falsehoods.

Then we see the first meeting of Lain and her family we now know she isnt a true member of the family and Lain has to face herself and wonder if she herself is a lie. Earlier in the epsidoe we see how the lie of Lain as a member of the family has destroyed their lives all 3 being empty shells. You cant help but wonder if they'd worked a bit harder to make Lain a true member of their family things might have turned out better for them.
 

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
Another pre-prepared post before rebuttal. 😁

Serial Experiments Lain
Layer 09: Protocol

The Earth has its own specific electromagnetic waves. Between the ionosphere and the Earth's surface there is a constant resonance at a frequency of 8Hz in the ELF [Extremely Low Frequency] band. This is called the Schumann Resonance. ... The Earth's population is approaching that of the number of neurons in the human brain. Douglas Rushkoff proposed that the consciousness of Earth itself might be awakened when all humans on Earth become collectively networked.

"There's something strange about you; that's for sure. That's why the Knights are so interested. The Knights are users who are fighting to make the only truth there is into reality."


This is a real curveball of an episode, and displays something of a split personality, much like Lain herself. On one hand we have the main animated story, with some musings on the "one truth" and on God. On the other hand we have some pretty challenging content involving a handful of interconnected scientific theories that take us from a crashed alien craft allegedly discovered in 1947, through the earliest concepts of compressed data storage, information networks in the pre-computing age, and then right up to date with uncertainties for the future. These segments trace their chain of events using a striking mix of archive footage and old photographs, cut together with on-screen text and narration.

The way it wears its intellectualism on its sleeve reminds me somewhat of an interesting short animation by Studio 4°C called Limit Cycle which was released as part of their Genius Party anthology. It also can't help but put me in mind of that brilliantly unexpected quiz show episode of Ergo Proxy. That was another highly original way to pause the action in order to slip some detailed exposition right under the viewer's nose where it's too close to be possible to see the full picture at that point. Exgo Proxy is every bit another anime that seeks to provide some compelling ponderings on the nature of identity and the self.

Moving into the sphere of human psychology from there, if you want to look for Evangelion parallels, Lain's looping, "Click, click... memory check" mantra is her equivalent of Shinji's "Target in the centre, pull the switch." Both scenes show their respective protagonists' tired and worn faces lit only by the glow of the computer monitor in front of them, dark shadows under their eyes.

To finally come back to the chain of events laid out in the semi-live action sequences, and linking their documentary fact back into the fiction of the main story, we see that the identity of the mystery man whom Lain comes face to face with at the very end of the episode can be none other than...


P.S. This episode also provided an unintentional indirect explanation for the title of the Sega Megadrive game Ecco the Dolphin. Who'd have thought? 😅
 

WMD

Death Scythe
The way it wears its intellectualism on its sleeve reminds me somewhat of an interesting short animation by Studio 4°C called Limit Cycle which was released as part of their Genius Party anthology. It also can't help but put me in mind of that brilliantly unexpected quiz show episode of Ergo Proxy. That was another highly original way to pause the action in order to slip some detailed exposition right under the viewer's nose where it's too close to be possible to see the full picture at that point. Exgo Proxy is every bit another anime that seeks to provide some compelling ponderings on the nature of identity and the self.
That Ergo Proxy epsiode is just a joy and I'm so glad it exists. It's so weird that the first time you watch it you cant enjoy it. You're just thrown through a loop of what is happening?! But on rewatches it works so well. It's like the Tachikoma chatting episodes in GITS. You can only really enjoy them properly the 2nd or 3rd time.

I'm currently watching Revolutionary Girl Utena (which has a glorious mix of drama, ubsurdist surrealism, and an wonderfully over stylised visual aesthetic) but next on my watch pile is Genius Party so looking forward to that.
 

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
That Ergo Proxy epsiode is just a joy and I'm so glad it exists.
God, it really is; so am I. It's actually got to be one of my favourite individual episodes of anime.

It's like the Tachikoma chatting episodes in GITS.
You know, I've never been that big on GitS, but I've heard of this, and I won't deny that I might fancy seeing those some day. 🤔

next on my watch pile is Genius Party so looking forward to that.
Oh, nice one. 😀
Will you tag me if you write a post on it? I'd be keen to read it.

I once did a personal ranking here of all the Genius Party shorts and invited others to have a go too, but no-one ever did. 😅
Though I seem to remember looking back at it at some point and thinking that I should've put one of them higher up than where I originally did. Fun fact: my favourite out of all of them is the one that UK anime magazine NEO decried as "pointless". It really is that subjective!

Shouldn't be too hard to unearth that old list of mine. Maybe we can compare notes or something. 😁
 

WMD

Death Scythe
Although I know about the enigma machine it still always astounds me the what would become computing was started during WWII. It always feels like a very 80/90s thing but it all started 40 yrs earlier.
 

HWR

CCG’s Reaper
AUKN Staff
Layer 9: Protocol

Not much to say that hasn’t already been summarised well above but I like a bit of fact vs fiction discussion and the Roswell stuff has always intrigued me.
 

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
Starting with the Roswell incident, a famous conspiracy theory where we dont know the truth of what happened
the Roswell stuff has always intrigued me.
It must be pretty clear by now that I'm a rather big fan of this series, but...

Did anyone else find the alien angle and in particular the sighting of one in Lain's doorway to be really quite out of place? It feels to me like trying to play to the X Files crowd, like they're aiming to cover all bases and maybe hook in a few extra viewers from a separate fanbase. It just feels a bit shoehorned in to me.
 

HWR

CCG’s Reaper
AUKN Staff
It must be pretty clear by now that I'm a rather big fan of this series, but...

Did anyone else find the alien angle and in particular the sighting of one in Lain's doorway to be really quite out of place? It feels to me like trying to play to the X Files crowd, like they're aiming to cover all bases and maybe hook in a few extra viewers from a separate fanbase. It just feels a bit shoehorned in to me.
I was more thrown off by its Freddy Krueger sweater to be honest.
 

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
I was more thrown off by its Freddy Krueger sweater to be honest.
I didn't even draw the connection with that! 😆
That's another group of fans they're seeking to please, I guess!

###

Episode 10, then?

Serial Experiments Lain
Layer 10: Love

"Dad...?"

"This is goodbye, Miss Lain."


This is the first time that I've clocked this, but Eiri's body and clothes are actually taped/bandaged where they are because they must've been mangled or even severed during his death, aren't they? I'm guessing he must've lain perpendicular across the railway track. 😬
I realised it right at the start of the episode.

When I first watched this, I had naturally thought that Eiri was just tracing over Lain's thoughts when he first speaks, but no: their relative consciousnesses have actually swapped locations. What's not at all brought across by the subtitles, though, is that Eiri is talking in Lain's more forceful mode of speech that we've seen her use in the Wired — the same thing we immediately hear when she regains her own persona at the end of the conversation. (I can't comment on how it's handled in the dub, of course.)

She has now lost her place in the world, though. She goes to homeroom at school as normal, but her friends do not acknowledge her. She goes to her desk, but it's not there anymore. She isn't needed in the real world.

She goes back to the place she once knew as home. It's deserted — a sad scene of discarded possessions and withered houseplants, dying of neglect. She makes a move to maybe tidy the old place up a bit, but spots her former father standing in the doorway of the room that her sist— sorry, that Mika used to use. Eyes down, he speaks to Lain in the same polite terms that he would address a stranger and bids her farewell, even though he wasn't actually given official clearance to do so. She does not need him anymore, it has been decided. All that is left now is to dole out the stock pleasantries and take his leave. He assures Lain that he did love her, though, while at the same time admitting that he may have been just a touch jealous of a being like her.

Lain pleads him not to leave; she's scared of being alone. Without turning to look back, he assures her that she most certainly is not: if she were to connect to the Wired, everyone will come to greet her. That's the kind of being she is. And with the click of the front door closing echoing in Lain's ears, he is gone.

Under crackling circuit board skies, a Lain is furious. She is furious at the people who created her fake self, (and) furious at the Knights.

At the same time, someone has leaked a complete list of Knights members onto a site called Net News. The business exec's name is on it, and the two agents immediately arrive and subdue him before he can flee. His secretary is the one who finds the body. The fat computer otaku from an earlier episode is another victim, as is the single mother, her coffee apparently poisoned. The deaths are reported online as suicides.

The agents pay Lain a visit next, in her room. She cuts a pitiful figure, draped in cables and connected directly to the Wired by a clip attached to her bottom lip. They inform her that her list was most useful in allowing their comrades to eliminate the Knights' global network. The leave her be with the admission that they have no idea exactly what kind of existence she is.

Lost and confused, outside in the bracing wind and harsh daylight, a dazed Lain finally hears the awful truth, imparted directly by the God of the Wired Himself, Masami Eiri: Lain originally came into being in the Wired, and the Lain we know, our Lain, is no more than a genetically engineered construct to bring that consciousness out of the Wired and into the real world. Eiri was the mastermind behind this. At that revelation, Lain brings the power lines crashing down all around her. Hell hath no fury like a human born.
 

WMD

Death Scythe
Lain 10

This is a pretty strange episode. After all the technological paranoia of the series as a whole we end up waxing philosophical about religion and Gods. It did put me in mind of the Knights Templar so kinda made sense when later in the epsidoe it confirmed that the Knights are just the modern iteration of them. But I also felt it pretty apt that the episode ended with Lain stating "Like it even matters what's real anymore!" Like the show is saying yes the plot has just got out hand but no, were not gona do anything about it.

Having an Alice avatar voice Lains fear of not being needed anymore in the classroom was pretty brutal. Shes been an anchor for Lain and now shes firmly adrift. The lonely walk through the house really cementing this. Though I did like the dad coming back to give her some closure on that front in the end it feels like hes doing it more for himself or out of obligation that to try and help her. It is interesting that he calls Lain a human with free will and implies no one else does.

Also the MIB telling Lain he loves her was so weird. What was that? Is it in the Japanese? Equally nonsensical and creepy. And the other one just sniggering afterwards
 

HWR

CCG’s Reaper
AUKN Staff
Layer 10: Love

All you need is love...and technologically-fuelled paranoia with a healthy dose of existential crisis’.
 

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
Also the MIB telling Lain he loves her was so weird. What was that? Is it in the Japanese? Equally nonsensical and creepy.
There is a point to it, but you'll have to wait for another episode to find out. I can't even remember myself whether it's put across clearly or whether we're left to make the connection ourselves. Too much to try to remember! 😛

And it is in the original Japanese, yes.
 

D1tchd1gger

Claymore
I can't comment on how it's handled in the dub, of course.
Eiri is talking in Lain's more forceful mode of speech
She uses the quieter tone until she snaps.
genetically engineered construct to bring that consciousness out of the Wired and into the real world.
Dub goes with the real world Lain being a hologram.
I've only just finished watching and can't remember exactly, but I'm pretty sure those are correct observations. If I'm not watching for certain things I don't always remember and, of course, being my first time didn't want to spoil it for myself to know others thoughts/questions.
Currently watching football so can't go back right now, maybe @WMD can recall?
 

WMD

Death Scythe
Dub goes with the real world Lain being a hologram.
They definitely say that at one point. Cant remember if any conflicting explanations are given but I dont think so.

From reading @Neil.T description of the episode this one seems to have had the biggest divergence from the sub to dub. Or at least stuff seems to been lost in translation especially in the God/Lain discussion parts if the episode.

This part for instance I got no sense of:
When I first watched this, I had naturally thought that Eiri was just tracing over Lain's thoughts when he first speaks, but no: their relative consciousnesses have actually swapped locations.
To me they just talking about religious theory.

This epsiode was definitely the least coherent for me in terms of its message. It was still well acted and individual scenes like the father one were very good but I'm getting the feeling the script writer for this epsidoe dropped the ball a bit.
 

Neil.T

Chuunibyou
She uses the quieter tone.
Interesting. Or... I wonder if I could've explained myself more clearly. 🤔

Eiri speaks in a quiet tone in Japanese as well, but it's the phrasing that marks this out as the more direct Lain. He/she uses elements of female speech that Lain only uses in the Wired, rather than her stuttering, more hesitant real-world mode of talking.

Fun fact: Eiri's Japanese VA is Show Hayami, who was travelling priest Wolfwood in Trigun.

Dub goes with the real world Lain being a hologram.
The dub is the same as the original Japanese there, then. 🤔
The subtitles first use the word "hologram" but then has Eiri define real-world Lain as "a homunculus of artificial ribosomes".

Not sure if this first bit could work out at all spoilery or not, so I'll blur it:

The concept of an artificial personality who originated in a digital environment being biologically recreated in the real world and going on to influence it to a great degree is very similar to the central idea of Japanese author Koji Suzuki's novel Loop. The book is the third in a series that began with Ring and Spiral and was published in Japan in 1998, the same year as Lain's broadcast. (These coincidences, eh?) And yes, that's the very same Ring that was adapted into a J-horror film around that same time. The novel is rather different from the film, though.

To me they just talking about religious theory.
Hehh, really? 😯
I'll need to have a look at that scene in the dub, then.
 

D1tchd1gger

Claymore
their relative consciousnesses have actually swapped locations.
To me they just talking about religious theory.
That bit was just weird at first. Why are they speaking in each others voices? I suppose there could be something to read into it, but maybe Eiri was just doing it to annoy Lain. Seems a bit of an edgelord, "ha I'm God because I put my consciousness on the Wired and then I created a "child", aren't I clever :smug_face:"
 
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