Serial Experiments Lain

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Serial Experiments Lain
Serial Experiments Lain DVD vol 1.jpg
North American cover of the first DVD volume from Pioneer featuring titular character Lain Iwakura.
(Shiriaru Ekusuperimentsu Rein)
Genre Cyberpunk, psychological horror, science fiction, drama, mystery
Anime television series
Directed by Ryūtarō Nakamura
Produced by Yasuyuki Ueda
Shojiro Abe
Written by Chiaki J. Konaka
Music by Reichi Nakaido
Studio Triangle Staff
Pioneer LDC
Licensed by
Pioneer Entertainment (1999-2007)
Funimation (2012-present)
Network TV Tokyo (1998)
English network
Original run July 6, 1998September 28, 1998
Episodes 13 (List of episodes)
Developer Pioneer LDC
Publisher Pioneer LDC
Platform PlayStation
Released November 26, 1998
The Nightmare of Fabrication
Written by Yoshitoshi ABe
Published May 1999
Anime and Manga portal

Serial Experiments Lain (シリアルエクスペリメンツレイン Shiriaru Ekusuperimentsu Rein?) is an avant-garde anime series directed by Ryutaro Nakamura, with character design by Yoshitoshi ABe, screenplay written by Chiaki J. Konaka, and produced by Yasuyuki Ueda for Triangle Staff. It was broadcast on TV Tokyo from July to September 1998. The series is influenced by themes such as reality, identity, and communication,[1] and it demonstrates them by using philosophy, computer history, cyberpunk literature, and conspiracy theory.


The series focuses on Lain Iwakura, an adolescent girl living in suburban Japan, and her introduction to the Wired, a global communications network similar to the Internet. Lain lives with her middle-class family, which consists of her inexpressive older sister Mika, her emotionally distant mother, and her computer-obsessed father. Lain herself is somewhat awkward, introverted, and socially isolated from most of her school peers, but the status-quo of her life becomes upturned by a series of bizarre incidents which start to take place after she learns that girls from her school have received an e-mail from Chisa Yomoda, a schoolmate who had committed suicide. When Lain receives the message herself at home, Chisa tells her that she is not dead, but has merely "abandoned her physical body and flesh", and is alive deep within the virtual reality-world of the Wired itself where she has found the almighty and divine God. From this point, Lain is caught up in a series of cryptic and surreal events that see her delving deeper into the mystery of the network in a narrative that explores themes of consciousness, perception, and the nature of reality.

The 'Wired' is a virtual reality-world that contains and supports the very sum of all human communication and networks, created with the telegraph, televisions, and telephone services, and expanded with the Internet, cyberspace, and subsequent networks. The series assumes that the Wired could be linked to a system that enables unconscious communication between people and machines without physical interface. The storyline introduces such a system with the Schumann resonance, a property of the Earth's magnetic field that theoretically allows for unhindered long distance communications. If such a link was created, the network would become equivalent to Reality as the general consensus of all perceptions and knowledge. The increasingly thin invisible line between what is real and what is virtual/digital begins to slowly shatter.

Masami Eiri is introduced as the project director on Protocol Seven (the next generation internet protocol in the series' time-frame) for major computer company Tachibana General Laboratories. He had secretly included code of his very own creation to give himself absolute control of the Wired through the wireless system described above. He then "uploaded" his own brain, conscience, consciousness, memory, feelings, emotions; his very self into the Wired and "died" a few days after, leaving only his physical, living body behind. These details are unveiled around the middle of the series, but this is the point where the story of Serial Experiments Lain begins. Masami later explains that Lain is the artifact by which the wall between the virtual and material worlds is to fall, and that he needs her to get to the Wired and "abandon the flesh", as he did, to achieve his plan. The series sees him trying to convince her through interventions, using the promise of unconditional love, romantic seduction and charm, and even, when all else fails, threats and force.

In the meantime, the anime follows a complex game of hide-and-seek between the "Knights of the Eastern Calculus", hackers whom Masami claims are "believers that enable him to be a God in the Wired", and Tachibana General Laboratories, who try to regain control of Protocol Seven. In the end, the viewer sees Lain realizing, after much introspection, that she has absolute control over everyone's mind and over reality itself. Her dialogue with different versions of herself shows how she feels shunned from the material world, and how she is afraid to live in the Wired, where she has the possibilities and responsibilities of an almighty goddess. The last scenes feature her erasing everything connected to herself from everyone's memories. She is last seen, unchanged, encountering her oldest and closest friend Arisu once again, who is now married. Lain promises herself that she and Arisu will surely meet again anytime as Lain can literally go and be anywhere she desires between both worlds.


Lain Iwakura (岩倉 玲音 Iwakura Rein?)
Voiced by: Kaori Shimizu (Japanese), Ruby Marlowe (English)
The titular character of the series. Lain is a fourteen-year-old girl who uncovers her true nature through the series. She is first depicted as a shy junior high school student with few friends or interests. She later grows multiple, bolder personalities, both in the physical and Wired worlds. As the series progresses, she eventually comes to discover that she is, in reality, merely an autonomous and sentient software computer program in the physical and corporeal form of a human being, designed to sever the invisible barrier between the Wired and real worlds. In the end, Lain is challenged to accept herself as a de facto goddess for the Wired, having become an omnipotent and omnipresent computerized, virtual being, with worshipers of her own, and a nature allowing her to exist without constraints from devices, time, or space.
Masami Eiri (英利 政美 Eiri Masami?)
Voiced by: Shō Hayami (Japanese), Sparky Thornton (English)
The key designer of Protocol Seven. While working for Tachibana General Laboratories, he illicitly included code enabling him to control the whole protocol at will and embedded his own mind and will, subconsciousness, conscience, thoughts, feelings and emotions into the seventh protocol. Consequently, he was fired by Tachibana General Laboratories and was soon found dead on a railway. He believes that the only way for humans to evolve even further and develop even greater abilities is to utterly absolve themselves from their physical and human limitations and live as digital virtual entities/avatars in the Wired for eternity. He claims to have been Lain's creator all along but was in truth standing in for another who was waiting for the Wired world to reach its more evolved current state and form.
Yasuo Iwakura (岩倉 康男 Iwakura Yasuo?)
Voiced by: Ryūsuke Ōbayashi (Japanese), Gil Starberry (English)
Passionate about computers and electronic communication, he is shown as working with Masami Eiri at Tachibana General Laboratories. He subtly pushes Lain, his "youngest daughter", towards the Wired and monitors her development until she becomes more and more aware of herself and her reason of existence in the Wired itself. He eventually leaves her, telling her that he did not enjoy playing a family, but truly did love and care about her as a true father would. He seems eager to lure her into the Wired, but warns her not to get overly involved in it and not confuse it with the real world.
Miho Iwakura (岩倉 ミホ Iwakura Miho?)
Voiced by: Rei Igarashi (Japanese), Celeste Burch (English)
Lain's mother, a caring housewife and mother. She always dotes on Mika, but treats Lain indifferently. Like her husband, she also leaves Lain and wasn't really a part of the family.
Alice Mizuki (瑞城 ありす Mizuki Arisu?)
Voiced by: Yōko Asada (Japanese), Emily Brown (English)
Lain's classmate and her only true and closest friend throughout the series, Alice is a devoted confidante and has a simple, sincere personality. She is the first to attempt to help Lain socialize by taking her to a nightclub, and from this point always tries to protect and take care of her. Lain considers Alice as her only real and closest friend. Alice is introduced as the shyest part of a junior high school trio, but her character development shows a fearless dedication to her friends. Alice, along with her two best friends Juri and Reika, were taken by Chiaki Konaka from his previous work, "Alice in Cyberland".
Mika Iwakura (岩倉 美香 Iwakura Mika?)
Voiced by: Ayako Kawasumi (Japanese), Patricia Ja Lee (English)
Lain's older sister, an apathetic 16-year-old student who casually picks on her little sister's habits and behavior. Mika is considered by Anime Revolution to be the only normal member of Lain's family:[2] She sees her boyfriend in love hotels, is on a diet, and shops in Shibuya. At a certain point in the series, her consciousness is seriously damaged by violent hallucinations: While Lain begins freely delving into the Wired, Mika is taken there by her proximity to Lain and gets stuck between the physical world and the Wired.[3]
Taro (タロウ Tarō?)
Voiced by: Keito Takimoto (Japanese), Ian Hawk (English)
A young boy of about Lain's age, who occasionally works for the Knights to bring forth "the one truth". He has not yet been made a member, and is unaware of their full intentions. Taro loves virtual reality video games and hangs out all day at the Cyberia night-club with his friends, Myu-Myu and Masayuki. He uses special technology, such as custom Handi Navi and video goggles. Taro takes pride in his internet anonymity and asks Lain for a date with her Wired self in exchange for information.
Office Worker
Voiced by: Shigeru Chiba (Japanese), Richard Plantagenet (English)
A top executive from Tachibana General Laboratories who has his own agenda, which he carries out through the use of the Men in Black. He looks forward to the arrival of a real God through the Wired, and is the man behind the Knights' mass assassination. He is aware of many hidden facts about Lain, but is more inclined to ask questions than to reveal anything.
Men in Black
Karl Haushofer (カール・ハウスホッファ Kāru Hausuhoffa?), Voiced by: Takumi Yamazaki (Japanese), James Lyon (English)
Lin Sui-Xi (Chinese: 林 随錫; pinyin: Lín Suí-Xī), Voiced by: Jōji Nakata (Japanese), Robert Wicks (English)
Both men work for the above "Office Worker" in tracking down and murdering all of the members of the Knights. They are not told the true plan, but they know that Masami Eiri is somehow involved, despite having been "killed." They think that an almighty, all-powerful god is not needed in the Wired, nor is Lain.


Serial Experiments Lain was conceived, as a series, to be original to the point of it being considered "an enormous risk" by its producer Yasuyuki Ueda.[4]

Producer Ueda had to answer repeated queries about a statement made in an Animerica interview.[3][5][6] The controversial statement said Lain was "a sort of cultural war against American culture and the American sense of values we [Japan] adopted after World War II".[7] He later explained in numerous interviews that he created Lain with a set of values he took as distinctly Japanese; he hoped Americans would not understand the series as the Japanese would. This would lead to a "war of ideas" over the meaning of the anime, hopefully culminating in new communication between the two cultures. When he discovered that the American audience held the same views on the series as the Japanese, he was disappointed.[6]

The Lain franchise was originally conceived to connect across forms of media (anime, video games, manga). Producer Yasuyuki Ueda said in an interview, "the approach I took for this project was to communicate the essence of the work by the total sum of many media products." The scenario for the video game was written first, and the video game was produced at the same time as the anime series, though the series was released first. A doujinshi named "The Nightmare of Fabrication" was produced by Yoshitoshi ABe and released in Japanese in the artbook Omnipresence in The Wired. Ueda and Konaka declared in an interview that the idea of a multimedia project was not unusual in Japan, as opposed to the contents of Lain, and the way they are exposed.[8]


The authors were asked in interviews if they had been influenced by Neon Genesis Evangelion, in the themes and graphic design. This was strictly denied by writer Chiaki J. Konaka in an interview, arguing that he had not seen Evangelion until he finished the fourth episode of Lain. Being primarily a horror movies writer, his stated influences are Godard (especially for using typography on screen), The Exorcist, Hell House, and Dan Curtis's House of Dark Shadows. Alice's name, like the names of her two friends Julie and Reika, came from a previous production from Konaka, Alice in Cyberland, which in turn was largely influenced by Alice in Wonderland. As the series developed, Konaka was "surprised" by how close Alice's character became to the original Wonderland character.[9]

A young girl in a white shift sits with her back to us in the dark, focusing her attention on many glowing computer screens which surround her.
Lain's custom computer features holographic displays and liquid carbon dioxide cooling.

Vannevar Bush (and Memex), John C. Lilly, Timothy Leary and his 8-Circuit Model of Consciousness, Ted Nelson and Project Xanadu are cited as precursors to the Wired.[8] Douglas Rushkoff and his book Cyberia were originally to be cited as such,[3] and in Lain Cyberia became the name of a nightclub populated with hackers and techno-punk teenagers. Likewise, the series' Deus ex machina lies in the conjunction of the Schumann resonance and Jung's collective unconscious (the authors chose this term over Kabbalah and Akashic Record).[7] Majestic 12 and the Roswell UFO incident are used as examples of how a hoax might still have an impact on history, even after having been exposed as such, by creating sub-cultures.[7] This links again to Vannevar Bush, the alleged "brains" of MJ12. Two of the literary references in Lain are quoted through Lain's father: he first logs onto a website with the password "Think Bule Count One Tow" ("Think Blue, Count Two" is an Instrumentality of Man story featuring virtual persons projected as real ones in people's minds);[10] and his saying that "madeleines would be good with the tea" in the last episode makes Lain "perhaps the only cartoon to allude to Proust".[11][12]

Character design[edit]

A young girl in a white shift kneels facing us with scissors in her hand, and hanks of her own hair on the ground, leaving one forelock uncut. The background is blue.
ABe came up with Lain's hair by imagining Lain cutting it herself and making a ponytail of what was left.[5] This was later included in his Omnipresence in the Wired artbook.[13]

Yoshitoshi ABe confesses to have never read manga as a child, as it was "off-limits" in his household.[14] His major influences are "nature and everything around him".[3] Specifically speaking about Lain‍‍ '​‍s character, ABe was inspired by Kenji Tsuruta, Akihiro Yamada, Range Murata, and Yukinobu Hoshino.[5] In a broader view, he has been influenced in his style and technique by Japanese artists Chinai-san and Tabuchi-san.[3]

The character design of Lain was not ABe's sole responsibility. Her distinctive left forelock for instance was a demand from Yasuyuki Ueda. The goal was to produce asymmetry to reflect Lain's unstable and disconcerting nature.[15] It was designed as a mystical symbol, as it is supposed to prevent voices and spirits from being heard by the left ear.[5] The bear pajamas she wears were a demand from character animation director Takahiro Kishida. Though bears are a trademark of the Konaka brothers, Chiaki Konaka first opposed the idea.[9] Director Nakamura then explained how the bear motif could be used as a shield for confrontations with her family. It is a key element of the design of the shy "real world" Lain (see "mental illness" under themes).[9] When she first goes to the Cyberia night club, she wears a bear hat for similar reasons.[15] The pajamas were finally considered as possible fan-service by Konaka, in the way they enhance Lain's nymph aspect.[9]

ABe's original design was generally more complicated than what finally appeared on screen. As an example, the X-shaped hairclip was to be an interlocking pattern of gold links. The links would open with a snap, or rotate around an axis until the moment the " X " became a " = ". This was not used as there is no scene where Lain takes her hairclip off.[16]


Serial Experiments Lain is not a conventionally linear story, but "an alternative anime, with modern themes and realization".[17] Themes range from theological to psychological and are dealt with in a number of ways: from classical dialogue to image-only introspection, passing by direct interrogation of imaginary characters.

Communication, in its wider sense, is one of the main themes of the series,[18] not only as opposed to loneliness, but also as a subject in itself. Writer Konaka said he wanted to directly "communicate human feelings". Director Nakamura wanted to show the audience — and particularly viewers between 14 and 15 — "the multidimensional wavelength of the existential self: the relationship between self and the world".[8]

Loneliness, if only as representing a lack of communication, is recurrent through Lain.[19] Lain herself (according to Anime Jump) is "almost painfully introverted with no friends to speak of at school, a snotty, condescending sister, a strangely apathetic mother, and a father who seems to want to care but is just too damn busy to give her much of his time".[20] Friendships turn on the first rumor;[19][21] and the only insert song of the series is named Kodoku no shigunaru, literally "signal of loneliness".[22]

A series of drawings depicting the different personalities of Lain – the first shows shy body language, the second shows bolder body language, and the third grins in an unhinged fashion.
The different personalities of Lain have their names written using different scripts.

Mental illness, especially dissociative identity disorder, is a significant theme in Lain:[16] the main character is constantly confronted with alter-egos, to the point where writer Chiaki Konaka and Lain's voice actress Kaori Shimizu had to agree on subdividing the character's dialogues between three different orthographs.[16] The three names designate distinct "versions" of Lain: the real-world, "childish" Lain has a shy attitude and bear pajamas. The "advanced" Lain, her Wired personality, is bold and questioning. Finally, the "evil" Lain is sly and devious, and does everything she can to harm Lain or the ones close to her.[9] As a writing convention, the authors spelled their respective names in kanji, katakana, and roman characters (see picture).[23]

Reality never has the pretense of objectivity in Lain.[24] Acceptations of the term are battling throughout the series, such as the "natural" reality, defined through normal dialogue between individuals; the material reality; and the tyrannic reality, enforced by one person onto the minds of others.[19] A key debate to all interpretations of the series is to decide whether matter flows from thought, or the opposite.[19][25] The production staff carefully avoided "the so-called God's Eye Viewpoint" to make clear the "limited field of vision" of the world of Lain.[24]

Theology plays its part in the development of the story too. Lain has been viewed as a questioning of the possibility of an infinite spirit in a finite body.[26] From self-realization as a goddess to deicide,[11] religion (the title of a layer) is an inherent part of Lain‍‍ '​‍s background.[26]

Apple computers[edit]

Lain contains extensive references to Apple computers, as the brand was used at the time by most of the creative staff, such as writers, producers, and the graphical team.[9] As an example, the title at the beginning of each episode is announced by the Apple Computer Speech synthesis program PlainTalk, using the voice "Whisper", e.g. say -v Whisper "Weird: Layer zero one". Tachibana Industries, the company that creates the NAVI computers, is a reference to Apple computers: "tachibana" means "Mandarin orange" in Japanese. NAVI is the abbreviation of Knowledge Navigator, and the HandiNAVI is based on the Apple Newton, one of the world's first PDAs. The NAVIs are seen to run "Copland OS Enterprise" (this reference to Copland was an initiative of Konaka, a declared Apple fan),[9] and Lain's and Alice's NAVIs closely resembles the Twentieth Anniversary Macintosh and the iMac respectively. The HandiNAVI programming language, as seen on the seventh episode, is a dialect of Lisp. Notice that the Newton also used a Lisp dialect (NewtonScript). The program being typed by Lain can be found in the CMU AI repository,[27] it is a simple implementation of Conway's Game of Life in Common Lisp.

During a series of disconnected images, an iMac and the Think Different advertising slogan appears for a short time, while the Whisper voice says it.[28] This was an unsolicited insertion from the graphic team, also Mac-enthusiasts.[9] Other subtle allusions can be found: "Close the world, Open the nExt" is the slogan for the Serial Experiments Lain video game. NeXT was the company that produced NeXTSTEP, which later evolved into Mac OS X after Apple bought NeXT. Another example is "To Be Continued." at the end of episodes 1–12, with a blue "B" and a red "e" on "Be": this "Be" is the original logo of Be Inc., a company founded by ex-Apple employees and NeXT's main competitor in its time.[29]


Boxed Set, All four volumes


Serial Experiments Lain was first aired on TV Tokyo on July 6, 1998 and concluded on September 28, 1998 with the thirteenth and final episode. The series consists of 13 episodes (referred to in the series as "Layers") of 24 minutes each, except for the sixth episode, Kids (23 minutes 14 seconds). In Japan, the episodes were released in LD, VHS, and DVD with a total of five volumes. A DVD compilation named "Serial Experiments Lain DVD-BOX Яesurrection" was released along with a promo DVD called "LPR-309" in 2000.[30] As this box set is now discontinued, a rerelease was made in 2005 called "Serial Experiments Lain TV-BOX". A 4-volume DVD box set was released in the US by Pioneer/Geneon. A Blu-ray release of the anime was made on December 2009 called "Serial Experiments Lain Blu-ray Box | RESTORE".[31][32][33][34] The anime series returned to US television on October 15, 2012 on the Funimation Channel.[35] The series' opening theme, "Duvet", was written and performed by Jasmine Rodgers and the British band Bôa. The ending theme, "Distant Scream" (遠い叫び Tōi Sakebi?), was written and composed by Reichi Nakaido.

The anime series was licensed in North America by Pioneer Entertainment (later Geneon USA) on VHS, DVD and LaserDisc in 1999. However, closed its USA division in December 2007 and the series went out-of-print as a result.[36] However, at Anime Expo 2010, North American distributor Funimation announced that it had obtained the license to the series and re-released it in 2012.[37] It was also released in Singapore by Odex.

Episode list[edit]

# Title Original airdate
1 "Weird"   July 6, 1998
A high school girl kills herself from a rooftop late at night. A week later, students are getting emails from the girl named Chisa Yomoda, which claim that she only gave up her body, but is actually still alive inside the virtual world called the Wired, saying that there is a God that exists there. After getting one of these emails, the introverted fourteen-year-old Lain Iwakura becomes much more interested in computers and asks her techie father, Yasuo Iwakura, for a new NAVI computer system. When she returns to school the following day, the blackboard writes a subliminal message, inviting her to come to the Wired as soon as she can, revealed to be written by Chisa herself. 
2 "Girls"   July 13, 1998
In the hardcore techno club named Cyberia, a man buys a nanomachine drug called Accela. On the way to school the next day, Alice Mizuki, along with her friends Julie and Reika, tell Lain they saw her during their first visit to Cyberia, but with a far more vigorous and forceful personality. When she comes home in the afternoon, she has Yasuo set up her NAVI computer system in the evening. After some persuasion, Lain decides to join Alice at Cyberia that night to prove that she was not there before. However, Lain becomes involved with a shooting in the club by the same man under the influence of Accela. She approaches the man, saying that everyone is connected in the Wired no matter where they are. This leads the man to shoot himself out of psychological shock and trauma. 
3 "Psyche"   July 20, 1998
The following day, Lain is scolded by her cold mother, Miho Iwakura, for waking up too late. When she leaves the house, she believes she is being spied on when she sees a black car parked near her house. Furthermore, she hears a voice calling out to her when she enters the train, telling her that she is not alone. Her life is thrown into further disarray when she is anonymously sent a mysterious computer chip, asking about it to her father at home, who has no idea. When she goes to see Taro, with his friends Myu-Myu and Masayuki, at Cyberia, he recalls seeing Lain on the Wired once, noting her Wired personality being the complete opposite of her restrained real world personality. Mika Iwakura, Lain's older sister, comes home the next day, only to see Lain not acting herself as she starts to modify and upgrade her NAVI computer system. 
4 "Religion"   July 27, 1998
Rumors are flying around school and on the Wired with regards to numerous senior students of various high schools committing suicide, with each of the deceased being addicted to the online action game called PHANTOMa. Interested, Lain investigates only to discover that this game was glitched with a tag game for kids, in which a little girl scares the students to their deaths. Moreover, she finds out that the deaths were most likely caused by the elite secretive hacker group known as the Knights of the Eastern Calculus. Later at night, she senses the Men in Black, who were spying on her in the black car. When she tells the two to go away, a sound wave penetrates through her window, causing the two to fall back and drive away. 
5 "Distortion"   August 3, 1998
Amidst the events surrounding Tokyo having its traffic information transmission system hacked to cause deliberate accidents, Lain experiences a series of hallucinations that are teaching her the nature of the Wired in relation to the real world, by means of inanimate objects in her room and eventually her parents. In the meantime, Mika is driven to the point of insanity due to the Knights repeatedly communicating the message through unusual ways for her to "fulfill the prophecy". At night, when Yasuo checks on Lain, he sees a dramatic change in her room arrangement and the upgrades on her NAVI computer system, which worries him. 
6 "Kids"   August 10, 1998
As Lain hangs out with Alice, along with Julie and Reika, in the district, she notices that children are looking up into the sky and are raising their arms, only to realize that they are looking at an image of herself that appears in the sky. Lain searches for the reason behind the strange happenings and finds Professor Hodgeson, the creator of KIDS. This was an experiment that started fifteen years ago that tried to gather psi energy from children and store it, though the result of the project destroyed the children. Now it seems that the Knights have gotten hold of the project's schematics. When the Men in Black return back again, Lain goes outside to see them. The coolant system in her room bursts, in which the Men in Black confirm that the Knights planted a parasite bomb there. 
7 "Society"   August 17, 1998
As Lain gets more and more involved in the Wired world, albeit at home and at school, Alice starts to worry about her about her closing up again. It is reported that the Knights cracked the firewall of the information control center of the Wired. As the activity of the Knights begins to surface, the network is in search for Lain. The Men in Black ask Lain to follow them to an office in the Tachibana General Laboratories, where the Office Worker in charge of the Men in Black, after her help of fixing his computer, shows Lain a projection of herself in the Wired taking out one of the members of the Knights. After the Office Worker deduces that Lain in the real world and in the Wired are one in the same, he questions her about her origins. However, she breaks down for not knowing, altering her timid personality to that of a more serious one before she shoves her way out of the room. 
8 "Rumors"   August 24, 1998
Lain's family has been acting weird lately, much to her surprise. Upon further investigation, Lain disbelieves that she is omnipresent in the Wired, while she is merely a body, more or less a projection of herself, in the real world. A rumor is spread in the Wired about Alice having sexual fantasies about a male teacher, and a second one says that Lain has spread the first. To cope with the distress of rejection, Lain acts directly on reality for the first time, finding out that she can "delete" the event of the rumors. A lookalike duplicate of herself with its own distinct personality starts appearing more frequently, which leads her to question her own existence. 
9 "Protocol"   August 31, 1998
Throughout the episode, background information is being shown from "archives". Information regarding the Roswell UFO incident, the Majestic 12 which was formed by president Harry S. Truman, engineer Vannevar Bush who developed what is called memex, physician John C. Lilly who conducted experiments with dolphin communication, pioneer Ted Nelson who founded Project Xanadu, and the Schumann resonances are all mentioned, explaining how the human consciousness can be communicated through a network without the use of a device. It is also noted that a man named Masami Eiri has suddenly committed suicide. During that time, Lain gets a computer microchip from J.J., the disc jockey from Cyberia. She then asks Taro on a "date" in her house to ask him about the microchip. After being scared to death, he admits it is computer code made to disrupt human memory, and it was made by the Knights. He takes their defense, but admits not knowing much about them. He kisses her before leaving, commenting that she took him out on a date. 
10 "Love"   September 7, 1998
As both are seen to have switched bodies, Eiri introduces himself to Lain as the creator of Protocol Seven, saying that Lain no longer needs to have a body in order to be alive. As she, back in her own body, comes home, Yasuo says his farewell, after realizing she knows the truth behind her existence. Eiri is considered the God of the Wired because he explained that he is worshiped by the Knights. Knowing this, Lain deals with the Knights once and for all by leaking a list of all of its members onto the Wired, leaving a trail of murder by the Men in Black and suicide in its wake. Even with the Knights gone, Eiri still claims he is the God of the Wired, since he says that the real Lain exists in the Wired, not the real world. 
11 "Infornography"   September 14, 1998
Lain lies exhausted in her room to find herself all wrapped in electrical cord. After a really long and complicated memory flashback, seen throughout the series, Eiri appears to congratulate her for having succeeded in downloading her NAVI in her own brain to see and hear all that is happening, but warns her about her "hardware capacity" and that she is merely a sentient and autonomous software computer program with a physical human body. Lain later appears to Alice in her room to make things right with her again concerning the false rumors. Lain declares that anything is possible now, as devices are no longer needed anymore to enter the Wired anymore. The next day, nobody seems to remember the rumored incidents and Lain smiles at Alice's complicity. 
12 "Landscape"   September 21, 1998
Lain witnesses the frontier between the physical and the Wired worlds finally beginning to collapse. The Men in Black are approached by their Officer Worker, who gives them a final "payment" for their services, telling them to leave town away from any power lines or satellite coverage. After he leaves, both Men in Black suffer death from an image of Lain etched in their retinas. Alice enters Lain's eerie house and goes inside her room. Lain explains that she is actually a computerized program designed to destroy the barrier between the two worlds. Lain is still affixed on the fact that humans no longer need a physical body to stay alive, but Alice shows that her heartbeat proves otherwise. Suddenly, Eiri, first unseen to Alice, appears behind Lain, assuming she needs to be "debugged". Lain argues that Eiri was just an "acting god", for she is the true Goddess of the Wired. Eiri retaliates by transforming into a monstrous form to attain her vastly limitless power and strength that she possesses, but Lain manages to crush Eiri with her electrical equipment. 
13 "Ego"   September 28, 1998
Lain decides to do a "factory reset" on her life, deleting herself from everyone's memory. Distraught from doing so, Lain is determined to discover her true form and identity and takes radical action. She is confronted by her separate bolder self, who reminds her that the Wired is not an upper layer of the real world. Her bolder self then assures her that she is the true Goddess of the Wired, saying she is an omnipotent and omnipresent virtual being that can go and be anywhere she desires and merely watch the real world from afar. After causing her bolder self to disappear, Lain sees her father, which makes her realize that memories of her still exist. Alice, now older with a spouse, spots Lain standing on an overpass, having some déjà vu about Lain but not recognizing who she is. Alice then says goodbye, saying that she might run into Lain someday. 


  • Omnipresence In The Wired: Hardbound, 128 pages in 96 colors with Japanese text. It features a chapter for each layer (episode) and concept sketches. It also features a short color manga titled "The Nightmare of Fabrication". It was published in 1998 by Triangle Staff/SR-12W/Pioneer LDC. (ISBN 4-7897-1343-1)
  • Yoshitoshi ABe lain illustrations ab# rebuild an omnipresence in the Wired: Hardbound, 148 pages. A remake of "Omnipresence In The Wired" with new art, added text by Chiaki J. Konaka, and a section entitled "ABe's EYE in color of things" (a compilation of his photos of the world). It was published in Japan on October 1, 2005 by Wanimagazine (ISBN 4-89829-487-1), and in America as a softcover version translated into English in July 2006 by Digital Manga Publishing (ISBN 1-56970-899-1).
  • Visual Experiments Lain: Paperback, 80 full-color pages with Japanese text. It has details on the creation, design, and storyline of the series. It was published in 1998 by Triangle Staff/Pioneer LDC. (ISBN 4-7897-1342-3)
  • Scenario Experiments Lain: Paperback, 335 pages. By "chiaki j. konaka" (uncapitalized in original). It contains collected scripts with notes and small excerpted storyboards. (ISBN 4-7897-1320-2)


The first original soundtrack, Serial Experiments Lain Soundtrack, features music by Reichi Nakaido: the ending theme and part of the television series' score. The series' opening theme, "Duvet", was written and performed in English by the British rock band Bôa. The second, Serial Experiments Lain Soundtrack: Cyberia Mix, features electronica songs inspired by the television series, including a remix of the opening theme 'Duvet'. The third, lain BOOTLEG, consists of two CDs with more than forty-five tracks, containing ambient music from the series. One of the CDs is a mixed-mode data and audio disk, containing a clock program and a game. It was released by Pioneer Records. Because the word bootleg appears in its title, it is easily confused with the Sonmay counterfeit edition of itself, which contains one CD of forty-five tracks, some of which are shorter than on the original.

Video game[edit]

On November 26, 1998, Pioneer LDC released a video game with the same name as the anime for the PlayStation.[38] It was designed by Konaka and Yasuyuki, and made to be a "network simulator" in which the player would navigate to explore Lain's story.[9] The creators themselves did not call it a game, but "Psycho-Stretch-Ware",[9] and it has been described as being a kind of graphic novel: the gameplay is limited to unlocking pieces of information, and then reading/viewing/listening to them, with little or no puzzle needed to unlock.[39] Lain distances itself even more from classical games by the random order in which information is collected.[9] The aim of the authors was to let the player get the feeling that there are myriads of informations that they would have to sort through, and that they would have to do with less than what exists to understand.[9] As with the anime, the creative team's main goal was to let the player "feel" Lain, and "to understand her problems, and to love her".[8] A guidebook to the game called Serial Experiments Lain Official Guide (ISBN 4-07-310083-1) was released the same month by MediaWorks.[40]


A suburban scene on a sunny day, showing houses and telegraph poles, but the shadows contain unnatural red splotches.
Lain's neighborhood. The "blood pools" represent the Wired's presence "beneath the surface" of reality.[3]

Serial Experiments Lain was first broadcast in Tokyo at 1:15 a.m. JST. The word "weird" appears almost systematically in English language reviews of the series,[20][41][42][43][44] or the alternatives "bizarre",[45] and "atypical",[46] due mostly to the freedoms taken with the animation and its unusual science fiction themes, and due to its philosophical and psychological context. Critics responded positively to these thematic and stylistic characteristics, and it was awarded an Excellence Prize by the 1998 Japan Media Arts Festival for "its willingness to question the meaning of contemporary life" and the "extraordinarily philosophical and deep questions" it asks.[47]

According to Christian Nutt from Newtype USA, the main attraction to the series is its keen view on "the interlocking problems of identity and technology". Nutt saluted ABe's "crisp, clean character design" and the "perfect soundtrack" in his 2005 review of series, saying that "Serial Experiments Lain might not yet be considered a true classic, but it's a fascinating evolutionary leap that helped change the future of anime."[48] Anime Jump gave it 4.5/5,[20] and Anime on DVD gave it A+ on all criteria for volume 1 and 2, and a mix of A and A+ for volume 3 and 4.[42] Lain was subject to commentary in the literary and academic worlds. The Asian Horror Encyclopedia calls it "an outstanding psycho-horror anime about the psychic and spiritual influence of the Internet".[49] It notes that the red spots present in all the shadows look like blood pools (see picture). It notes the death of a girl in a train accident is "a source of much ghost lore in the twentieth century", more so in Tokyo.

The Anime Essentials anthology by Gilles Poitras describes it as a "complex and somehow existential" anime that "pushed the envelope" of anime diversity in the 1990s, alongside the much better known Neon Genesis Evangelion and Cowboy Bebop.[50] Professor Susan J. Napier, in her 2003 reading to the American Philosophical Society called The Problem of Existence in Japanese Animation (published 2005), compared Serial Experiments Lain to Ghost in the Shell and Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away.[51] According to her, the main characters of the two other works cross barriers; they can cross back to our world, but Lain cannot. Napier asks whether there is something to which Lain should return, "between an empty 'real' and a dark 'virtual'".[52] Mike Toole of Anime News Network named Serial Experiments Lain as one of the most important anime of the 1990s.[53]

Unlike the anime, the video game drew little attention from the public.[39] Criticized for its (lack of) gameplay, as well as for its "clunky interface", interminable dialogues, absence of music and very long loading times,[39] it was nonetheless remarked for its (at the time) remarkable CG graphics, and its beautiful backgrounds.[39]

Despite the positive feedback the television series had received, Anime Academy gave this series a 75%, partly due to the "lifeless" setting it had.[54] Michael Poirier of EX magazine stated that the last three episodes fail to resolve the questions in other DVD volumes.[55] Justin Sevakis of Anime News Network noted that the English dub was decent, but that the show relied so little on dialogue that it hardly mattered.[56]

Cultural references[edit]

Lain's artificial intelligent personal assistant "NAVI" was the basis of the Siri-like guide in the Tokyo Realtime: Akihabara audio tour by White Rabbit Press.

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Napier, Susan J. (November 2002). "When the Machines Stop: Fantasy, Reality, and Terminal Identity in Neon Genesis Evangelion and Serial Experiments Lain". Science Fiction Studies 29 (88): 418–435. ISSN 00917729. Retrieved May 4, 2007. 
  2. ^ "[SEL] Character Profiles". Anime Revolution. Archived from the original on March 23, 2007. Retrieved December 30, 2006. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Otakon Lain Panel Discussion with Yasuyuki Ueda and Yoshitoshi ABe". August 5, 2000. Retrieved September 16, 2006. 
  4. ^ Scipion, Johan (2003-03-01). "Abe Yoshitoshi et Ueda Yasuyuki". AnimeLand (in French). Anime Manga Presse. Retrieved September 16, 2006. 
  5. ^ a b c d The Anime Colony (August 7, 2000). "Online Lain Chat with Yasuyuki Ueda and Yoshitoshi ABe". Retrieved September 16, 2006. 
  6. ^ a b "Anime Jump!: Lain Men:Yasuyuki Ueda". Archived from the original on 2008-08-04. Retrieved September 26, 2006. 
  7. ^ a b c Animerica, (Vol. 7 No. 9, p.29)
  8. ^ a b c d Animerica, (Vol. 7 No. 9, p.28)
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Serial Experiments Lain". HK Magazine (Hong Kong: Asia City Publishing) (14). April 2000.  in "HK Interview". Chiaki J. Konaka. Retrieved September 25, 2010.  and "HK Interview". Chiaki J. Konaka. Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  10. ^ Serial Experiments Lain, "Layer 01: WEIRD"
  11. ^ a b "Movie Gazette: "Serial Experiments Lain Volume : Reset" Review". Archived from the original on May 21, 2006. Retrieved October 11, 2006. 
  12. ^ Yasuo: "I will bring madeleines next time. They will taste good with the tea." Serial Experiments Lain, Episode 13, "Ego". Lain has just erased herself from her friends' memories, while for Proust the taste of madeleines triggers memories of his childhood.
  13. ^ ABe, Yoshitoshi (1998). "Hair cut 01-04". Omnipresence In The Wired (in Japanese). Pioneer LDC. ISBN 4-7897-1343-1. 
  14. ^ "Anime Jump!: Lain Men: Yoshitoshi ABe". 2000. Archived from the original on May 10, 2006. Retrieved September 16, 2006. 
  15. ^ a b FRUiTS Magazine No. 15, October 1998.
  16. ^ a b c Manga Max Magazine, September 1999, p.22, "Unreal to Real"
  17. ^ Benkyo! Magazine, March 1999, p.16, "In My Humble Opinion"
  18. ^ "T.H.E.M.Anime Review of Serial Experiments Lain". Retrieved November 24, 2006. 
  19. ^ a b c d "DVDoutsider Review of Serial Experiments Lain". Retrieved November 24, 2006. 
  20. ^ a b c Toole, Mike (October 16, 2003). "Anime Jump!: Serial Experiments Lain Review". Archived from the original on June 9, 2008. 
  21. ^ Serial Experiments Lain, Layer 08: RUMORS
  22. ^ "List of Serial Experiments Lain songs". Retrieved December 7, 2006. 
  23. ^ ABe, Yoshitoshi (1998). Visual Experiments Lain. Triangle Staff/Pioneer LDC. ISBN 4-7897-1342-3. , page 42
  24. ^ a b Manga Max Magazine, September 1999, p.21, "God's Eye View"
  25. ^ Serial Experiments Lain, Layer 06: KIDS: "your physical body exists only to confirm your existence".
  26. ^ a b Study on Lain, Buffy, and Attack of the clones by Felicity J. Coleman, lecturer at the University of Melbourne. From the Internet Archive.
  27. ^ "Conway's Game of Life". Carnegie Mellon University. 
  28. ^ Serial Experiments Lain, Layer 11: INFORNOGRAPHY.
  29. ^ "Be, Inc.". Archived from the original on November 28, 2003. Retrieved November 27, 2006. 
  30. ^ "Serial Experiments Lain – Release". Retrieved 2009-09-16. 
  31. ^ "Serial Experiments Lain Blu-ray Box RESTORE". ImageShack. Retrieved 2015-04-14. 
  32. ^ "serial experiments lain Blu-ray LABO プロデューサーの制作日記". Retrieved 2009-09-16. 
  33. ^ " Blog". Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  34. ^ "Lain on BD announced – Wakachan Thread". Retrieved 2009-10-15. 
  35. ^ "FUNimation Week 43 of 2012". 
  36. ^ "Geneon USA To Cancel DVD Sales, Distribution By Friday". Anime News Network. September 26, 2007. Retrieved January 30, 2010. 
  37. ^ "Funi Adds Live Action Moyashimon Live Action, More". Anime News Network. July 2, 2010. Retrieved July 3, 2010. 
  38. ^ "Serial Experiments Lain". Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  39. ^ a b c d "Games Are Fun: "Review – Serial Experiments Lain – Japan"". 2003-04-25. Retrieved 2006-11-10. 
  40. ^ シリアルエクスペリメンツレイン公式ガイド [Serial Experiments Lain Official Guide] (in Japanese). Retrieved September 25, 2010. 
  41. ^ Bitel, Anton. "Movie Gazette: 'Serial Experiments Lain Volume 2: Knights' Review". Movie Gazette. Archived from the original on August 21, 2006. Retrieved September 16, 2006. 
  42. ^ a b Robinson, Tasha. "Sci-Fi Weekly: Serial Experiments Lain Review". Archived from the original on July 20, 2006. Retrieved September 16, 2006. 
  43. ^ Beveridge, Chris (July 13, 1999). "Serial Experiments Lain Vol. #1". Retrieved September 16, 2006. 
  44. ^ Southworth, Wayne. "The Spinning Image: "Serial Experiments Lain Volume 4: Reset" Review". Retrieved September 16, 2006. 
  45. ^ Silver, Aaron. "Anime News Network: Serial Experiments Lain DVD Vol. 1–4 Review". Retrieved September 16, 2006. 
  46. ^ Lai, Tony. " "Lain: Volume 1 – Navi" Review". Retrieved September 16, 2006. 
  47. ^ Japan Media Arts Plaza (1998). "1998 (2nd) Japan Media Arts Festival: Excellence Prize – serial experiments lain". Archived from the original on 2007-04-26. Retrieved September 16, 2006. From the Internet Archive.
  48. ^ Nutt, Christian (January 2005). "Serial Experiments Lain DVD Box Set: Lost in the Wired". Newtype USA 4 (1): 179. 
  49. ^ Bush, Laurence C. (October 2001). Asian Horror Encyclopedia. Writers Club Press. ISBN 0-595-20181-4. , page 162.
  50. ^ Poitras, Gilles (December 2001). Anime Essentials. Stone Bridge Press, LLC. ISBN 1-880656-53-1. , page 28.
  51. ^ Napier, Susan J., Dr. (March 2005). "The Problem of Existence in Japanese Animation" (pdf). Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 149 (1): 72–79. doi:10.2307/4598910. JSTOR 4598910. 
  52. ^ Napier 2005, p. 78
  53. ^ Toole, Mike (5 June 2011). "Evangel-a-like - The Mike Toole Show". Anime News Network. Retrieved 20 November 2015. 
  54. ^ "Serial Experiments: Lain". 2002-03-16. Retrieved 2015-04-17. 
  55. ^ "Serial Experiments Lain - Buried Treasure". 2000-05-11. Retrieved 2015-04-17. 
  56. ^ "Serial Experiments Lain - Buried Treasure". 2008-11-20. Retrieved 2015-04-17. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Dimentional Movement Nazca
(4/6/1998 - 6/29/1998)
TV Tokyo Monday 25:15-25:45 Timeframe
serial experiments lain

(July 6, 1998 - September 28, 1998)
Succeeded by
St. Luminous Mission High School
(10/5/1998 - 12/28/1998)