In the second episode of Serial Experiments Lain, Lain gets a new computer and has a bizarre experience in a club. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Serial Experiments Lain.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of drug use, unreality, suicide.
I don’t understand this show at all, but I’m intrigued by what I’m experiencing. There’s so much blank space within Serial Experiments Lain, and the show asks us to fill them in often. It’s not so sparse that you can’t do so; I think there’s actually a rich fabric of storytelling at work here, but it’s largely impenetrable so far. I’ll give an example right at the start: the opening sequence of “Girls” makes little sense at all, but only because we’re thrust into the middle of someone else’s story. The unnamed man was clearly seeking out Accela, but we don’t know why. Is that even important? Or is his reaction the most important part of the story? How has technology developed to a point where Accela is even possible?
Of course, the biggest mystery is how the man behaves once he takes Accela. The world does not accelerate, as the drug warning tells us. Instead, everything slows down, and a strange woman appears, one who looks awfully like Lain, and I DON’T GET ANY OF THIS. But that’s the point; this story is designed to give us pieces, and that’s it. Where does the man go? Is he truly “high” for a full day, or did he take another Accela afterwards? Is Accela a lie?
There are no answers here. Instead, “Girls” focuses on Lain and the pressure she is under to conform. It was frustrating and sad to watch how her “friends” – who really are way too cruel to ever deserve that title – pressure her into doing something she clearly doesn’t want to. Not only that, but they speak about her as if she’s not actually in the room. Instead, they insult her at the same time as they ask her to do more and be more. In this context, Serial Experiments Lain feels less like an absurdist nightmare and more like an examination of the social complexities of high school.
Lest I forget that this is an surreal nightmare, though, Lain has a pervasive and unnerving experience spread throughout this episode. Now, I cannot determine if she’s imagining things, if she’s hallucinating, or if there really are mysterious people hovering about in her field of vision. Both sequences – the one on the street and the one in the darkened hallway at school – felt impossible and yet frighteningly real. It’s not like it’s out of the realm of possibility that creepy older men are hanging out on the street and being weird to young women. And perhaps we’re supposed to think about that kind of anxiety. But that scene in the school felt like a twisting of reality, as if Lain had a glimpse into another world.
Really, that’s about the only thing I can latch on to while watching this. Serial Experiments Lain feels like we’re being shown a new world, one that exists in secret within our own. I have to wonder, then, if Lain is such an unreliable narrator that we don’t even see the full extent of what’s happening to her. Are her visions due to what happened to Chisa in the previous episode, or did they exist outside that? Has Lain had an experience in the Wired that the audience doesn’t know about? Or is she as much in the dark as we are? I’m thinking it’s the latter, but “Girls” certainly suggests there’s much more going on here. The delivery man warns of the day when Lain will understand computers and The Wired; the man in the club makes it impossible to ignore the angry woman he saw; Lain is even saying things that she appears to have not even known. Y’all, the very sight of Lain triggered a negative reaction in the shooter, and with just a couple sentence, she appears to have compelled the man to kill himself.
WITHOUT REACTING HERSELF. WHAT’S HAPPENING, Y’ALL??? Why did that man and her school friends all think Lain was there? Something had to have happened that we didn’t see, but I don’t know what that was. Did the Wired somehow create a new version of Lain???
The video for “Girls” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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