In the eleventh episode of Serial Experiments Lain, Lain questions her identity before transforming. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Serial Experiments Lain.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of consent.
You know, I don’t think anyone has ever explained to me why anime shows often have a “summary” episode. Sometimes, they’re just filler, but I do enjoy when a show plays with expectations, sort of like how Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood did. This show does the same thing, since the first half of “Infornography” is a way to contextualize the show and give us an understanding of how Lain downloads her NAVI into her own body. WHICH IS SUCH A WILD CONCEPT, Y’ALL. Plus, you can interpret the opening parts of this episode as a physical representation of Lain examining her own identity. By running through all her experiences since “Weird,” she’s able to question who she was and whether or not she is any of the “alternate” versions of herself that we’ve seen.
The show is short enough that I don’t think I needed a refresher before I went into the final two episodes, but it was nice to remember how far Lain has come in a very short amount of time. Thus, her physical transformation felt shocking to me, and it didn’t help that Eiri was there to taunt her about her reality. AGAIN, I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE TRUTH IS AT ALL. Is she really just a sentient piece of software? Is that all she amounts to? If that’s the case, then anything she does to defy Eiri is an act of rebellion, one I find very interesting. Of course, she’s not quite the celebratory hero. Even after she refuses to accept Eiri’s machinations, she still orchestrates her own.
Again, the downside of free will is demonstrated to us when Lain decides to erase the rumors that destroyed Alice’s social standing. Now, I can’t quite tell if Alice knows what happens or if she was rendered unaware by Lain’s act. I think it’s the former, given that she approaches her friends and starts to talk about the teacher she has a crush on despite that her friends have no knowledge of said rumor anymore. The whole sequence is played for horror, not joy, and though this, Lain becomes more complicated. Is it ethical or moral of her to give Alice this, or is it a sign that she’s vulnerable to the displays of power we’ve seen of Eiri?
All of this acts to set up the final confrontation between Eiri and his creation. (If Lain really is his creation. I have never felt more ignorant of a show’s story, and I’m at the end of it, y’all. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE.) I expect that she’ll reject his rules or mode of existence in some sense, and it’s also fascinating how much this is rooted in Alice. If “Infornography” shows Lain that her life is detached and meaningless, it’s Alice who proves that she does matter, even if she is nothing but a piece of software. To me, that’s the best part of this conflict: Lain may find something human in the midst of all this technology.
The video for “Infornography” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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