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Anime: Serial Experiments Lain

"Present Day. Present Time. HaHaHahA!"

An erudite, confusing, and chilling anime from the late 1990s, Serial Experiments Lain is Creepy Awesome seinen cyberpunk, as well as a notable Mind Screw in the genre. Shōnen has Neon Genesis Evangelion, shojo has Revolutionary Girl Utena, and seinen has Lain. The show takes an information-rich dive deep into the nature of reality and truth, and in the process leads the viewer to come to his or her own conclusions about the meaning of the show, the meaning of reality, and even what actually happens in both.

The setting for Lain is a place that appears to be contemporary Japan — albeit with a few telling differences. The story begins with apparently-normal schoolgirl Chisa Yomoda throwing herself off a building without warning. Several days after her suicide, Chisa's friends receive emails purporting to be from Chisa herself. The emails claim that she has not died, but simply abandoned her body for an existence within "The Wired", a pervasive computer network very much like the Internet as first envisioned by William Gibson.

This is the point where Chisa's classmate Lain Iwakura — a shy, reclusive teenage girl who looks younger than her actual age — enters the story. With nary a social skill and no knowledge of computers, Lain keeps a resolutely reclusive attitude and barely interacts with her not-really-friends, her best friend Alice/Arisu, her cold parents, or her indifferent sister Mika — until she receives something that will change everything in the whole world: one of the emails from Chisa.

Everyone thinks the Chisa emails are a cruel prank, but Lain is curious about the meaning of the message in the email. After Lain's tech-obsessed father happily supplies her with a top-of-the-line "navi" (personal computer), she begins searching The Wired to find out more. What Lain discovers undermines her family, her sense of self, and perhaps even the fundamental fabric of reality — and she is soon forced to deal with a power she is unprepared to control.

Serial Experiments Lain is a unique creation. Its visual style is unlike any other animated work, Western or Eastern, and constantly evolves through the course of the series, serving as a metaphoric device in and of itself. Much of the plot development is orthogonal to the viewer — sometimes seen but often simply implied — which requires the viewer to think about and draw his/her own conclusions about what's happening. A fair amount of information is obscured or distorted, but this simply reflects what is happening within the series itself; the story challenges the viewer to impose his or her own interpretation on even the most self-evident aspects of the show.

Lain's creators are also quite well-read, as they draw upon dozens (if not hundreds) of real-world sources for what seem to be the most outr concepts in the story:
  • If Vannevar Bush, W.O. Schumann, Douglas Rushkoff, John C. Lilly, Ted Nelson, or Nikola Tesla mean anything to you...
  • If "Majestic-12", "Roswell", or the Knights of the Lambda Calculus rings a bell...
  • If you can spot literary references ranging from Lewis Carroll to Marcel Proust to Cordwainer Smith...
  • If you are a computer techie who knows way too much about esoteric operating systems and the history of computer development, especially the creation of the Apple Macintosh...
...then you will enjoy digging through the densely packed web of information that is the conceptual foundation for Serial Experiments Lain. (While it's not necessary to do so to enjoy the show, it greatly enhances the overall experience if a viewer does the legwork.) To understand some of the references and sources better — or add some examples — visit the Shout-Out page.

Lain was originally conceived as a full-on multimedia project, although the other two parts are not nearly as widely known as the anime. The second part of the project is a short manga story included with an art book — The Nightmare of Fabrication — which touches on similar themes (albeit without all the heavy references) and serves as an awkward sort of "bridge" between the anime and the third part of the project by including characters exclusive to each. The third part is a game for the Playstation, although calling it a "game" may be a bit of a stretch — instead of actual gameplay, it acts more as an interface to access parts of Lain's story (which runs in a different direction to the one presented in the anime), presenting a multimedia experience that includes video, diary excerpts, and notes from Lain's therapist.

The anime can be watched on Hulu.

Spoilers ahead!

This anime provides examples of:

  • Adjective Noun Fred: The title; the "serial experiments" is never actually addressed in-story, though.note 
  • Alice Allusion: Alice Mizuki. Word of God confirms her name as a reference.
    "Alice" is Lewis Carroll's. I often use the "Alice" as the metaphor in my scenarios. Alice in "Lain" is same.
  • Alone in a Crowd: Lain does this at times.
  • The Alternet: The Wired, which may or may not be alive. This anime took place in "the present day" and "present time" at a time when the internet was clearly named and defined. It's just that much of a Mind Screw series.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Lain, what with her crippling social ineptitude, stunted emotional reactions, inability to understand interpersonal relationships, extreme adherence to unreasonable habits, obsessive tendencies, and massive talent for mathematics and computers. She also talks in a weird staccato. Except in the Wired.
    • It's notable that a lot of the things that happen to Lain are evocative of the symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia. See Through the Eyes of Madness
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Knights.
  • Animal Motifs: All over the place, notably Lain and her teddy bears/bear pajamas, and the omnipresent crows.
  • Anime Theme Song: "Duvet" by British band Boa. Haunting and will remind you of Gunslinger Girl.
  • Artificial Human: Lain could be anything from a genetically engineered "homunculus" to a computer program to an alien to the anthropomorphic personification of the collective unconscious. The series never makes it fully clear what Lain actually is.
  • Arc Words:
    • Everything is Connected
    • Close the World. Open the neXt.
    • Fulfill the prophecy.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: Eiri's goal, Lain's eventual solution.
  • Aspect Montage: The Once an Episode opening scene establishes its city location by a montage of power lines, crowds crossing roads, and the familiar Japanese "Don't Walk" sign. This gives a sense of tension and mundaneness at the same time. Part of that tension might be because the viewers remember what happened during the opening of the first episode, intermixed with these same establishing shots.
    • The opening scene, because it is set in a relatively recognisable modern-day setting, also links back to the infamous opening narration that we hear before the intro: "Present day...heh...present time! Hahahahahaha-!"
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: The scenes in "KIDS" and one later episode of the god-like vision of Lain in the clouds.
  • BFS: In video games.
  • Bittersweet Ending
  • Black Eyes of Evil: See Creepy Child, The Men in Black.
  • Body Horror: Eiri's attempt to physically manifest. Suffice to say, it does not seem to go too well.
  • Blood-Splattered Innocents: Lain in her first Crowning Moment of Awesome against a drugged up clubber with a gun.
  • Brain Uploading: Chisa implies this was part of her motivation for committing suicide.
  • Brainy Brunette: Lain reveals herself to be a very fast learner when it comes to understanding how to use, build, and modify computers.
  • Bright Is Not Good: All over the place. Lain's neighbourhood, school and other places she visits are frequently bathed in yellowish light. The effect is more creepy than anything else.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: So your best friend has a near-omniscient split personality that does stuff for the sadistic fun of it in a world where everyone is connected. Go ahead, enjoy yourself while fantasizing about your teacher. No one will ever know.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin:
    • Lain's peeping-tom alter-ego seems to wear one near-constantly.
    • Lain refers to a floating mouth she encounters in the Wired as the Cheshire Cat.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Myu-Myu, Taro's friend who is very jealous of his attention to Lain.
  • Coolest Club Ever: Cyberia, where Lain and her friends often go at night.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: One episode consisted almost entirely of live photographs scrolling by while the Narrator provided Expospeak.
  • Cooldown Hug: Lain to Arisu in Layer 13. It does not quite fix her, but she does calm down.
  • Cowboys and Indians: A bunch of kids playing tag get crossed with an online shooter game. The results aren't pretty.
  • Creepy Child: Goes to town with this trope. There's the disturbing little girl who chases after players in PHANTOMa, and then there's Chisa, and to a certain extent Lain herself.
  • Cyberpunk: According to the Cyberpunk Review. "Degree of Cyberpunk Visuals: High, Correlation to Cyberpunk Themes: Very High"
  • Cyberpunk Is Techno:
    • Averted with the opening and ending themes (pop and rock, respectively).
    • Played straight with the the in-show music which is dark electronica.
    • Invoked whenever something happens in Cyberia. There is also a popular "Cyberia Mix" remixed soundtrack album.
  • Cyberspace: The Wired, which is the main theme. The Metaverse, if you want the specific variant.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Lain's friendship with Alice breaks down when one of the Lains spreads rumours around school that she likes to fantasize about a certain teacher while "playing with herself". It's later shown to not be a rumor.
  • Death Glare: In Layer 3, Lain gives one to Taro when he suggests she go on a date with him. He quickly tries to give a "Just Joking" Justification.
  • Deus Est Machina: One interpretation of Lain.
  • Digital Avatar: Most people have them in the Wired. It's a sign of Lain's power that her avatar is herself.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Chisa's suicidal fall is what kicks the story off, and first clues us (and eventually Lain) into the wierdness of the Wired.
    • The man who starts shooting up Cyberia eventually kills himself.
    • Numerous characters (including Lain herself) in the PSX Game.
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: When images of Lain start to appear on video screens in public places, which creeps out her sister quite a bit.
  • Drone of Dread: Images of power lines are often accompanied by an ominous humming sound, phone or data lines by a faint babel of voices. It's implied that Lain is the only one who hears it when she tells the voices to "shut up" in layer 01, startling the man beside her on the train.
  • Emotionless Girl: Lain appears this way to others. except in the wired, where she is forceful and articulate.
  • Empathic Environment: Including bleak grey skies, crows, and shadows that look like blood everywhere.
  • "End of the World" Special: Lain has one at the end of the series.
  • Epic Rocking: The first half of episode 11 is a Clip Show with awesome music.
  • Establishing Shot: The Stock Footage of traffic and phone lines also functions as an Establishing Shot.
  • Eternal Prohibition: It is the near future, and yet on one hand, it is obvious that 14-year-old Taro is doing wrong every time he's drinking or smoking at Cyberia, and on the other hand, there are illegal future drugs like Accela.
  • Everyone Owns A Mac: The Tachibana corporation is loosely based on Apple, which explains all the references to NeXT. (Note that the tachibana is a type of fruit native to Japan.) This is interesting today when you think about how prevalent Apple is, but Apple's own history is practically shown in this series, if you can understand it. Check the Trivia page for more insightful fun.
  • Everything Is Online: Literally.
  • Evil Twin: The other Lain.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: He is not a biologist, but Eiri's motivation for his plan was to help humanity evolve further.
  • Extreme Graphical Representation: The NAVIs' user interface. The desktop animations aren't terribly out of place, now that compositing window managers are common, but as Lain's computer gets overgrown, the visuals get less and less comprehensible.
  • Facial Markings: Masami Eiri has a red stripe on each cheek.
  • Fake Memories: Initially Lain, everyone by the end of the show.
  • Fantastic Drug: Accela, a Nano Machine that lets the user see things in Caffeine Bullet Time.
  • Fictional Videogame: PHANTOMa. It looks kind of like Eye of the Beholder, but with unusually invasive multiplayer elements.
  • First Kiss: Taro gives Lain hers. It's kind of glossed over, though. She ends up with his chewing gum.
  • Five Rounds Rapid: When confronted with the Creepy Child in PHANTOMa, the player shoots her several times with a Finger Gun — with tragic consequences in the real world.
  • Follow the Leader: Subverted. Serial Experiments Lain is often mistaken to have been made to chase the coat tails of Neon Genesis Evangelion, but the show's writer didn't even see Evangelion until the fourth episode of Lain.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Maybe. Episode 10 opens with a sequence where, for lack of a better phrase, Lain and Masami appear to have switched lines. Muddling the issue is the fact that despite the actual dialogue, however, their body language and delivery match what they should be saying—e.g., Masami triumphantly questions Lain's godlike nature while Lain demurely proclaims her supreme power.
  • Free-Range Children: Despite being in the eighth grade, nobody really seems to care what Lain and her classmates get up to at night, including her own parents.
  • Friendless Background: Lain.
  • Gainax Ending: Comes off as a mild example, because the whole series has been such a Mind Screw.
  • The Game Come to Life: The online shooter PHANTOMa gets crossed with a bunch of kids playing tag. It goes very, very awry.
  • GIFT: Multiple times in the Wired. Most of these people can only form eyes, ears, and mouths, and one was given the nickname "Cheshire Cat" by Lain.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Subverted. Lain pretty much ignores the collection on her windowsill and bed, and the former are usually lit from behind as creepy silhouettes.
  • A God Am I: Eiri sees himself in this fashion. Lain breaks him by pointing out that the timing of his advent means he can be no more than a placeholder for the real god—if there is one—and the real god may be Lain herself.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: As said before, Lain vs. the gun-toting junkie.
  • Grand Inquisitor Scene: When The Men in Black take Lain to the Tachibana office in Layer 07. Eventually she gets fed up with their interrogation and decides to leave, and they don't stop her.
  • The Greys: A Grey appears as a mysterious vision, in an episode which also references the Roswell incident. It is referenced in other episodes as well. Unlike the usual nudist Greys, it is wearing a red and green striped sweater.
  • Hacker Cave: Lain turns her room into one over time, completely with a wall of monitors.
  • Heroic BSOD:
    • Mika, after the 5th episode.
    • Alice. Her Heroic BSOD is what inspired Lain to Retcon herself out of existence.
  • Hot for Student: And it's reciprocated.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Episodes are called a layer and a two-digit number, for example the first episode is "layer 01". Each episode title is a single word of English.
  • Infodump: The aptly named eleventh episode, "Infornography", is essentially a half-hour long infodump culminating in The Reveal of the show's villain, Masami Eiri.
  • Information Wants to Be Free: A central tenet of the Knights.
  • Informed Loner: Lain seems to be fairly popular at her school despite believing she has no friends.
  • Inside a Computer System: Pretty much the entire soul and fiber of the story.
  • It Runs in the Family: Lain and her father are both socially awkward individuals with a love for computers.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Only Lain takes a more... shall we say... 'active' role in Alice's life even after this...
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: The story is complex and we get disparate pieces of it during an episode.
  • Laser Sight
    • A teenager hopped up on nanotech goofballs shoots up a nightclub with a laser sight-equipped handgun. Just before he commits suicide, there is a camera shot where all you can see in the dim lighting are his teeth, and the laser dot on the roof of his mouth — a very striking image.
    • In the next episode, The Men in Black have laser sights on their high-tech eyepieces. It's never explained what function the laser sights serve, other than tipping people off that they're being watched and generally creeping them out.
  • Little Miss Almighty: Lain.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Or at least very unusual.
  • Lull Destruction: Inverted, with long moments of silence with long gaps between any dialogue, most of the time.
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Hodgeson, the man who created the KIDS program (an attempt to collect information on the use of psi energy.)
  • Magical Realism: How much of the events of this show are happening in real life and how much are in Lain's head? It's hard to tell at first. Or at second. Or even at the end.
  • Male Gaze:
    • The deliveryman who drops off a package for a housewife with a top-of-the-line Navi. Although he's almost as interested in her computer as he is in her, the camera still pans slowly over her body from his perspective.
    • The corporate bigshot (who is also one of the Knights) takes definite interest in his female cohort crossing and re-crossing her legs.
  • Matrix Raining Code: Lain's computers do this at times.
  • Mental Fusion
  • The Men in Black: Coupled with Those Two Guys.
  • Mind Rape: What the Knights do to Mika in Layer 05. "Beep...Beep...Beep..."
  • Mind Screw: The best way to describe Serial Experiments Lain is to throw paranoid schizophrenia and depression in a blender, along with a heavy dose of philosophy. After blending on the "puree" setting, add a dash of conspiracy theories and horror, to taste.
    • As mentioned in the introduction to this page, Serial Experiments Lain is like this because most of the plot developments are implied, and most of the explicit ones are obscured.
    • The Walrus Was Paul: The series was intentionally designed to be interpreted in a variety of ways. In fact, one of the producers has said he intended it to be interpreted differently by Japanese and American audiences. (This didn't exactly happen).
  • The Most Dangerous Video Game: PHANTOMa.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: Masami Eiri throws himself under a train to discard his body and live in the Wired as "God".
  • Neuro-Vault: Lain is an Artificial Human created to hold the Version 7 network protocol within her brain.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Lain reveals the identities of the Knights, and is horrified by the consequences.
  • Nightmare Face: The girl from episode 1 and 2 who was supposedly hit by a train. One word: Holes.
  • No Social Skills: When we first meet Lain she has a wide-eyed befuddlement when faced with a social situation, to the point where she is almost mute. Her friends' bubbly interchanges are juxtaposed with an odd — troubling gap where a response should be. She develops some skills as the series progresses: it is uphill work and Lain is never a normal girl. Eventually revealed to be due to "our" Lain being but one aspect/avatar of the instrumentality that is Lain.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The series can be very creepy during the long periods when we know something is very wrong, but there is no immediate horror on-screen.
    • When Mika keeps seeing messages written in red ink telling her to "fulfill the prophecy", without any idea where they're coming from or why she's received them.
    • In Layer 12, Arisu visits Lain at home and is very unnerved to find her house ransacked and nobody home until she comes across Lain in her room.
  • No Shirt, Long Jacket: Eiri's form in the Wired.
  • Once an Episode: The traffic-and-telephone-lines montage that opens every episode, with some philosophical commentary pertaining to the episode. This is played with in the last episodes. For instance, Layer 10, Love, has absolutely no introducing commentary, just the sounds of the traffic and static, and the usual opening montage only shows up about half-way into Layer 13, Ego.
  • One-Winged Angel: Masami Eiri enters the physical world as some sort of blob of flesh.
  • Open the Iris: Quite a bit of the Reaction Shots.
  • Oracular Urchin: Lain.
  • Ordinary Middle School Student: Lain starts as one, grounding the series. She proceeds to become somewhat less ordinary.
  • Otaku: In one episode, a fat, unshaven computer nerd is seen hacking away pathetically.
  • Parental Abandonment: Lain's parents turn out to be adoptive, because Lain is an Artificial Human.
  • Parking Garage: Where The Men in Black meet their ultimate fate.
  • Perma Stubble: The Men in Black; it makes them look dangerous and makes it obvious that something is very, very wrong.
  • Phone Call From The Dead: The anime does this with e-mail in the very first episode, kicking off the whole plot of the series.
  • Physical God:
    • Lain is effectively a god that physically exists.
    • A more straight example would be Eiri, who committed suicide to become a god.
  • Power Echoes: Masami Eiri.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The appropriately named KiDS experiment.
  • Power Floats: Eiri again.
  • Present Day: Present Time! The series is said to take place around 1999.
  • Ransacked Room: Lain's house after her parents leave.
  • Reality Warper: Lain, in cyberspace.
  • Reaction Shot: Often one after another.
  • Recap Episode: Sort of: episode #11 features images from previous episodes during the first 15 minutes.
  • Reset Button Ending: Features a rare variation which gives the series a sense of closure: the fact that it wasn't a complete reset definitely helps.
  • Ret Gone: The series ends with Lain doing this to herself. Mostly.
  • Reveal Shot: There are several shots where Lain or her friends have a Reaction Shot followed by a Reveal Shot — the camera moves out to show the horror they just saw.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Lain's attitude toward Alice involves a romantic tint. It is open to interpretation how serious it is and whether Alice returns it.
  • Roswell That Ends Well: There is a discussion on the Roswell incident and conspiracy theories, and implies that the Wired might have been created using alien technology. Whether that's true, and how relevant it is to the story, is left entirely open.
  • Salaryman: Lain's father, who is kinder to her than her mother but still rather distant.
  • Say My Name: Lain and Arisu do this a lot, especially in Layer 12 and 13.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Lain's dad has them frequently.
  • School Uniforms are the New Black: Lain and her classmates can be seen wearing their uniform hours after school has ended, even after she's gotten home from school.
  • Shout-Out: Many. Very many of them.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Hey look, it's Vannevar Bush and the Memex featured in an anime!
    • The references to Douglass Rushkoff, John C. Lilly, Ted Nelson, and the Roswell conspiracy theories also fit with the plot very well.
    • "Infornography" (episode 11) is packed solid with this trope.
    • The series may be the only anime ever to reference Marcel Proust, with the madeleines that Lain's father offers her (a type of biscuit).
    • Sigmund Freud: Is Lain the only show to get the term "Ego" correct? This also fits closely with the notion of "Ego" accoring to Descartes, especially when you consider that you are remembered, therefore, you are. la "Cogito ergo sum".
  • Silence Is Golden: The series often has long scenes without dialogue, including montages of Lain walking around the city or in her room. The minimalist soundtrack fits as well.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Midway through Layer 13, an upbeat pop song starts playing as life in Lain's town starts going back to normal because she erases everyone's memories of her.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Is it Arisu, or is it Alice? Probably Alice: You can see her name written on her cell phone near the end of the series, among other places. However, Pioneer used "Arisu" in their subtitles, hence the confusion. The production notes booklet included with the new BD/DVD set also gives her name as "Arisu".
  • Split Personality: Subverted by later making them split unpersonalities.
  • Starts with a Suicide: The series kicks off when middle schooler Chisa Yomode jumps off a building. It then follows up with the girl's Internet conversation: "How does it feel to die?" "It really hurts :-)"
  • Stepford Suburbia: Lain's neighbourhood, which is glaringly bright and white everywhere.
  • Stock Footage: Closeups of telephone lines and stylized shots of city traffic at night. One repeated bit of footage is rather poignant: Lain walking under telephone lines casting creepy shadows: in the last episode the same footage is shown without Lain after she erases herself from existence.
  • Stock Shoujo Bullying Tactics: Lain's desk goes missing and everyone, including the teacher, starts acting as if she doesn't exist right when she's questioning her own existence.
  • Subways Suck: The train Lain takes to school.
  • Surprisingly Good English: The theme song is sung in English by British band Ba. Each episode has an English name and English is used extensively throughout the series, from school to the Wired interface.
  • Surreal Horror: This anime makes the idea of going on the internet an H. R. Giger nightmare.....
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Lain does this to Eiri.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Or so it would seem in the first episode when Lain has a conversation with Chisa's e-mail. Justified in hindsight: Lain really was conversing with her e-mail.
  • The Team Wannabe: The Knights fanboy who wanders around the streets wearing a virtual reality headset and begging them to let him join their group.
  • Technology Porn: Depending on who you ask, this is slightly more literal than in most cases.
  • Terrible Artist: Lain's doodles in her notebook are often just spirals and other random shapes.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: The series can be interpreted this way; a number of Lain's experiences resemble symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia, including visual and auditory hallucinations, loss of perception of time, paranoid delusions, and inappropriate emotional reactions. In fact, one of the symptoms of schizophrenia is the delusional belief that everything is connected and is somehow directly relevant to the believer, no matter how innocuous or unimportant. One might call it an inability to tell signal from noise...
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Lain herself.
  • Tomboyish Sidetail: Lain's signature hairstyle.
  • Transhuman: Lain, certainly; Eiri, almost; perhaps the whole city or more, if you take the view that the post-reset world is a Lotus-Eater Machine.
  • Trash of the Titans/Trash the Set: Lain's house gains a worrying amount of mess and a nasty brown fog near the end of the series.
  • Twenty Minutes into the Future: Mixed with Present Day (Present Time!). The Wired and its associated hardware are alien imports into a pretty ordinary Japanese city that happens to have self-driving cars.
  • Uncanny Valley Girl: Lain of course, seeing as she is very pretty, quiet, and seemingly normal at first, except she's not a normal girl.
    • The Uncanny Valley is used to full effect in Layer 08, where we see a glimpse of the Wired where each user has her face... on their own bodies. She freaks out and knocks the head off of one, but that just makes it even creepier.
  • Un-Person: Lain does this to herself.
  • The Unsmile: Lain pulls one at the end of episode 11.
  • Viewer-Friendly Interface: Alternates with Obfuscated Interface so often that it alone can drive the viewer to confusion.
    • Sometimes this includes real, actually cool-for-the-nineties interfaces. Episode 1, for example, shows Lain's dad's computer running NeXTSTEP, the ancestor of Mac OS X and Apple iOS. This is more or less what it looks like.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Masami Eiri has one, complete with This Cannot Be!, when Lain decides to stand up to him.
  • Virtual Ghost: Chisa, Eiri and others.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Lain and her house.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Chisa is practically forgotten after the first few episodes, only getting a basically inconsequential mention in episode 10, though she is shown to be alive in the rebooted post-Lain world.
    • The fate of Mika and Lain's fake parents is not revealed, although after Lain hits the Reset Button, we see a scene where all three of them formed an actual family, at Lain's behest one would imagine.
  • Where Does She Get All Those Wonderful Toys: Lain's computer setup. It's made vaguely plausible in that her father seems to work as a computer engineer of some sort, but by Layer 4 she has entire racks of servers and several monitors in her bedroom.

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