The creators of Serial Experiments Lain drew on a freaking lot of sources. The series takes on a whole new meaning when you understand all the Shout Outs and allusions . So here's a quick guide to them all.
The entire series
- Cyberia, a bar/disco frequented in the series is an allusion to the nonfiction novel by the same name by Douglas Rushkoff. The pun on "Siberia" is intentional. See also Gaia, the global brain in the same book.
- It was also the name of one of the earliest cybercafé franchises - which had a branch in Tokyo.
- Protocol 7 refers, probably, to the 7th Layer, the neurogenetic circuit, of the Eight Layers of Conciousness as proposed by Timothy Leary. The neurogenetic circuit is roughly equivalent to the Jungian idea of the collective unconscious.
- Robert Anton Wilson reverses the positions of the 6th and 7th circuits. In his system, the 7th circuit is the neuroelectric or "metaprogramming" circuit, which is similar to the idea of a "higher self" and is associated with higher cognition, editing one's own brain, and possibly telepathy.
- And could also be a successor to IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) which was already in the planning stage when SEL was made. (the internet protocol at the time the show was made was version 4).
- Seven is also the Arc Number of The Book of Revelation, which details the final apocalypse or revealing of God in the Christian canon.
- NAVI, the trademark-turned-noun for computer in the series, is contracted from Knowledge Navigator, a term invented by Apple CEO John Sculley in his book Odyssey. It referred to a computer connected to a vast network where everyone was connected.
- Probably completely unintended, but in Hebrew, navi is the word for "prophet." "Fulfill the prophecy" indeed . . .
- Copland OS was an unreleased operating system by Apple Computers. See also System 7, its predecessor.
- Devices, in this context, refers to Marshal McLuhan's concept.
- Gaia, a global brain in Cyberia shares a common thread with the collective shared unconscious in Lain
- Earth Coincidence Control Office (or "ECCO") by John C. Lilly, a higher intelligence controlling the "coincidences" on Earth. Lilly considered ECCO a subset of the Solar System Control Unit (SSCU), in turn a sub-unit of Galactic Coincidence Control (GCC), which is itself merely a substation of the Cosmic Coincidence Control Center (CCCC). He considered this last entity to be something like God.
- Knights of the Eastern Calculus: The Knights of the Lambda Calculus are a semi-mythical, semi-serious, real-world group of hackers devoted to the use of the programming language Lisp.
- Tachibana Labs is a play on words on Apple Macintosh, (a type of Apple) itself being the name of a citrus fruit (the citrus tachibana)
- Layer ## at the beginning of each episode is said by Apple's Whisper voice in Mac OS text-to-speech software.
- Nezumi, the Knights-wannabe who carries a computer rig and accesses the Wired while he walks matches the description of a Gargoyle from Snow Crash, as do the MIB agents, who wear the same headgear (complete with laser sight) that Lagos was described as wearing.
- Close the World, Open the neXt. Compare NeXT and neXt. NeXT was the high-end computer company founded by Steve Jobs after his ouster from Apple. The Internet as we know it (that is, the hypertext-based World Wide Web) was invented by Tim Berners-Lee on a NeXTSTEP computer.
- to Be continued, where Be uses the same colouring as Be OS used.
- hello (again), the text from an Apple advertisement, is used in an omake.
- What is Artificial Life? from ALIFE VI is quoted in text-form at several places.
Layer 01: WEIRD
- Think Bule Count One Tow, an allusion to Think Blue, Count Two, a short story set in Cordwainer Smith's Instrumentality of Mankind series.
- Lain's old computer is reminiscent of a 20th Anniversary Macintosh. It runs a Communication OS, denoted by a large capital C as its logo - reminiscent of the Commodore logo.
- The text seen on the blackboard in the classroom is code, written in the C programming language with Japanese locale (the backslash is replaced with a yen sign).
- NeXT (an OS) icons appear on Lain's father's computer desktop.
Layer 02: GIRLS
- Urban Diary is used as a background during the Accela TV News report.
Layer 03: PSYCHE
Layer 04: RELIGION
- Lain's computer rig includes HAL Power 5000 systems.
Layer 05: DISTORTION
Layer 06: KIDS
- Parts of Lain's rig comes from Moebius, a real-world software company that would have been quite new to the market when SE:Lain was released.
- Actually the URL of the brand in the equipment is Mebious. Which contains a Lain related mumbo-jumbo page.
Layer 07: SOCIETY
- The man walking around the street covered in gadgets seems to be a direct reference to the gargoyles from Snow Crash, a novel that was very influential on hacker culture and predicted a lot of 21st century technology development.
- During class, Lain programs on her HandiNAVI in the multi-paradigm programming language Lisp. This is likely related to the Knights of the Lambda Calculus, because in real life they were a community surrounding the Lisp language.
- Nezumi's perspective is viewed through Apple's HotSauce interface, which was created to give users a novel Internet experience. The program code shown in one scene seems to be a perl script for generating a web page, also known as CGI Script.
Layer 08: RUMORS
Layer 09: PROTOCOL
Layer 10: LOVE
Layer 11: INFORNOGRAPHY
- Think different was one of Apple's most successful advertisement campaigns.
- Alice apparently uses an iMac G3.
Layer 12: LANDSCAPE
Layer 13: EGO
- Lain's father comments that "madelines would be good with tea." This is a allusion to the Marcel Proust novel In Search of Lost Time.With thanks to thought experiments Lain