Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

The Existence of Reality

Upon first glance, Serial Experiments Lain resonates with ideas such as the disruption of reality and existence. One common thread that the series thoroughly explores is the notion that there is little difference between human existence and the Wired (a more immersive internet version depicted in the anime). The closer humans come to a perfect simulation of reality, it might also be true that certain theories presuppose reality as a simulation. However, from a spiritual and metaphysical perspective, reality amalgamates perception, experience, and sensation. Therefore, what humans perceive as “reality” and its existence constitute a particular kind of experience. If this experience defies hallucinations or simulations, it neither qualifies as reality nor existence itself. This message doesn’t solely resonate with Lain and others; rather, the entire atmosphere of the series strives to blur the boundary between existence (even hyperreality) and the internet through the use of visuals and sound, akin to dementia or a dream. Typically, its underlying sentiment suggests that reality originates from signals in the brain, thus revealing an emerging truth. However, Lain, as the protagonist, serves as the central theme throughout the entire show.


The Serial Experiments Lain series delves into philosophical, psychological, and science fiction themes, particularly focusing on the disruption of reality. Aside from its enduring relevance to contemporary society, the anime explores a range of topics and themes, revealing its profound psychological and philosophical depth. Furthermore, the show remarkably anticipates various aspects of future society, including the development of internet culture as we know it today.

The World Wide Web made its debut in the United States in 1991, with wider adoption taking place in America around 1995. Conversely, for a specific segment of the world’s population, particularly the younger generation, the internet remained an enigmatic and largely undeveloped realm. Not only was it underdeveloped, but also the activities of individuals on the internet were shrouded in mystery. In essence, contemplating how modern life and culture have become intricately intertwined with the internet remains a perplexing concept.

Ultimately, the series depicts a young generation captivated by the Wired, a digital realm accessible through both computers and devices. Many of these young individuals engage in increasingly immersive online games, participate in role-playing with others, and delve into various conspiratorial pursuits.

A Little Insight about Lain Iwakura

Lain Iwakura’s father had once cautioned his daughter about the social hazards of the internet, which is known as the Wired. As soon as everyone enters this digital realm, it transforms into a medium for communication and information exchange, blurring the lines between the virtual and real worlds. Despite being a young girl who hadn’t yet mastered computer usage, Lain possessed a keen awareness of the generation gap between the older, offline world and the online realm.

By the age of 14, she frequented the online space, becoming a symbol of the web, albeit a more unsettling one than the stories suggest. The anime originally premiered in Japan in July 1998, and two decades later, it stands as a poignant representation of the online experiences, sorrows, and devotion that characterized the 2010s. It portrays the spectacle of counterfeit avatars engaged in conflict, embodying a mythology that seems self-serving, interpreting disappointments and inescapable disasters.

At her daughter’s request, Lain’s father installed an advanced computer in her bedroom, a testament to his pride in her growing technological interests. However, there’s an anomaly in the relationship between Lain’s father and herself. Their conversations with one another and with his wife come across as distant and detached. His enthusiasm for his daughter seems to stem mainly from her pursuit of his own profession. He appears as an enigmatic figure, almost unreal, perpetually gazing at a black screen illuminated by strobe lights.

The Internet

Serial Experiments Lain features a black glass screen placed in the far corner of Lain’s room, serving as a portal bridging the disruption of reality and the Wired. Lain embarks on a quest to uncover the identity of her classmate, Chisa, who tragically took her own life in Layer 01 (appropriately named after the episode). The eerie twist comes when Lain emails Chisa the day after her fatal leap from the school roof. Consequently, Lain’s pursuit of Chisa inexorably leads her into the enigmatic realm of the Wired. It’s worth noting that Chisa claims to have distanced herself from reality.

In Layer 03, Lain skillfully assembles her desktop computer, all without her father’s supervision. As the series unfolds, her technical prowess undergoes exponential growth. Lain’s hardware undergoes a transformation, converting her bedroom into an electrifying yet dimly lit layer. By Layer 07, she delves into the dark underbelly of the internet, foreshadowed by the following phrase and attaching her proto. Her eyes radiate a constant glow, reflecting the spirit of the online forum. Lain constructs a second alter ego within the virtual world and even garners a fan base. Nevertheless, her interactions in the Wired predominantly leave her feeling disappointed and incensed. Essentially, she is in a perpetual struggle, constantly hacking and defying others.

In the real world, she forges connections with friends and cautiously navigates the suburbs, embodying a paradoxical blend of paranoia and defensiveness, reminiscent of an android. Gradually, she comes to the realization that the Wired conceals a looming disaster unknown to most.

The Wired

The Wired is death and delusion of humans themself to Lain. In Wired, she is an entirely different person. She is a much darker person who is easily moved to seek revenge. Quickly, she saw how her digital presence was a bold yet cruel deviation from her authentic self. Another alter ego has developed terrifying mythology about a girl named Lain Iwakura. The real Lain watches in shock; the digital Lain confronts a delusional young man who fires a nightclub. The digital Lain notifies the gunman if everyone is connected. She assumed it was a threat, and the gunman was so horrified by Wired’s ubiquitous presence that he pointed a gun at his mouth and killed himself. The digital Lain is a bully.

The original Lain genuinely struggles to understand her personality, even her friends. The original Lain greets the digital Lain with a gasp, as the original Lain is very introverted. Lain’s struggle throughout the actual series to reconcile herself with the digital Lain pushes the former toward a complete and defining resemblance to the latter. The original Lain eventually unites with the digital Lain. The two dump her friends, disobey her parents, and seek revenge. In essence, she turned into a permanent obsession. The Wired supports her alter ego while destroying her character and identity. When she cannot log off, she cannot tell her friends or herself why. The show depicts a theme of destructive and addictive social media as a popular mode of online life. Lain and Masami cultivate self-interest and illusory control as a devastating loss of self-control.


Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy that studies the principles of necessity and possibility, causality, space and time, and identity and change. Additionally, it encompasses questions about the relationship and nature of consciousness between mind and matter. The term “metaphysics” was probably coined by a first-century CE editor to compile a small selection of Aristotle’s works into the treatise known as metaphysics. In simple terms, metaphysics studies questions about what it means for something to exist and the kind of existence it possesses. It seeks to answer what is and what exists in abstract and general terms. The topics it covers include existence, objects and their properties, space and time, cause and effect, and possibility. Metaphysics is considered one of the four main branches of philosophy, alongside ethics, logic, and epistemology.

The Wired is akin to metaphysics, representing a universal theoretical perspective that impacts the soul. To put it simply, the workings of the Wired are fully integrated into the limited human mind, which functions like a human and is absolute. In Layer 05, the Wired projects humans as “holograms” of stored information when they enter it. Given that all of humanity is connected to the Wired, it logically implies that everything humans experience and observe from all of reality is part of the Wired. This projection can also help us understand how other physical realities equate to non-existence because the mind exists within the Wired but lacks physical sensation outside of it.

The Wired’s fundamental connection with all phenomena extends beyond mere human perception. However, in truth, it extends to the mind of every human observer themselves. It is not just an external projection of information; each mental level in the Wired forms a subconscious entity and acts as an autonomous construct of information. This forms the basis of how the Wired and the internet can erase, create, and manipulate the human mind in any way, including how Lain Iwakura digitalizes herself.

Willing Suspension of Disbelief

In philosophy, the convincing and precise execution of an idea is a permissive performance, especially in fundamental and abstract categories like metaphysics. The logic behind certain conclusions can often collapse into a multitude of unjustified loopholes, tending towards unimportant pseudo-intelligence or degenerating into gibberish. Poor critical thinking represents the most common example of anything resembling abstract philosophy in modern media. Aside from being exaggerated, it is often based on “what ifs.”

Existential and abstract philosophies can create the most immersive experiences when people engage with and convey them correctly. Serial Experiments Lain embodies a significant virtue in this regard. Regardless of the extreme levels it explores, everything is rooted in what the audience can reasonably conclude or imply from the show’s premise. Never once does it present a substantial gap in substance that would lead to confusion. The show consistently provides a satisfying sense of logic that completely dispels doubt. It offers a solid logical foundation and a premise that scientifically shapes logic while maintaining realism.

The sci-fi aspect of Serial Experiments Lain challenges the audience to consider whether it deviates from a disruption of reality. The philosophical themes explored in fiction are not necessarily fictional themselves. In fact, there is a need for consistency and a solid logical progression that aligns with realism, a concept often present in the periphery and sometimes challenging for audiences to grasp. This essence infuses ghostly and traumatic effects into an emotional reality.

The Final Confrontation

In the last episode, Lain meets Masami, marking the final confrontation. Arisu serves as the audience. Following what must have been the realization of the world around her, Arisu descends into a state of annoying lamentation. Despite Lain’s attempts to pacify her, she slips into catatonia under the weight of the inevitable truth. In absolute desperation to restore the only thing she cares about, Lain then hopes that things can return to how they were before the Wired existed. Consequently, the falsehood of content is resolved.

The entire world that Lain cares about, particularly all the thoughts associated with it, is merely a collection of information that exists only in her words. There is no object, ontological substance, or concept that leads to a meaningful life. Any configuration of the Wired produces the same result. Lain’s thoughts fracture as the finality of existence begins to reveal the truth. The series concludes without a clear sense of resolution.

When Lain meets Deus, she finally realizes the truth of her omnipresence. Ontology based on memory and current awareness of the environment around the human observer can be manipulated by Lain. This is demonstrated when she encounters her old friend, Arisu, who is now an adult and married, completely unaware of her past interactions with Lain during their teenage years. Confused, Arisu declares that they will meet again, even though she senses familiarity with Lain’s face.

The Sound of Internet

In the final conflict, Lain and Masami extend their conflict widely onto the internet. There, the two of them engage in a struggle for sole dominion over the divine. To put it simply, it’s clear that the web doesn’t require conventional physical force to pose threats to humans. The web is perfectly equipped to destroy anyone in its path and within its structure. Despite numerous setbacks, Lain never falters. Instead, she delves deeper into the Wired, convinced by the same delusions and deductions that humanity’s existence hinges on her unique participation in the Wired. Lain is determined to triumph over Masami’s intent to erase the distinction between the Wired and the material world.

The disruption of reality in Serial Experiments Lain concludes ambiguously and takes a disturbing turn when Masami appears in Lain’s room. Arisu, along with Lain’s friends, barges into her room to rescue her from the crowded cave. In the final moment, Lain doesn’t reveal any hardware or wiring, but rather, an unsettling whisper of electricity resonates in every corner of civilized life. Wherever everyone goes, they remain interconnected.


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