Spoilers and Insane Plot Theories Ahead

I have recently completed watching Serial Experiments Lain, and some things about the series became evident after a little bit of analsysis. Of course, this is meaningless since a) I'm not Japanese, and any deep metaphores have been lost in the translation, and b) Lain is intrinsically confusing; the film as a whole--the cinematography, the artwork, the editing--seems to represent the feelings of a struggling, traditional Japan in the midst of a cultural revolution. Now that the disclaimer's done, I can get down to the gibberish.

I would like to start with the aliens, as they seem to be the topic of such interest to many Serial Experiments Lain fans. Quite frankly, I think they have no relevence to series at all; the writer most likely enjoyed Area 51, Roswell, and other black projects, so he decided to include the grey and the documentary for personal reasons. Besides being a red herring that Lain went after to find the truth, I can't see any real significance; the aliens as gods/creators concept just doesn't seem to fit with the overall theme.

The Wired The Wired obviously parallels the collective unconscious of the "real" world in Serial Experiments, but what exactly does the collective unconscious represent? I tend to believe that the collective unconscious symbolizes the values of traditional Japan, while The Wired represents the new values of modern Japan. Two things lead me to believe this:

  1. Mostly children/young adults totally immerse themselves in The Wired. While most adults just view it as a necessary facet of life, some of them--namely Iwakura Yasou--are deeply immersed. This fascination that the younger generation have with The Wired parallels the current, real life adoption of Western culture by young people in Japan. Along with this adoption comes the abandonment of the traditional culture.
  2. There is some indication that the Knights of the Eastern Calculus* weren't founded in Japan, but rather "migrated" from the West, bringing with them the twisted worship of Eiri Masami as God.

The Knights The Knights are apparently hellbent on making The Wired and the collective unconscious (reality) one in the same. Assuming that these two entities actually do represent the clashing cultures, the Knights are most likely the slightly older generation of Japanese who are embracing Western culture; they look at it as more than just an inconvenience and actually look upon it as a way of life. In more simple terms, they "worship" it, much like the Knights worship Eiri.

Eiri Masami Quite simply, Eiri embodies the shift to a Westernized culture. He has vast power because of his followers; the more who believe in him (the Western ideal), the more that he can converge with a society based on traditional values. Side note: he needs his Knights alive (i.e. at least partially accepting of traditional values) in order to gain more followers, so having them kill themselves is counter-productive. In the end, Eiri is destroyed, then recreated as a harmless man, which brings me to my final point...

What is the Lain? Lain is obviously the focus of the film, so she has to have a pretty damn important role. After careful consideration, I believe that she represents the collective unconscious, the traditional Japanese society. Her confusion, her self-doubt, and her entire situation epitomizes how the traditional Japanese are feeling in these modern times. On the surface, her ability to rewrite memories (the past/tradition) enforces that she is the collective unconscious. Because Alice, Iwakura Yasou, and Taro remember her in the end, and because she claims that she will always be there, it becomes clear that Lain is an intrinsic part of humanity. Her ability to overcome Eiri Masami stems from this, as The Wired is nothing more than an alternative place for the memories of the world to reside; she is the present, past, and future of the human race, anywhere and everywhere it goes.

Examining more deeply, Lain's defeat of Eiri shows how traditional Japan can halt the progress of Westernization; since the Japanese culture allowed the Western influence in (although not willingly), it can also control its progress and its reach. This is a hope for the future.

*As an aside, if anyone who knows Japanese to some extent could explain how "Lambda" got changed to "Eastern" in Knights of the Eastern Calculus, please give me a send. I want to know if the change was intentional or accidental.

As another aside, this writeup was hell for me. Netscape basically exhausted all of my box's resources and the swap started grinding really hard. Everything practically froze, and I realized that I was screwed. By some grace, I managed to get the writeup through. God I hate Netscape for Linux