|Layer:05 - Distortion|
|Directed by||Ryūtarō Nakamura|
|Written by||Chiaki J. Konaka|
|Original air date||August 3, 1998 (Japan)|
Layer:05 - Distortion is the fifth episode of the anime series Serial Experiments Lain. The episode was written by Chiaki J. Konaka and directed by Ryuutarou Nakamura. It was broadcast in Japan on August 3, 1998.
If you can see it, it is your…
A variety of cityscapes and crowd scenes pass, as if viewed through a distortion filter. A male voice narrates: "Humans may not evolve anymore. The occurrence of cancer in humans is much less than in other animals. There is a theory that the human being will never further evolve. If that is true, what stupid animals they have become. They forgot the force which operates them, and they are merely satisfying their desires. Don't you think they are worthless? Human beings aren't much at all." The view now shifts and the distortion comes into focus. The narrator continues: "But you don't have to remain such a miserable human. Now human beings have created the only exit." Through the crowd we see Lain walking. "What is it?" she asks. "Network. The Wired. Lain" the narrator responds. "Who are you?" Lain asks. "I am God," the narrator responds. Hearing that, Lain is frozen staring upward at the sky as busy city dwellers pass her by.
The scene shifts to Mika dressing in her school uniform and checking herself in a mirror. A boy's face comes up behind her. She is in his apartment. He asks, "Shall we get a bite to eat?" Mika just ignores him and turns to leave. "Why don't we go to a swimming pool next time?" the boy asks, but again he is ignored and is greeted by the sound of a shutting door.
Out on the street, Mika surveys the crowd as she waits for the crossing light to change. She crosses the street against a current of people walking in the opposite direction. She turns as a wild car races through the crowd. As others watch in horror, Mika walks away disinterested.
The scene shifts to a smiling Lain. "Tell me a story," she says and we see the black-and-white image of a porcelain doll in a frilly lace-collared dress. Lain kneels on the floor in her room, looking into a dark corner where the doll appears to be floating in air. "Please, please," Lain implores, "tell me a story." A female voice, apparently coming from the doll, responds, "Which story do you want, Lain?" Smiling, Lain says, "Tell me one I don't know." "What you don't know doesn't exist," the doll explains. "I can't tell a story which does not exist. You understand don't you?" Then the doll continues, "Well how about this? Every event is predated by a prophecy. Only when the prophecy is there, will the event occur." Lain stares, stunned. "Who? Who will tell the prophecy?" Lain asks.
From the flashing screen of Lain's Navi, a voice is heard reading some news. "At various places in Tokyo, the VTCZX Traffic Information Service System sent some wrong information. At the crowded crossings, the automatic driving control systems for cars and trucks interfered with each other and went out of control. This resulted in an accident which led to a fatality in Shibuya, Tokyo. In addition, the information agency reported that the system was already fixed and that it will never happen again."
On the Navi is a view of one of Tokyo's many giant video screens showing news footage of car accident in one of the city's complex intersections. Lain now appears to be standing in the intersection, still, almost floating, as others pass by. Lain then walks through the crowd and a man hands her a packet of tissues. [*See Note at end of episode summary] The man tries to give tissues to others who do not accept them. Lain turns, walking away. Mika then appears, making her way through the small assembled crowd. The tissue man comes to her and hands her a packet. [The packet reads "Rose Scent" in katakana] Mika stares at the packet and stands stopped in the middle of the street. From behind she hears a boy saying, "excuse me." She turns and sees Taro standing behind her. Casually taking a sip from his soda can he asks, "Would you like to go on a date with me?" Mika turns, offended, and tries to pass him. She bumps him and he spills soda on her uniform jacket. Taro turns and says, "Later" then runs through off through the crowd. "Wait a minute!" Mika cries. To avoid a stain, she takes out the tissue packet from her pocket and begins to open it. She is about to use the tissue to wipe her jacket when she notices writing on the tissue. Scrawled across it in red characters is a message reading "Hell is full of the dead and the dead will wander." "What is this?" she asks herself, then wads the tissue up and throws it to the ground. "It's a bad omen."
Mika places her hand to her head as if to thwart off an impending headache. She hears voices around her saying, "How terrible… what is she doing?… she must be crazy." The red "don't walk" crossing light flashes and we see Lain standing in the middle of the busy intersection as cars whiz by. Crowds of people cross the walk in the opposite direction. "Love me. Love me." Lain says, staring only at the ground. Mika is among the people crossing with the flow and stops in the middle of the crosswalk, looking stunned and watching Lain in the middle of traffic. "Lain? What is she doing?" Mika asks her self as she beings to continue on her way. Mika stops in the crosswalk again, and stares up at one of giant video screens on a building. [The Logo on the screen is for Pioneer LDC] The screen is flashing a ghostly pale, and then suddenly Lain's super-deformed face appears in it, staring back at Mika.
We are now back in Lain's bedroom, where she kneels as she did before. Apparently, these scenes have all be part of Lain's "story time." Lain looks at the wall, now a mass of wires connected to her Navi. The spaces between the wires appear to make out the figure of a smiling face. A male voice calls out, "The prophecy will be executed, Lain." "It couldn't be a prophecy," Lain protests. "Yes, it is a prophecy," the voice responds. "History is not just a collection of independent points which were passed by. The lines were connected by someone, in fact they were forced to connect." "Who? Who connected them?" Lain asks.
We now see Mika again, standing in the intersection, staring at the green flashing crossing light as it prepares to change to its red, "Don't Walk" state.
Now we see Lain's classroom at school. Lain is sitting at her desk opening her school bag as the other girls mill about the room. Lain looks up into the hall and sees Alice, Juri, and Reika waving to her. She gets up and joins them. "What did you do yesteray?" Juri asks. "I didn't know you were already that advanced." Alice adds "You're already able to do such a 'hacker' thing!" "What do you mean?" Lain asks, confused. "Don't play innocent," Reika chides. "I really don't know," Lain protests. "Didn't you do that?" Alice asks. "What?" Lain inquires blankly.
We now see Lain's Navi screen with the flashing Tachibana logo. A male reporter announces, "They reported that the network accident yesterday afternoon may have been deliberate and the Information Inspection Department of the information agency began to investigate the cause. The network was…" as the voice fades off, we again see Lain's super-distorted face appear in the screen.
We now see a digital display. The numbers "218" followed by "918" appear. The camera pans back and we are in a fast food establishment. A boy is at the counter placing an order. As we survey the restaurant, we see Alice, Reika, and Juri sitting in a booth. Alice is looking at her hand-held computer display. "I got more today," she says. "More of what?" Juri asks. "Spam. Its indiscriminate mail. It is so persistent. It says 'Execute the Prophecy.'" "Is it a declaration of war by some group?" Reika asks. "I talked to this geeky friend of mine," Alice explains, "she said that they were sent by the 'Knights'". "Who are the Knights?" Juri asks. "I've heard it's a group of super-hackers," Alice replies. "But I thought that hackers don't usually get together," Reika insists. Alice looks up and says "True, but the Knights may not be a group of humans, they could be something else. At any rate, they are very influential in the Wired and do many things." "It's a secret society!" Juri interjects. "Is it fun do these kinds of things?" Reika wonders. Alice continues "I don't think that they are in it for the money or for kicks."
We see Lain in a dark room. She turns her head and sees a black and white projection of her mother. "It is appropriate that the wired is an upper layer of the real world," her mother appears to say. Lain is in the kneeling position again, staring toward her Navi as the black and white vision of her mother appears to float over the floor. Her mother says, "The flesh in the real world is just a hologram of the information in the Wired." "Mama?" Lain asks, but her mother continues, "Because human consciousness is just a physical phenomenon of electrical synapse signals."
"I…" Lain says. She outstretches her hands and stares at them. "The reason your flesh exists," her mother continues, "is to confirm your existence, as you're doing now." "Are you really my mother?" Lain asks and as she finishes the image of her mother just fades away. "Please…" Lain says.
We are now in Lain's dining room and the entire family is gathered at the table. Mother eats, trying to satisfy her insatiable craving for rice. Mika watches the proceedings. She appears to be distant and disturbed as she watches her mother serve more tea to her father from a hot-pot. The father sits with his head turned away from the family as he watches something in the distance, out of site. Lain sits and stirs her food, not eating, just playing with it. "Lain," Mika asks, "weren't you in Shibuya earlier?" Lain looks up, surprised. "Never mind." Mika says. Mother and Father seem to be ignoring this conversation engrossed in her rice and his tea.
Mika goes to take a drink of milk. The surface of the liquid in the glass sparkles and we are back in Shibuya at the intersection with the crossing light flashing red. Mika looks up, stunned. Mika has now become the one standing unprotected in the center of the intersection with the cars passing her by. She falls to her knees and looks up seeing the gaping crowd. As she stares at them, the images of the crowd change from discrete figures to wispy shadows of energy. They approach her and terror wells in her eyes. The camera pans back and she becomes small and super-deformed. We see her sitting in the middle of an interesting shadow. It projects her kneeling at the top of a pyramid. Crossing the top of the pyramid is a archway that is topped by a crescent "G" like shape. The entire shape is in a circle with hash marks, like minute markings, around the outside.
Suddenly we are back at the dining table. Mika is shaking her fists, her milk spilled on the table. She then turns and smiles strangely. The scene shifts again and we are now back in the intersection. We see her smiling again. Another scene shift and we're back in the fast food restaurant from earlier. The view is from the booth next to the one where Alice, Juri, and Reika were sitting. From this vantage we can see the back of Mika's head as she watches the other girls in the next booth. She turns her head and then the girls in the next booth appear to be different girls, not Lain's friends. Mika appears to be disappointed. She reaches down to open her cup coffee, with a straw of sugar and stirrer at the ready. She struggles to remove the lid from the cup and spills its contents on the table. As she licks her finger, the liquid on the table begins to move and form a message. "Execute the Prophecy" it reads. Shocked, Mika stands. "What prophecy?" she asks. Fully standing, the restaurant is now deserted and quiet as the scene shifts to video static.
Mika runs to the restaurant's restroom. She looks at herself in the mirror. "Why? I was having dinner with mom and dad." The lights suddenly go out and Mika stands in darkness "Why?" The squeak of a door opens behind her and she turns to look. "Is somebody there?" she asks. "I know you're there," she says, and proceeds through the darkness. The lights come on behind her and Mika appears to have walked into a toilet stall. As the door shuts behind her she can see "Execute the Prophecy" scrawled across the walls in red lettering. Breathing heavily she backs against the wall.
A bright light appears. As the camera pans back the light appears to emanate from the reflections of Father's glasses in black and white. We are in Lain's room again. She kneels in front of the floating figure of her father. "Are you really my father?" Lain asks. "In the Wired, there may be more than just electrical information," he explains. "When the telephone network and the radio were created, I believe that the other world may have been generated." "Excuse me…" Lain asks. Her father just continues, "God is only a concept in this real world. But I think that there may be a "Zeus" in the Wired." "A God?" Lain asks. "I don't know if it should be called a God or not," her father says. "But I think that he may rule the Wired, as it is written in myth." "I may have talked to God," Lain replies. "Zeus in the Wired may affect this real world in some way," Father continues. "Yes, by a prophecy." "Prophecy?" Lain asks.
Mika runs to through the front door of her house. She is frightened and totally disturbed. She slams the door behind her and crouches to her feet, her back to the front door, crying. Suddenly she looks up. Another Mika is there already, dressed in a pink hooded sweater. Fearful and crazed, the Mika at the door watches, stunned. She stands and runs forward and the two Mikas face one another in the hall staring. As Lain approaches the "new" Mika, the school-girl Mika disappears. "What's up?" Lain asks. The "new" Mika turns and responds mechanically "Nothing to be worried about," then turns and walks mechanically up the steps. Lain turns to look in the entry. There she sees an energy like figure of a girl floating in front of the door. In the wisps of energy the faint figure of Mika can be made out with hollow eyes and a huge frown. Lain looks on, concerned. The figure then fades away.
Lain enters her darkened room and turns on her monitor. While we cannot see the entire Navi, there are now several monitors glowing in the dark surrounding Lain in an eerie light. As she stares into the screen she asks, "Who will it be today?"