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"Layer 04 : Religion"
Episode 4
Layer 4
Directed by Ryūtarō Nakamura
Written by Chiaki J. Konaka
Original air date July 27, 1998 (Japan)
Episode guide
Previous
Layer 03
Next
Layer 05

SynopsisEdit

Again we see a busy Tokyo street, the familiar opening. A voice is heard: "I don't need parents. Every human is alone and is connected to nobody."

[Title: Layer:04 Religion]

It is evening and the wires are humming. In Lain's room, fans blow, cooling her upgraded Navi. Many pieces are strewn about, as Lain consults a textbook. The computer system is significantly larger. Lain's father peers in the room, frowning, watching Lain's activity. In the kitchen of the house, Mika sneaks a drink of a soft drink directly from the bottle. In the living room, Lain's father sits with her mother. Lain's mother asks, "How is she?" Mika enters and comments: "Lain is weird, I mean she's naturally weird, but..." "She's not weird," her father interjects. "What do you mean?" Mika asks. Amazingly, Mother scolds Mika, "It is not good to talk to your father like that." As Mika leaves, Mother asks, "Is it so?" and Father says, "It is." Mother rubs Dad on the head and then Dad draws her near him [Balto: Bootie time].

The scene shifts to a man running, panicked up a flight of stairs. As the man screams, we see the feet of a small child walking in the man's direction. The man continues to scream as night scenes float by. The panicked man tries to open his apartment but cannot fit his key in the lock. He drops his keys and tries to find the correct one. As he turns, he see a small girl in a frilly pink dress, holding a stuffed dog. The girl stands and watches but her eyes cannot be seen. As the man watches her, the girl's face shifts to appear like a head with large black holes for eyes. The man cries out, "Why are you doing this to me?" As he tries again for the door, the girl's hand reaches around him. She appears to be floating, her eyes closed, with a contented smile on her face. An adult voice comes from her saying in English: "Gotcha!" The scene shifts away as the man screams...

At the school Reika, Alice, and Juri are discussing some news. There will be a study hall because a special staff meeting has been scheduled. Apparently an upperclassman committed suicide the previous night. Alice asks Lain, who had her back turned to them, "Right, Lain?". Lain turns to face them. She is smiling and holding a computer book behind her back. "Sorry, what is it?" Lain asks. Juri says, "Lain wouldn't know anything about it," but Lain continues "about the suicide?" Reika is surprised and asks Lain, "You know something about it?" Lain explains, "I only heard from someone." Alice asks where, and Lain responds, "On the Wired." Alice comments, "Then you must have used your new Navi. Could you show it to us later?" Lain agrees, noting, "but I'm modifying it a little at the moment." Juri is surprised and adds, "I didn't know that you were interested in hacking." Reika has noticed the improvement in Lain's demeanor and points this out to Lain. Lain, pleased, responds, "You think so?" Juri agrees, but Alice looks at Lain, with worried eyes, frowning.

After school the girls have stopped to buy some ice cream. Juri asks, "What other rumors are there in the wired?" Lain responds, "I heard there's a game." Alice asks, "Is it a network game?" Lain responds that she doesn't play it, but adds, "I heard that all of the kids that died were hooked on it." Juri notes, "Boys like those kinds of things." Alice wonders, "A game, but why?" Lain starts to reply but then gags as she stuffs the rest of her ice cream in her mouth. Alice tells her to be more careful, and Lain asks, "May I go home now?" Reika responds quizzically, "You don't need our permission!" Juri asks what Lain's hurry is and Lain tells her that she can't wait to get home and work on her Navi. Juri whines, "You prefer a machine to friends," but Alice defends Lain saying "You shouldn't be saying something like that." Juri thinks her comments are just fine. Alice smiles and asks, "Lain, show it to us when you complete it." And Lain smiles and nods yes, then skips off down the street. Alice, showing her worried frown again, notes, "Lain certainly has changed."

Alice spins around suddenly as something bumps into her. The strangely scary stuffed dog from earlier lands at her feet. Alice apologizes and picks up the dog and hands it to a little girl. It is the strange girl from earlier, but she does not look as threatening. The girl hugs her dog, looking as cute as can be, and says, "No, it was my fault." She turns to walk away with an older female.

That evening, Lain is in her bedroom working on the Navi. Larger than ever, it now encompasses several machines that appear to be networked together with multiple monitors. We see a number of communication devices, including an ISDN terminal adapter. Lain speaks to the Navi to login. She checks for mail and has a new voice mail. A man's voice is played: "Hello Lain. Since I can't answer your question I asked my friend in my laboratory. If you really have a Psyche processor you have to set the oscillator to 'Variable' mode as you thought. Almost all parts of the Navi are up to standards. But there are still some differences. I wish you luck." While listening to the message Lain continues to tinker with the computer parts. The message finishes: "Well, ask me again if you've got other questions." Lain returns to the keyboard and stares blankly into the flashing displays.

At Cyberia, we see JJ the DJ sorting out recordings. Behind him, a voice calls, "JJ, do you know the game that those brats are hooked on?" He responds, "Yeah, its Phantoma. Forget about it. It's not for adults like you." [Notes for Shades and Balto: Phantoma sounds strangely like Ultima, a very popular, very real online game.] He turns then and says "Right, Lain?" but no one is there. "I don't get it," he says, "I could have sworn that I heard her."

It is still night and the camera pans across outside scenes. We see the top of a building and the patter of running feet. On the roof of the building, we see a boy who appears to have been cornered against a chain link fence. As he stares at what appears to be chasing him, our view shifts to a view of passageways reminiscent of the popular real video game Doom. The boy turns, saying, "I already stopped it! I'm done with it!" He appears to be yelling at no one. He runs again, falling down some steps. As he looks up, the game-like passages appear again with a shadowy figure which faintly resembles Lain approaches. The boy screams with fright as the figure advances. The figure is seen more clearly and is definitely Lain. The boy runs back across the rooftop again, and the scene fades away into the game grid again. It seems as if the game itself is chasing the boy. He runs through clotheslines hung with white sheets. [Shades: He deserves to be hunted for wearing that hideous cat sweater.] As he leans over to catch his breath, he takes a handheld computer from his back pocket and throws it to the ground, shattering it. Its display, however, continues to glow eerily.

We hear the boy's voice again, searching through the game maze. "This is not the Wired!" he cries, "Why?" Lain's voice calls out, "Wait. Don't run away." The boy stands, looking almost digitized and says, "Who are you? Are you also a 'PK'? Help me!" Lain responds, "I can't go to your place." "What's going on," the boy pleads. Suddenly an array of glowing palms appear blocking his way. "Stop making fun of me!" the boy says, shrugging. As he backs up he stops and turns to see a short haired little girl smiling at him, floating above the floor. She opens her mouth and moves forward looking as if to bite. The boy raises his hands as if he was holding a gun and says, "Blast Charge, Gauge 5!" He cocks the invisible weapon and states, "Go to Hell!" He pulls the invisible trigger and fires again and again saying, "Die! Die! Die!" We see the girl floating and bullet holes appear to riddle her smock. Her face changes from menacing to angelic and surprised. A very different looking girl as she falls to the ground. The boy continues to pull the trigger on his invisible gun until the 'gun' stops firing, going click, click, click, its rounds spent. The virtual world fades away and we again see the rooftop. The boy sits against the fence dazed and staring into space, as the white laundry sheets flap in the wind. In front of him, wrapped in a sheet, lies a lifeless body. As the camera pans backward we see an ethereal vision of Lain, standing on the edge of the building, looking sadly over the scene.

We now see the boy talking, as if from a digital display. He says, "I was only scared. I didn't notice that it was just a little girl." As the scene fades to black he says, "But I didn't know."

Now we see visions of the strange game-like halls. A voice tells us: "Phantoma is a client application, a network game played over the Wired. I downloaded the client from an illegal server and played it. Its interface looked like a video game set in a dungeon. I don't know why it was attached to a tag game for little kids." We now see a strange screen that looks says Phantoma. The camera pulls back and we notice that this is on the screen of Lain's Navi. She is crouched, turned away from the screen as it shifts to the standard Tachibana logo. "Mail has arrived," the Navi announces. "Open it," Lain instructs. JJ the DJ is heard: "Hi, Lain. I didn't expect you to be interested in Phantoma. Yes, I investigated. But I'm not sure. It's a very common game in the Wired. But the problem is in its function of connecting to other programs. It seems that there is a strange 'hole' in the protocol. We guess that it was made by the Knights." Lain turns back to the Navi and re-loads Phantoma. Her dad has stealthily entered and speaks to her: "Lain. Looks like you've gotten used to communicating in the Wired a lot." "Yes," Lain replies cautiously. "Let me give you a warning," her father says, "The wired is just of series of communications. You must not mix it up with the real world." Lain stares at her father as he continues, gravely "Do you understand my warning?" Lain smiles, hauntingly and says "You're wrong. The border is not so well-defined. Soon, I'll be able to enter it and I'll be metamorphosized completely, with full range and motion." Her father responds, "Even with the newest model, a commercial Navi can't do it." Lain laughs, almost snidely, "I can because I modified it." "Is it the Psyche processor?" her father asks. Lain, smiling with wide possessed eyes tells him, "Don't worry. I will always be myself." "Is that so?" he asks and turns to leave. Lain just smiles as he exits, then returns to the screen.

The Navi screen flashes text of an apparent chat room. A variety of voices speak, first a female: "I was waiting for you for a long time." Another female voice: "Why? Why didn't you come?" In audible male voices scream. Yet another female voice: "This is a fortune. If you get…" A male voice: "As a result, Knights is not a real group. But it did think it had control in the Wired. In a matter of speaking, Knights rule like a religion in the Wired." A different male voice: "If you love someone more than I, I'll give up you. But if…" A female voice: "Believe me, I was being followed by someone…"

Lain is just hunched over the keyboard as the camera pans back. The computer seems to have grown yet again, with huge stack of processors to Lain's left. Then a voice: "Lain, how come you're not in a hurry to get here?" Suddenly the red dot of a Laser site passes over Lain's face and dances around her room. It is coming through the window and Lain gets up to investigate it. Outside the two men who have been watching Lain are outside the car looking up. Lain stares at them angrily as the laser pointers affixed to men's head gear flash over her face. "Go away!" Lain calls out. The men speak to one another for a moment, then Lain looks at them more intently and says, "GO AWAY!" Suddenly, Lain's bedroom window begins to oscillate and rumble. The dark haired man's headpiece shatters on his face, and blood drips from his eye. The car bolts away as Lain watches from her window. The Navi calls out, "Intruder interrupted." And the beckoning hum of the electrical wires are heard over the city.

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