As it turns out, despite being witness to a suicide, there is surprisingly little fallout from the cliffhanger of the last episode. The girls get questioned about what happens, but all things considered, the group seems unaffected. For her part, Alice is brought to tears over her guilt for bringing Lain in the first place, and she is the one who points out that they should be more affected than they are, but even she seems to be shrugging it off.
Sadly, this episode takes its cue from the first episode in the fact that it spends a lot of time going nowhere. Really, a good five minutes is spent watching Lain sit in a dark room staring at a monitor doing nothing. The scene is trying so hard to be creepy, but it just didn’t work. The fact that the “eerie” tune that plays in the background consisted of one note being hit in pairs makes it feel more monotonous than creepy. Add to that a psychedelic montage of people communicating in the Wired and you’ve eaten up half of the episode.
To the episode’s credit, a lot of the “creepy” stuff that happens later on is genuinely unnerving. Lain’s hallucinations are handled much better here and the idea that Lain is being tailed by some mysterious organization gets followed up on as well. Not only does Lain pass the car twice as she’s leaving her house, but Lain’s sister comes across two men just standing outside their door. It’s not out and out surreal, but it is an unnerving idea.
If the episode does have some driving narrative force, it is the mysterious chip that Lain receives. It is later revealed to be something called “Psyche”, a device that facilitates connection to the Wired. It is apparently very rare as not even Lain’s father knows what it is and she has to return to Cyberia to ask a group of other kids about the specifics.
Upon learning what it does, Lain returns home and begins installing the device. It ends with Lain cheerfully greeting her sister as the latter enters her bedroom wondering what she’s doing. Only in this show could you pull off having the lead character being in a good mood and actually showing emotion act as a dramatic cliffhanger.
This episode was a bit of a relapse, but it handled itself better than episode one. I still find Alice to be the most developed, likable, and fleshed out characters of the bunch. Sadly, the other characters don’t really give us a lot to work with. It had its creepy moments, but more than its fair share of padding. When the show actually tries to focus on a plot, it’s intriguing, I just wish it would put more of a focus on that.
Anime fans in the local Wichita area can purchase the series in its entirety on DVD at their local Best Buy or order it online through websites like Amazon.com.