SEL Layer 1: Weird

Serial Experiments Lain Episode 1: Weird

My Northlake students watched the first episode of Serial Experiments Lain called “Layer 1: Weird.” I am sure they found the title of the episode fitting. The first episode begins with the suicide of a young girl. Subsequently, students from her school begin to receive emails from her in which she states that she is not dead. The title character, Lain, also receives an email from the dead girl. Her response is not necessarily what one might expect. What kind of character is Lain? What are some of the issues presented in this episode? Read the discussion questions for “Layer 1: Weird” on the “Thinking About” page at http://www.amdmathews.com  Once you have read and considered the questions, write at least 200 words responding to the episode. Post your response here as a reply to this message!

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10 Responses to SEL Layer 1: Weird

  1. Suicide, death, and the afterlife is something that everyone has in common, but our views on it I’m sure are very different. In Serial Experiments Lian episode one titled “weird”; it begins with a teenager who was being made fun of and decided to take her own life by throwing herself off of a building, and later contact people at her school by email. In her email to Lain she says “God is here.” My views on this are that I do believe in life after death, but not until the resurrection. I’m a Christian and believe that when you die you are asleep and there will be a time when God tells his son Jesus to strike the earth and call upon all who follow him. At that same stance I do believe that if you take your own life you are condemned to hell for your eternal life. In high school I was occasionally made fun of and it never really bothered me too much people were just not that important that I’d wouldn’t let their opinions determine anything but their ignorance. Plus its high school and just thought to myself it would be over soon. I find it very interesting that Lain’s response to her email form Chrisa is to get a better computer in order to have better means of contact with girl who is dead. My initial response would have probably been to turn off my computer and avoided and means of technology all together out of sight out of mind, but it is very clear that Lain is a little different and I relate to her she not someone who is made fun of but she different an outsider. The statement that Chrisa made “God is here” builds up my suspense to want to know what’s going to happen, but it really doesn’t sit well with me that a girl killed herself and is claiming God is by her side. Although I have recently come to accept that religion is based on tradition your stance with God is based upon the effort you put forth in your relationship with him not what people tell you what is right and wrong when you attended a gathering every sunday. I do notice the bears surrounding Lain I’m not sure what to think of them my initial thought was that she must still be a young girl or maybe it’s a way to capture her innocence. Perhaps that innocence it what makes her have such an open mind about be contacted be Chrisa a week after her death. When Lain is in class she experiences hallucinations I believe these are some kind of prediction to what will happen to her or people around her. Overall I feel that she doesn’t really connect with her family very well and she doesn’t seem to have any friends. I’m very confused about things that have happened in the first episode, but excited to see whist’s next.

  2. Chelsea Turri says:

    In this episode, you see two young girls commit suicide. Prior to the girl’s suicides, clues are given to the viewers as to what might have been their motivations. One of the girls who commit suicide, Chisa, in the beginning is being laughed at by two other girls. A big motivation of suicide in teenagers is feeling like an outsider, not fitting in with the other kids their age, and being taunted and laughed at because of it. When Chisa is standing on top of the building, she says, “I don’t need to stay in a place like this”. When teenagers do not believe the world they’re living in, or the people around them are good, it is a strong motivation for suicide. Most kids are taught to believe heaven will be waiting for them in death, and heaven is the perfect place, it is comforting, and motivating to teens to know if they are not satisfied with the life they are leading, or the world around them, that there is a different place to go, all you need to do is die. Although I have never had a friend, or anyone I know commit suicide, I do know it is a serious problem with teenagers today. Deaths because of suicide have been growing a lot.

  3. Shairyar Natha says:

    It seems like the girl who commits suicide in this episode in the starting does it cause she knows the secrets of life. Most teenagers try to commit suicide in order to relieve themselves from stress that they are suffering from because of studies and high hopes from parents and their ability to be unsuccessful in fulfilling their parent’s hopes. I on the other hand believe that killing yourself over anything is considered useless. if u find living hard then try to make your life easier by working harder. Every problem has a solution if one tries their hardest to search for it.

    She later on comes to Lain and tells her that God is here and that her physical body is dead but not her soul. Chisa is trying to say that there is life after death and that even if u die, your soul remains in this world. I believe that when a person die, they have to wait for the day of judgement. On that day God will decide who should go to heaven and who should get punished in Hell. I also believe that since God created us , he wouldn’t want us to stay in Hell for our entire afterlife. I believe that after we have been punished for our sins, everyone will go to heaven in the end. I am not clearly sure what Chisa’s belief is, so far i am only able to conclude that Chisa’s body is gone but her soul is here and that wherever she is, God is with her. I believe that committing suicide is a sin and that you will be punished for it. maybe her existence in the world and bein able to talk to Lain is her punishment.

    Lain is surely seeing things which exist, since everyone received a similar email from Chisa. Lain and Chisa might have a connection and that’s why Lain can see her and no one else. My belief is that spirits exist in the world that u can communicate with and that is exactly what Lain is doing. But i also believe that not everyone can communicate with those spirits. Some people have a gift and for some its an invitation from the soul itself to communicate.

    The wires show you that the place the show is taking place at is an underdeveloped city or state.The bear related stuff is to show that Chisa and Lain are Japanese since stuff bear toys and bear slippers and bear suits are common on Japan. The Foggy environment is there just to show that its a hillside or to give a spooky environment since a ghost exists in the anime.

  4. In response to layer 01:weird, yes, it was a bit weird, but I’m cool with weird so…. I originally felt like the first girl was killing herself in order to find a freedom of some sort, because she pulls her hair down, takes her glasses off, and leans towards the chimney smiling, the smiling implies that she is not depressed but rather finding some solace in it being over. She says “why should I stay in a place like this?”. As the episode progresses though, and the second girl dies, who also has her hair down, and is smiling as she rushes the train tracks, it cuts to Lain being in the classroom, coming out of what seems like a lucid dream, and a message for her to cross over into “the wired”. The Wired seems to symbolize another realm in which individuals can cross between, a ghost world if you will. Now if the other girls had received the same sort of message then the reason that they killed themselves might not have been actual suicide but rather “crossing over”. In real life people kill themselves for different reasons but usually in my experience it is a combination of many things that eventually make life seem not worth living. Family issues, poverty, abuse, divorced parents, low self worth, legal problems, death of someone close, isolation, lack of friends, and a broken heart can all be contributing factors, and are almost surely playing a part in some combination with most intentional teen suicides. Teenagers because they have amped up hormonal levels, accompanied by new highs and lows not previously felt, and less experience with failure which makes every blow that more detrimental. When Chisa says she is not dead she has only left her body, it implies that she exists and can communicate clearly in spirit form, which she then reaffirms by saying God is here. I personally am at a point where I don’t believe in communications with ghosts, though in the past I have. I think that when you die, you are dead. I am 100 percent certain I cannot speak on God with any amount of concreteness so I try not to insinuate that I might know more than I really actually do about the subject of God. That’s not the case for alot of people, and I can, and understandably do find myself in disagreement fundamentally with some people who feel that books such as the Bible/Quoran/ etc. are the way things are intended to run. I think it has to be assumed that Lain must be seeing something real/ not imagined because of the other student crying, and the two girls talking about other people receiving messages. But if I actually knew her I would probably think she was not looking at the situation clearly, and was possibly allowing her imagination to build up a reality that she wanted to exist, more than looking at pure probability of reality. I’m not sure what significance visions and hallucinations hold in other cultures, but I know indians would trip to summon the gods, so….. maybe. I also thought it was interesting her father sat behind the wall of computers, and was so into his imagined reality that he had lost the ability to even stop and look at his daughter. It illustrates the divide in the household between him, and his wife, and child.

    Recurring thems
    Wires- represent the connection between people.
    Mist, Haze, Smoke, – Seems to represent a moment where Lain is going to go into her head and see some sort of communication from the wired, whether real/ imagined.

    Silence- not sure.
    Connection- Electrical. People.

    • Segun Faleti says:

      Life does not always go the way people want it sometimes; however, committing suicide is not going to make life better either. In this episode, Chisa committed suicide because she thinks or believe that life is not worth living. She refused to confide in anybody who can help her with her state of mind at that time. I believe that teenagers should seek elderly advice or even talk to their parent about what is going on in their lives, or what is happening to them before making any drastic decision. Most teenagers go through the stage of committing suicide because they carry the burden alone and as we all know, there is a limit to what they can handle by themselves. I believe one of the reason Chisa committed suicide was because she was been laughed at by other girls which I personally don’t think it’s enough reason for someone to commit suicide.
      Chisa said she is not dead but has only left her body because she believes in resurrection. People who believe in life after death e.g. Christians, are not afraid to die because they believe they will rise up again when the trumpet sound; however, committing suicide authomatically disqualify the person involved. Chisa may be one of such people who believe in God and his word but she misunderstood what it meant. As a Christian, I believe in God and also his word that says there is life after death. Even though some religious beliefs is that death is the end of life, but as far as am concern, death is the beginning of every borne again Christians.
      I believe Lain’s vision is part of what she imagined; also, the email she read might also has effect. People who communicate with dead people are more likely to experience such things; in most cases, they start to imaging things that are weird, for example, Lain’s started seeing something different from what the teacher is writing on the board. Lain is maybe gifted in been able to communicate with spirit in her own way, i guess that is what made her different.

  5. Matthew R. McNeill says:

    Cool! At first I couldn’t find any clues to why these girls were committing suicide. I was expecting an ordinary case of depression, but we were not really introduced to the characters until after they had gone through with it.* And still we’re left hanging, but we do have some compelling clues. My guess is that they know something that the the main character does not (yet), and that their minds/spirits have graduated to something much greater. Is this like a Japanese schoolgirl version of Tron?

    What if it’s all a hoax and someone is tricking people into believing something so they kill themselves. That could be a parallel to real life events. Aside, there is a Japanese movie called Suicide Club that is pretty crazy. Netflix it.

    *Thankfully… Who wants an ordinary story, anyway? I should have at least known that it would be at least remotely different coming from an entirely different culture of storytellers. I feel so refreshed to be watching something other than f’ing reality TV. (Not that I do.)

    Some real life motivations may be the same. I suppose we’ll never really know. Typically, like I mentioned, it comes from a place of depression. I have certainly felt like I’ve wanted to die before. I think we all can relate to the subject on some level, even if we say we can’t.

    Chisa says she’s not dead, but she has left her body… At this point it represents a broad range of belief systems. Such a thing is in accordance with every religion I can think of. I don’t consider myself a religious person, but I do feel like it’s possible that there is something out there for ascended beings. It’s fun to think about.

    Lain sees and experiences things that other people clearly do not… I think what she is seeing is real! It would disappointing for the audience if it wasn’t–– just another copout story about a crazy person who sees things. They wouldn’t do that; It’s totally real. She’s probably seeing the same things that Chisa and the other girl saw before they killed themselves. The other world is calling.

    Themes
    Wires–– There are several shots of telephone poles and wires inserted throughout the episode. The father talks about the wired world where people are connected. But now, evidently, the dead can get on AIM too. (No medium needed, it’s e-séance.) This is the same way Chisa communicates with Lain and other living people. There are several shots of telephone poles and wires inserted throughout the episode.
    Bearsuit–– The bearsuit reminds of of Lain’s youth. I didn’t catch the meaning.
    Mist/Haze/Smoke/Cloudiness–– This, along with the sound design, makes me feel like I’m in a different reality. It gets me psyched for what’s to come.
    Silence–– Death.
    Connection–– This suggests to me that we are not only connected through the wires, but also spiritually.

  6. Antonio Johnson says:

    It seems as though Chisa committed suicide because she was unsatisfied with the physical world. In the beginning two girls are seen laughing at her saying “look at that,” which leads me to believe that she committed suicide to escape a physical world to enter another where there is only consciousness. As for the second girl, I think she received a similar email to Lain’s, and was influenced to join Chisa in the other world. Many teenagers attempt suicide because they are depressed, or feel they have no control over their lives. I have never known anyone that committed suicide, but I’ve had friends who do themselves bodily harm, and when I asked them why the reason was “to have some sort control over the pain in life.” I think Chisa means that by killing herself she only left her body, but is still conscious in either another world linked to or part of the real world. I believe that there is no afterlife, and that when a person dies, it is only because some part(s) of the body is unable to function properly. Unlike others I think of people like machines that require certain “things” to operate, and without those “things” they will cease to function properly. Chisa’s statement opposes mine since she “I don’t need this.” By “this” she means a physical body to remain conscious. The things that Lain experiences are imagined. I think her visions reveal that she wants to join a world where she is connected to other people. In other cultures a vision or hallucination can signify someone who is the bridge between two separate worlds. Those who see the visions or hallucinations are able to communicate somehow with figures of another world. I associate these sort of things with drug use, or some psychotic. I think wires represent the connections between people. “The wired” actually reminds me of the internet, which keeps our world connected. The bears may represent how lain feels different from the rest of society; a bear among humans. The mist seems to only be something Lain can see, and could be present when she somehow interacts with the other world that Chisa is in. The silence represents loneliness, and connection as Lain’s father states, is “how societies function.” It could be a symbol for the wellness of a society.

  7. Joy Babin says:

    Layer 01: Weird opens with “I wish you would come here…” before Chisa jumps to her death. Too often teens feel the easiest way to deal with the pressures from school, family and peers is to take their own life. I remember my junior year of high school feeling completely numb after learning my friend put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. Questions flooded my brain. How did I not see the signs? What was so bad in his life he felt the need to leave behind the people who loved him most? Why didn’t he just talk to someone? He decided, in that one split second, to make the most selfish decision of his life. Too bad it was the last decision he ever made.

    Growing up I was taught hell would be your final resting place should you choose to take your life. When Chisa said God is where she is I was a bit caught off guard. A) It completely goes against my beliefs of life after death and B) God wasn’t a topic I expected to come up in this series.

    Lain seems to be a bit of an outsider. I think her interest in communicating with Chisa’s spirit shows her awkwardness and also her lack of people to turn to including her family. Her father is so wrapped up in his “wired” world, he doesn’t once look up from his wall of monitors to have a conversation with his daughter. Even her mother has nothing to say when Lain brings up the email.

    At this point it is very hard tell if Lain’s visions are in fact real. They all seem to take place in the classroom, which is the same place she learned of the first suicide. She either has a gift, as some would call it, or a great imagination. Hopefully the next few episodes will offer a little clarity…

    Symbols
    Wires – Between electric wires in the city and the wires surrounding the train, they seem to be quite busy. Maybe that’s the “here” the little voice in the beginning was referring to.
    Bears – Remind the viewer Lain is still fairly young and innocent.
    Haze/Smoke – Separate visions and reality
    Silence – Death

  8. jessica says:

    -clues for motivation are that they are lonely, or they don’t have a lot of important people on their lives.
    -some real life attempts are getting bullied, relationship issues, family problems.
    – a personal experience I have had is, almost a year ago I had a friend that committed suicide in her backyard, due to relationship issues and problems with girls at school.
    -Chisa means that her body is gone but that her soul is still there with people.
    -she is saying that she is in heaven with god, I believe that if you kill yourself then you do not go to heaven.
    – some people believe that you will go to heaven if you take your own like, but I believe the opposite.
    – Chisa believes that she went to heaven to be with god, I don’t believe that’s where she went.I don’t believe that you end up in heaven after taking your own life.
    – the images that lain is seeing are just pigments of her imaginstion. She is just imagining these things they are not really happening
    – it may be revealing that she will be chisa, or that she is very similar.
    – visions & hallucinations sometimes show what your imagination wants to see.
    – hallucinations and visions are sometimes brought to you by people that were once a part of your life but that are no longer here, or from things you see or hear.
    -the bear may represent that she want to go back in life, the mist smoke and haze may mean that something is disappearing because whenever it is foggy you tend not be able to see things clear or they could be fading away.

  9. shankar says:

    The suicide of teenagers is an emerging issue of the current world. Majority of teenagers suicide because they think there is no help or the solution for their problems. They happen to believe that their problems are the greatest of all because of their immature brain and lack of effective communication with their parents. In the movie, Chisa committed suicide in order to free her life from the real sufferings of her life. Similarly, one of her friend thought what Chisa did was the right choice to get the eternal peace, as a result she followed what Chisa did.
    Once a person is born, it is natural that he/ she has to die one day. The only difference is some die at the early age and some die at the very old age. It is said that when a person dies , only his physical body dies and the soul leaves the body. The one who has done good karma will rest in peace in heaven and one with bad karma will go to hell. The one with good karma will take rebirth but the one with bad karma will ruin in hell.
    I think Lain is facing the same problems as the teenagers do. Her mind is so much occupied by the death of Chisa and she is too much scared when she heard about the email sent to her by Chisa. As a consequence, she sees the strange images and noises that other people don’t see or hear.I think she is seeing what she thinks might happen in the real world.
    I think wire represents the death rope for hanging to committee suicide, teddy bear symbolizes the childish character, mist, haze.smoke and cloudiness shows scary scenario and silence means death or non living beings.

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