A breathless teanage girl drops her school bag as passersby point and giggle. The scene cuts to a floating text which reads "Why do you have to do this?" and then "You have to think of yourself". A man and woman pass near the building. He is trying to get her to go "somplace fun" with him.
We now see the girl on the roof of a building. She removes her glasses and positions herself on the edge with her arms outstreched. We see here smiling mouth as she says something in audible. Again we see floating text "I don't need to be here". Then she falls from the building. The lovers, are interrupted in mid-kiss as the girls body is crushed by a falling building sign. Our last view of this scene is the girl's school bag with a cute character dangling in the breeze.
The scene changes to overhead power wires. A low frequency hum and muffled voices can be heard. Floating text appears reading "If I remain in a place like this I won't be able to stay connected."
The door to a house opens and a young schoolgirl emerges. It is Lain. She is wearing the typical Japan school uniform with a short plaid skirt, jacket, and small bowed tie. She rides the train and we again hear the sold of electrical wires. The girl says "Shut up. Why can't you just shut up." For a moment there is silence and then more hum of wires.
As the schoolgirls approach their building, Lain stops and looks at her shadow on the ground. In it, misty whisps seem to float. Lain looks up and watches the girls enter the school. Their images seem to fade into whispy images as well. Floating text appears reading "Hurry everybody".
Lain arrives in her classroom to the sounds of a girl sobbing. We see three girls at the back of the room. The crying girl is Juri and she is comforted by Alice who says "It will be alright". Alice approaches Lain and asks "Did you receive it too?". Lain says "what?", and Alice asks "the mail." Lain asks "Mail?" and Alice says "The mail from Yomoda Chisa [Sakura]*" Lain indicates that she didn't see it and Alice chides her "You should check your mail everyday".
Reika comes up to Lain's desk and says "Lain is still like a kid, isn't she". Lain hears Juri's cry again and asks "Why is she crying". Reika says "Because she received mail from Yamoda Chisa [Sakura]*". Lain asks "Who is Chisa?" Reika explains that Chisa was in Class B -- she was the girl who comitted suicide last week. Alice explains that many other classmates received the same mail, and that dead people don't send mail, but somehow it was received.
*(Note: The characters here actually use the name Sakura for Chisa. Lain is the first to refer to her as Chisa. All translations refer to her only as Chisa)
As Lain is watching the teacher write on the blackboard, the words she sees become fuzzy. Lain is confused. She looks at her hands as the sound of chalk on board echos in the room. Suddenly small outlets appear in her fingers and smoke seems to drift from them around her and above the classroom. Floating text appears reading "At the moment of death? It was so painful (with a smile)."
Outside again, Lain is walking home accompanied by the hum of the overhead wires. Lain enters her house which seems neat, yet lifeless. No one is home and Lain does not call out with the typical Japanese "I'm home." She enters her large bedroom which contains only a small bed, a desk with books and her computer. Her window ledge is lined with stuffed animals. Lain sits at her desk, dons a bear-eared hat, and turns on her computer. Lain logs into her computer and is informed that she has mail. It is from Yamoda Chisa. Lain chooses to read the mail. It reads "Hello. How are you? Lain-sama, I went home from school with you once. Do you remember?" Lain says "Yes". The letter continues " I just abandoned my flesh. I can tell you I am still alive. By sending you this mail I can show you the way. Do you understand? No need to understand now. Soon you will understand it. Others will."
Lain asks "Why did you kill yourself?"
The letter continues "It seems there is a rumor that its a prank mail by someone at school. But that's not the case. I want you to understand that." Lain asks (again talking to the mail) "But why? Why did you kill yourself?" The computer/mail responds "Because here, God exists." Lain says "What?"
Its dinner time. Lain, her mother, and sister Mika are eating. As Lain stirs her soup, Mika leaves the table with her food relatively untouched. She explains that she had a late lunch today and thanks her mom for the meal. Lain tells her mother about the mail she recieved from the dead girl. Her mother doesn't respond. She just keeps on eating her favorite food --- rice.
Lain is now in her bedroom. She lying on her bed with her back to the windowed wall. She is wearing hooded pajamas that are fashioned as a bear-suit. (Balto says: Kawaii / Shades says: Kowaii") Outside you can hear a car approaching and parking.
Inside his office, Lain's father tinkers with an array of computers. Lain enters and he asks her what she wants since it unusual for her come into his office. Lain drops the hood on her bearsuit (Shades: Thankfully!) Humbly, she asks her father for a new "Navi". Her father is amused that she is finally interested in it. He says that now that she is in Junior High, she will be outpaced by her friends without a better machine. He says "In this world there are both the real world and the wired. Everyone is connected to each other. And that's how human societies are organized. Even someone like you can get friends quickly. There is no need to be afraid. I wonder why your mom doesn't understand it." Hesitantly Lain says, "I'm not afraid of it." Her Dad asks "But why the sudden interest?" Lain replies "I have to meet a friend."
Lain is on the train again and suddenly the train slams to a halt. An announcement over the PA appologizes for the incoveinience. The train had to be stopped because of an accident. Lain places her hand to the window and watches an electrical wire as a blood like liquid begins to drip from it.
Now it appears as if Lain is transported to another place, first on the street, then at the bottom of a subway entrance. She sees misty figures disolving to nothing as they exit. Now she is in a plaza, then her empty living room, and finally at a railroad crossing. Smoke envelopes the scene. As she stares down the rail tracks, she sees a girl in a sailor school uniform go under the crossing gate and stand on the tracks. Lain appears to be mouthing a warning to the girl (Balto: Looks like Yamatte trans: STOP). The girls face is shown alternating between smiling and screaming and ends smiling contentedly as the train finally bears down upon her. Lain crouches beside the tracks as the train passes at blinding speed.
Suddenly we see tears falling on paper and and transported to Lain's classroom. She is slumped as tears silently trail down her face. Her teacher, oblivous to her condition, reminds Lain that the information will be on the exam. The english words on the blackboard begin to blur until she sees a message reading "Come on the Wired quickly."
Lain is again walking home from school. As she walks she notices Chisa walking in the opposite direction. Lain turns around to see Chisa standing there. She calls to her "Chisa-chan, where are you?" Chisa just smiles. Then after panning across an image of electrical wires on her glasses, Chisa disappears in a spiraling ribbon. Lain pleads "Wait!"