Fractale Episode 3 – World Sick
When we last left our heroes, things seemed like they were finally starting to pick up. After all, they had just been kidnapped by what turns out to be terrorists, and were being carried via airship to their secret base.
Which, it turns out, is yet another pastoral village. That means yet another episode of world building, this time explaining the anti-Fractale group, Lost Millennium, and, in the process, how much the Fractale system impacts the daily lives of people in this world.
Clain, retro-fetishist that he is, loves all the vintage gear, from the physical screen used to display information to the optical sight of the gun keeping him from running away. But he also realizes just how dependent on the interlocking network of satellites and balloons uniting humanity in digital unison, and faces some unnerving questions about himself and the life he’s always known.
Because without Fractale, it turns out, people have to visit hospitals when they get sick. No more instant diagnosis and treatment. And the kids have to learn from books instead of just having everything they need to now instantly accessible.
Without the Fractale terminals, people can’t even interact with doppels. The residents of Granites village, where he’s taken, have to use special visors to see and hear Nessa.
But they claim to have something else he doesn’t: freedom. The freedom to think for themselves, minds untainted by Fractale. To choose a life of meaning, rather than aimless hedonism.
Plus, they have much better food. No more eating through a tube.
Honestly, as interesting and novel as Fractale’s setting is, after three episodes of character introduction and scene setting, I’m getting kind of tired of it. I appreciate the natural way that the world unfolds, but neither the setting nor any of the characters are interesting enough to sustain the show three full episodes.
The goofy, lighthearted tone of everyone in Lost Millennium really undermines any attempt to take the characters seriously. It’s completely on purpose both in keeping with the 80s anime tone and to make them seem less evil despite their morally questionable behavior, but it also means I don’t really care about any of them.
Enri’s tsundere antics are growing on me, but she’s still not as interesting as the two principles, and her over-the-top brother, the leader of this sorry bunch, maybe have bravado in spades, but that’s about it.
I still don’t get have any sense of motivation from anyone. Clain has been swept along for the ride, and no one in Lost Millennium seems to have any reason to fight Fractale other than pure ideology. There’s nothing like an interesting character arc to be found here.
Fortunately, things pick up at the end. The Lost Millennium crashes an impromptu holding of the Star Festival, a required religious ritual for the participants in the Fractale system, which is really an update designed to quell seditious thought.
Not only is this another opportunity for Clain to learn the truth behind the society he’s grown up in, but it turns out that Nessa’s human counterpart is there. And so is Phryne, who is revealed to be “the key to the world”.
So, we’re finally in a position for some action, at least. And it is brutal.
In an attempt to disrupt the festivities, the Lost Millennium opens fire on the priestesses conducting the ceremony, turning the whole thing into a bloodbath. The priestesses order their guards to return fire, unleashing a wave of laser fire on both the terrorists and the by-standers caught mid-brainwash, slaughtering dozens.
The brutal violence is an interesting contrast from the upbeat tone of the rest of the show, but even that has been done before (in the excellent Now and Then, Here and There, which Fractale is somewhat reminiscent of to begin with). As I’ve said before, there’s nothing wrong with being an homage to the bygone days of anime, but I kind of wish Fractale would do more.
Hopefully things will improve once the story kicks in.
You can watch this episode here.