Home > Episode Reviews, Fractale > Fractale Episode 9 – Almost Crimes

Fractale Episode 9 – Almost Crimes

Now that the base where Phryne has been endlessly cloned in order to create a version of her suitable to be The Key has been destroyed, the show is free to settle down into doing what it most enjoys: moments of small-scale character drama that presage some momentous, world-rending action in future episodes but are otherwise unmemorable.

I guess I should be more charitable. This episode does scatter some mild revelations about the Fractale system, and the nature of the Key. It also has a climax of sorts in the mandatory love triangle between the hero and two main heroines. But it’s mostly yet another bridge to a conclusion that could not hope to be satisfying enough to justify the interminable build-up.

Enri's confession to Clain has to be one of the most hilariously botched I've seen in an anime

We learn, for example, that The Key is actually the union of both Phryne and Nessa, a doppel created out of the original basis for Phryne. It has the power to remake or destroy Fractale once and for all, and will probably irreversibly change both their existences.

We also get hints that this is not the first time that the Fractale system has been in danger, or a Key has been created. It’s part of a minor theme of this episode, trying to tie Fractale to the recursively defined nature of its namesake, a fractal.

Even though the archpriestess is somewhat complicit in Phryne's creation (and part of it herself), that doesn't mean she doesn't recognize its horror

But Fractale squanders this opportunity for theming almost by default, because we’re never given any decent examples. The archpriestess (who, it’s revealed, is another Phryne clone) says that Fractale is contained within all its parts in microcosm, but we’ve never seen that at any point in the show.

I get the feeling that this is supposed to be a major theme, given that it’s the name of both the show and a key element of the setting, but if this is the first time it has come up, how important can it be to the series as a whole?

In recent episodes, this is the closest we've come to seeing ordinary people in the world of Fractale

I guess we’ll have to wait until the finale to really judge how that all plays out, but I’m sick of writing that. If you’re watching a good show, you shouldn’t have to pin all your hopes on the finale explaining everything.

These revelations come from Nessa and Phryne, who have put aside their differences after finding some commonality in their shared suffering at the hand of the priesthood, and the fact that they’re kind of the same person. They also both dig Clain, by virtue of him being the only boy their age in the entire show.

I don't remember why I took this screenshot, besides thinking it looks kinda cool. Don't you think so?

Neither Phryne nor Nessa are excited about the prospect of becoming someone else entirely, so after the priestesses of Fractale start to purge Lost Millennium, setting up the stage for a final confrontation, they decide to hunker down until the two finish duking it out. Except Phryne is a stubborn tomboy, so she goes back to the priesthood on her own to settle things.

And Clain and Nessa follow, because they want to help, and if you’re trying to keep two people away from an armed band of militant clerics who rule the world through force and coercion, having one of them go off to rescue the other, who is on a suicide mission right into the belly of the beast.

Dammit. That is all

To be fair, this is a standard convention for the genre, but that doesn’t stop it from also being a wall-pounding cliché, and lazy stupid writing.

But lazy, stupid writing has kind of become the norm in this show, which is disappointing given its promise. From now on, I’m not hoping that the finale will solve all the show’s problems so much as I’ve taken for granted that it will stumble and meander to as unsatisfying an end as any of these episodes.

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