After the pretty intense and morally challenging events of the last couple of episodes, this was definitely a breather week on Fractale. The wisdom of taking a breather on an eleven-episode schedule can certainly be debated, but as these things go it wasn’t a bad episode in terms of pure entertainment value. I do have a few issues with the direction it took the larger story, but it’s probably not fair to think the worst because things could very easily turn. I’ll elaborate momentarily.
In brief, the only real drama of the episode was the reappearance of Nessa – not because she was no longer visible to Clain, but because she became a sort of ghost in the machine causing potentially serious problems to the airship. Not even the crew and passengers seemed to take the threat all that seriously, though, so the meat of the episode was mostly centered around Clain’s adjustment to life with the terrorists. He certainly is an odd boy – not content merely to be old-fashioned in terms of his taste for tech, he also wears a fundoshi – which would be old-fashioned even in 21st-Century Japan – a fact that’s revealed (pun intended) in a rather odd moment of Clain-service. Clain spends the better part of the episode doing laundry and other chores around the ship, and only when he realizes there’s a problem – and that an invisible Nessa is the one causing it – do things really start hotting up (pun intended) in terms of he and Phryne.
We do get some exposition here – namely that Phryne left the temple in part at least because they valued Nessa (the real one presumably) above her. She took the Nessa doppel with her to “end it all”, whatever that means, but there has to be something more to the story than that. Phryne didn’t like the fact that Clain activated Nessa because Nessa always overshadows her, “makes things more difficult” – and there’s no question that Clain is going to have a real decision on his hands somehow. Phryne seems the obvious choice, being that she’s an actual living, breathing person – but Nessa is certainly the jealous type.
All that was likable enough if unspectacular, but my issue is with just how cozy things got between Clain and Lost Millennium. This is where I don’t want to leap to judgment, as we just don’t know if this is a one-episode feint or a real turn in the story. We had a rather serious moral dilemma shaping up – with a manipulative and deceitful Fractale practicing intellectual tyranny on the one hand, and an opposition group only too willing to kill innocents in pursuit of their goals on the other. Has Fractale made a choice – is this wistful and amusing slice-of-life with the terrorists episode a tacit endorsement of their point-of-view? Or is this merely a setup, Yamakan showing us how easy it is to be lulled into complacency in the face of evil when “freedom” and the everyday pleasures of life are paraded in front of you? I frankly hope it’s the latter – because for my money that will make this a much more interesting series.