Fractale – 9

Life goes on, and so does Fractale. And while it can be hard at first to view apocalyptic events in any anime series without thinking of other things, in the end a good show can sweep you up along and make reality disappear for a while. If this show has excelled at anything, it’s at creative a complex, layered and believable alternative universe for the viewer to lost themselves in.

For whatever reason, the series had a different look to it this week. Perhaps the animation wasn’t as smooth, but the character designs looked more like what we saw in the promotional materials – the lines were sharper, the kawaii factor toned down a bit. Perhaps a different animation direction, who knows, but it seemed to suit the feel of the episode well. This was a pretty somber one – death flags everywhere (especially for Nessa) and lots of faked cheerfulness preceding goodbyes.

The temple, having been backed into a corner, declares all-out war on Last Millennium. “Daddy” is unfortunately still alive, though it’s the High Priestess who makes the decision. The derisive way he treats her – referring to her by her clone number – leads one to believe he’s the one with the real power. Between the Priestess and Phryne we get some serious exposition this week. The entire Fractale system is dependent on the lives of countless girls over the centuries. And the key is actually both Phryne and Nessa – Nessa is the soul, and Phryne the body meant to house it. That can’t lead to a happy ending for the two of them, one assumes – but for now the immediate concerns is the Temple’s call for all citizens to attack and kill everyone in Last Millennium.

Backed into a corner themselves, LM of course responds predictably – by deciding to launch an all-out attack on the temple. What’s not clear – not to Clain, or anyone else – is what exactly the result will be if they’re successful. In the meantime Sunda leaves the uber-valuable girls behind under Clain’s protection, and they have a nice bonding session together in their little hideout in the village watching some of the truly gorgeous backgrounds this series is delivering. But the fateful moment arrives – Nessa promises they’ll all be together forever, and we all know what that means.

With two episodes left I’m starting to get vibes of a heartbreak ending, that could just be the overall tone of melancholy we’re all living under at the moment. I think Clain, Phryne and Nessa have developed a really good chemistry – they work as a unit because they’re all so different. Nessa is of course a true innocent, but Clain is slowly starting to ask the questions he never had to ask before. Phryne is my favorite, I think – she’s anything but innocent but clearly wishes she was. She understands the full measure of how hard the world is and the great weight that she carries – she’s a bit heartbreaking, frankly. I really care what happens to these kids now – and that makes Phryne’s decision to go back to the Temple herself to try and stop the destruction – while predictable – worrisome indeed. Clain of course goes right off after her, Nessa in tow – right into the grasp of the enemy. But as he’s admitted he loves Phryne, he can hardly just leave her be, can he? Clain is a good boy doing the best he can in a situation that’s way too much for him, while surrounded by people of dubious morals on all sides.

There’s still so much to sort out here. In addition to the obvious situations of the main characters and the political-military struggle, there’s the matter of Clain’s father as well. At least I think that’s who the old camera guy is – the camera which Clain used to take a picture of the villagers together before the final battle, a sure sign many of them won’t survive it. My instinct says that Nessa isn’t going to make it but that Clain and Phryne will end up together, and as for the Fractale was I can’t even hazard a guess beyond the fact that the world at the close of this show is going to look very different from the one that existed at the beginning.

Finally, we were back to the English version of “Down by the Salley Garden” again this week. Significance: unknown(and probably none)…

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