Friday, 28 January 2011

Fractale - Episode 3

Despite having a what seemed like a bit of a disconnect between its simpler and arguably more cerebral elements, Fractale's opening two episodes turned out to be a pretty interesting affair - as we hit episode three however, it's time for things to get serious.

With Clain and Nessa captured at the end of last week's outing, episode three begins as this duo are brought to the home of their captors - Granitz Village, a place well away from the technology and solitude of the Fractale system, to the point where its residents can't even see Nessa without using special visors due to the lack of nano-machines and other technology embedded within them; a revelation which incidentally tells us quite a lot that we wanted to know about Nessa herself.  With said Doppel in particular brought to the village as a hostage, we learn from here that Granitz is the home of the Lost Millennium, a group who are fighting against the Fractale system and everything it brings.

Thus, Clain gets to see a little of life away from the solitude of Fractale, and away from an existence where everything you need to live is catered for in favour of a world where you have to work for your own food and shelter.  This leads us on to Lost Millennium's latest plan, that being to hijack the Fractale system's so-called Star Festival - a plan which seems innocent enough, until merely observing the brain-washing dressed up as religion that this festival consists of turns into violent revolution and, quite simply, a blood bath.  A horrific, brutal and unexpected end to the episode, that's for sure.

Now that Fractale has built up its various elements, this is the episode where all of that build-up is really brought to fruition via an episode that poses more philosophical questions than could ever be tackled by this humble episodic 'blog.  On the surface you have the whole basic question of what is the "right" way to live - the Fractale system provides for all of your needs without having to lift a finger or speak to another living thing, but is that really what you can call living?  Yet on the other hand, those in Granitz village suffer with pain, illness and ailments that could easily be treated by Fractale's modern technology; are those burdens also part of being alive, or would humanity be better without them?  Of course, this then leads on to questions about the morals and, more importantly, the methods of both groups - on the one hand we have brainwashing and indoctrination, and on the other we have a bloody armed revolutionary factor who have no problem with gunning down anyone in their way, a situation which could well be a jab at organised religion as a whole, methinks.

Beyond that, I can't help but try to make connections between this series and Hiroki Azuma's work on Otaku: Japan's Database Animals - just as the series casts its eye over two very different ways of life, with some clear questions posed towards modern communications and technology and whether it somehow "dehumanises" us and makes us more susceptible to indoctrination, I wonder if it's also trying to make a point about anime.  Perhaps I'm just over-thinking it, but there seems like a clear juxta-position within Fractale between "old-school" anime (i.e. the Nausicaa and Laputa inspirations) and more modern fare (as I mentioned in my last entry on this series about Azuma "pillaging the otaku databse", and witness the semi-fan service scene in the toilet with Enri in this episode).  This even extends to its characters, where Clain is bored by modern technology but in love with old equipment, and how Nessa can't be touched by those with no interest in her.

Is Fractale the modern anime industry, indoctrinating people into the world of "moe" courtesy of easy to digest entertainment based around simple archetypes that requires no thought or effort before constantly reinforcing those "virtues" over and over and over again?  Is Lost Millenium the anime fan of old, who expects to be treated to more brain-taxing fare with a broader scope, and who fails to accept any of the benefits of its modern counterpart in favour of simply raging against everything they see as wrong with the new way of doing things?

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I am over-thinking this one, but oh well...

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