If episode three of Fractale were to have a headline to promote it, it would probably be "from moe to massacre in thirty seconds", and it's with that lighting fast change in tone that we enter Fractale's latest instalment.
With Lost Millennium's attempt to disrupt the Star Festival not really going to plan despite that aforementioned bloodbath, and with the indoctrination of those living under the Fractale system continuing, our heroes (or are they villains) of the piece decide it's time for a change of tact, and instead focus their efforts on kidnapping Phryne after her arrival to guide the festival. This they duly achieve, escaping in their airship with Phryne, and of course with Clain and Nessa also in tow. The fallout from this incident gives Clain a little time to pause and reflect upon seeing death for the first time in his life; something which is effectively impossible to encounter within the Fractale system, thus bringing up another moral and/or philosophical point for the viewer to consider.
That aside, it's pretty clear (and not entirely without merit) that Clain continues Lost Millennium to be little more than murderers and terrorist, leaving him to decide to free Phryne and escape - a plan which earns him a surprising rebuke from Phryne herself of all people. There's also rather an awkward stand-off between herself and Nessa which is never fully explained during the episode beyond that fact that they are complete opposites in one respect - Nessa "loves love" while Phyrne professes to hating love.
Following their attack on the Star Festival, Lost Millennium's Granitz family are labelled criminals, taking us quickly to a face-off between Lost Millennium and those in power within Fractale - a rather tumultuous state of affairs which sees Clain in particular tossed this way and that as he follows Phryne down a path that leads both of them pretty much exactly where they started the episode, as guests of Lost Millennium and the Granitz family.
As entertainment value goes, this week's Fractale certainly aimed to pack a fair amount into its running time - life, death, love, action and a developing story with more turns than a particularly arduous lock. As per last week's episode, it also made sure to put some philosophical questions well and truly in the viewer's court - is witnessing death an important part of being human, even when its unavoidable? Are the two sides shown within this series so deeply involved in their hatred of one another that they can't allow themselves to accept even the slightest hint of the other's culture or way of life? Is that itself a commentary on Japanese society?
Away from such questions, there's also a lot of internal queries about Fractale's story, in particular the relationship between Nessa and Phryne - how this explains may well be pivotal to how this series develops and is viewed, so in a sense everything that we've seen this episode feels like it will rely heavily on the next instalment to give us the full picture before we can judge it properly. Given what I've seen thus far though, I'm happy to give it more time to explain and unravel itself, as I continue to find myself fascinated by what this series seems to be trying to tell or ask us even if I'm not sure where its literal content is heading.