Friday, 4 March 2011

Fractale - Episode 7

Clain may be enjoying the digital camera given to him last episode, but as Fractale's seventh instalment begins he doesn't have much time to enjoy such antiquated luxuries.

In fact, the next thing we know Clain wakes up next to a beautiful woman... a woman who turns out to be a Doppel, as it's revealed that Clain is now in a place called Xanadu, which is as the name suggests is currently Fractale's utopia, pretty much the only place where the Fractale system is functioning completely and properly.  We're then filled in somewhat as to why Clain (and Nessa) have ended up in Xanadu, before Clain finds himself given a guided tour of this incredibly, if almost entirely false, city filled with the Doppels of actual people enjoying their lives vicariously via such mechanisms.

Elsewhere, Phryne and Enri are out on the hunt to find Clain following his aircraft crash; a search which leads them to what appears to be a bit of a paradise in the eyes of Lost Millennium, but a location which itself ultimately proves to be linked to Xanadu, filled with residents who enjoy playing at living a simple laugh while getting their thrills from those aforementioned Doppels within the city.  Come the end of the episode things very much come to the head, with peril aplenty for both Clain and Phryne just as they're reunited.

As seems to have become the pattern with Fractale, a sharp and well-focused episode is followed by something decidedly less so, and ergo last week's decently realised instalment is followed by this week's rather more clumsy (and less satisfyingly animated) affair.  That isn't to say that it does a bad job so much as an unconvincing one, rushing into getting its characters into the right place to continue its story in a most unsatisfying fashion.  This is rather a shame in fact, as once it manoeuvres everyone into place it has rather a lot to say as you might expect of this series, throwing out the pros and cons of both the Fractale system and Lost Millennium's point of view (as well as that of those in-between), before finally revealing just why Nessa is such a big deal before dealing out a shocking finale that has echoes of episode three about it.

There's a lot to take in here therefore, but rather like the Fractale system itself it's at risk of getting bogged down in a world that doesn't feel realistic enough to draw you in on this occasion, a problem that certainly isn't helped by such a rushed start to this episode.  I really want to like this episode a lot for what it's trying to do and portray, but this time around it just hasn't quite got it right.  That shocking cliffhanger however could well pave the way to a far more stellar episode next week once again.

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