Fractale | 01

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The Encounter view

The start is normal enough.  Blonde haired, blue-eyed Clain talks to his parents about his plans for the day, visiting a “junk market”.  Except his parents aren’t human, and the family pet sounds like a dog but looks like a yellow toaster.

They do exhibit parental behavior such as correcting Clain’s bad table manners like a mother and expressing concern he’s about to visit a market with a shady reputation like a father.  As the parents talk, we learn his father traveled abroad due to his job in “the trading business” but quit five years ago and now lives “a comfortable life in Luimnigh” while the mother lives in Vale, occupation unknown.

These things are probably projections of his parents who are away due to work which is nothing new in anime.  Its the fact they all live separately and independently of each other which is troubling.  We even can derive from their conversation the parents have not seen each other in over five years.   (“Oh?  I live in Vale now.   We live close, don’t we?”)  We’re given the impression this is very normal in this world which is not the norm for us.  We’re left to ponder this striking difference with an ironic comment by the father, that Clain should be home on time so they can “have meals together as a family.”  FYI:  A family is a social unit living together. (source)

Two things jump out at me during his leisurely ride to the market.  The people don’t wish upon a star but “pray” to the “day star” and despite his happy expression,  his secret wish is our hint to the contrary.  It turns out the song is a huge spoiler but I thought it just ment the song is old at first.

The pacing is just right.  The story isn’t told in neck-breaking speed or slow enough to cause a Rip Van Winkle effect.  Everything we’re shown is for dropping clues to help use figure out the mystery.  The junk market is used to show us Clain’s hobby is old technology.  His poop shaped friend tells us the currency, donay.  The hat guy shows us the existence of data drugs (i.e. seedy side to Fractale).  The police are there to tag the term doppel.  The old data card Clain finches is a digital textbook which explains the Fractale system and the economic structure of the world.

So a doppel is basically an avatar.  For us, an avatar is an image, name, or character in a game that represents us on the internet but Clain’s world has figured out a way to create avatars in real life.  The word is short for doppelganger.  In fiction, it’s a creature that can take the shape of any humanoid but it can also mean a person’s double or alter ego.

To recap:   a computer supernetwork called Fractale System was setup in the 22nd century, and humans implanted with Fractale Terminals transmit “life logs” (prayer) to the “SkyHigh Hovering Server” (day star) to receive guaranteed income and employment (which is not mandatory).  The Fractale System basically turned real life into a giant virtual world and removed the burden of making a living.  I got the impression Clain and his friend were careless with their money, especially poop boy, but under Fractale’s wing they don’t have to worry about being poor.  I bet the concept of “a penny saved is a penny earned” is completely alien to them.  The importance of money comes from working for it after all.

Funny, they have service announcements to remind them to “pray”.   Except this routine interruption, he’s lives a fairly comfortable life.  So what do we do?  We tip him out of his comfort zone of course. 

Enter the damsel in distress.  Clain clearly wants to help her though she’s quite capable of fending for herself.  For reasons unknown, she hears the song on Clain’s device and, after flashing him a devastating smile, purposely falls to her death.  Fate has other plans it seems.

Clain finds her alive and we’re privy to the most comical introduction.  She doesn’t say much but she’s direct.  The hilarity continues when he takes her to his house to recover.  She has no modesty and shocks him continually with her brazen state of undress.  Clain is clearly infatuated with Phyrne who lets down her guard when she realizes she can trust him.

Phyrne’s pursuers are the official comic relief.  They’re still after Phyrne.  They pester Clain with bad disguises and interrupt Pyrne when she tries to open up to him.  She exacts revenge by tinkering with their airship and jettisons them away into the night. 

Later, Clain shows her the ruins of a church that is unaffected by Fractale.  Above the altar is a symbol of the brooch she wears.  Yes, it’s a brooch and not a pendant as Funimation labeled it.   A pendant is “an adornment that hangs from a piece of jewelry” (source).  As they chat, she accidentally reveals she’s not like others who live in the Fractale system.  He’s able to figure out she’s a priestess of the temple by her clothes but he doesn’t press her for more information when she clams up.  He’s willing to wait for her to tell him when she’s ready, assuming she’ll stick around for a while.  After he dozes off in the middle of their conversation, Phyrne decides to give the brooch to Clain, meaning she’s leaving.

When he wakes up, she’s gone.  He can’t figure out why he’s unhappy she left but we know it’s because he’s already in love with her.  His mood quickly changes to excitement when he discovers the brooch contains data.  Imagine his shock when he hacks the brooch and it releases… a little girl.

Satisfying first episode, and the ending promises more happy times for Clain.  I don’t know about other people but it was the hilarious expressions and reactions that hooked me to this anime.  People should watch the anime just for interaction between Clain and Phyrne in this episode.

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