「グラニッツの村」 (Guranittsu no Mura)
“Granites Village”

Adventure with bloodshed? Now there’s something I wasn’t expecting, as supposed terrorists used machine guns to mow down old priestesses during the Star Festival. As it happened, I wasn’t sure what was more surprising, the fact that the supporters of the Fractale System were made out to be the “bad guys” or the casualties piling up on both sides. Caught in the middle is of course Clain, whom Sunda and Enri are trying to make realize he’s been living the life of a drone. Hmm, now where have I seen that before?

Anyway, I can’t say it comes as any surprise that the Fractale System isn’t all it’s been made out to be. After all, the character descriptions on the official website did indicate that Sunda and Enri have chosen to disconnect themselves from the system. Rather than a lifestyle preference of theirs, it turns out they’re extreme activists known as Lost Millennium who want to see the entire system destroyed and mankind liberated from its nanomachine brainwashing though. The first episode alluded towards the brainwashing part, so what I’m left wondering about is whether or not the Fractale System is someone or some group’s interpretation of paradise. From living carefree lives to having all sicknesses magically treated, I’m inclined to believe the brainwashing part is merely a means to maintain order.

Naturally it sounds twisted compared to our perception of “freedom”, and will infuriate people who don’t want to feel like they’re being controlled, except I honestly don’t see it as anything but a highly invasive yet extremely effective implementation of something we call “society”. Humans establish social norms and most people adhere to them, which could very well be perceived as brainwashing. Those who are against having their “freedom” limited for the benefit of the masses naturally lash out, and the extremely radical ones are labeled terrorists. Lo and behold, the members of Lost Millennium are considered just that, terrorists. So who’s to argue what’s “right” here? Most of us could easily say the Fractale System is corrupt and should be destroyed, but is that truly our interpretation of what’s right or just what society has told us is right? It’s pretty difficult to be unbiased given the “morals” we were taught growing up, so it’s worth noting that humans didn’t always think the way we do now, nor is there any guarantee that we’ll continue carrying on our current sense of righteousness indefinitely.

In case it isn’t obvious already, this is merely my way of thinking outside the box, and the main reason why I’m hesitant to label the guardians of the Fractale System as the antagonists of the series even though they probably will be. The one thing you can fault them on is how they hide the true purpose of the Fractale System under the guise of a religion, but one can argue that religion was “created” for that very purpose all along — controlling people through their beliefs. While I don’t mean to offend any heavily religious people out there, I would like to pose the thought that there’s nothing in the world that’s as intangible as religious beliefs yet maintains such massive followings. People are told what to believe and they just buy into it almost immediately, even though no one has seen their God or his supposed miracles. For all we know, someone cooked up the idea a long time ago to control the masses, which doesn’t seem too far-fetched considering all the religious wars recorded in history.

To me, the implementation of the Fractale System isn’t all that different, except there’s actually tangible technology backing those beliefs to bestow many benefits on humans and remove any potentially problematic ambitions at the same time. There’s definitely some food for thought in this series, so much that the subtle implications from Sunda and Enri staking their lives on stopping one instance of the Star Festival outweighed the death of Butcher in my mind. At this point, I’m not all that interested in answers behind the Fractale System anymore, since they’ve already explained a lot more than the dialogue suggests. Instead, I’m curious to know what the stance of Clain, Phryne, and Nessa will take on the current state of their world. Nessa of course warrants some questions to be raised, after it was revealed she’s a Doppel in the spitting image of an actual priestess.

Note: FUNimation has resumed its simulcast of the series after taking steps to mitigate piracy. These steps apparently include suing BitTorrent users for downloading One Piece.

 

68 Comments

      1. I actually said in the shoutbox whats up with episode #3 on some series this season. Madoka and Fractale both had shockers in episode #3 and neither series leading up to that gave any indication we were gonna see violence like that.

        Karmafan
  1. hmm, interesting post divine =) you’re right- morality isn’t something we can judge. like in fma brotherhood- the law preventing human transmutation isn’t based on moral codes, but a more practical prevention of homunculus armies. everyone’s some people’s hedonistic lifestyle will actually suit the fractale system, so maybe the best solution can be giving people a choice?

    qntiria
    1. As long as they have a choice they have only there self to blame for whatever happens good or bad. So I agree with you. If the system works well with guy A that dont mean the same will work for guy B and C.

      infinite
    2. The problem is, the success of the Fractale System is heavily reliant on 100% participation, somewhat similarly to how insurance works. Everyone needs to adopt it for it to work, otherwise the people who don’t negatively impact the ones that do. In this case, it’s rebelling against them.

  2. interesting post, Divine!
    don’t know which side I would be on if I am caught in this situation… but it is true that certain level of social norm or “brainwash” is acceptable in today’s world, so this is a very interesting and hard to solve issue for sure.
    can’t wait to see how things go from here on

    jrj
  3. Man…I thought this was gonna be like the last two episodes…and then, stuff gets real. And yeah, I agree with the explanation. I thought this happened to make people debate about things that we take for granted.

    satkaz
  4. I got in trouble with Comcast over my using torrents to download Tamayura OVA and The Meloncholy of Haruhi Suzumiya series just a few weeks ago. They gonna make it tougher and tougher for people living in the west to see fresh new anime without waiting 6 months after it airs and then paying a huge fee to buy the DVDs imported to USA.

    Karmafan
    1. I’ve gotten a notice like that for downloading FMA Brotherhood

      It’s just a thing they do to make you scared to download more Anime.
      When I looked it up in detail it seems like it’s something they do sometimes but they can’t actually take any legal action with it….

      pickleme
  5. Welcome to Oceania, 1984.

    I’m guessing the Nessa with Clain is the true personality of Nessa before being dragged into some religious stuff.

    And fuck, they killed the fat guy.

    Gaze of Providence
  6. Just want to mention that the episode actually treats both sides quite fairly. On one hand, it depicts the quasi-religious brainwashing of the Fractale system. On the other hand, it also depicts the (possibly cruel) life of humans without it – as we see with all those sick patients in an overcrowded hospital, suffering towards their demise.

    Xazusa
  7. Very informative post Divine! I really like the direction this show is going, there is certainly more too the fractale system than meets the eye.
    I still wonder how, and under what circumstances this large global system was implemented- did everybody just have Terminals installed into them? Not to mention the infrastructure and resources needed to keep things in check. Obviously the system seems to be faltering, both by internal (Phryne and Nessa?) and external (Lost Millennium, Clain perhaps?) factors. It was mentioned that Lost Millennium is a rather large faction, hopefully we will get to see some new faces to replace the fallen.
    R.I.P. Fatman

  8. The blood caught me of guard. I just said holy shit out of the blue. At first I was thinking that this was a social commentary on social networking. Nobody talks or rely on others on a physical level as much as before. Everybody just wants to be left alone and be drones to their pieces of technology. Then the firefight happened and the brainwashing and now it’s Totalitarian ruling by a leader or group of leaders. This episode is the climax so far. So many things happened in such a short span.

    conyo985
  9. Caught me on surprise. This is a good episode. It turns on its fast pace mode and suddenly there’s blood everywhere. Poor fat guy. My impression for this series has suddenly went UP.

    ahelo
    1. True, but how can they sit, touch walls, rocks etc. and she was caught by the net, she was sitting on the net. Maybe they aren’t that limited on the system, but it seems nonbelievers won’t be able to touch them, like Sunda’s hand just passed though hers. Maybe those items and objects wore made to be able to interact with doppels, which brought me the question in how exactly are the priests using doppels(doppelgänger) other than controlling the system maybe.

      Taik
      1. By following the hints from the story, the net was supposed to be a simple old-fashioned one, given that it was made by “old time” believers and wans’t meant to interact with the “doppels”. That is just an inconsitence there. Also, the net is weight-curved over Nessa in the previous episode.

        SpoilerMaker
    2. hmm.. good point.

      she definitely has some weight when she bowls clain over in the previous episode.

      As i recall it, Nessa is pure data? (as in how did she get onto the airship?)

      does that mean that she might be able to take on different characteristics depending on her mood interaction with those plugged connected the fractale system. (though i’d agree this doesn’t explain the net)

      maybe she has a hard light drive like rimmer in red dwarf!

      do like this anime a lot regardless. – Great Post too Divine

      defunkt_bots
  10. Matrix… Religious skepticism… righteousness… societal norms…

    This may be the deepest and my new favorite post on this blog. Keep this up and we’ll be real philosophers. xD

    And I can confidently predict that with the way this series is going, Yamamoto’s career isn’t gonna end here. Great episode btw.

    Luxorcist
  11. What took me by surprise other than the shootings was the ‘human’ Nessa and Phryne being back, which makes me wonder if she got punished/brainwashed whatever way they do it to their priestess. Divine I don’t know whether to complement or to observe your post, either way I liked it. Though, about the terrorist, there’s a very inadequate view most people have, in way, it was those kinds of terrorist that have mostly led to the world we have today; since a lot of what’s going on in Fractale was way more common (obligatory) than it is today with all renewed ideals breaking away and finding it’s blend with its longstanding ones promoting a more ample and diverse world. But, then those whom are also classified as terrorist, but their ideals are founded closer to their wallets yet are willing to give false illusions in order to mold others to those supposed ideals to gain only for themselves, are abusing the terms of being called terrorist and can and has confused many people of what’s right and wrong (in terms). Still, I think is wrong to control people through means of society, yet it’s very close to being a system that supervises order, cause it can be hard to keep so many people in order when each and every one of them is unique, and seriously, some of them just think they can govern just because they believe they have the intellectual to do so; I wouldn’t like to see random people wanting to govern every hour or so—wait then they would separate their followers to their own little space, could it be a new country every year, nah, might have happened, but it would be exceptionally weird to see such today. Good one with the “Hmm, now where have I seen that before?” got me laughing for some bizarre reason. 😛

    Taik
  12. This episode is made of win. After a very slow start episode 4 finally seals the deal and puts Fractale permanently on my winter 2011 watchlist. 😀

    In recent years imho anime has had a glut of harems, moe, slice of life, ecchi with very weak plots – if any. So far Fractale is good old fashioned adventure story telling done right! 😀 No pointless panty shots and brain dead beach episode fillers found so far. Everything I’ve seen up to now has a point and purpose to the story. Every minute has been spent advancing the plot, building characters, and posing questions to the viewer.

    Fractale – along with Madoka which also concentrates on story – is the best thing I’ve seen this season. If Fractale keeps up what it’s already doing then it’s gold. I wish modern anime were more like this.

    Ninja Penguin
  13. No idea if anyone stated it in the comments above, but the priestess that was a look-alike of Nessa was also a doppel, not a real one. Bullets went through her as well. She is more likely a copy of Nessa, especially considering the fractal implications surrounding Nessa’s silhouette in the OP animation.

    1. Actually, it would make sense, an infinite amount of fractals (of Nessa). At the center of all those other fractals is the Nessa that’s with Clain. Maybe Phryne wasn’t punished, and she exchanged another Nessa and just made an excuse about why she went out. Could be deeper though 😛

      Taik
  14. Hmmm. This episode explained more and gave more than what i have imagine. Fractale system is really something more than meets the eye. To think that priests are controlling people using nanotechnology, now thats somehow new.
    For some reason this episode some how reflect on anime viewers getting absorbed into Moe rather than thinking that the story is more important. In other words it is more bloody in the outside than the inside.

    ♕Croosboy♕
  15. Wow, advanced weaponry punching big holes on people. Totally didn’t expect that for a Ghibli-like anime.

    Phryne seems high-ranking enough for the old priestesses to kneel at her in reverence.

    Perhaps my attention span was short, but has there been any mention what these “Balloons” are exactly?

    Kinny Riddle
  16. Seems like Fractale is kicking into gear finally. Actually doppels doing the farming, mining, etc doesn’t sound bad. Essenttial but low valued added and labor intensive activities are always good for automation and robotics. Same with the internal self diagonsis/repair systems that Fractale provides. If they could eliminate the mind control portion of the system, it would work very well.

    Wholesale rejection of the technology is stupid, same with whoever thought full control of the human mind was necessary for Fractale to function. They could simply break the Fractale network into a local network with a overlooking node that functions for a region, then another node for continental and finally a main node for international data sharing, much like out telephone networks today. No central control needed. Any destruction by unruly locals (these will always appear) would be minimised to a narrow region and easily repaired by doppels

    Zaku Fan
  17. After watching this episode, i decided, i have to comment no matter what. Thanks to divine for writing this review, it was fantastic! I appreciate it.

    I always thought the advancement of technological has brought many possibilities, medical, social or even religion in this case. But it is not with their down sides like everything in this world. If there is light above, shadow is certainly beneath. The technological progress deteriorate our senses. The idea of living with other people, in fragments of your memory encapsulate in ‘Fractale’ and packaged all together in the form of ‘doppel’ is what i believe their way (producers) of telling us “if we were to have all this technologies that eventually will lead us to an idle life could we not at least try harder to awaken our senses a little bit?”. What do you think?

    hkh
  18. great, great scene w/ the blood. T’was very necessary too.
    All of the viewers must be very attentive by now. I was becoming weary of Clain and Nessa… but now I’m very intrigued

    petitorenji
  19. One thing for sure, this “anime” is not for kids. From this single episode alone, we’ve seen “reality”. Of course everything’s that happening in this anime is possible, sooner or later. At least we’ve seen the good side and the bad side of technology and religion. I can see this anime going real deep. Honestly, I can’t wait for the next episode.

    But hey, in a sense Yamamoto Yutaka’s did a pretty good job. This anime is way different from all the others, especially the new animes which focuses on girls and moe and cuteness and stuff. I can clearly say that this anime got me interested not because of the girls and the moe, but rather because of the plot and how deep it is.

    The Story You Don't Know
  20. At first, I was going to say that Phryne was just a doppel since she showed up out of nowhere ,but it’s possible she was on the ship that the priestesses arrived in. It looks to me like Phryne was brain washed as her punishment. I would imagine that the high ups in the “church” have some level of control over the system they oversee and that’s how they brainwashed her. As for the Nessa that appears with the priestesses, It could be that she is a replacement doppel for the Nessa that’s with Clain. I imagine that she is the only one of her kind(doppel that can physically touch people) and it must be very important that others not think she is missing. It could also be that the reason the Nessa with Clain can touch people(i don’t remember her ever moving regular objects)is that she can freely manipulate the nanomachines in people thus making those nanomachines make people think they are touching her. I guess you could say that she could bring down the entire Fractale System.

    Justa_Dream
    1. I wonder about Phryn being with them on the same ship because her sister seemed surprised to see her. They seemed to act like it had been a while. And it wouldn’t make much sense to bring her with and just leave her behind on the ship. Unless she was being help captive on there. But then how/why would she have escaped?
      It’s hard to speculate on just what we’ve seen from ep 3

      pickleme
    1. Fractale‘s fate is sealed. Its rating will only continue to drop because its pace is so slow. It tries to create a fairytale atmosphere like Miyazaki, but ended up creating a lot of childish moments. To hold younger viewers’ attention on topics as deep as religion, the story needs to be packed with nontrivial struggles. Shows like Seirei no Moribito (Guardian of the Sacred Spirit) and Kemono no Souja Erin (The Beast Player Erin) also talk about difficult topics, most notably motherhood in Moribito and wildlife conservation in Erin. They don’t necessarily have a lot of fights and chases, and have very few explosions and blood sheds. Yet the characters are constantly facing nontrivial problems related to the fundamental struggles. But in Fractale, you have one little girl bossing around her two sidekicks that have the bodies of adults but are mentally too dumb to be adults. A couple episodes later they pick up the guns and start shooting at unarmed bystanders. When one of them got shot back and fell to the ground, you just don’t know whether it is a good thing or a bad thing. All interactions with this trio just fail to build up any deep-thinking climax in the subsequent developments. And I predict that the show will have only more childish and counterproductive moments like that in the remaining episodes to cheapen the grand message.

      Matroid
  21. Great review, first time not seeing a plot summary anywhere in it.

    Still, I was pleasantly surprised. As I watched the episode, they really started to make some big jumps in plot progression and explaining everything behind the fractale system. Then the last few minutes of the show totally change the mood, I did not expect blood in this anime. I’m really interested in the totalitarianism going on with the “priests” and the fight against the system.

    You can’t really say who is right or wrong though, the Fractale system may be corrupted, but is it really a bad thing? Wouldn’t it be better to live life blissfully w/o knowing the truth? This ep brought up so many new ideas and questions, really interested to see where this goes.

    Chocolate
    1. Thanks, but I think a lot of readers have a huge misconception between “plot summary” and “talking about the plot to reflect upon it”.

      I don’t feel like I ever summarize anymore as I only mention key plot developments for the sake of impressions. This post is of course an exception, since I went completely off on a tangent based on what happened. This definitely isn’t the first time it’s happened though.

  22. I’m still gathering my thoughts on what kind of series I’m actually watching, for the most part of this episode I’m watching it in a laid-back atmosphere, even with the bloodbath, it doesn’t really surprised me other than “oh, people died ok…,” was it the build-up? I think it lacks the tension I was hoping to feel, the bloodbath feels very ordinary, I hope the producers improve in this part in the later episodes.

    Anyway this series is to Ghiblish to me, the more I watch it, the more I think its a perfect Ghibli movie turned to series. I’m a big fan of Ghibli movies, I’m now curious on how this Ghiblish vibe will play in a series. Thumbs up!

    P.S. Perhaps I’m watching to much Puella Magi Madoka Magica, that may be the reason I’m not so shock in the bloodbath in Fractale 🙂

  23. Well, Miyazaki never shied to include real violence in his great movies. Both Nausicaa and Mononoke hime had a good deal of warfare going on, while Howls moving castle had a friggin world war in the background. Fractale poses a good deal of questions regarding freedom, plugging into systems (not merely electronic ones, mind you) and the price we pay for them. What is most dangerous aspect of Fractale system is imho killing human creativity and spirit of adventure. Someday when something unexpected happens or system fail to work, humanity would be completely unprepared. Only the people like lost Millenium will have the skills to survive, and independent mind to adapt. Do the priestesses themselves understand the workings of the system or have they devolved into something akin to Warhammer 40k Tech-priests? If system fails, do they know how to fix it? Regardless, both sides of the conflict seem to me as well intentioned extremists. If we will follow Miyazaki canon, it will be upon Clain to find a balance of security of Fractale and freedom of the old ways – or which is the better.

    ewok40k

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