The fallout from all the bloodshed and moral implications last time wasn’t nearly as thought-provoking, but does raise some new questions on the character side of things. Most pertain to Phryne’s motives after her sudden reappearance, as she seemed to be helping with the Star Festival, only to reveal later on that she wants to see the Fractale System destroyed too. Throw in the fact that she’s Moeran’s daughter, presumably in some religious successor sense, and Phryne is turning out to be more mysterious than the paradise technology that supposedly rests on her shoulders.
Thus far, the story’s done a good job keeping me second-guessing myself on what being the “key to the world” entails, with the way Phryne was upset with Clain for awakening Nessa, and the suggestion that she’s afraid of being alone. In the latter case, I was left wondering if the Doppel Nessa is a copy of her real “sister”. It seems probable, though I gather there’s a much bigger purpose to Nessa than simply companionship, seeing as they don’t get along and Phryne didn’t respond to Sunda’s question about her.
Amidst all the new questions, the character interactions were the highlight this episode, which director Yamakan has said he wanted to emphasize in this series. In some cases, the sudden outbursts felt a bit misplaced, most notably the slap Phryne gave Clain, but I loved the seriousness in her reaction juxtaposed to Clain’s confused one. Then there was Nessa’s “raging circle strafe” that I had to watch a few times to get some more laughs out of, Clain’s “man on a mission” game face as he chased down Phryne, and Barrot’s (Miyamoto Mitsuru) livid yet utterly childish comebacks. They were minor aspects in the grand scheme of things, but gave more “life” to the characters by not having them shy away from what they’re actually thinking — a pattern we see all too often in anime. They say it like it is, just like when Phryne popped the big question on Clain if he loves her. Her forwardness was a breath of fresh air, even though I didn’t see a “hell yeah!” response from Clain like I was hoping.
In terms of the overall story, I’m a little bit disappointed that the Fractale System has been demystified so quickly, dumbing down the plot a fair bit to an ongoing clash of ideals between Lost Millennium and the Monastery. The fractales themselves have already been shown to be the artificial stars that reprogram humans to maintain order too. I am however holding onto hope that there will be another layer to the system’s “dark secrets” to provide a little more depth. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the increased attention on the aforementioned character interactions, which includes the Granites family bonding and the rift between Phryne and Nessa. I still find the series very engaging in that regard, coupled with all the lighthearted moments, with the main plot tying it all together. There’s plenty of time left for surprise developments.