「虚飾の街」 (Kyoshoku no Machi)
After all the flipping back and forth between lighthearted and serious moods, it was probably only a matter of time before this series pulled out one of its bigger trump cards in an attempt to blow viewers away. This time around, it looks like it’s done just that, going for that “oomph” factor with not one, but two big turn of events in rapid succession.
I’m almost inclined to say it went the “Madoka route” given that series’ knack for wowing audiences with its unexpected twists, except Fractale did much the same in its own third episode. The difference is it didn’t build on what transpired then, which should change now that Clain’s on the receiving end and lying in a pool of his own blood. It was a pretty good cliffhanger, exemplified by Nessa’s scream and Phryne and Enri arriving moments too late, and was only taken away from by Nessa’s Fractale System destroying explosion just prior, and how I can’t fathom the possibility of our main character dying on the seventh episode.
I imagine Clain will be saved by a combination of emergency treatment and the medical benefits of being connected to the Fractale System, so the questions I have are the ones surrounding Nessa. She’s the doppel of one of the Monastery’s key priestesses and possesses the power to both destroy cyber paradises like Xanadu and sever all user terminals attached to it, suggesting that the entire system might be dependent on her. If that’s the case, it should be big news to Lost Millennium in their attempt to bring those so detached from reality back to the real world, and will likely be a cornerstone for development in the remaining four episodes.
The introduction of Gail (Juku Ikkyuu), his doppel Megan (Toyosaki Aki), and Colin (Kamiya Hiroshi) has already shown another side to the easygoing lifestyle, in that there’s no shortage of personal greed in the world even when the Fractale System is supposed to take care of everything. It also hinted at some traumatic experience Phryne’s had when Gail hit her and subsequently looked like he was going to rape her. That I wasn’t expecting, though I do appreciate how it adds another layer to the story, alongside some unexpected antagonists trying to cash in on the bounty on Clain, Phryne, and Nessa’s heads. Colin in particular also helped break away from the relatively straightforward Lost Millennium versus Monastery progression and added to the adventurous feel of the story after Clain found himself in a surreal cyber paradise, raising questions on whether he’ll have a bigger role in the grand scheme of things.
Finally, I should mention that the nameless priestess seen talking to Barrot this episode is played by the same seiyuu as Clain’s mother and Tsunami Granites. I’m inclined to conclude that there’s no relation between any of them because Yoshida Ayuko isn’t a prominent seiyuu, but it would be pretty wild if Clain’s mother turned out to be an antagonist.