「ひとりのアイランド ~Alone in the island~」 (Hitori no Island: Alone in the Island)
“Alone in the Island”
In this week’s episode, it’s Chloe’s time in the spotlight with the new fragment they’re led into mirroring both her dependence on isolation and her friends’ enthusiasm for thrill-seeking together. While some of the worlds are vaguely related to the girls’ troubles, Chloe’s mentality seems to fit the world of the island fragment all too well with the focus on her tendency to feel more comfortable in isolation. This episode also delves into what might be motivating Ero Yuu to mislead the girls into entering chaotic fragments where Clutters may or may not reside.
In relation to Chloe’s reclusive mentality, the islands are a novel concept that dive less into the cartoonish absurdity of the wild west and more into the contemporary trappings of modern tech paired up with the physical and metaphorical islands that separate the other girls from Chloe. While the rest of the Broadcasting club is able to have the beach hang-out they sought for on one island, Chloe is on her own island where she hangs out in a shack that is well-stocked with her fragment equivalent’s collection of books and VR games. Chloe’s personal interests place her in quite the predicament as her comfort in being on her own is put to the test when she moved from France to Japan. The combination of the Broadcasting club increasing her circle of friends and the mentality of those around her making her feel odd for not wanting to be sociable gives her conflicted feelings that scare her. The idea of people challenging the notion of her being truly happy by herself gives her feeds into an insecurity that if people say she’s unhappy alone, she must be. Her push to be on her own at this point ends up being a challenge to herself to reassure that she doesn’t need anyone to have a good time, yet also reflects on the peer pressure she gets to be more involved with other people and the personal responsibility she puts on herself to be sociable places a strain in her ability to enjoy the company of others. Where it feels like an obligation to hang out with others, but at the same time, being shamed into feeling alone ends up working on making her feel like an outcast. Whether this arc ends with her realizing she always wanted company or the other girls realizing its fine if Chloe is happy on her own at times will be interesting to see unfold. Will it try to challenge the idea of pushing Chloe into being social or will her development be from her pushing herself to be comfortable with hanging out alongside the Broadcasting club?
Chloe’s status as a link is similar to Mia’s role in the western fragment as it places her in a position that she is familiar with through her ability to detect and decipher hidden messages. The mechanics of the islands are tied directly to the technology that surrounds it as phone devices can call in specific shipping drones, upload images to social media, and provide gaming entertainment. The only thing they can’t do is send text messages, but from the girls’ interactions with the devices, they are hooked from the get-go to the content it offers them. As an outsider, Chloe finds herself either turned off or emotionally conflicted by the devices such as the VR helmet, but she notices right away that each of the applications she finds herself connected to all carry the same series of circle-based codes. Combined with the only out-of-character thing in Chloe’s possession being a message to swear to an entity, and she was the first one to find out that the one aspect of the island that is steering towards going awry is the technology brainwashing its users slowly and surely.
While the show plays its main card for creating a rough situation for our girls at the tail-end of the episode, it was a relatively enjoyable and relaxing break from the fragments that are outright hostile from the very start. Having the beginning framed as a beach episode certainly helps to let viewers’ guards down up until Chloe starts to find a pattern in the unsavory details of the tech that surrounds them. Additionally, it gives a little insight on Ero Yuu as well since her experiences with the Asuka’s of other fragments happen to be the driving factor behind her infatuation with the regular Asuka’s bubbily personality and her irritation with Seriousuka finding trouble with her efforts when she’s the one using the girls to fight against the Twilight King. On top of this, the juxtaposition between her CD player-based transformation versus the rest of the girls Walkman players also provides interesting commentary. Ero Yuu does have a sinister streak to her so the deflection towards Seriousuka’s hypocrisy could be an attempt to hide an ulterior motive for luring the girls into dangerous fragments, but it is fascinating to get more from her point-of-view, especially since she has been growing attached to the regular Asuka in recent episodes. What role she’ll play with this fragment’s brainwashing technology, however, will likely be revealed with the next episode.