On Tuesday, I covered the first two-thirds of Fractale’s first episode, whose plot stood out due to its great usage of storytelling elements to establish a well-structured opening scene. These scenes add up together to set the viewer up for what will potentially be an interesting story, driven by the Fractale system itself, as well as promises of character development based on simple, yet effective dialogue.
Last post, we reached the pinnacle of the episode, where Phryne reveals to Clain her intent to protect his smile (and by extension, himself, from what is to come), and lends him the “source of her smiles,” her pendant, which she entrusts to him. If we are to take her words literally, then the item is a MacGuffin of sorts that will have importance later on in the story.
Before Phryne has any time to explain the true importance of the pendant, or any sort of information that pertains to her being pursued, she is interrupted by the mooks who tried to shoot her down in the first part of the show. They’re back, but this time, in plain sight, and in direct opposition of Clain. Clain wants to protect Phryne, the bad guys want her for some unexplained, yet dire reason.
Considering that the trio was trying to shoot her down before, we are set up to expect an otherwise tense situation, but instead, the writers subvert this by making them appear inept when their initial guise falls rather isntantly:
Girl: We’re from a medical institution. We’ve come to take care of the injured girl.
Clain: The hospital? I didn’t call for that.
Girl: We received the data from Fractale. She needs to be hospitalized immediately. We already have an ambulance waiting.
[Clain steps out of the house and sees the blimp that was chasing Phryne earlier that day.]
Clain: That’s… the ambulance?
Girl: What, you think I’m lying? Look, we have that red thing. The red thing on ambulances.
Underling: Damn you! If we say that thing’s an ambulance, then it’s an ambulance! Everything the Miss says is-
[Clain shuts the door on them.]
The exchange is simple, yet cleverly timed at the end for added humour. But the writers don’t stop there. They have to repeat it two more times for added effect, culminating in the third exchange cranking up the the trio’s outrageousness to eleven, when they claim they don’t have the donay to collect multiple outfits as disguises, thus lampshading the expected “Team Rocket” trope which suggests that their wardrobe is unlimited.
That said, their exit from the scene is Rocket-esque, when they finally barge into Clain’s house in humorous fashion, only to find Phryne missing. They retreat back to their rocket-powered blimp, only to discover that it has been tampered with, sending them off into the backdrop, without the twinkle at the end. Phryne re-appears with the tampered part.
I’ve read other blogger reviews of the episode, and generally speaking, this particular scene is the low point in the episode, introducing nonsensical characters into a supposedly straight serious plot. I believe that such characters are necessary to balance out Clain’s naivety and Phryne’s gentle, yet passionate nature. While they do have huge resemblances to the Rocket trio, they aren’t played out to the extent that Team Rocket is.
One, they don’t have the Once-per-episode entrance speech, or their “…we’re blasting off again!” exit line. Many of the qualities that characterize the joke that is Team Rocket are absent from this trio. Instead, we are treated to straightforward stupidity three times for effect, and a different team dynamic to the group, with a stupid young girl as the leader, with even more stupid henchmen.
In short, the scene was a necessary change of pace after the serious scene that went before it, so its inclusion was a suitable fit.
The next scene, in which Clain and Phryne hide out in a temple that supposedly blocks them from the radio waves sent out by the Fractale system, logically fits into a revelation-type of scene where the character learns something new about himself, or discover a truth behind the world he lives in, which would result in him making a decision he would otherwise not have made before.
Instead, we are treated to a near-revelation from Phryne finally opening up to Clain about who she is and where she’s from, but Clain falls asleep, and once again misses out on vital information. When he wakes up from his sleep to see her disappear completely, all he has left is the pendant, and a bunch of questions that he still has. His newly established goal, now, is to find out more about the keepsake that he was given.
The last part of the scene is neat in how she holds up the pendant to the moon, having mentioned the serene properties of its light, and whispering to it as if it were a person itself. It ends the scene with a warm mood that effectively calms everything down once again.
Clain wakes up in the middle of the night, discovering that Phryne has disappeared, perhaps for good. His monologue at the end as he goes to bed is very telling of his attitude towards his home life, his feelings toward Phryne, and his sudden need to make sense out of his life:
Clain: She showed up when she wanted and disappeared when she wanted. Always doing what they want… Everyone in the world now is like that. But… why do I feel so angry?
Clain’s internalized thoughts reflect on the entire structure of all the events that has happened so far: World-building through his commentary on the people in his world, the inciting events involving Phryne, and how quickly it passed, and his revelation that he acknowledges his angst after being abandoned and feeling alone like he was before everything happened. He had a chance of a lifetime to do something daring, and he was too tired to answer the call. He blames Phryne for leaving, the world for making it excusable, but he is starting to doubt himself as well.
It is morning again, and the pacing of the story brings us back to a new day cycle, in which Clain’s life has changed in a significant way, and his daily routine completely skewed by his sudden situation. Having spent an entire night analyzing the data behind the pendant, he discovers some magical property behind it, causing a girl to form on top of his table as if from nowhere. In a span of a day, he has lost a serious, yet passionate girl, and has gained another girl, who with only one “TA-DAA!” introductory line, already appears to be completely different from Phryne, but still suitably contrasted to Clain himself.
And the story ends here for now, leaving us with an appropriate close to the chapter, and with enough of an open-endedness that makes us curious about the girl.
Overall, the story didn’t stand out too much, other than some really nice and simple dialog that gives off a good sense of mood and character. The individual storytelling components were introduced and were organic in its presentation, and impeccable in its structure and timing, functioning together to form an overall impressive first episode. I look forward to seeing where this story goes with episode 2. It’s already out, so expect to see a post like this on it sometime soon.