With Phryne disappearing and Nessa dropping into place, poor Clain's head is pretty much spinning at this point.
What They Say:
When Clain examines Phryne's pendant, a life-like girl named Nessa appears. When her curiosity and odd behavior causes trouble, Clain is forced to leave her in the city'"but he can't shake a new feeling that something is amiss.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The opening episode of Fractale set up an interesting premise and then switched things out at the end when Phryne disappears and we get the bubbly and outgoing Nessa instead. It's the kind of switch that can absolutely knock the interest level in a show off considerably, or it may draw you in more, all depending on how you feel about the two characters that have suddenly swapped spots. With the change, it's easy to understand why Clain is so thrown off by everything as Nessa is completely unlike what he was just dealing with. Nessa's pretty all over the map with emotions, from being silly to sad with tears welling up and then on to dancing. She even asks Clain if he wants to pet her on the head a little bit. While Phryne certainly made an impression, it pales compared to that of Nessa.
Some details start to filter out as the episode progresses and Clain takes her into town at his dopler's insistence to bring her to the police to figure out what to do with her. The town is interesting in that it's very pristine, very clean in its look and layout but still very natural as well. Clain mentions that there's few people that actually live in town here because those that are still around prefer to live in mobile homes as they seek out something. Clain's the odd one out as he likes old things which is why he collects stuff and lives inside an actual house where he can store it all. It's all quite mysterious to Nessa, but it does get her down with the people there as she tries to understand what it is that they're feeling since she views them all as just being lost.
Nessa's presence is an absolute disaster though as her touch seems to turn everything on end, from the mobile homes driving off on their own and even basic umbrellas suddenly spinning wildly out of control. Nessa becomes even more mysterious by these actions and it just reinforces for Clain that he has to get rid of her. Her arrival has been curious at the least from the start but every minute spent with her seems to unearth something more about her amid this very calm and utopian like setting. Clain's examination into things leads him down some curious paths as he starts to look at what's really going on with Nessa, and like the time they spent together, it all adds little touches to our understanding of how this world work. There's a very precise and careful unveiling of information here. What I keep finding is that it feels like some old British science fiction movies or TV series with its music and pacing where it has such a sense of quiet about it that it's almost chilling.
Fractale has such an unsual sense of pacing and style about it, one that comes from not being constrained by working off a chapter by chapter manga source, that you're far less sure of what's coming next. In these first two episodes we've been teased very well about what the world is like in this future and how eccentric Clain really is in the end, even if we see him as fairly normal. The swapping of the girls leaves me less than thrilled since it feels a little bit like bait and switch, even more so because I find myself not caring much for Nessa as a character, but I'm curious as to what the real meaning behind everything is. There's a really rich look to this with a great sense of beauty and peace and Nessa looks to introduce chaos to all of it simply by force of personality. The mysteries here in the setup and world are what will draw me back, but I'm finding myself feeling very guarded about the shows true potential.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Dell 10.1 Netbook via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.