So far Fractale has been a real treat to watch. The brightly coloured and smoothly animated world makes the world seem unique, interesting and whole. The anime has so far been fairly light-hearted. This compliments the naive nature of the main character, a young boy named Clain. This episode is where it starts getting serious, as it sets up what seems to be the major conflict of the series (the Fractale system), and also gives more backstory to the characters. The humour in the series has so far been from little Nessa's up-beat, friendly, cute interaction with others (in particular with Clain) and has been fairly light and refreshing. I think part of what keeps the characters from being too flat or uninteresting is how they tie in to the bigger picture that is forming.
For example in this episode Clain and Nessa are taken to a settlement of people that all freed themselves from the Fractale system by removing the "terminals" from their bodies. The reasoning behind this, they say, is that the Fractale system is causing people to lose the way of natural human life. People don't even live with their families anymore with all these doppels (basically a holographic avatar of a person) running around in place of actual humans. Kids don't even learn properly because they can just have all the data brought up and analyzed for them through the Fractale system. These are some basic fundamental questions about human nature, which I don't expect to be answered through the course of the anime. But I am interested in seeing how the characters, especially Clain, find out more about things and develop their own ideas through the course of the anime!
I read a comment about this episode on a forum that went like this, "Fractale is full of retards, technology has officially made people more stupid. But man wtf was with that trap, guess that's what happen when you don't have television to prepare you for all the classic traps." The underlying assumption being that technology is supposed to make people smarter/better and that the world we live in now is that much smarter and better than the world hundreds of years ago because of technology. I don't agree with this. Yeah sure technology can do a lot of things, but who are the people responsible for technological/scientific advance? Well... people of course! And each person is bound to have their own ideas, aspirations and morals. The point is that humans, on the most basic level, don't change much no matter how advanced technology gets.
About the "trap" at the end of the anime being unrealistic, it's not like miraculously one day a bunch of scientists/engineers invented this god-like system called Fractale and enslaved humanity... instead it's probably the case that technology developed over time and implemented over time, the blocks set in place until eventually the whole system is realized. And it's not like we haven't seen/heard of this sort of thing with religions/cults etc. (just because people are religious/in a cult doesn't mean all of them are crazy or stupid, they are still human.)
Okay, so now it's starting to sound like this anime is some sort of science-fiction/fairy tale... One the one hand the anime could focus on the science-fiction plot, uncover the true nature of Fractale system, the people behind it, stop the evil manipulators and whatnot. On the other hand it could focus on the development of Clain and Nessa's characters. I am hoping that the anime finds a good balance and does not end up making the characters or plot feel cheap.
Fractale has been an enjoyable anime so far and I am excited to see how it all unfolds!