This is review number one hundred and sixty two. This anime is part of the Winter 2011 lineup and it’s on the noitaminA lineup. It’s Fractal and this show is really infamous. It’s an eleven episode anime about a boy and some chick and their journey to destroying the internet or something. Let’s read on.
The anime set in the future where the advancement of technology has improved people’s lives. A young boy named Clain meets a girl being chased by some shady people. He came to the rescue and hid the girl till the morning. The girl, Phryne, is an odd girl and left the following morning without saying a proper goodbye. She left pendant for Clain though who notices that it contains data. He checked the data via his computer and shocked to see a girl pop out of the pendant. Clain wants to meet Phyrne again but he is pre occupied taking care of the girl, Ness. A simple coincidental meeting between the characters would turn into something big though that would eventually change the world.
Taking the Pants Off
Oh god, this anime is pretty legendary for the drama its director made. I wasn’t knee deep on anime when this show aired but let’s just say that it’s the “Guilty Crown” of the Winter 2011 lineup. The famed director, Yutaka Yamamoto, hyped this anime to oblivion. The interest meter was through the roof long before the anime aired. Much like Guilty Crown though, it came and didn’t live up to the hype so it now has a stigma of being a “terrible” anime because it was slowly crushed under its own hype. It’s a fascinating story. I mean, the guy who directed that stupid dance scene in Haruhi, who isn’t shy to share his thoughts to the fandom promised people of something huge. The anime didn’t deliver and it now sucks. I’ll be a few to stand up and declare that the anime is great though. I liked Guilty Crown and I also like this show. They’re good but when you’re a weekly viewer who expect something great and clings on to that hope for months only to be presented with something below that then it will certainly make you an unhappy viewer. For me, who saw the anime in one sitting, it was pretty good. The premise of the show is strong and it was thought provoking. It has some minor setbacks but it’s a great show all throughout.
The show is set in the future where technology is so advanced that people are so dependent on it. A system called Fractale has aided people in their everyday lives. Thanks to Fractale, you no longer have to worry about work or getting sick or handle responsibilities while you’re alive. Fractale gives you a “dopple” that does all the work for you and you just sit back and rake in the cash. These dopples are also a great way to communicate with your family because you can be in the other part of the world while the dopples are the ones meeting each other. With the help of chips implanted in your body, Fractale can even provide you free medical service anytime you want. Fractale is spread via radio wave so the entire world is covered. Fractale is like the internet except it’s so advance that you will never have to worry about anything ever again. Society is so perfect that you can be “free” and not live in houses. You can travel the open road and Fractale will take care of you.
There is a catch though. Fractale so advanced that people depend on it that it pretty much controls the world. After all, it provides for you and all you have to do is abide by its rules. Technology is pretty prominent in the idea behind Fractale but people also worship it. Fractale has “temples” and rituals that people participate in. You are required to pray and Fractal will forever support you. To put it simply, this technology is God and it has its own religion. It is pretty human nature though that when some people will conform, others revolt. Fractale isn’t as perfect as it seems and a few people have learned how damaging it is to their lives. They want the world free from the system’s grip and they’d do it by any means. Fractale shares a few secrets of its own though like any religion out there.
This is the premise of the show. Humanity grew thanks to technology but it is now a slave to it. There is a deep social commentary in the flow of the anime that is pretty extreme. The first few episodes of the anime have really painted a pretty grim picture about the world, the beliefs it holds and the people that lives in it. The anime has an exciting build up about the characters of the anime challenging this almighty system that control the lives of people. Blood are shed, secrets are revealed and the depravity of humans is explored. The show seems like it’s going into an extreme path that challenges the viewer’s belief and their conformity to the system. I think a lot of people got excited by that notion too. This must be the thing that the director promised and now it’ll take the notion of technology and religion then do something great with it.
Sadly, the anime doesn’t go extreme. The reason is because it has two plot points to feature. The first one is the radicals and the believers clashing head on where some people will die, some ugly truths are revealed and some interesting things unfold. On this end, the anime was pretty great. It married technology and religion wonderfully and made a story out of it. The episodes often feature the people affected by Fractale, both the radicals and the believers. The radicals have chosen a life free from the grasp of Fractale. They have achieved a notion of “freedom” they believe the system has taken from them. The believers, on the other hand, has grown to the idea that Fractale has given them a freedom they can never attain by themselves and straying away from the system that helped improve their lives is foolish. The show was able to present both sides pretty clearly. As a viewer, you’re opinion of both sides are challenged to the point where you lean on one group than the other but you will soon doubt your choice and you’re often questioning yourself how you’d react if you’re in the same situation. It’s a really powerful element of the anime.
The wonderful part is that the notion of technology and religion governing people’s lives is a common thing in real life. It’s a familiar situation and the people in the anime are often a reflection of the people in real life. The anime has crafted a really amazing story here and it’ll be thrilling where it ends up in. Let’s not forget though that it has another plot point to explore.
The second plot point in the anime is about the relationship between the three main characters. The identity of Nessa and Phyrne is one of the main focuses of the anime. The complicated relationship that started out rocky but eventually develops into something deep between the characters is also heavily focused by the anime. There is something pretty interesting here though because you have a “priestess”, a boy who is questioning his beliefs and a mysterious girl with a mysterious past. As the characters bond, the flow of the story develops into something personal.
This is where the anime lost its exciting element. The great war between the system and the radical became a backdrop for the main characters and their relationship. It was no longer about the false freedom that the radicals were set out to break but more about the mysterious past of the girls and the boy that loves them a lot. The progression of the first plot point was toned down so the second plot point can shine more. The problem is that we aren’t really concerned about the second plot point. We wanted an all-out war with old ladies dying and innocent people desperately clinging to their “god”. It’s a damn shame too because the anime started strong and mellowed out as the show progresses.
The characters in the anime are incredible though. This was one of the best aspects of the anime. From the main characters to the supporting cast, everyone had a clear role and they were able to leave a strong impression as the anime progresses. The three main characters are obviously decently introduced. The anime sacrificed its potential so it can feature their growth. Clain started out as this kid who enjoyed ancient technology and has doubts about the life he is living. He was fleshed out decently where he transformed into a person who had clear understanding of how the world worked. Phyrne is an odd girl that eventually transformed into a decent individual. She has her personal conflicts that haunted her and the anime was able to feature them pretty nicely. Nessa is annoying but the constant focus on her made her tolerable. Her constant vulnerable scenes even though she is a happy go lucky girl will grow on you.
The side characters also had some nice transformations themselves. Some characters that you hate in the beginning will surprise you in the end and characters you’d never expect to be evil would be strangling children like their necks are made of clay. Towards the end of the anime, both sides also displayed some impressive acts of both heroism and villainy that I really admire. If the anime pushed real hard with its content then these side characters would’ve meant a lot more.
The anime still had some decent plot twists though. It was careful on building them up and the heavy focus on the second plot point did deliver some intriguing moments in the anime. I wasn’t bothered much by the fight against the two factions being a side story because the development of the story towards the end was pretty satisfying. That is my opinion though because a lot of people did not like it. The flow of the story had some issues but it still delivered some pretty intriguing moments. It’s not the same as something like God challenging the non-believers but it’s still pretty good.
In the end, I think Yamamoto did more damage than good when it came to supporting this anime. He promised something big that the show could never live up to. Despite his inflated ego shooting him in the foot, the anime is still enjoyable. The sci fi elements mixed with the decent social commentary about how the world works is still made for an amazing anime.
Sight and Sound
The character design is plain. It’s not really a bad thing but the characters don’t have a slither of flashy thing to them. They have normal kept hair, a plainly made outfit and they don’t have any accessories or props that make them stand out. They still look pretty good though because they do have a clean look to them. The characters have some standout personalities though so you’ll eventually get used to their normal appearance.
The animation isn’t consistent. When the characters are up close then they have great details on them and you can see fluid movements but when they are from afar, you often see the lack of faces in the characters. You don’t really details of the faces but that doesn’t mean you should leave them blank. The movements are pretty solid though. Nessa moves a lot and her facial expression changes a lot too and you can see the fluid animation in the way Nessa is presented. The sci fi aspect of the anime is also nicely animated. The various missiles on the ships and the effects on the guns were pretty great. The effects on how bombs explode and other small things like that are also nicely animated. The anime was missing some good blood scenes though. I love how some people actually fall to the ground dead when they are shot but some scenes call for blood. There aren’t some in the anime.
The background is undoubtedly one of the great parts of the anime. The nice details on the rocks, the grass and all the scenery in the anime are amazing. The anime took advantage of scenic shots to really improve the scenes and they were able to capture a nice world full of advance technology but also have a simple laidback society in it. The CG work on the ships and other vehicles are also amazing. They have a nice touch of sci fi in them that looks familiar and fun to look at.
The anime’s OP is “Harinezumi” by Azuma Hitomi. It’s a techno pop song about love or something. I was pretty focused on the bright colors to focus on the music. Azuma’s voice is outstanding though as it stands out beautifully among the techno effects. The OP sequence is like a weird kaleidoscope scene that doesn’t really make sense until you reach the ending of the anime. It was pretty though because kaleidoscopes are always pretty to look at.
The anime’s ED is “Down By The Salley Gardens” by Azuma Hitomi. This is a really relaing song with its acoustic touches and the amazing voice of Azuma Hitomi that can really calm your nerves. It’s really amazing. It’s doubly amazing with the awesome ED sequence. It features Nessa sitting on a rock while the gentle breeze brushes up on the grass behind her. She is staring at a lovely scenery and it ends with her falling down on the grass. It’s pretty and it captures the laid back feeling of the song.
5/10 “The potential is definitely wasted but the story is great nonetheless.”
I like this anime. It certainly had the potential to go far but decided not to do so. The focus of the story is still pretty nice though and it was an amazing ride until the end. This lives up as a solid noitaminA anime despite the shadow of hatred the anime fandom has cast upon it. I recommend it.
I think the other problem was that Fractale had the sheer misfortune to air in a strong season, with the likes of Madoka Magica. When you combine that with its’ failure to live up to hype, its’ more or less the perfect storm.
that is more sad then. i feel like this damn show was doomed to fail even before people can see it. Madoka is awesome though but Fractale is solid as well.
Reblogged this on Latest Cebu Cosplay.
I found the setting to be absolutely great, although in the end there wasn’t really a wrap up and I didn’t understand what the story was actually about. I guess it’s cause I like steampunk.
the story was suppose to be about a religious war between the believers and the non believers but it then shifts into a melodramatic story about the three main characters. I agree, the setting is pretty great but it needs more. it has the capacity to be great if some needed effort was given to it.
and don’t worry, everybody loves steampunk!!!
This is a great post! I love Fractale 🙂
One can not review Fractale without mentioning: http://imgur.com/a/MAKaA
I really wish the ending to this anime hadn’t been such a suckerpunch.
I had absolutely no expectations going in, so I thought this anime was awesome!
It was a swing and a miss but you should read up on the director bragging about the show before the world realize he was full of hot air. I think he’s still stuck on mediocrity with the honest belief that his work is sacred.
Nice review. I feel much the same way. I actually didn’t mind the plot point shift. The only thing that truly bothered me was I still dont quite understand the connection between the original Phryne and the Fractals system. It was a potentially really cool back story that seems to have been wasted in being unexplained. BTW, the opening sequence does make sense. Its not a kaleidoscope, its animated imagery of various types of fractals. 🙂
thank you for your comment.
It’s honestly been a long time since I’ve seen this show. I do remember the ending being confusing and lackluster. The fractal theme is something I don’t remember now though. I did re-watch the OP video and yeah, I think your explanation makes a load of sense. Thank you.