It was just over a year ago that I started watching Fractale and yet i've only just managed to finish it. However, that is not to say Fractale was a bad show, I unfortunately had a lot on at this time last year and have only recently had the opportunity to get past episode 2! As a quick recap, Fractale is set in a future were most people are reliant on the "Fractale System" for almost everything, from earning a living to entertainment. Clain, a young boy and the main character, is a part of the Fractale System but prefers to live outside of it. Indeed, he is a huge vintage enthusiast and the contents his room, filled with current-day technology, is evidence of that. However, his casual life takes a bit of a turn when he encounters a girl from Fractale's church and learns of how the Fractale System is in danger of collapse.
The animation in Fractale was variable. While backgrounds were often done in stunning detail, equivalent to that of a Studio Ghibli film, other things such as characters left a little bit more to be desired. While the character design was very good overall and often 'colorful', especially in Phryne and Nessa's case, this detail did not always make its way in to the animation and is quite noticeable on any mid to long range shots of characters. It wouldn't have taken much more effort to improve this and I am disappointed that it was not corrected in the blurays either. Screencaps further down this post illustrate just how beautiful the animation can be, while the screencap below shows how minor issues can bring it down.
Both the opening and ending themes were appropriate but radically different and unusually, [spoiler]relevant to the plot[/spoiler]! The opening, ハリネズミ (Harinezumi, Hedgehog) by 吾妻仁美 (Azuma Hitomi), is quite upbeat and techno, while the ending is the poem Down by the Salley Gardens, also sung by 吾妻仁美 (Azuma Hitomi), sometimes in Japanese and sometimes in English. Both the English and Japanese versions sound equally good unlike some Japanese artist's attempts to sing in English! I was somewhat disappointed by the opening animation in that it was just generated fractals rather than any actual animation, however in hindsight it is appropriate for the series and does link in to it, albeit briefly.
Background music was used infrequently and was normally quite quiet. However, when used it was appropriate and added well to the scene. This was especially apparent in any scenes involving the Temple.
Overall I have enjoyed Fractale. As a series that aired as part of the noitamina broadcast slot I expected a show that was less prone to common anime sterotypes and I was not let down in this respected. The plot seemed simple at first, but once the series got going I found myself guessing right up until the end about what direction the series may go next. In a way I am disappointed that I didn't continue writing per-episode summaries for this series now. The ending itself however was not quite what I was expected nor did it leave a huge sense of closure about some topics that were introduced late on such as [spoiler]Phryne's work at Fractale[/spoiler], Fractale would have certainly benefited from a post-Ending episode to help tie up outstanding questions. Nonetheless, you could still say that it did have a definitive ending for the the topics introduced early on, specifically the collapse of the Fractale System.
With all that considered, I am giving Fractale an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5. It has a few small flaws that could have been easily corrected but most of the other elements were outstanding and far above most other series. I would recommend Fractale to anyone looking for a decent plot-driven anime that dosen't succumb to common sterotypes.
I would like to thank UTW for subbing Fractale. The translation quality was excellent and the typesetting was also very good with the exception of the insert song in episode 9. There's a rumour that MangaUK will be releasing it in the UK and if so I will definitely be picking it up. There is also a light novel and manga series which I will be looking in to shortly, hopefully it will help answer a few questions that I have remaining.
From the outset, the landscape looks beautiful. Clain, our teenage protagonist, lives in a small house on a cliff by the sea. Everything seems perfectly normal until we see Clain's parents who look like very unusual computer game characters but really they're doppels. However, this all seems pretty normal for Clain who heads off on his bike to the junk market. After the police come and force all of the doppels to disappear, Clain is able to leave with a 64GB SD card, which he later discovers contains data about the Fractale system. Oddly enough though, the data references the 22nd century, despite the fact that 32GB SD cards are available today in the early 21st century. The data on the Fractale system gives us a little bit of an overview about the Fractale system and what it has done for the world.
Suddenly, two flying machines appear in a chase. This is starting to look like something out of a Ghibli film - beautiful landscapes and odd flying machines. The girl who is being perused however is shot down and rescued by Clain. They both manage to escape their perusers and Clain brings the girl (who identifies herself as Phryne) back to his house to tend to her wounds. Since brining a random girl home would raise questions, he asks his parents for some time alone and they disappear - only to reappear moments later after Clain has invited Phryne in. Cue a moment of awkwardness.
To tend to her wounds, Phryne has to remove some clothes, but I personally felt Clain's reaction was way over the top. However, compared to other anime series this typical 'service scene' was displayed in a very mature manner. No deliberately awkward camera shots and no emphasis on certain things - this is how anime should be. Phryne however suddenly feels sleepy and promptly falls asleep.
Later, when she awakes Clain is at his computer. She turns on a projector, startling him. It plays a video of Clain as a baby, with his real parents. Suddenly, Phryne gets upsets and comaplins that Clain never smiles like he used to as a baby. She then breaks out into song, completing the song Clain was listening to earlier while on his way to the junk market. However, they are soon interrupted by the doorbell.
At the door, a small girl and two heavy-looking men are here to "take care of the injured girl", despite the fact that Clain didn't call for an ambulance. However, it seems the ambulance that has come to collect Phryne is the craft that was chasing her earlier, albeit with a flashing red light on top. Clain sees right through them and slams the door in their face. However, they don't give up easily and come back in various other disguises before forcing their way in. Unfortunately for them, Phryne has slipped out and they can't find her after which they give up and leave.
After this, they both head up to an old chapel and talk. One thing I didn't notice at first is how the temple has the same symbol that is on Phryne's broach. Clain falls asleep and by the time he wakes up Phryne has gone, but left him with her broach. He heads back home and complains about her sudden dissapearance in his head.
Taking a closer look at the broach however, he suddenly realises something and manages to activate it, causing another girl to appear. The appearance graphics are really pretty, but just who is this girl? Looks like we'll have to wait another week as the ending kicks in - complete with the new girl in the ending animation.
Overall, i'm pretty pleased with this first episode. The quality of the animation is good and we've got what looks to be an interesting plot line. I'm very curious about the fractale system and how it will come in to play with the plot.
Of the Winter 2011 season, Fractale is the show i'm looking forward to the most. It is set in the future where a system known as the Fractale System has been implemented to make life easier for everyone. Indeed, there are no wars now and people are able to relax. However, one day our protagonist Clain comes across a girl (Phryne) who is being perused by unknown attackers. He hides her and is given a pendant from her before she disappears. Later on, he is able to unlock the pendant and another girl appears. Clain sets out with the girl to find Phryne and discover the secrets of the Fractale System.
As I mentioned in my Winter 2011 preview, this is perhaps not the most riveting description of an anime i've written but I am intrigued by the sense of mystery behind the Fractale System, how was it established, what does it do and why is it about to collapse?
The opening song is ハリネズミ (Harinezumi, Hedgehog) and is sung by 吾妻仁美 (Azuma Hitomi). I've not come across this singer before but the vocals and backing track fit the SciFi theming of the anime well. The opening animation consists of various fractals, unsurprising considering the title of the anime but I think that something more visually appealing and interesting could have been done.
We're a couple weeks into the Winter 2011 season. At first, it looks like a pretty uninteresting season, full of rehashes and purely fanservice shows. However, there are a few hidden gems.
A chart showing all the shows is available here.
The fractale system, which has governed the world for many years, is on the brink of collapse. A young boy, Clain, comes across a girl who is being persued by unknown attackers. He manages to hide her from them and she leaves behind a pendant before disappearing.
While you might not find yourself enthused by that short description, it's been a pretty good first episode. It is running on the noitaminA slot on Fuji TV, a slot which has the aim of expanding anime beyond it's typical young male demographic. Shows that have typically been in this slot in the past have had excellent plots and minimal fanservice so i'm expecting Fractale to be pretty good and aim to write about it.
A powerful exoskeleton has been developed allowing humans to have much higher physical capabilities than normal. However, only females are able to pilot it for unknown reasons. This all changes when a boy called Ichika is found to be able to pilot the IS exoskeleton and is thus entered into a school for developing pilot ability. Naturally, it's an all-girls school. So far, this appears to be a cross between Gundam and Strike Witches and pretty average overall - nothing has really stood out for me.