Review: Fractale

Fractale

Mimi: Noitamina series are known for being very experimental, artistic, and creative. They have a certain air about them that makes them feel special. Now and then, a show pops up that doesn’t quite feel like it belongs in the family, the most recent example of this being Fractale. Noitamina rarely produces an adventure shounen series, so this was both unexpected and interesting. What we got is certainly a creative anime that looks pretty, but unfortunately, it winds up being so flawed that it greatly disappoints.

In the futuristic world of Fractale, people depend on the “Fractale System” to live, which is like getting sucked into virtual reality—they forget what’s real, and the rich just party around in fake, beautiful cities. They’re equipped with Fractale Terminals that monitor their health, and they navigate the world using holographic avatars called Doppels. The main issue is that the system is breaking down and people are starting to lose faith, which is the perfect opportunity for rebels to fight against the system. If this isn’t an awesome premise, then I don’t know what is. Fractale sorta feels like the younger brother of Last Exile, as it also has airship battles, a religious enemy, a girl with a mysterious power, and stunning visuals. Pretty cool so far, right?

The problem, however, lies within the execution of the story and annoying characters. Most of it focuses on developing the generic male-lead, Clain, who is constantly embarrassed around girls and being labeled a pervert. It doesn’t help that a couple of goons closely resembling Team Rocket, a moe girl, and a whiny brat bug the heck out of him either. Some of the episodes are rather slow and don’t advance the plot directly, resulting in a rushed ending that throws a bunch of nonsensical ideas together and makes some characters feel utterly pointless. In a nutshell, Fractale is 70% Clain and 30% plot. I don’t have anything against character-driven series, but the fact that Clain and his friendships take up so much attention, and the best part of the show is the premise, the potential feels somewhat wasted here. I would have liked to see Fractale focus just as much on the plot, villains, and traveling, or at least kill the redundant pervert jokes.

Adventure series like this really don’t seem to suit Noitamina. The only thing that is consistently good about Fractale is the beautiful artwork. But despite its most creative aspects (which earned all the points), it just pales in comparison to the other Noitamina series I’ve seen that are better executed. Overall, Noitamina has received its lowest ratings ever this season, which I am a little surprised by (I thought people hated House of Five Leaves and Tatami Galaxy the most). Not even the beautiful tale of Wandering Son could keep it afloat this time. But hey, it has some very promising shows coming up next: [C] The Money of Soul and Possibility Control, AnoHana, Usagi Drop, and No. 6. Alex wants to blog the first two, so I guess that I’ll be taking over summer season. >:3

Mimi’s Score: 7 Meeps out of 10 (Good)

    

    

    

 

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Recommendations: Last Exile, Eureka 7, and Xam’d. I enjoyed these much more than Fractale, but what they have in common are: Adventure, futuristic technology, flying ships, a girl with a mysterious power, and a high school-aged male protagonist.

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Fractale Episode 11 [Final]

Paradise

Summary: Everything goes BOOM!

Mimi: Soooo Phryne slips into a trance-like state and stabs her pedophile father, Dias turns into a suicide bomber (well he sure was a pointless character), the Temple gets blown up, and Phryne decides to become the key after all. Now throw in Clain’s love confession to Phryne, some pretty sparkles, and a coma scene, and that’s this episode in a nutshell. Oh yeah, must not forget that God turns out to be the original 16-year old Phryne who is living in a world like ours, and she created Nessa, the 10-year old version of herself, to cope with a traumatic event, which I suspect was sexual abuse by her father. Well okay…but who cares? In the end, Clain gets the girl, and everyone happily waits it out until the Fractale System breaks down again. What a disappointing, rushed, and messy ending. Annnd they killed off my favorite character, Sunda, which just wasn’t cool at all. I’m just kinda glad it’s over.

Fractale Episode 10

To the Temple

Summary: Phryne tries to negotiate with Moeran.

Mimi: As I had hoped, this episode is quite exciting, as it delivers a ton of gorgeous action and intense emotions. Phryne gets in a heated argument with Moeran, expressing her wish to liberate the people from the Fractale system, but Moeran is unable to see how anyone could live without it; people need the ‘easy way out’ and something to worship. It turns out that Moeran is filled with deep-seated anger towards Phryne for being the special one, and she attempts to strangle her. Phryne manages to get away, but instead of being angry at her, she understands her loneliness and suffering as a defiled clone. Meanwhile, Clain and Sunda infiltrate The Temple, and Enri and Nessa go on their own accord. By the time Clain arrives, Nessa is captured and being tampered with, and he blindly fires at the people restraining her. That’s right, the boy who couldn’t even hurt a fly before now jumps into all the action! I’m so proud of you, son.

Interestingly, Dias arrives to help them out with the aid of his Fractale terminal (tsk tsk tsk, he isn’t supposed to have something like that), and he encourages Clain and Nessa to find Phryne. His real objective, however, is to have his own guys track them down to where Phryne is and kill her. If she’s dead, then the Temple simply can’t reboot the Fractale System, and it’ll lose its morale. Phryne barely escapes them and meets up with Clain and Nessa, talking to them through a transparent wall. Then the pedophile father shows up and is sure to end the episode in a sick, twisted way. But hey, something sexual has to happen to make up for Clain not getting any pervert jokes this time. All in all, I really enjoyed this episode. Although I wish it weren’t so late in the series to be able to say this, Clain has become likeable, and the main characters show decent signs of development given the episode limit. Fractale might be a little difficult to review and rate though, due to the mixture of exciting and not-so-exciting episodes, but I’ll be working on that for a while next week.

Fractale Episode 9

No Way Out

Summary: The war finally begins!

Mimi: Ah, the calm before the storm….sort of. The Temple openly declares war against Lost Millennium and attacks their villages, leaving them no choice but to fight for real this time. They only just begin to engage in airship combat at the end of the episode; I’m hoping that there will be a lot more of it in the next one (really loves that kinda stuff). For the most part though, this episode is rather calm and tense. Sunda’s crew isn’t exactly receiving cheers and smiles from the villagers after that major announcement, but everyone tries to spend their last moment together as peacefully as possible. Clain, Nessa, and Phryne grow closer than ever before, and Phryne reveals more about her and Nessa–that is, the ‘key’ will be born when they become one entity. Phryne isn’t sure about how that would happen, but she doubts that they will ever be the same again.

What I particularly liked about this episode was Clain’s new found courage. He offers to fight alongside Sunda, although he gets left behind with Phryne and Nessa somewhere. Then when Phryne leaves them in the middle of the night (shouldn’t Clain have learned to set up traps by now?), he quickly decides to set out for her, so good for him. She actually returns to the Temple, believing that she will be able to resolve the conflict somehow. We ought to be having an action-packed finale, so this should be good. I still can’t say that Fractale has been a smooth ride all the way through, and I wish that things were executed differently here and there, but I’m not going to criticize it much anymore. All that’s left is to enjoy the last two episodes as best we can. Bring on the gorgeous fireworks!

Fractale Episode 8

Secret of the Underground

Summary: Nessa goes in to rescue Clain.

Mimi: This episode was…alright. Clain gets healed by a Nessa clone, discovers a room full of other Nessa clones, and realizes that they’re all younger Phrynes. Meanwhile, Phryne’s father wants to run a little experiment on her to test if she’s still the key, but Nessa (the doppel) suddenly appears and wrecks the place. Together, Nessa and Phryne find Clain, and they make a run for it. The crew arrives in the nick of time, but Dias blows the place up, hardly allowing enough time for them to escape. I’m sure they’re all fine and dandy in the next episode though.

Like always, the visuals are stunning, but I didn’t feel anything special from this episode. There’s only three left, so I’m crossing my fingers for some excitement. Right now, my rating for the series is wobbling between a 7 and 8. I really want to give it an 8 for its creativity and visuals, but it’s lacking a bit in the story and character department. I can only remember two episodes that ‘wowed’ me, and the rest is just too focused on developing perverted ‘ol Clain who has yet to be a fascinating, memorable character. It’s not that I haven’t been enjoying the show, but it could be better.

Fractale Episode 7

Veneer Town

Summary: Clain explores a beautiful city where the Fractale System is still completely functional.

Mimi: Wow, this episode is eye-candy galore! Clain randomly sets off in a smaller ship with Nessa, crashes somewhere, and winds up in “the perfect city” called Xanadu. There, he meets a doppel who dresses him up as a girl and shows him around. Nessa is there as well, but another doppel is holding her captive, and she isn’t feeling well because she has been infected by some kind of virus. It turns out that the two doppels are planning to turn them in to the Temple to get an award. Clain and Nessa attempt to escape, but after Clain gets harmed, Nessa goes berserk and just destroys the entire system.

What comes next is an unpredictable, wtf ending: Clain gets shot, and the Temple arrives to capture them. What a cliffhanger. And worse, there’s no preview for the next episode. -_-! So yeah, things are getting very interesting again. Fractale is simply at its best when it shows off its creativity, and this episode is full of it. From here, it looks like the plot is really going to go somewhere. Hopefully, this will put a limit on those redundant perverted jokes and Clain’s embarrassment around pretty girls because we certainly could use a change of pace.

Fractale Episode 6

The Farthest Town

Summary: Clain meets a strange man who carries an antique digital camera.

Mimi: This is an episode mostly about Clain, which isn’t particularly special in any way, but a couple interesting things do happen. One, the crew bumps into another faction of Millennium called Alabaster, lead by a good-looking (and obviously bad) guy named Dias. Two, the last minute of the episode reveals that the old man with the camera to be Clain’s father. It’s really sad that the guy is so sick that he’s dying, and Clain doesn’t find out who he is…but I’m glad that he made an appearance, as I’ve been wondering for a while now about Clain’s parent’s whereabouts. I don’t know if I should be making assumptions about his mother just yet, but it’d be worthwhile to see what happened to her as well.

At any rate, Dias (whose name reminds me of Dio from Last Exile…will this always make me think of that show?)  is an interesting new character to pop up in the series. However, we’re already at half-point, so this is really going to have to pick up speed now. Rather than having another slow episode containing pervert jokes, I’d like to see the series dip into more action and get the plot moving…the crew is fleshed out well enough for now. I still don’t feel good about the series’ short length, but I’m hoping for a decent last half.