Traditionally, noitaminA shows tend to cater a different audience as an outlet for creativity among other things while holding a good reputation. Although Hourou Musuko brought out the greatness from noitaminA from the Winter 2011 Anime Season, Fractale was a different story. Fractale was an original concept written and directed by Yutaka Yamamoto who has previously directed various shows from Kyoto Animation and most famously Kannagi. Sadly, the show was a tad too ambitious that it collapsed under it’s own weight, which could explain the reason why the show disappoints. (Image Source)
We have to admit that in today’s society, technology plays a big role in our lives. For instance, people rely on their cellphones/smartphones to communicate with others, television for entertainment and of course the Internet. However, there are some works critiquing our over reliance on technology, most notably in Miyazaki’s movies and Miyazaki himself. While Fractale shares the same criticism, it takes it a step further with the impact to society.
With the Fractale System, they take the human reliance to technology a bit further by embedding a chip in the human body. This allows people to interact with doppelgängers, hologram computers, allows for automatic healing among other things. It may seem like a paradise, but don’t let that fool you since a governing body of the system essentially brain washes people to get rid of any possible thoughts of dissent, thus wiping out a person’s individuality. This is one of the primary reasons why the Lost Millennium is waging war against them, in order to break people free from Fractale so they can live normal lives.
Even though the system had several interesting aspects, it was never explained in full detail. Sure they covered some of the important aspects of Fractale such as dead zones, mind control and of course a city of paradise that relies solely on it, but everything else is never fully explained like how it impacted society. Instead, the show focuses more on the relationship between Clain, Phryne and Nessa while the Lost Millennium blows crap up. Even with the reset of Fractale in the final episode, I still felt that the glass was still half empty. Society remained the same without the temple, except more people are gradually transitioning back to normal lives. This disappointed me since I felt that Yamamoto could have done more, but ran out of time.
Lastly, the characters Fractale were simply half-baked and weak. Clain who may look like the ideal main character that represents an average person is simply too shy and nervous as shown through his love towards Phyrne and not escaping until the last minute with Nessa when they are held hostage in the hidden city. To make matters worse, Enri calls him a pervert several times that it feels clichéd and bothersome. On the other hand, Phryne’s character is barely developed considering her sexual abuse in the past and she is only half of the key. I think she only existed merely for the shock value when she goes skinny-dipping and Clain applying cream on her naked body. Because of this reason, Nessa takes a greater role, as she is Phryne’s younger self, which is still pure. While she is cute and endearing, she can become very annoying, especially when she got mad and messed with the airship in Episode 4. As for the other characters, I don’t find them particularly interesting, because they don’t get much screen time to develop any impact.
In the end, Fractale while having some great animation was a very disappointing and incomplete concept. The show in general had many flaws, but it also had a few enjoyable and interesting moments like in Episode 6 for instance with Clain’s father. If the show focused more on the societal aspect with Fractale like this, it would have been a fulfilling experience. Nevertheless, Fractale may not be the worst noitaminA ever, but this failure has definitely taken a hit on Yutaka Yamamoto’s self-esteem. Hopefully he can recover from his failures so he can go back to directing better shows.
Overall Series Rating: 7.0/10, C, Average