First Impressions: Fractale


Summary: The story takes place on an island, where a “Fractale System” is beginning to collapse. One day, Clain finds an injured girl called Phryne under a cliff. She disappears leaving a pendant. Clain sets out for a journey with the girl-shaped avatar Nessa to look for Phryne and discovers the secret of the Fractale System.

Review: The designs of the Doppels, the avatars people use as surrogates in the physical world, are eye-catching and they smartly start off the episode by showing off some of those designs. Unfortunately, they are tossed into a show with pretty generic art design and animation. The design of the doppels do serve as a nice separations between the “real” world and what will be the ever increasing importance of the “fractale” or virtual world that seems to be hugely important in this society. The visual contrast between generic and bizarre probably will serve the narrative further down the line.

Fractale feels like a great mash up of concepts and tropes. The opening battle scene between an airship and a one-man glider gave off Miyazaki vibes, the cyberpunk based concept for the world, hints at time travel, and Villains in the style of the Grandis Gang from Nadia Secret of the Blue Water. These mashed together styles don’t completely form a strong whole, partially because they so obviously represent the works that inspired them. Even the set up for the show can’t decide which Trope to use. At first it seems like the set up will revolve around the girl the gang of idiots was attempting to kidnap. She came off as a strong character with a lot of potential but unfortunately leaves before the first episode is over and gives Clain a small stone and that holds a younger girl who is now going to be the focus of the narrative? I’m not even sure…

Even with all the clashing elements and overcomplicated narrative building Fractale has good writing, interesting characters, and a fascinating world that I want to know more about. The combing of these elements may all be a part of a larger plan for the series. The narrative may take after its name and build upon small elements to become more and more complicated. It also had a sense of humor about what it was doing. When the three villains arrive at Clain’s door there is a humorous face off where he keeps closing the door on them and reopening it to a new scheme they thought up to get inside his out. Including such familiar elements may be Fractale’s way of, like so much anime does, make meta-jokes at the medium. Tossing together different concepts, no matter how interesting, doesn’t make a good show if it doesn’t have a strong narrative to string them together and I didn’t see one even begin to emerge from this first episode. I will continue to watch because what they are attempting to do is innovative and inspiring.

Verdict: While Fractale’s quality is obviously extremely high the narrative feels like it has been hobbled together from a dozen different sources. I’m hoping that Fractale is able to control these elements and fashion an innovative, perhaps new, form of meta anime from this shaky beginning. However, Fractale can certainly go the opposite direction and fall apart at the seams. It is just too early to tell exactly what this show is going to be. 


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