Studio: A-1 Pictures/Studio Ordet
Premiere Date: 1/ /11
Reviewed: 1/ /11
Available via Funimation
First Impression: Well, that goes another series that I really wanted to like.
Taking place in the distant future, the world is now run by the Fractale system which gives people utopia. Conflicts are almost unheard of and the humans that are left receive all the money and tools they need. Since people constantly upload themselves into Fractale, they can be brought back as holographic doppelgangers and the only drugs to be found are accessed via SD card.
The hero is Clain, a boy living on an island with few others. While out one day, he sees a girl being chased through the air by a mysterious gang in a small rocket powered airship. Saving her, he hides her at his place and learns only the vaguest of details about her. After spending only a day together, she disappears leaving behind her pendant.
Before I start anything else I need to get this out of the way; can we please just call him Crain (or even Crane)? I know, L and R are interchangeable in Japanese but Crain sounds so much better!
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way; the second addition to the Noiatamnia block this season was one of the most talked about prior to its premiere. After finally watching the first episode, I have to join the chorus wondering aloud if this is really what we’ve been waiting for? A decently animated piece that wants really hard to be Ghibli but isn’t by a long shot?
Fractale is a special series in that the amount of potential that it has is lost in direct proportion to how long the episode runs. Opening on a world that, for all its technology, is a simple and more peaceful land to live in. There are rarely any conflicts (though they do still require a police force), families and loved ones are replaced by alien looking holograms and technology that we use today are considered antiques and collectables. And everything in this series is wonderful… until Clain leaves his house and then things just all start to go downhill.
With a lot of series this season, the issue has been premieres episodes that try to squeeze too much information into not enough time. With Fractale, the problem is the exact opposite: they have all the time in the world thanks to slow pacing and yet it feels impossible to get to know or form even a basic connection to anyone in this series. With most of the series being made up of holograms, the main focus is rightly on the leads. The issue is that Clain essentially lives alone and never lets on about anything about him other than he likes to collect old technology. Phryne isn’t any better; she obviously has a mysterious past but her entrance and exit into the series are so sudden. Questions and curiosity aside, I feel no reason to care for this character though and when she disappeared I couldn’t say that I cared at all that she was gone.
The music for Fractale goes in one direction and stays there for the bulk of the episode. Never particularly memorable or original, the tone of the music is right in line with fantasy series that you’ve heard in the past. When Clain rides his bike along the cliffs, a soft insert song (which I believe audiences are going to hear dozens of more times) sings about the day star. When a chase fills the skies, it picks up into a brass chase theme and when the leads are together at night a gentle flute melody accompanies them. I’m hoping that as more interesting things happen, the music will pick up.
I did really want to like this premiere but it’s hard to support something that just looks like it’s trying so hard to be something it’s not or to stand the shoulders of those that came before. It doesn’t even feel like its doing that particularly well. I have sincere hopes that this series finds its footing in the next couple of episodes but if this weak first step is any indication I’m not optimistic.