Studios: A-1 Pictures & Ordet
Release Date: July 17, 2012
Format: Bly-Ray & DVD Combo Pack
Price: $69.98 – Available Here
Dystopian futures aren’t really new when it comes to anime since everyone has a different idea of how society will come crumbling down around us. The future portrayed in Fractale however has a bit less crumbling of society and a bit more atrophying in a world where people are hooked into an augmented reality, while others try to free everyone from the system. While that idea may sound incredibly familiar to a lot of people, the adventure seen in Fractale is very special and unique. It all comes down to who will win, those for the system or against it.
Fractale starts out just letting the viewer really get to know what the system is and how it works. The system, called Fractale, doesn’t really every human plugged into big huge machines as they utilize the people for energy, but instead sees every human fitted with a terminal, so that they can see the augmented reality around them. People can even get themselves a Doppel who can go and do things for the person allowing them to remain happily at home.
The main character, Clain, isn’t like everyone else though. He relishes the archaic technology of the past, but when people needed devices to take pictures, store music, etc. instead of it simply being ever present on the network waiting to be pulled up. He lives alone at home with his archaic devices and the doppels of his parents because, why on Earth would a family live all together? Clain is pretty much the ideal main character for this world, he allows the viewers someone to relate to existing within the system, but not engorging himself, not even having a doppel like so many others do. Pretty much the best middle ground the world of Fractale could hope to produce.
Clain’s life does get horribly turned upside down though, when he does pretty much the worst thing anyone can ever do in a world as selfish and caught up in itself as Fractale, when he saves a girl. The girl Phryne turns out to be a priestess in the religious order that runs the Fractale system who was being chased by members of the terrorist group Lost Millennium, who are trying to put a permanent end to Fractale itself. Phryne doesn’t stay long though, but does leave Clain a small token, which turns out to be a data module for an incredibly important doppel named Nessa.
It’s with Nessa that Clain’s real adventures begin where Clain goes out and discovers just now not black and white his world is, but completely filled with morally grey. Though as grand as that may sound there are a few issues that viewers may find questionable when the series starts getting into how the system was built in the first place and the ultimate goal of the religious order in charge. In the end though, between the Lost Millennium and the religious order heading up the Fractale system, it is up to Clain to figure out what the best course of action for his world is whether to save the Fractale system or to destroy it. Fractale paints a world where every viewer can find a different place to fit into, from working the land off of the system to living in the dream cities that Fractale creates.
The art paints several completely different landscapes throughout the series, from the picturesque beauty of Ireland’s natural form, to the more humble towns, to the extravagant mega-city of Xanadu. From the cliffs, to the hills, to the buildings it’s a truly marvelous world on par with the best anime so far. But, Xanadu is probably one of the best in terms of visuals in the entire series, with it’s unique architecture and displaying what the grandeur of the Fractale system had once been. It’s one of the highlights of the series, even if it does go by a bit quickly.
Character designs in the show are also much more unique with the addition of the doppels running around. The forms that some choose to run around in are very different than just carbon copies of the user who holds them. From appearing as what is best described as a walking bubbler, to excessively feminine versions of the female body, though much of the time is spent with actual humans, so the scattered doppels seen through the series provide a nice juxtaposition.
The music of the series is pretty great and the balance of styles is very well handled too. One of the main themes throughout the series is one sung by both Phryne and Nessa, as well as it’s original version being played in a couple places, about wishing on the day star. This song is really closer to the kinds of songs listened to by people just before the Fractale system was created and provides a sense of archaicness and reminder throughout the series. The opening theme “Harinezumi” by Hitomi Azuma on the other hand is more of the kind of music that would be listened to in the current age of Fractale. The technically two closing themes “Down by the Salley Gardens” is sung by Hitomi Azuma in both Japanese and English in different episodes, with the Japanese lyrics written by Hitomi Azuma and the English written by William Butler Yeats back in 1889. “Down by the Salley Gardens” is really the complete opposite spectrum of “Harinezumi” and both gives the idea of what the Ireland in the series once was and is almost becoming again to those who no longer use the Fractale system and farm for themselves.
The voice work in Fractale is pretty well done and is interesting to see that they didn’t attempt to go with Irish accents with the different characters as this is the far future and accents had probably blended and faded into nothing with the ability to access so much all over. The English dub is alright, though there are a few issues with matching lips especially around the “Day Star” song, but when trying to dub the same song onto Japanese lip movements that’s bound to happen. Probably the best thing about the voices is Kana Hanazawa as Nessa, who has previously done Tsukimi Kurashita from Princess Jellyfish and Shiro from Deadman Wonderland, as she does amazing ridiculously cute girl voices.
There is actually a bit of material in terms of extras for this series though there are still a lot of the similar textless opening and closings, promotional videos for both Fractale itself and other series from FUNimation, and commentary by the English voice actors as they talk about their feelings on how they would do in the world of Fractale. One of the more different extras is the art gallery of covers from the manga volumes and other artwork dealing with the series. There is also a video of the Shobi Wind Orchestra in Tokyo playing some of the orchestral music from the series, which is pretty different than the general selection of extras on anime releases that those really into the music could really enjoy seeing.
Fractale is a nice series that explores both the moral grey and what happens to people when so far removed from truly interacting person to person. Though a much shorter series than most, only 11 episodes, there is almost no filler throughout the entire series with meeting new important people and building towards the final confrontation. It also boasts some pretty great looking animation, but with the very odd culmination this might be more for fans of the more unique science fictions. I give Fractale