This is Fuji TV’s flagship anime series for the season. This is the latest installment of the coveted noitaminA programming slot which featured ratings monsters Nodame Cantabile and Honey & Clover. According Yutaka Yamamoto himself, this was supposed to be the show that destroys preconceived precedents and begin the path to anime redemption. Fractale aims high, but ultimately comes up short.
Every good story element, characterization, and premise aspect that Fractale employs is sadly coincided with poor execution. The art and animation is gorgeous. The airship designs and backgrounds were very well drawn and detailed, yet only a few times do we actually see the ships in action. The “Fractale” system itself is very intriguing, yet apart from establishing its existence, it is never really explored. Sure it might have been one large and obscure metaphor for human reliance on technology brining about a societal regression. The world of Fractale is one where basic societal norms such as the family or physicality are lost. However, the show never made use of its intriguing premise, opting instead to focus primarily on its characters.
And my god are those characters shallow. If lack of writing destroyed the premise, than overtly bad writing destroyed the characters. Clain is uninteresting, underdeveloped, and sometimes just plain annoying. My biggest problem with Clain is that he doesn’t really do anything. We see the world through Clain’s eyes, but that’s about it, he is essentially a side line character to the story’s plot for most of the show. One must wonder, what exactly was Yamakan thinking when he made those industry statements. It’s almost as if he gave up on Fractale halfway through.
Fractale really is a show that tries too hard given its short length. Most noitiminA shows tell stories with clear and concise goals in mind. Shows such as Trapeze and Moyashimon work so well because they know how to pace themselves for an 11 episode season. Fractale desperately needs more than 11 episodes to flesh out its characters and setting. It is a fantasy, sci-fi, steampunk, military drama that tries to tackle too many things at once. With good writing, this can certainly be done. Eden of the East is a prime example, granted it did have two movie sequels. Fractale, on the other hand, tries to juggle multiple story lines without a concise sense of direction.
Final Thoughts: 6/10
Despite all the flame it’s receiving, Fractale is still better than perhaps 50% of the shows today. It simply failed to live up to everyone’s expectations. Had it not been hyped to hell and back, perhaps things would have turned out differently. In terms of both the winter 2011 season as well as noitaminA’s broadcasting standards, Fractale is the worst of the best.