Fractale and Why It Does not Suck
This is not necessarily a review of the anime Fractale but more of an in depth discussion as to why I think Fractale worked, or rather why I think Fractale achieved what it was set out to do from the get go, and that was revolutionise the Anime industry after its release, according to Mr Yutaka Yamamoto anyway.
If there is one thing this series managed to do it was successfully hype itself and stir an uproar in the fandom and also in the industry. Right from the get go the Director Yutaka “Yamakan” Yamamoto famous for working on the first season of Haruhi Suzumiya and the first four episodes of Lucky Star, stated that he would Retire from directing if Fractale was a flop. As you probably already know Yamakan is one of those directors that has an ego larger than life, probably as big as Mamoru Oshii’s and Miyazaki. No I take that back nobody has an ego even half the size of Miyazakis’. Anyway Yamakan came out to the public and declared that this new project he was working on would “Save the Anime Industry” and who were we to dispute him? He did direct the Black Rock Shooter OVA afterall.
Just a few days before the anime was meant to air in Japan, Funimation announced that they would Stream the noitaminA show. Fans rejoiced and we couldn’t wait to get to see this anime legally and in high quality. The first episode was fairly decent, the scenery was very reminiscent of Studio Ghibli films with lush green vegetation and very detailed backgrounds. The combination of futuristic gadgets and robots with the natural utopian like vegetation had all the sci fi nerds licking their lips with satisfaction. This was going to be a great show we all thought to ourselves.
However, drama was lurking right around the corner. After only simulcasting the first episode, the Fractale committee in Japan caught wind of all the Illegal Funimation rips that were floating across the interwebs and demanded that Funimation cease to broadcast the show until they deal with all the piracy in the west. No kidding, they expected FUNimation to halt all illegal streams of the Fractale anime before they could continue on to air the next episode. A few days later Funimation informed the public that everything was all sorted and that they could continue to simulcast the show. On to the second episode then.
At this point even if you weren’t at all slightly interested in this anime you certainly were forced to at least give it a go, it garnered a lot more attention thanks to all of this drama and bickering and some fans, most fans seemed to be enjoying it a lot.
Everyone had Unreasonably high Expectations for this show and honestly I don’t balme them. I sat back and thought to myself, “what do I expect from a Yamakan show and what makes me like it?” The answers were not as complicated as you probably assume they were.
1.Slow Paced Slice of Life: Most if not all of Yamakans shows have been slice of life comedies and dramas’. I didn’t go into Fractale expecting to be blown away by amazing action, crazy plot twists and cliffhangers. This is the man who gave us an episode with four girls sitting around a table talking about the best methods to eat cake. Fractale had some episodes that involved playing Hide and Seek with Nessa while they were travelling on board the Lost millenium. Ofcourse this was right in between some pivotal episodes in the plot so to the untrained viewer these sorts of episodes would have seemed like such a huge waste of time and resources, considering the show was only slated for an 11 episode run.
2.Cute Character Designs: It worked for Eden of the East and all the shows Yamakan was the lead man in, why not do it with Fractale? And Do it he did by giving us the super cute “moe” character called Nessa. Fractale was pretty much centred around Nessa, she was your typical hyper energetic and inquisitive little girl character, it also helped a lot that she was voiced by superstar seiyuu Kana Hanazawa. People can say all they want about moe but the hard truth is that it sells and Yamakan knew that he had a large following that was all into moe, incorporating this into his new anime was a given.
I would also like to make the point that if any anime fan watched this show entirely for the moe they would not have been disappointed. Fractale was meant to be the noitaminA show that gave the Japanese otaku the impression that “noitaminA has content for them as well.”
3. Overused Jokes and Crazy Hijinks AkA lame comedy: The lead character Clain was quite literally jumped on in the first episode, he was also constantly called a pervert and there’s even a reverse panty shot scene. I’m not exactly a fan of these kinds of tropes but I expected them, I believe it was an attempt at comedy. Unfortunately this type of comedy usually gets old fast or is just so lame it sucks all the fun out of the show. The good thing is that these type of scenes were not in excess, instead we got more character development and Nessa and that’s a good thing.
The Fan Reaction
Given that the show was only 11 episodes long, the last quarter felt extremely rushed and as a result did no resolve some pivotal plot points or story arcs that it really needed to complete. People didn’t like it and a lot of fans dropped it half way through, in fact Fractale received the lowest ever noitaminA time slot ratings. Nobody was feeling this show and Yamakan blamed the earthquake.
Blu Ray sales were also poor, very poor. Fractale failed to even break the 1000 BD sales. Things were not looking good for Yamakan.
Like I said, I thought Fractale set out to do what it was meant to from the get go. The show was meant to be a commentary on the aspects of human sociology and how the increasing advancements in technology might alienate us from what actually makes us human like face to face interaction and growing our own crops by hand. The main character Clain was a “retro enthusiast” that wondered at the marvels of having to use a physical form of media or the use of wired radio and such. Fractale was meant to show us that we should not always long for the easier way of life, having to do things on our own may seem difficult and irrelevant now but completely erasing daily human chores like ironing or brewing your own cup of coffee has an immense significance to our psychology.
Fractale also briefly commented on communism and corporate brain washing. Ofcourse the episodes in which it had to cover these topics was limited and short but it certainly managed to put its point across.
Fractale set out to be serious and cute at the same time and to me this is where I think it succeeded incredibly.
Even More Drama
Yamakan didn’t exactly rage quit anime even after Fractale tanked. He did however ask the Author of the Fractale manga (based on the anime) to Halt production. This came about after the manga author posted on her blog saying she found the work uninteresting and that she wanted to work on another manga.
Funimation have licensed Fractale and it is in the pipeline for release sometime next year, hopefully it will get a dub and we will all be able to enjoy it once again for Zuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuto (Forever).