Fractale - Anime Review

Another in the noitaminA Fuji TV programming block, Fractale is a breath of fresh air in the anime industry. Very rarely do series' come along that tick every single box with an engrossing story, fantastic animation, moving music and long lasting appeal.

"Set in the far future, where a system of satellites known as the Fractale system, runs and maintains a virtual world for the real world who interacts with dopples and virtual avatars.

When Clain meets a girl, Phrynne, a priestess, and Nessa, a dopple, he is soon caught up in a battle to bring down the Fractale system, perpertrated by a ragtag team of hacker terrorists called the "Lost Millenium" who believe the world should go back to the pre-Fractale way." - Siren

At first, Fractale comes across as being a very confusing series. Set in a strange, yet familiar world, Fractale seems to be set in a post-post-apocalyptic version of our very own world, a world that has become all too dependant on technology. So dependant, in fact, that tech worship has become akin to religion and sees the collapse of society before our very own eyes. We are slowly explained that we, as a society, went from mobile phones to having sub-dermal implants which act as augmented reality receptors, opening up a world of digitised beauty. Are we at risk of letting out culture collapse under the weight of a digital facade?Unfortunately, this digital realm is merely a pixelised coating on a fractured world. This in itself raises many questions and gives thought to the push for AR with devices such as Google Glass. What we see through these devices, are they real? Just because you can see something, does its intangible value equate to that of the real world? As my dad would so eloquently say, "you can't polish a turd".

While it may be a slightly slow burn the main characters, Clain, Phyrnne and Nessa, all do their part to explain their place in the world, all from different perspectives and with differing opinions on the state of the world. Clain is a great character and so easy to become enamoured with. He's sweet, loyal and strong, everything that you could want from a lead. Thankfully, the extended cast is equally as enjoyable and all have a role to play in fleshing out the Fractale world. Furthermore, whether you decide to listen to the Japanese or English audio track you're bound to be pleased. In fact, the English incarnation of Clain, played by Brina Palencia, outperforms her Japanese counterpart Yu Kobayashi.

Visually, Fractale is beautiful. Sharing many of the visual characteristics of Birdy the Mighty: Decode, another A-1 Pictures production, the character design is distinctive as are the mechanical designs. Comparisons to Birdy the Mighty extend further than to the production studio with one of the lead animators on Birdy, Isao Hayashi, sitting in the mechanical designers chair in Fractale. The mechanical designs feel fresh and don't completely resort to the now cliched steampunk look. In fact, a few of the designs look like a cross between those found in Last Exile and Studio Ghibli's Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

Fractale is a fantastic series which will leave you wanting more. While 11 episodes certainly doesn't feel long enough, each episodes pacing manages to flesh out a rich universe which could have just as easily been at home in 26 episodes. Beautiful yet sinister, Fractale is worth a second viewing and a healthy dose of introspection. While it delivers a strong message, it never becomes preachy and instead allows for the viewer to make up their own mind.

Fractale is available now on DVD from Siren Visual and good anime retailers.

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