Oh Fractale, how you remind me of my beloved Last Exile.
Fractale is a new sci-fi anime, and is a rarity in the anime world, in that it is short, sweet, and to the point. At only 11 episodes, this is an anime that you could easily finish in a few days, if only watching at a casual level.
Story: 8 out of 10
If I had to hook someone with a quick summary of the series Fractale, I would probably tell them "Pretty much Last Exile meets The Matrix,”. The story revolves around a young boy named Clain who lives in a world where humans no longer truly "live". They interact by entering a sort of real cyber-world in which all pain and unhappiness is gone.
Seemingly taking it's plot from the endless harem animes out there, a girl more or less falls out of nowhere to Clain, and after rescuing her, is left with a strange device. Inside the device is a cyber-being known as a Dopple (Doppleganger? eh?). After the human girl Phyrne skips out on them during the night, Clain and Nessa start on an adventure of a lifetime.
My personal feelings of the story are fairly good. Like I’ve mentioned twice, it reminds me a lot of a more sci-fi version of Last Exile (my favorite anime), and packs a lot into only 11 episodes.
The series starts off kind of light-hearted and slow, but the ending really shows itself as a mature series. Don't worry, no spoilers :]
Animation: 10 out of 10
There isn't much to say for this section. noitaminA does a killer job as always. Air ship battles, Miyazaki (to me) reminiscent character designs, and a rich sci-fi fantasy floating fortress. Everything in this series is pretty.
Sound: 8 out of 10
Sound was a peculiar section for me. The series has great sound and voice recording all around, especially when you get to the final air battle, but the soundtrack wasn't really doing it for me. The opening video is a montage of fractal art, and a boring, weird, sort of... 80's techno sounding song, and the ending sounds more like a folk song of Scotland. Not bad, just not my cup of tea I 'spose.
Characters: 9 out of 10
Characters are what really did it for me in this series. Alot of animes can be enjoyed easily, even if you have to overlook dull characters (for example, go watch the noitaminA series "Shiki). However, when your series is only 11 episodes long, you sure as hell better put some great characters into the mix. I am proud to say that they most certainly did that very thing.
Clain is a typical good character to me. He starts off afraid, young, and naive. As the conclusion draws on us, we see that he has grown as a person, but not in an unrealistic way. He doesn't just snap into maturity, and turn into a smooth talking, cold-blooded killer. All he does is change how he thought based off the truths he saw that life offered him. To me, this speaks volumes of his character.
My personal favorite character though was Nessa. Sweet, cute, innocent Nessa spends most of the series making you say "D'aaaaaw!" and rooting for her to help Clain save the day. Opposite of Clain, Phyrne starts off arrogant, selfish, and impulsive, mostly due to how she is treated back at home. She tries so hard to be serious, but it isn't until the end she becomes humble, and steps into her own as a character.
The entire crew of the Lost Millenium Granites division are fun. The animators really did a great job capturing that small village comradery, and rebel spirit that they all share. Even little Enri, the angry, snaggletoothed stereotype angry little girl character grows up near the end, and makes you happy to see she is on her way to becoming an adult.
Overall: 8.5 out of 10
Overall, the only thing that could have made this series better would be a few more episodes. Maybe around the mid 20s. There was so much storyline thrust on you at some points, that you had to ignore the characters just to keep up with it, and it's a shame because both characters and plotline are really well done.
If anyone of you out there wants a series that starts off, much like Clain, slower-paced, and light-hearted, and then still much like Clain, ending up on a mature note, with a sweet, well-thought out ending, then Fractale should be the next on your list!