Just finished spring 2011 series, フラクタル/Fractale, in one day. It is set in the far future on Earth where everything is run with virtual technology and data via the Fractale system. Problems of the world are all solved by Fractale. The world is perfect, right? Of course not. Otherwise, this would just be a slice of life comedy and even those have some sort of conflict.
The concept this anime is trying to convey is extremely interesting and had a chance to really leave an impression on the viewer, but 11 episodes was definitely not enough to send the message it tried to send. However, the team could have done a better job fitting in what they could in the short amount of time they were given.
The first few episodes give off lighthearted vibe with the picturesque scenery, Miyazaki references (watch the first episode and you’ll be thinking of Nausicaa and Castle in the Sky), and horribly cliched harmless antagonists. Then all of a sudden, you have old granny priestesses getting bullets drilled into them due to the work of a terrorist group. The switches from peace to entropy are too sudden and might create confusion for the viewer. At one point, this series had the potential to turn into a harem anime… It tries too hard to be everything, thus taking focus on its strong points that could have been done extremely well.
Most of the shortcomings of the plot are made up with the characters. From the main trio to all of their supporting characters, every one of them is endearing (not the antagonists though, they’re just psychotic and disturbing). Character development isn’t the greatest or even that significant outside the main lead, Clain, due to the studio jamming everything into 11 poorly planned episodes, but the initial personalities given to the characters are great. Nessa, another main character, was a great surprise.
Just looking at Nessa, one would assume that she’s the stereotypical annoying, overly happy, clueless idiot that ruins everything and leads to the conflict. Instead, her innocence and lack of knowledge of the world she inhabits can be seen as a link for the viewers that were barely given any background on Fractale’s world until well into the series.
Overall, Fractale’s storyline was rushed and tried too hard to be everything, which led to its own downfall by not focusing on a narrower goal. The visuals are great though (think Miyazaki again) and the soundtrack is pleasant, but not memorable. Seiyuu casting was done well and the characters themselves were lovable even if barely any development occurred. Fractale is certainly worth a watch, but do not set the bar too high (something that people initially did and that is probably why Fractale was not received as well as it could have been) or you will be disappointed.