Posted on 1 April 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews, Fractale

Noitamina is an excellent time-slot that is about to enter its seventh year now. Throughout all the series that it showed, I can only name two series that I really consider to be worse than Fractale: Library Wars and Jyu Oh Sei. Fractale is an enjoyable adventure-series. But it SO has no idea what it’s doing.

The thing with this show is that it completely lacks any sort of vision. It advertises itself with the “unique” Fractale-system: a system where people are separated and lost the need for physical touch. It’s a fascinating setting, so of course this show doesn’t bother to spend any time at all on what SHOULD HAVE BEEN the central theme of this show.

Instead we get a generic adventure plot surrounding a bunch of annoying teenagers that sometimes from out of nowhere receives a huge mood whiplash into dark plot turn of events. At any point where this show introduces a new interesting concept or idea, you can bet your hat that it’ll only get abandoned quickly, in favour of its main cast, and BY GOD are they annoying. Especially Clain suffers from the “bad main character”-syndrome with his whining, but also the rest of the cast doesn’t really get their full chance to shine in this series.

The solve salvation of this series is that it did have an excellent team of writers and animators on board. The animation is consistently excellent, especially for TV-standards. There are really few still frames, if any. And as annoying and short-sighted as the characters sometimes are, the consistent animation does give them a unique dynamic. This show is also great at building up tension, telling climaxes and making its graphics, music and storytelling all come together in one whole. Especially episode 7 is an amazing example of this.

This show knows how to tell a story. It just completely fails at deciding what story it wants to tell and so we have to sit through episodes at a time of nothing happening, only to rush through other actually good and interesting parts. This show doesn’t fit 11 episodes. Heck, I doubt whether 26 episodes would have been enough for all of the ideas that it just skims over. At the end, it’s just another adventure. It’s quite an enjoyable adventure, but don’t expect much more.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Nice sense of adventure in terms of the small picture. In terms of the big picture though… not so much.
Characters: 7/10 – Decent characterization, but the characters themselves are really, really annoying.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Excellent vibrant animation.
Setting: 7/10 – Had potential. It just never uses it.

Laputa: Castle in the Sky
Popolocrois Story 1998

Posted on with categories: Fractale

Just… what the hell was it that this episode was trying to do? With most rushed endings, you can at least see the creators’ intentions. There are at least some parts that work well. This final episode of Fractale, though… it felt like ten different people were put in charge and they all had different ideas on how to end this thing. Everything this episode tried to do pretty much failed because it has no impact in terms of the big picture. All of it just felt done for the heck of it:
– Phryne’s father’s exposition was just exposition for the heck of it. We should have seen this five episodes earlier.
– Phryne stabbing her father with those “hello I am possessed”-eyes. What was the point of that?
– That blond leader blowing himself up: Where did that come from?
– Granitz’s death was the obligatory death at the final episode. It had no point or purpose and made no impact whatsoever.
– Phryne’s “I decided to sacrifice myself”-speech was interesting, until Clain went “No! I’m the one who will decide over your future!”.
– God being a sixteen year old girl in modern times should not have been introduced this late! Now she just looks like Haruhi fan-fiction.
– The aftermath felt rushed, especially with the way in which everyone was remembering Clain. You really didn’t know him long enough for that…
– That coma has to be the worst written coma I have seen.

The thing is, all of these ideas would have worked if enough time was spent on them. Instead, the creators fail to make any of them work. None of them makes any impact, none of them are detailed. They all feel done for the heck of it. This series definitely did not understand what it means to be a Noitamina-series.

So in the end, my fears at the start of this season were proven partially true: Mari Okada just could not handle three series at the same time. Both Gosick and Fractale contain flaws that she really should have been able to notice, and it’s obvious that most of her attention went to make Hourou Musuko an as good adaptation as possible. With mediocre directors, Gosick and Fractale just couldn’t get themselves someone to really spend effort on making everything work in the big picture. Unfortunately, she’s going to do the same next season: with Gosick continuing for another season, she’ll again be doing three series at the same time with Hana-Saku Iroha and Ano Hana. It’s a shame to see such a talented writer pull a Shinbo.
Rating: — (Lacking)

Posted on 25 March 2011 with categories: Fractale

Okay, I have to admit: while this show may leave a lot to be desired in terms of building up, at least it knew what it was building up for. That’s not something you see every day. It’s true that the Fractale System completely lacks the depth that it could have had with the right execution, but the past few episodes… they really have been excellent adventures. Starting with the bizarre city episode, this series grew a beard that thankfully made it much wore worthwhile than I imagined.

It’s a good thing, because I was really getting Kannagi Flashbacks at that point. This episode again though: it did what an adventure climax is supposed to do. It’s exciting, the characters have become a lot more interesting to watch. Sopme of the scenes here, like with Phryne and her parents, really kicked ass here. This really could have been much, much worse.

On a more serious note, this piece of news just popped up, confirming that Fractale is very out of place on Noitamina (heck: this means that it had lower ratings than Sarai-ya Goyou). In terms of the long run though, I still think that this is good for the time-slot if it can manage to recover from this dip: experimenting with new formats and reaching out to new audiences was definitely an interesting idea, and something is telling me that upcoming summer will be especially good to the Noitamina Ratings. Which only leaves the rather risky Spring Season.

Oh, and on a side-note: I consider a good OP song to be a song that I can listen to over and over: one that remains fun to watch throughout the entire airtime of its series. At this, Fractale’s OP really succeeded with its simple but unique visuals and surprisingly catchy song.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 18 March 2011 with categories: Fractale

It’s about bloody time, but Clain was finally bearable to watch in this episode. Yay for character-development!

Seriously though, this was a build-up episode for the finale of this series (there are only two episodes left, after all), but for once he doesn’t spend his time whining but he actually pushes the plot forward. A large part of this episode was about building up the tensions between the Lost Millennium and the Fractale system, which eventually came down to Clain, Phryne and Nessa being left behind. It was a moment in which the massacres of the early episodes came to bite the Lost Milennium in their behind and they finally decided to uninvolve themselves with the innocent Clain and his companions. It was a bit of a melancholic episode.

Naturally Phryne immediately goes back to the Fractale system in order to do whatever with her father, but even there Clain actually stood up and did something immediately. Overall this was a quiet but intense episode and I’m really glad to see that the creators managed to pick themselves back up here.

So yeah, Fractale does not belong in Noitamina. It’s just too rushed and unbalanced, and even two extra episodes would have been excellent to give a bit more depth to the story, but ideally this should have had 22 episodes. Right now this show tries to do a lot of things, but they don’t mesh well. I like how they ended up using the Fractale system in a completely different way than you’d first expect, but in the end it just got too little airtime. The concept of taking away touch from humans: that is actually a pretty original backstory, but when the analysis of this doesn’t really go beyond pervert jokes, you just have to feel that something is missing.

Of course, the good point about this is that this allows the viewers to form their own conclusion. This show basically is your standard adventure story that has the cast walking around this original and thought-provoking plot device. Whether that’s going to be enough, though…. that’s going to depend on that finale.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 11 March 2011 with categories: Fractale

The animators are really saving this series here. Seriously, that’s something I don’t get to see often with a TV-series, but I have to applaud A-1 with probably the best animation of the entire season. Eight episodes in and it’s still consistently fluid. Now that we’re into the action-packed episodes again, they especially deliver here. This episode didn’t look as good as the previous one, but even though I couldn’t care less about the story nor the characters at this point, they did put a lot of soul into the drawings and animation here.

When this show actually tries to deliver, it really succeeds. This episode was dark and disturbing and that worked out wonderfully well. It’s just such a shame that it sucks at building up. It’s dull and generic and completely ignores the interesting parts of the story in favour of the ever-boring Clain.

Here is something that dawned to me while watching the opening of this episode: this series is called Fractale, but if you removed the Fractale system and just replace it with your average fantasy science fiction setting, you don’t really need to change much, do you? The Fractale system was a nice idea, but it’s like the creators ignored it completely for a generic adventure story. Also, the creators really let a chance slip by by not trying to find some sort of link between the Fractale system and the fractals that it was named after. I mean, that’s what the OP has been hinting after again and again, and yet there’s nothing regarding this.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 3 March 2011 with categories: Fractale

The graphics in this episode were utterly amazing. The animation was as excellent as ever, but that’s not all. This episode had some excellent background drawings, and especially the animation near the end of the episode was full of life and imagination. It’s here where the direction showed its best again: that climax was really drawn and portrayed with power. Finally this show does something with its potential!

It also just shows how this series lacked vision. I mean, the final quarter was pretty much the best thing that happened to Fractale. So how did they get there? By having Clain wander off on some flying machine for no reason, having this machine broken down and somehow ending up in this fantastic Fractale world. It’s completely random! No build-up whatsoever, it’s just there. What is this awesome world doing so far away from the plot here? Why didn’t the first half spend time fleshing this thing out? The creators did not spend enough time here thinking how to fit everything together.

As for Clain… well, he got better. He still had his moments of annoyance, not to mention the strange idea of the creators to suddenly dress him up as a girl and make his hair grow, but once he twisted his ankle he got surprisingly interesting. I really feared this episode once it started off with those boobs and all, but as the episode progressed it twisted those fears right upside down.

This episode improved my impression of Fractale a lot, though. Especially after I found out that the character designer of Kaiba, Kemonozume and Yojou-han was the animation director, and it shows. Variety was exactly the thing that this show needed in order to save itself from being a complete bore-fest, and this episode delivered there, and then some.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 26 February 2011 with categories: Fractale

This episode was completely saved by the last thirty seconds. The majority of this episode really was Clain, trying to see exactly how annoying he could be, and this just kept going on and on. I mean, we’re more than halfway through right now. At this point he really isn’t striking me as a good lead character for this series.

At the very least, this episode wasn’t as bad as the previous one. This episode thankfully went back to the Fractale system in order to flesh it out some more. I especially liked the way in which the antenna was able to catch the Fractale system even without the use of a balloon. It’s this discovery that’s part of the fun of adventure series. On the other side of the spectrum though, we have that new guy from the Lost Millennium introduced. The creators really needed to have been more subtle with this guy. He tried to be all ambiguous but it was obvious that he was a bad guy right from the start because of his character designs.

Overall, now that we’ve passed the halfway mark, I unfortunately have to say that Fractale has my least favourite first half of all Noitamina shows I’ve seen since Toshokan Sensou. I do have to add that I can’t comment on Nodame Cantabile’s finale because I haven’t seen that one, but unfortunately Fractale is suffering from very poor balance. Unfortunately the same thing that made Kannagi such a chore to watch, though not as bad. The thing is, this series spends so much time on randomly fleshing out the main characters… and yet it gives no time at all to give some character to the people from the Fractale system, the refugees, nor the other factions of the Lost Millennium. It’s the typical problem in which the creators have such an interesting setting… so they end up focusing on the least interesting part. In this case, Clain.

So yeah, I was glad to at least see that that old guy was Clain’s father so that we can at least get some good story on what happened to Clain’s parents. He could have outright told Clain that they were related, but I’m glad that the creators chose not to. Clain would probably have gotten even more whiny if he found out.
Rating: (Enjoyable)

Posted on 17 February 2011 with categories: Fractale

I expected more of this episode. I mean, it was one of those episodes that make me wonder why they were included in such a short series: the incredibly risky build-up episodes. They’re understandable for character and world building in the long running series, but we’re talking about eleven episodes here!

So, basically everything that happens here is that Clain does a number of chores and Nessa takes over the flying ship of the rebels and makes everything hot. The only really new thing that we learn is Phryne’s reasons for taking away Nessa, which could have easily been done in one fourth of that time. the major problem is that I don’t know whether the characters in this series are solid enough to actually make use of the time this episode spent on fleshing them out. Especially when this was supposed to be an interesting adventure series, and this episode entirely broke that flow and didn’t really contribute anything to this.

The way in which this episode was brought also was a bit lazy. There was a lot of expendable dialogue and characters trying to be funny while they weren’t. Oh, and unfunny underwear jokes. One examples of these kinds of scenes done partly right is with the currently airing Star Driver, which blends in random antics that are genuinely fun to watch, because they’re well delivered, are mixed in with interesting and well explored characters and despite the lack of balance it is consistently fun to watch. I’m really missing that with Fractale. We’re five episodes in already and it really doesn’t have time anymore to goof off.

This episode indeed showed some of the daily lives of the rebels; it did that right, but the way in which it showed this could have been done much better, especially when it gets in the way of a lot of other things in this series. Priorities, people!
Rating: – (Disappointing)

Posted on 4 February 2011 with categories: Fractale

A tip for everyone who is going on an adventure: if you want a complete stranger to do something for you, make sure you tell him what to do, in order to prevent him from biting you in the back later.

Fractale certainly used a bunch of strange plot devices in order to get its story started. Phryne just leaves something seemingly important as Nessa in the hands of a complete stranger? If she wanted to hide Nessa, couldn’t she just have hidden it at a random place? Later on in the episode, she says that she didn’t expect Nessa to actually wake up, but that just asks a whole bunch of mew questions, most notably: why was Clain able to do it? You’re not going to tell me that in a few episodes this guy is going to turn out to be the key to switch off the Fractale, right?

Nitpicking aside though, I’m impressed that for four episodes, A-1 have kept up a consistently high animation quality here, that really gives the characters the opportunity to show their personalities and emotions, and there really was a lot to like about this episode in the story department. The aftermath of the previous episode and especially the death were given ample time to sink in, and I also give Clain all the right to try and run away from these people.

Now, at this point it’s pretty obvious that the Fractale is evil, but in terms of the details there still is quite a bit of mystery in this series: why are these stars so important for the Fractale System? What happened in the past between Nessa and Phryne? What is the link to these stars and those two? Beyond Phryne’s strange actions, the characters are also still doing pretty well. They’re nothing amazing, but most of them are not complete stereotypes and have an actual personality here, even though their personalities are sometimes really out there (Nessa most notably).

One thing that I hope that the next episodes will do is to make the Fractale system, and especially their attack squadron into a threat. I mean, when they showed up they looked really intimidating, but in the end, what did these guys actually accomplish?
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 28 January 2011 with categories: Fractale

Fractale is a series that’s pretty annoying when it fleshes out its characters (and sometimes even repetitive with the constant pervert jokes), but it does work somehow. Even beyond this episode’s excellent climax, I liked the characters better than during the previous two episodes. Somehow, they did a good job of letting us get to know the characters, although the constant pervert jokes need to stop.

I also like that the plot is moving at a nice pace here: it’s episode three, and we’ve already pretty much established that the Fractale system is pretty much brainwashing everyone, and that humans have broken away from it, because humans are those pesky creatures who want freedom. Yeah, this show is pretty much combines Ghibli with the Matrix. The lead characters are between the two different parties: they’re neither on the side of the Fractale or the rebels, which also is something that returns in quite a few of works by Miyazaki: just about the entire cast is somewhere on the scale between good and evil, except for the main characters: they’re purely good.

The end of this episode was of course excellent, and I’m pretty surprised at how brutal it suddenly became; that contrast is definitely good for the future. The interesting part with this series is going to be how it’s going to progress from now on: we’ve pretty much established our general formula here. Now it’s up to the rest of the series to use it in a really interesting way.
Rating: ** (Excellent)


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  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 06:51 PM)
    Hype kills anything. In regards to the kind of emotional manipulation Clannad and maybe Undertale uses, it’s like a drug. The more you are subjected to it, the less of an effect it has.
    Still there are examples of something which comes close to expectation. People say Muv Luv Alternative gives you PTSD and in a kinda does. Though it’s helped by the connection you build with the characters though the first two games.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 06:47 PM)
    @Kaiser,I haven’t updated the old entries of my MAL in quite a while. Pretty sure Code Geass is sitting at a 10 on it and I am sure if I give that a rewatch that rating is going to fall harshly.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 08:59 AM)
    I say this because people often like to hype up the genre or those elements. I bring this up/think about it now because I played a game called undertale lately on my brothers recommendation and he was all like it emotionally destroyed him but I never ended up crying, I mean don’t get me wrong its a good game, there were laughs to be had and there was sentiment but it wasn’t THAT sad/funny.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 08:44 AM)
    Given how many people cry at some drama, clannad included.
    That reminds me…
    I can’t actually remember the last time in my life where I cried, I draw a blank.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 07:58 AM)
    @Aidan: Something always feels off to me when you criticize clannad, I mean I’m critical enough of key these days too but it seems odd that you rank it as an 8 on MAL when you’ve always made it sound its more of a high 6 or a 7.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:45 AM)
    But I’m no fan of gung-ho soldier games/most fps games so I am glad clannad, a visual novel outsold call of duty.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:44 AM)
    I said it once I’ll say it again. I preferred the clannad movie over the tv series, had more style, a more mature feel to it and cut out all the superfluous arcs/comedy for the better. It also concludes better than the series. The emotional involvement in the kyoani version doesn’t work for me anymore, doesn’t hold up. However the film remains emotionally engaging after revisiting it.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:19 AM)
    Holy hell Clannad is selling like hotcakes on Steam. Even beat Call of Duty in sales at one point.
    Kinda happy to see a VN get recognised and it would help open up the market for more titles to come over. But..well..Clannad really isn’t all that great.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 02:29 AM)
    I can remember when I first got into anime when I was a whole lot younger I always said I would watch lodoss war, El Hazard and slayers, yet I never ended up doing so…
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:34 AM)
    Ha, the child in me would love to see a film like that I’d imagine, when I was young I was pretty crazy about Egyptian supernatural stuff.

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