The main male protagonist, not really comfortable around naked girls.
The end of the ‘Anime of the Year 2011’ audition is now in sight with Fractale, the 9th 2011 anime title is being reviewed today. Outside the single-episode Highschool of the Dead OVA, this is the shortest series in the audition with only 11 episodes. While being the shortest, this anime do throw a nice surprise for me though. Read on to see what it is all about, below.
Far in the future, Earth is now under the control of the Fractale System, a nanomachine-powered satellite system that enslaved humanity in a manufactured utopia. The main male protagonist, who is one of the content slaves living the dream, meets the main female protagonist who were chased by a mysterious group of people. After helping her escape her pursuers, she left him in the next morning, but not without leaving a surprise annoying baggage for him…
This anime gives me the same vibes as Bounen no Xamdou did, and actually start very strong in the early parts of the series. In fact, I do think that the first three episodes of this series is better than the first three episodes in both Level E and Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica for example. After the end of episode 3, I exclaimed to myself that maybe this series can repeat what Bounen no Xamdou has done and actually get a perfect score. Alas, this wasn’t mean to be because the storyline spiral downwards afterwards.
This may have something to do with the main male protagonist’s tendencies to not only make bad decision calls (this hold true throughout all 11 episodes) but also some drastic character changes that seems to have happened somewhere between episode 3 and 4, probably off-screen. It was the character change (which I view as a negative for the main male protagonist) that caused the way the main plot turns out for the worse. If the main male protagonist acted the way he did in the first three episodes in subsequent episodes, the story would have turned out differently instead of the sudden cliché-laden downstream plots that happened right after the main male protagonist re-board the Lost Millennium airship at the start of episode 4.
Nevertheless, while this anime missed its opportunity to become a masterpiece, the plot at least doesn’t become predictable and is worth watching just to see if the main male protagonist will eventually choose Fractale or not. The ending is decent, with everything seems to be settled except of the ambiguous identity of the mysterious man with the transmission towers, but there is no room for a second season as far as I’m concerned.
This anime has a major problem with its presentation. While the pacing in this anime is decent and is actually better than what you can see in Bounen no Xamdou, I cannot say the same thing about the plot transitions that happened mostly in the second half of this series. The arc transition in episode 7 is a good example of this problem. In one scene, the main male protagonist is taking pictures in the Lost Millennium airship, then less than 5 seconds later, he wakes up on a luxury queen bed alongside a very hot semi-naked mature woman. At first, I thought everything that precedes that scene is just a dream, but it turns out that the anime has just started a new arc.
Such drastic arc changes that has no seamless connection with the previous arc, should have been done between episodes and not within one (not even after an eyecatch) without a restructuring. By doing such an arc transition between episodes, only then the accompanying flashback sequence will have the impact that it should have. In my opinion, if an arc switching like the example I have mentioned above is unavoidable, the flashback sequence should been played first as a present-time sequence before the scene where the main male protagonist waking up on that queen bed comes up. This would then help bridge the new arc and the one that plays before it for a far more seamless arc transition process.
As for character developments, the turnaround of the main male protagonist after episode 3 really damaged his character development, and he doesn’t fully recover from it afterwards. The character in the first three episodes is better than the one in subsequent episodes. Almost everyone else in this anime has better character developments, in varying degrees, but there is no one here that is good enough to be anointed as a best character.
Yet this apt description of him doesn’t really explain his uneasiness around naked girls.
Character designs in this anime is good, and similar to what you can see in seinen titles like Bounen no Xamdou itself. Black hairs are rare though, but can be overlooked considering the settings this anime is set up in. A positive aspect for this anime.
Voice acting in this somewhat dialogue-heavy title is just ordinary though, with no outstanding performers amongst the characters.
The OST is good, but the OP theme is not. The Japanese version of the ED theme is better than the English version (those two has different lyrics, the English version is poorly structured).
The animation quality in this anime is good, even is fast-paced scenes. Choreography in action scenes is not very exciting though. The director use some excellent camera works in the first episode, but this wasn’t repeated in subsequent episodes. Inconsistency is really a signature of this anime.
Oh BTW, this is only the second title in this audition that doesn’t use the blurry animation technique, therefore the rot is stopped at 6 consecutive titles. Therefore there will be no needless point deduction today.
7 out of 10. This anime could have been much better, but in the end it doesn't. Only two titles left in the audition. Gosick next maybe?