Fractale Ends

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I don’t want to be to hard on Fractale. This show has the sort of ambition that I would like to see rewarded. If “90% of everything is crap,” Fractale clearly belongs in the 10% of anime that is not crap. Nevertheless I have to rank it below a unambitious but competent show like Gosick, let alone a ground-breaking work like Madoka Magica.

Perhaps this show gets harsher criticism than it deserves because of its director Yutaka Yamamoto (“Yamakan”). He has a record of harshly criticizing the work of other directors, including a notorious TV appearance in which he bitterly denounced the popular series K-ON and ripped the head off a Yui doll. Before Fractale aired he suggested that he was going to “save” the anime industry by creating something great.

Most fans don’t believe that he has the credentials to talk that way. His main previous accomplishments include being fired after directing the first four episodes of Lucky Star, and directing Kannagi, a show that started with an interesting premise but never managed to come up with an interesting story.

So what are the strengths and weaknesses of Fractale?

The animation is generally quite good by television standards. Unfortunately much of it is all-too-obviously imitating the movies of Hayao Miyazaki, which are much better. Copying the master doesn’t make you the master, and may just call attention to the fact that you are not on the same level.

On the other hand the animation is sometimes quite bad, with computer-generated images in battle sequences that don’t look like they belong in the same universe with the hand-drawn characters. No doubt these sequences were contracted out to another studio, but it’s the director’s responsibility to make sure that everything fits together.

My main problems are with the story itself. I complained earlier about some story elements that didn’t really make sense, but these pale in comparison to the central premise about the “key.” Who would design a system like that? A psychotic mad scientist? But why would such a person be put in charge of a world-wide project to turn the planet into a cyber-utopia? No reasonable explanation is given.

Furthermore, the ending is rather awful. It’s supposed to be a happy ending, but the more I think about it the more creeped-out I feel. Perhaps it would seem different to someone brought up in Japan’s Shinto traditions of purity, but thinking about it in those terms makes it seem even worse.Show ▼

It might be better if next time Yamakan tried something less ambitious. A simple story told perfectly would be far more enjoyable than a botched masterpiece.