The eleventh episode of Fractale concluded its story leaving virtually everything unexplained and unexplored, leaving us to wonder what went wrong. It seems many fans have had some beef with the series, whether it’s the lackluster story, the unexplained Fractale system, or the fact the entire series seemed rushed. Those seemed to have been covered in the more attentive and helpful blogs out there, so I’ll just focus on my biggest problem with the entire series: the setting.
Fractale failed to meet my expectations in the setting department. A complete failure by any measure, even after I revamped my expectations once I realized this futuristic, fantasy world would lack the adventure and exploration that lit my flame of interest in the series. I’ll admit that there were some places and scenes that pleased me, specifically the serene Irish landscapes, that village that disappeared in the sixth episode, and Xanadu, the virtual metropolis in the seventh episode. They were all pleasant to look at and provided a sense that it was truly the future or truly a fantasy. But that’s about all the positives I can say for the setting in Fractale. It’s now onto the negatives.
My chief complaint is that the setting was absolutely irrelevant for the entire series. For one thing, did it matter that the anime took place in the 33rd century? It could’ve easily been 2011, except change the Fractale system so that it runs the world banking system or something. And there you go, no problems shifting the setting around. What about trying something like feudal Japan and having the Fractale system be some sort of physical manifestation of a God which distributes power among the warring lords of the land? That, too, could also work, so long as Nessa is a spirit instead of data. Or try anything else and it will likely work. Because the Fractale system was never fully explained, it could be applied to any time or any place and work just as fine. The facts of the matter is that the Fractale system necessarily need not be placed in the future, which is one of the reasons why I felt they chose to abandon the unique setting and instead focus on the characters and their dilemmas. Had the Fractale system been fully explained and comprehended, they could have had some features which explained why it was set in the 33rd century. But no, we’re to expect that the mind of a teenage girl from a thousand years ago powers satellites in space and prevents them from failing and has ended world poverty and chronic diseases. The setting was the aspect of the series I was looking forward to the most and it was completely forgotten. Doppels, one of the most constructive and interesting features of the series, are the embodiment of the absence of setting in the series.
The doppels were one of my favorite parts of the series. Outside of Nessa, who was a pretty significant part of the story and the world, doppels were shown no love. Honestly, I expected a lot out of doppels since they seemed bizarre to us yet commonplace in society for those living within the Fractale system. I was expecting moral issues to arise from the idea of living with a doppel compared to living with people or perhaps doppels to be a key part to understanding the actual people behind them. But no, after the second episode, doppels seemed to vanish from the series. Aside from the seventh episode, easily my favorite of the 11, doppels had no real part in the series. The series instead focused on a bunch of ragamuffins who rejected the Fractale system and a band of idiots who never utilized doppels either. Quickly, the idea of doppels being integral to the plot died off. In fact, everything that put it in the 33rd century was pointless and arbitrary. That, too, includes the Fractale system.
Yes, it’s truly a shame that the namesake of the series was also a feature that was forsaken in the series. The early episodes, which actually showed people using the Fractale system, were exciting and stimulating. There were people who lived in vehicles and just wandered the world like modern wayfarers doing whatever they felt like and having no worries such as income, health, warfare, or prejudice. There were also those who lived solely within the imagination of said system, interacting with data to conform to their every desire. People were truly free within the Fractale system, able to listen to music under the sun with their friendly doppels or able to become a large-breasted, perverted artist living and working in a neon city. The possibilities were truly endless but I have few examples to provide since the series only spent three episodes in areas with a functioning system. And no, that’s not because the system was decaying, but rather that the staff chose to spend the series with a bunch of people who lived like we and just have us pretend it’s the future. The only way you could tell it was the future was the use of clichéd stereotypes of sci-fi items and that is a painfully dreadful way to depict the future.
So now should be the time to see where Fractale could have gone right where I think it went wrong. For one thing, the role Lost Millennium played in the final story was terrible. I think Lost Millennium should have been a small side-story, examining the lives of those who rejected the Fractale system instead of having them hog most of the story. Had Clain, Phryne, and Nessa escaped their organization early on in the series, they could’ve spent more time seeing how the world functioned with the Fractale system. Here, they could’ve seen different sceneries, different personalities, different uses of the system, and really breathed some life into the setting as a whole. But the way the story progressed, I knew they would never be able to accomplish this endeavor. Even if the series were 24 episodes and they were able to pace the series according to what it should have been, I wonder if they would’ve been able to develop the setting as a true representation of a dystopian future that could provide social commentary on the path our society seems to be taking. But I guess we won’t be finding out.