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Fractale: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 3, 2012 by  



A unique series featuring one young man’s journey to protect the people he loves.  Complex, enjoyable but also very entertaining, “Fractale: The Complete Series” is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2012 FUNimation Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Fractale: The Complete Series

SERIES AIR DATE: 2011

DURATION: Episodes 1-11 (275 Minutes)

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

RATED: TV 14

COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment

RELEASE DATE: July 17, 2012

Directed by Yutaka Yamamoto

Series Composition by Mari Okada

Music by Sohei Kano

Original Story by Hiroko Azuma

Original Character Design by Hidari

Character Design by Masako Tashiro

Art Director: Emi Kesamaru

Chief Animation Director: Masako Tashiro

Mechanical Design by Isao Hayashi

Anime Production: A-1 Pictures

Featuring the voices of:

Yu Kobayashi/Brina Palencia as Clain

Kana Hanazawa/Luci Christian as Nessa

Minami Tsuda/Caitlin Glass as Phryne

Mitsuru Miyamoto/Bucky Pearl as Barrot

Shintarō Asanuma/Scott Freeman as Sunda

Sumi Shimamoto/Stephanie Young as Moeran

Yuka Iguchi/Monica Rial as Enri

In a near-perfect society, humans enjoy virtually anything their heart desires by simply staying connected to Fractale – a centuries-old technology on the verge of collapse. One day, Clain, a teenage boy who collects antique electronics, saves a girl on the run from dangerous pursuers. She disappears in the night, leaving only a pendant full of data behind. Suddenly Clain’s quiet life turns to chaos when he’s caught between the religious order determined to save Fractale, and the Lost Millennium, who want to destroy it.

The future.  What happens when technology takes care of ever human need.  The things that people once enjoyed in life, the technologies created by humans in the past is no longer needed?

This is the basis of the story “Fractale” written by Hiroki Azumi.  Back in 2011, “Fractale” aired in Japan and inspired a manga series for Square Enix’s “Gangan Online” later that year.  And now the complete animated series will be released on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment in July 2012.

“Fractale” is directed by Yutaka Yamamoto (“Kannagi: Crazy Shine Maidens”, “blossom”, “Black Rock Shooter”) and featuring a screenplay by Mari Okada (“Black Butler”, “Vampire Knight”, “CANAAN”).  Character design is by Masako Tashiro and music by Shonei Kano.  The anime production is by A-1 Pictures and backgrounds by Studio Easter.

The series is set in the future where technology has now led to the Fractale System, a system which stabilizes mankind, to the point that technology is readily available thanks to terminals that all humans can use to tap into the Fractale System. But also represents a religion that oversees humanity.

“Fractale” begins by introducing us to the young character, Clain Necran.  Clain lives alone with “doppels”, holographic robots which represent his parents.  Unlike most people of that time period, Clain admires antique technology such as cell phones and cameras of the 21st century.

One day, he sees a young girl being chased down by a group of individuals.  Clain goes to help the girl named Phryne and hides her in his home.  While Phryne is a bit protective of her past, she is grateful for Clain’s help from hiding her from the Granitz Faction.  And she gives him a pendant.

The following morning, Phryne is gone but in her place, coming from the pendant is Nessa, a younger version of Phryne, who happens to also be a doppel.

And as the two are encountered by the Granitz faction, both are taken in to their ship.  And while Clain does not trust them, he learns that the Granitz faction is part of the Lost Millennium who are trying to stop Fractale from taking over humanity and want to fight for independent lives away from the Fractale system.  And so they are after Phryne, the priestess of the Fractale system, as a way to prevent the Fractale from having an edge over the faction.

Meanwhile, others are up to no good and wanting to cause some discordance in the world.

From Barrot the priest who has raised Phryne always constantly touching Phryne, Dias is the leader of the Alabaster faction of Lost Millennium and he is trying to trick Fractale refugees into removing their terminals and so they can be forced to join his faction and more.

And as the journey for Clain takes him all over the world, Clain learns the truth of the Fractale system the warring clans and about Phryne and Nessa.

VIDEO:

“Fractale” is presented in 1080p High Definition and the characters have a semblance to Studio Ghibli style of characters.  The anime series is vibrant, colorful and also well-balanced between animation and CG special effects.  Animation is what you come to expect from a TV series with less detail than one would see in a film or OVA but the animation by A-1 Pictures is very good.  I didn’t notice any artifacts or banding during my viewing of the series.

But overall, “Fractale” looks amazing for a TV series.  I love the visual references to Ireland, the character designs and also the well-detailed backgrounds from Studio Easter.

AUDIO:

“Fractale” is presented in DolbyTrue HD 5.1 English and Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Japanese.  I had a chance to listen to both lossless soundtracks and the voice acting for both English and Japanese are well-done.

As for the lossless soundtrack, there is quite a bit of action seen throughout the series, but with the English soundtrack, because of its 5.1 soundtrack, there is more dynamic range.  While the Japanese soundtrack is good, the English lossless soundtrack stands out the most during the more action intense sequences.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Fractale: The Complete Series” comes with the following special features:

  • Episode 1 Commentary Featuring audio commentary by adaptive script writer J. Michael Tatum and Scott Freeman (Voice of Sunda).
  • Episode 7 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR director Coleen Clinkenbeard and Brina Palencia (voice of Clain).
  • Original Preview – (:31) The original Japanese preview for “Fractale”.
  • Promotional Videos – (3:50) The Japanese promotional video for “Fractale”.
  • DVD & Blu-ray Commercials – (1:07) The Japanese DVD & Blu-ray commercials for “Fractale”.
  • Shobi Wind Orchestra, Tokyo – (4:52) The performance of “Fractale Suite’ for Wind, Orcehstra Movement 1: Fractale”.  Composed by Souhei Kano.
  • Fractale’s Art Sanctuary – Featuring the art of “Fractale” (you can see each graphic using your remote/mouse to cycle through each image).
  • U.S. Trailer – (2:02) The FUNimation Entertainment trailer for “Fractale”.
  • Texless Opening Song
  • Textless Closing Song (Japanese Lyrics)
  • Textless Closing Song (English Lyrics)
  • Trailers – FUNimation Entertianment trailers.

“Fractale” is a story about one young man wanting to keep his promise of protecting the two people that are important to him and humanity rebelling against technology and doing all they can to keep their individuality.

With only eleven episodes, “Fractale” is a complex storyline that manages to incorporate beautiful animation and character designs but also escape banal anime themes by focusing on humanity and its over reliance towards technology.

As most of us depend on the Internet, our cell phones and just being connected, what happens when human interaction is no longer needed?  A future when everyone is hooked up to a terminal to live a life they want and one can easily create their own virtual family, girlfriend, friends ala doppel.

“Fractale” is fascinating because it takes on the anti-technology theme and tries to show that as many people who are accepting of technology to run their lives, there are those who want their individuality and do not need to be hooked up to a terminal to live their lives.

And the story goes even further by introducing us to the Fractale system and how it becomes almost like a religion as it is so powerful, the system guarantees peace for those who embrace it.

While the series does feature on younger characters and tends to have an upbeat, happy theme for most of the episodes.  Things do get dark towards the end as we find out about Phryne’s life, what Nessa is and also the war between the factions vs. those who represent the Fractale system.

It’s a storyline that is complex but not too cerebral or long.  With eleven episodes, the story is well-written during its entire duration and manages to end with closure for the characters and it makes the series quite accessible for anime fans who enjoy sci-fi, adventure and action.

I do feel that “Fractale” is a series that would do much better in America than in Japan.  As the series uses Ireland as an inspiration, it utilizes the religious war that has been waged in Ireland for a long time.  In Japan, many viewers were confused by fighting amongst factions and also, people were not prepared to see a character having been sexually assaulted.  I’ve read Japanese online forums and it appears that people were taken in to the series at first, through its animation and character design, its upbeat story but for some, it seemed as if the storyline became a bit too dark for their taste.  But I have seen viewers come to the defense of the series, praising it because the story features a worldly feeling that something that is Japanese.

But being from the west, I do feel that the series is much more accessible to westerners.

While the series is rated 14, it’s important to note that a lot of people are killed in this anime series (no bloody or scenes of gore are featured) and there is also a underlying theme of a character suffering sexual assault as well. So despite the younger characters and the fact that Nessa tends to be happy and upbeat throughout the series, “Fractale” is definitely not an anime series to share with the younger children.

As for the Blu-ray, “Fractale” is looks good on Blu-ray.  It’s important to remember that this is a TV series and not an animated film or OVA, so you will see that slight softness that is apparent on many anime TV series.  But there are backgrounds that are well-detailed and I really enjoy the character designs for this series.  It’s vibrant and just beautiful to look at. As for audio, the fact that they brought in Sohei Kanno and an orchestra to perform the music for the series is rather cool.  With a lot of anime series now being synth-based, it’s great to see an orchestra utilized for “Fractale”.

Also, for an anime series, where some just tend to feature a clean opening and ending theme, this release has a good number of special features, from audio commentary to the Japanese special features, which I enjoyed.

Also, another plus for us in the U.S. is that unlike in Japan which the Blu-ray were released in volumes with a few episodes and was quite expensive, we get all episodes of “Fractale” in this Blu-ray and DVD combo.

Overall, “Fractale” is a smart and enjoyable series.  A series that doesn’t try to force any belief on the viewer, it shows you the perspective of two different sides and found it to be a very clever and enjoyable anime series.

“Fracatale: The Complete Series” is recommended!

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