Winter Anime Season Commentary: Fractale

Episodes 1-2

Feb. 2011

In Fractale we get a very unique series indeed. In this world, humans and technology have merged so much so that computer generated people (avatars) can now be used as stand-ins for humans themselves. The story does not choose to pin point the time period the anime takes place in, but does give strong hints; such as textbooks being an ancient way of acquiring information. The use of projections and flying machines are also heavily used in the series from the onset. And although the series’ protagonist is a fan of “old things” such as houses, bicycles, and bedrooms; the majority of the characters we see in this world have fully embraced technology. The hero of our story, named Clain, seems to stand out from everyone else. Even his parents, who have left him their doppels, (The avatar replacements I mentioned earlier) have gone out into the world to do their own thing. If the set-up of this house hold appears odd to you, good; because it’s pretty much the way things are in the world of Fractale.
                Upon watching the first 2 episodes of the series, I’ve noticed a number of themes the show may be trying to harp on a bit. The most obvious one (or the one that jumped out at me, at least) was the integration of computer technology into nearly every aspect of humanity. One great example of this was a scene in which a man is sitting in his easy chair, watching the news. However, the method in which he was watching (through an airborne, hologram projection out of his own eyes) was what made the scene memorable. Another theme that seems to be more of the series’ backbone is isolation;  the feeling of being alone even with all your favorite creature comforts. Clain has lived in a house with two holograms for parents his entire life. And even with the constant reminder that his parents are alive somewhere out in the world, he’s still stuck with their doppels.
These first couple of episodes obviously once us to feel sorry for Clain, but also to feel sorry for ourselves. With every New Year comes some sort of great technological feat; whether it’s a brand new way of processing data, or some cool new gadget to make life easier. Humanity is becoming too complacent with everyday life and we feel the need to make every moment mean something. Why else would we replace hand washing our clothes with washing machines? Has anyone notice how much of an impact the internet has on our daily lives? Newspapers are all but a thing of the past with how easy it is to access information through the internet. “Leisure time”, “down time”, “free time”, “time to kill” these are all terms people have had in mind when creating some sort of time saving invention. As a result of these inventions, people have a lot of down time; or should I say a lot more freedom? Freedom was a word used often in Fractale. Characters used technology to traverse all parts of the globe without any real delay or “lag” (to put it in computer terms). But the same technology taking them to all of these great places, is tracking their every movement. The Fractale system within the series is so precise, and so advanced that it knows the whereabouts of every person within it. It records their daily activities and has memorized the daily habits of everyone under the system. Sound familiar to you? Matrix did have a similar sort of eerie technological feeling to it; but Fractale is different in that the citizens under the system are not being forced into this environment. The people in this series nearly seem to take the system for granted, expecting that the system will never fail them; and will always keep them safe. And it probably will, even if that means protecting the citizens from themselves. Clain, although lonely, has a strong set of morals. He’s a bright kid, and seems to want something more out of life than what the Fractale system in his world is offering him. He doesn’t like the idea of being away from his family and still being expected to act as if he shared the same home with them. His parents, and apparently society at large, believe that families who live together don’t trust each other. I’m assuming the next couple of episodes will go into detail about the standard of living and how Clain continues to seek something more than just “freedom”.