When Fractale (フラクタル or Furakutaru) begins, it seems fairly unique, and dare we say it, tasteful.
The first episode is set against a rural. rather fecund backdrop that resembles Craggy Island from Father Ted, only obviously Fractale’s far more pretentious and nowhere near as funny.
It concerns a teenage called Clain, who lives with ‘doppels’ of his mum and dad, digital versions of them that he can dispel at will (if only life were that easy). All the doppels are strangely designed and are somewhat Ghibli-esque, although on about a tenth of the budget.
It all seems quite sweet, but then rather inevitably it reverts to type when he saves a girl, Phryne, from a band of pursuers, and he gets drafted into some kind of insane ‘war against the church’ with a rebel faction alongside a cutesy doppel called Nessa, who aim to take out the titular Fractale, the digital network that keeps most people in check. Someone’s seen The Matrix obviously.
Naturally Clain gets a crush on Phryne, who (because lest we forget, this is anime) is rather immodest about nudity for, eh, reasons, which leads to the inevitable panty and bum shots. Alongside that, the plot goes all Final Fantasy VII, with the main characters buggering around on a giant airship, evading and attacking the Fractale authority.
The thing is it’s not actually that bad, and you do actually find yourself becoming invested in it and the characters, who are as likeable as they can be really.
Yes it’s annoying (Nessa continues the tradition of cutesy anime girls that screech and fall about and make a nuisance of themselves), and occasionally embarrassing to watch, but it’s easy to get into, the plot being a daft bastardisation of Phillip Pullman’s The Northern Lights and the aforementioned Matrix.
Episodes seem to go by fairly quickly too, and all 11 can be watched over a weekend if you’ve got a few spare hours, meaning you can finish it all and then quickly hide it behind your box sets of Deadwood and Breaking Bad so you can pretend you’re still cool and zeitgeisty.