Fractale 1 – Geek Paradise

Like many other people, my interest after the first episode of Fractale is more in the setting than the characters (not really much to them yet) or the story (bare bones right now). I don’t think that’s an especially big problem after one episode, but if it stretches into two, then it obviously becomes more of an issue, particularly given noitaminA’s abbreviated seasons.

Anyway, like Scamp, I immediately made the hikikomori connection when presented with Fractale‘s world. It’s a fairly well-worn aspect of science-fiction — the world of high technology that isolates people from each other as they grown more reliant on technology. But they have the illusion (or is it?) of not being isolated because they can communicate through avatars (or “doppels” as they’re termed in the series). (By the way, wasn’t doppeling the technology where people inserted themselves into virtual reality animals in Overdrawn at the Memory Bank? You can blame Mystery Science Theater 3000 for me actually remembering this . . . )

Even though it is a well-worn concept, however, it’s still clearly relevant due to the advancements of the Internet, and in particular social networking sites and programs. (Facebook, Twitter, Skype, etc.) Fractale‘s is a world where you seemingly don’t need to see a single person in your life to get by. Just put a chip in your body, and the almighty computer takes care of the rest — each person gets a tidy income (and presumably a decent living space from that income), the guarantee of a decent life, etc. Technology takes care of everything. And because everything is taken care of, that seems to take away some of the incentive for people to make the effort of seeing each other in person. Why do that when doing it over the computer is just easier?

Technology is powerful enough now that it does a halfway decent job of replicating in-person human interaction. We can communicate through text, voice and video in real time. It’s not exactly the same as talking with someone in person — there will always be a perceptible distance felt between people communicating through technology, I think — but it’s strong enough to make people genuinely wonder if this technology could someday become a dominant social tool rather than a tool of communicative convenience like a telephone. I can’t really imagine communicating with people solely through phones (the very thought makes me seethe, actually), but could I imagine communicating with people only through computers day in and day out? Not totally . . . but I would have to think about it.

The people in Fractale seem to have thought about it and accepted it long ago. It’s pretty peculiar that Clain lives all on his own (he’s a teenager, right?) even though the land seems like a nice, safe place, and that the only interaction he gets with his parents is through these bizarro avatars. And even his reaction to Phryne pointing out his childhood video recordings is strange.

“Oh, you must love and cherish these precious memories, right?”

“No, no, these video recordings are just rare, and I want to hang onto them.”

Is he going to sell them on eBay, or something (or whatever the Fractale equivalent of eBay is — maybe we saw it in the first episode with the online swap meet)? Or maybe he’s just one of those hoarders. Who knows? What matters, though, is that his childhood memories are some sort of commodity . . . or maybe it’s that the technology itself is just a commodity, and it doesn’t really matter what’s on it in the first place, because Clain already retains everything that matters to him in his mind. I suppose it’s too early to tell for sure.

(By the way, why would anyone choose those ugly ass avatars as representations of themselves? Jeez.)

Anyway, setting is cool, but the plot/characters come off like the work of a homeless man’s Hayao Miyazaki so far. One episode is kind of early for me to completely dismiss something with this neat a setting, though, so I’ll hang back before heaping too much hate on that stuff, though.

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14 Responses to “Fractale 1 – Geek Paradise”

  1. Am I the only one who liked the villains cartoon goofyness? I’ve been watching a lot of older series lately and have grown rather fond of the goofy villain type

    • I didn’t hate them like other people seem to, but I didn’t particularly love them either. The joke was stretched a bit thin by the end, though it did make me chuckle a couple of times.

    • Yes. The villains are bad (as characters, as villains, as comic relief), and you should feel bad.

    • I liked them. They were the only ones who brought any energy and comedy to the episode. If they weren’t there, we’d be seeing Clain and Phryne talk for 10 minutes.

  2. I don’t understand the constant references to Hayao Miyazaki that people are making. What of Fractale seems so much like Miyazaki’s works?

    • It’s mostly the superficial stuff like the look of the world and characters and the flying machinery, and even the general tone of the premise. You can’t tell me there isn’t at least some Miyazaki influence there.

  3. Those goofy badies are the spitting image of the Grandis Gang from Nadia, Secret of Blue Water:
    hence my comparison on twitter. Just swap hot-blooded redhead for wrathful loli this time ’round. A sign of the times lol.

  4. I like the avatars. It’s one thing to choose human avatars when you want to feel like you are actually talking with a human, but in this world no one really cares about going out and interacting with other humans. Conversing via Doppel seems just as good if not superior, so why not make your avatar suit your fancy? I mean, that one Doppel at the market kinda looked like a poo or something.

  5. The only things that made this episode palatable to watch was the Miyazaki Laputa: Castle in the sky ripoffs.

    Flying machinge.
    Girl jumping off a plane. (Stupid stunt by the way, atleast in Laputa the girl actually floats, this one’s just dumb)
    The 3 villains. (whereas in Miyazaki, the female was dangerous, this one just a moe, ugh)
    3 villains chasing after a girl.
    Girl meeting a boy after falling.
    Boy living on his own.

    People saying most of the time that the reason they enjoyed this show because of Gibli similarities, makes this a sad, sad show.

  6. Goofy villains are fun! Reminds me of team rocket. The avatars are kind of interesting to guess they wanted some strange or odd factor added in? I was happy with the animation high quality stuff there, A1 pictures did a great job with Sora no Woto so this is up there with me.

  7. Hey, communication is communication – if we can see, hear, and feel other people, and those other people are real, who cares where they really ‘are’, or how they really ‘look’ like? Our senses merely interpret, and for all you know everybody interprets signals differently in your brain (e.g. what I’m seeing could seem upside-down to you, because my brain inverts signals twice).

    There really isn’t any difference between the Fractale System and Life, except the Fractale System is much more flexible.

    Oh, and also you won’t die if you are killed (as an avatar) :v

    • Maybe it’s just because I’m used to seeing people in person, I dunno. If I grew up with a Fractale-like system, would I think differently? Hm.

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