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Fractale is an engaging show that doesn’t quite exploit the ideas and worldbuilding as much as it should.

Fractale does get bonus points for a mostly[1] original way to resolve a love triangle including a member that is arguably not even alive.

The Set Up

Crain's Parents

Crain’s Parents

Crain Necran is an odd boy in a kind of post-Singularity world[2]. He actually lives without a doppel[3], and is fascinated by ancient technology. Something his parents have a bit of trouble understanding.

Mind you, his parents’ doppels are perhaps a touch odd on first appearance.

Then the mysterious girl Phryne appears riding a jet plane of some sort pursued by another girl and her two sidekicks. From there the plot kicks into action, leading quickly to the introduction of the third main character, the doppel[4] Nessa.

The Major Issues

The Fractale system that the new world is based on is in need of maintenance. As in: will collapse entirely if the priestesses who run the temple can’t reset the thing with a mysterious key.

A common theme in science fiction is that utopian systems tend to have unethical foundations. You see it in everything from Brave New World to The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, and the Fractale system has multiple problems baked in.

Naturally there’s a resistance movement, Lost Millenium[5], and interestingly they’ve got a few ethical problems of their own.

There’s a fair bit of grey and gray morality running through Fractale,

Meanwhile poor Crain is left to try and come up with his own answers. That, and Crain’s increasingly complicated relationships with Phryne and Nessa form the heart of the story.

However 11 episodes didn’t really leave enough time to fully explore these issues, and some exchanges felt fairly preachy as a result. Too often Crain had to be told rather than shown in order to get the points across in time.

The Content Warning

I’m not going to discuss the details, but viewers should be aware that later episodes of Fractale contains some triggering content for abuse. It isn’t explicit, but it’s definitely there, and some viewers may wish to steer clear for this reason.

The Pacing

The strength of a short series often lies in the pacing, and Fractale delivers a strong series of cliff hangers that almost invite a binge watch. This is just as well since I knocked it over on Sunday more or less in a single session.

The Relationships, the Resonance and the Resolution

The weakness of a short series sometimes lies in not having enough time to properly build relationships that resonate with the viewer. Obviously this is an area where individual mileage will vary, but I felt that Fractale did lack something in this space.

I think Fractale probably needed at least 2-3 more episodes across the length of the season to properly address this part, especially with respect to Crain and Phryne.

Not having that resonance established counted against the resolution in the finale. It’s not a bad finale by any means, it just felt a little flat to me. I will admit that resolving the triangle by [SPOILER REDACTED] was cleverly done

The Verdict

Despite the issues Fractale is an enjoyable, fast paced, show that keeps you watching. Very pretty to look at, doesn’t have excessive fanservice[6], and with generally engaging characters, Fractale is a show that I’ll probably watch again at some point.

Oh, and the opening credits are a bit trippy:

Not to mention ever so slightly disturbing in translation:

[1] There is a sort of similar mechanism at the end of Key the Metal Idol.

[2] Kind of. You have a lot of the trappings of a post-Singularity environment but not the ubiquitous AI’s that are generally part of such a set up.

[3] Obviously derived from doppelganger and the term used for 3D projected avatars.

[4] At least that’s what most people think Nessa is…

[5] A name which should be taken fairly literally as it happens.

[6] There’s some, but it’s mostly justified in character.