January 15, 2011

Fractale Pilot Episode: When Boy Meets Girl

Posted in Fractale tagged , , , at 3:02 pm by meotwister5

I’ve always wanted to watch a Ghibli TV series.  Yes I know they only make movies and mini series and for the last 15 or so years, but growing up on their films it would have made me a lot happy to wake up every weekend to see the next episode of a Ghibli series.  This series may as well be the closest I’ll ever get to such a wish, and for what it is, it’s starting out with a pretty good job.

An eye for the uncanny.

We don’t know when or we don’t know where.  All we know is that it is a relatively barren and empty world in the future governed by the mysterious Fractale system that keeps personal interaction in the impersonal level through the use of Doppels.  Claim lives alone in a secluded cliff-side home with the doppels of his parents, tinkering with the technology of old to understand the world of man before the Fractales came into being.  On one day after a sojourn into a flea market, he becomes witness to a priestess named Phryn being pursued by a bunch of bumbling henchmen.  He helps her and gives her shelter.  After one night she vanishes, leaving a pendant with a girl inside.

From here, just like an old school Ghibli film, the story begins.

Hello?

The animation screams the influence old school animation (70s – early 90s) has on the series.  No absurdly gigantic eyes or facial expression to be seen here.  As I’ve already mentioned, the animation brings us back to the days when animation wasn’t all flash and style.  A simple animation style without bright colors brings out a very calm and refreshing world to life, accentuating the very laid-back and rural setting the story tries to deliver.  If you’re looking for a visual treat then this isn’t the series for you.  If you are however looking to a bit of nostalgia in your Japanese anime, this series will definitely bring back memories of youth.

The distinctively old school approach by the team really isn’t for everyone.  I would say that people old enough to have seen shows in the 80s will definitely appreciate the style of the bygone era.  Those who were born and lived in the 90s and the early 21st, maybe not so much, but it does come out as a bit of a history lesson for those who want to see how much Japanese animation has changed over the decades.

My initial reaction to the animation.

The setting in itself is reminiscent of old school adventure titles with rather suggestive post-modern settings.  The rather rural placement of the first episode with a governing technology that people don’t completely understand was something of a staple in older shows.  There hasn’t been any action or adventuring yet, but with the classic boy meets girl boy loses girl setting we can immediately presume that Claim isn’t going to sit by and let it go.  The classic coming of age adventure tale consists of the young man choosing to leave on a quest while seeing the world.  It wouldn’t be much of a tale if he stayed home tinkering on his laptop and projector now would it?

*Gasp*

The fractale system is itself a rather intriguing concept.  It links people together in one giant network, yet maintains relationships in impersonal levels through doppels.  People like Claim seem to have become so accustomed to communicating indirectly that it doesn’t bother them that the real people behind the virtual masks are hundreds of kilometers away.  Even his own parents aren’t around physically, yet he doesn’t seem to mind at all.  Why he’s even living alone apart from his parents at his age is a bit of a mystery in itself.  I guess that’s why it’s a bit surprising for him to have to communicate live with a girl, and a very active and sociable one at that.

Perhaps the fractale system is meant to represent our own use of technology for faceless communication?  The fractale systems looks so much in place that people use it without really thinking about it.  The same might be said about us.

At least she compensated you.

The episode adapted 2 chapters of the manga which… well admittedly is not a whole lot much.  What we do have is a nice setting for an adventure that I haven’t really seen in a very long time.  Yamakan seems hell bent on keeping his promise of bringing back a type of animation most of us haven’t seen in years, against the grain of the typical stuff that comes out every season.  Whether he will succeed in his mission is still in question, but if older people like me have a say about it, I think he may have something in his hands.

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