April 02, 2011

Fractale -- finish

I don't know. Fractale reminds me a bit of Evangelion, in this sense: the story is an ambitious one, and ultimately the director isn't up to the task he set himself. The two series aren't similar in any other regard, but that's a big one.

You can see the ambition all through it. It's a big story, about earth-shaking events. It's about a crisis which could change the lives of everyone who exists. And yet... in the end I think it fails as a story.

In both cases, the reason for the failure is that the ending doesn't satisfy. In both cases, the ending is somewhat incoherent. Things happen, but why do they happen? The last five minutes of Fractale ep 11 move the emotions. But when they're over, there's a distinct feeling of having been manipulated. Not to mention a huge amount of wha-what?

The director made a lot of waves before this series was broadcast about how he was going to shake the anime world to its roots, and so on. And I'll give him this: he didn't make yet-another of anything. It isn't yet-another mecha show. It isn't yet-another harem. And so on. He did strike out on a new trail, and except for the obvious conscious homage to Miyazaki, it doesn't really imitate anything.

Having said that, there's this: one reason that established trails become well-trodden is that they go places people want to go. If you strike out and try to create a new trail, you may not end up anywhere that is worth seeking. And I think that's what happened here. The trail kind of ends, but there ultimately isn't anything there worth traveling to.

If this show had run last autumn, I think it would have stood out as the best show of the season, even with all its weaknesses. But Yamanaka had the bad fortune to have his show appear in the same season with Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and without all the self-promotion and boasting, Shinbo has been showing us how it's done.

Madoka isn't over yet, but I have confidence that the ending will satisfy. The story telling all through that series has been confident and controlled, and unlike Fractale, Madoka has been blazing an entirely new trail to somewhere worth getting to.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in General Anime at 01:58 PM | Comments (11) | Add Comment
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1 Are you admitting that you waived the "no girls die" rule this once?

I love Madoka too. Episode 10 was the best episode I've seen in years. Broke my heart. I cried.

Posted by: gaiaswill at April 02, 2011 02:31 PM (7QHNK)


I haven't been watching it, but I've been keeping up. Those "rules" are heuristics. (And if heuristics were never wrong, they'd be algorithms.)

Besides which, this isn't the first time that particular heuristic has been wrong.

But like most valuable heuristics that one is right most of the time. The exceptions don't overturn the heuristic.

Once all the episodes of Madoka are out (whenever that happens), I intend to watch it.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 02, 2011 02:48 PM (+rSRq)

3 Oh, and please don't taunt me.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 02, 2011 02:53 PM (+rSRq)

4 My apologies. I thought you had already seen it.

Posted by: gaiaswill at April 02, 2011 03:08 PM (7QHNK)

5 Steven, although you haven't expressed it as such, I think your rule may actually be "no pointless dead girls just to be brutal, bloody, cliché or manipulative."

If the writer/director could have substituted "random girl X" in the coffin, then it fits one of the above criteria, and it wasn't really necessary.  But if there's no way the story would work without *that person* dying, then it's a lot less likely to be any of the above. 

Which doesn't automatically exempt it, because your argument about where the story is taking you still applies-- "rocks fall, everybody dies" for the same of "rocks fall...." isn't where I want to go either. 

I think Shinbou has been blessed with a silver lining -- no one wanted the disaster Japan got, but by truncating the season, I bet it's spiked demand for the DVD's to no end.   It's going to be a fan frenzy come August.  

Posted by: ubu at April 02, 2011 03:14 PM (GfCSm)

6 I think that's Yamakan's biggest problem. It's not that he doesn't have the organizational skills to push a high-quality product to completion (he does). It's not that he doesn't have the guts to go outside the established boundaries (Lucky Star, for all the first few episodes dragged a bit, was an extremely ambitious project; the oh-so-good-looking animation studio that produced Haruhi, doing a show with such simple designs?)

It's just that he doesn't have a good eye for making his shows entertaining. And that's kind of damning, because it argues that no matter how good the story, the budget, or the staff, he's going to end up with "meh". In the end, they just need someone else in charge.

Agreed with respect to heuristics. There are quite a few shows I've enjoyed despite the fact that they're sitting in a category of shows I don't generally enjoy. And there's a good number of shows which I ought to have enjoyed, but didn't, for one reason or another. But there's an awful lot of anime out there and most of us have backlogs of good shows as it is; certainly there's no harm in hanging back and waiting to see what other people have to say about the flavor of the season.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at April 02, 2011 03:30 PM (mRjOr)

7 This series left me with that "...and, so?" feeling.

I can say this about Fractale though: at least it wasn't Dragon Crisis.

Posted by: wahsatchmo at April 02, 2011 03:58 PM (r4uXE)


It wasn't terrible. It just didn't live up to the hype, and the ending really was pretty disappointing. It's far from being the worst show on the tube, and the concept was an interesting one.

It wasn't garbage. It wasn't "Milk Vampires" level, for instance. It wasn't a show that I feel ashamed for having watched. It just wasn't really all that good. And it sure as hell isn't a show I'll be rewatching a lot.

There were a lot of ways this show fell off the path, but this is the worst:


This character was a huge mistake. Everything about him was wrong. Everything about him rang false. All he needed was long black mustache points to twirl to be a villain from a 1930's serial. You could see him tying Phrynne to a railroad track, couldn't you?

The show had been pretty good up to the point where he became a major factor in it, but it went to hell after that, and that's because everything about him was wrong.

Hateful and villainous? Yeah, but that's not the problem. The problem was that I didn't believe in him as a character. He was caricature.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 02, 2011 04:18 PM (+rSRq)

9 I had many problems with this story, but Barrot wasn't one of them. He's a smart, nasty, sadistic bastard in a position of authority, with no reason to fear the consequences of his actions. I have no trouble believing that such a person could exist.

Sometimes the old cliches stick around because they have a basis in reality.

Posted by: Jonathan Tappan at April 02, 2011 06:44 PM (7wFYN)

10 Have you heard enough about Madoka's antagonist to decide if he meets your criteria for a great villain?

Posted by: muon at April 04, 2011 01:51 PM (JXm2R)

11 No, I haven't. Sorry.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at April 04, 2011 02:06 PM (+rSRq)

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