Had this one on the back burner for a while, was surprised by how short it turned out to be.
This series had some pretty good world building, the avatar usage (the Dopples), the augmented reality that, once stripped away, reveals a spartan scenery, the use and maintenance if the Fractale network, etc.
To be honest, I underestimated the role of the Dopples as I thought the ones standing in for Clain's parents were merely AIs, meant to imply that they were dead and he simply used them to fill the absence.
But... His parents weren't dead. The Dopples were stand ins for parents who were very much alive. Whether they were being controlled directly or indirectly by Clain's parents (I couldn't tell which), that there were flesh & blood people behind them, clearly distinguished it as a commentary on social media. And as the Dopples themselves talked, it became equally clear that their way of life *wasn't* simply incidental, that there was a ideological underpinning to all of this.
This realization helped me to get into to a show I thought was otherwise off to a slow start. I also thought for certain
that this issue was what the series was going to address, especially after hanging a lantern on the issue yet again when the crew of the Danan starting yapping on how great it was to do things "together"...
But I was wrong. This never becomes a real focal point for the series. It barely even registered beyond episode 5. The series ends up mentioning several issues pertaining to information technology becoming more and more integrated into daily life, most of them appearing in passing during the Xanatu city episode, such as...
The cost of lack of tactile feedback, the superficiality born out of widespread anonymous communication, how the former erodes genuine human compassion for others, the growth of hedonism in an abundant world, etc.
But just like the Dopples issue before them, they each fade in, then out. Nothing is really concluded.
Clain was at one point asked by the Lost Millenium leader to settle on what he believed in, and then fight for it with all he had. But by the series end, I still didn't know what that belief was. I don't
, as a viewer, know what Clain was supposedly meant to be standing for.
In an earlier moment that simply stunned
me, Clain outright calls the members of Lost Millenium murderers
, and this right before
he goes to the temple to join the fight himself. His description of them, right or wrong should have exposed some base conviction of his, but I didn't really see one. Instead, I just saw a kid objecting, angrily, to how the plan formulated by the girl he liked, along with her good intentions, were being so forcefully discounted.
The show however sort of rallied around his words, acting as if Clain had been describing some unspoken elephant in the room, a "truth" the other characters who had far clearer convictions than he could reciprocate.
I was really put off by this, and it's what finally convinced me that the show didn't really have a message; certainly not one it was conveying very strongly.
Thus, (long winded explanation all finished) I find I agree with the common criticism of the show: Fractale
sought after so many ideas that it failed to coalesce any of them, and simply comes across as superficial. It relied more on shock value in its pivotal moments than any sort of substantive reinforcement of a common theme... A theme which would be very difficult to pin down.
What I'll probably take away the most from this show, was that it's the 3rd anime I've seen to pair a Roman Catholic Church expy with some weird-ass technology. That's a trope I can't wrap my head around, but for whatever reason, it sure seems popular.
Equally, that painfully forced ED of Japanese woman singing in Engrish in her best attempt of an Irish
accent. If it weren't so deliciously ludicrous, I'd say kill it with fire.