Promising Winter 2011 Releases: Wandering Son and Fractale

Topic started by EquitasInvictus on Jan. 13, 2011. Last post by PenguinDust 3 years, 8 months ago.
Post by EquitasInvictus (332 posts) See mini bio Level 15
Among the last but definitely not the least of Winter 2011's new releases are Wandering Son (also going by Hourou Musuko) and Fractale. These were my personal two most anticipated anime series of this season, and they accomplished more than simply delivering what I expected from them. I would say these are the two anime shows to follow for this season, especially if your interests fall on the slice-of-life drama genre for Wandering Son and the science fiction genre for Fractale.  

Wandering Son (Hourou Musuko)

 
 Yoshino Takatsuki (left) is a girl who yearns to be a boy and Shuichi Nitori (center) is a cross-dressing boy who wants to be a girl. Saori Chiba (right) is the girl who helped enable Shuichi to cross-dress. All three are grade school friends who are all starting out in the same middle school together.
Yoshino Takatsuki (left) is a girl who yearns to be a boy and Shuichi Nitori (center) is a cross-dressing boy who wants to be a girl. Saori Chiba (right) is the girl who helped enable Shuichi to cross-dress. All three are grade school friends who are all starting out in the same middle school together.
I was intrigued by the premise behind this show, since the implied conflict both between and within Shuichi and Yoshino is a gender identity crisis almost Shakespearian in nature. I've never seen anything quite like this in any franchise before it, so I am intrigued how it will play out. Judging from the first episode alone, it is promising to be an amazingly profound ride. 
 
The exposition in this episode is well-executed, especially considering they started in media res. Our middle schooler protagonist, Shuichi, poses the question "What are girls made of?" We are then presented with an honest moment of self-reflection during which Shuichi complains about his schoolboy uniform for being suffocatingly tight. This is an exceptionally subtle means of introducing his personal conflict that demonstrates the potential quality of this slice-of-life drama.
 
This episode's character development is similarly outstanding. For example, in a sequence during which all the students of Shuichi's new class introduce themselves, we get nicely brief characterizations of all the major characters showing us beyond simply telling us. It is one thing to have them introduce themselves as students in a class normally would - however, this show manages to reveal more in each person's gestures, tone of voice and even reactions to others. This reflects how on spot the animation quality and voice casting was.  
 
There is also a nice literary quality I could even recognize from this opening episode - there is an interesting motif I am beginning to recognize with pictures and how the characters can be identified through them. 
        
It is interesting how Shuichi (left, this time in his true boy form) smiles in almost the same exact manner in both the pictures I posted of him. 
It is interesting how Shuichi (left, this time in his true boy form) smiles in almost the same exact manner in both the pictures I posted of him. 
I don't want to reveal anything more of this anime because I feel that this is a show everyone should check out! I cannot stress enough how great the quality of this first episode was. I'm definitely looking forward to this show, especially since they chose a perfect setting for it. The fact that these kids are starting out middle school suggests that puberty is going to play a pivotal role in how their story unfolds. I remember puberty hitting me in the sixth grade and how my voice changed towards the end of that school year - I suspect Shuichi may even have to face a turn of events such as that, and I'm interested in how he'll take it. 
 

Fractale

Fractale felt like it could have easily been an anime film, with its first episode leaving me intrigued. It is reminiscent of Studio Ghibli in animation quality and has undertones similar to that of the blockbuster anime film Summer Wars.  
 Most people in the "Fractale System" utilize avatars known as "doppels." 
 Most people in the "Fractale System" utilize avatars known as "doppels." 
Clain is a boy living in the "Fractale System" (something I'd describe as a cloud computing virtual reality) - a super network of a continent in which no one has to worry about wars or even work. Almost everyone in the continent uses an avatar known as a doppel - one of the advantages of using a doppel demonstrated in this episode is that you can have its presence disappear on command. He does not utilize one, however, and it upsets him that he cannot see as many humans around. This all changes soon enough. 
   Phryne (top) is a mysterious girl Clain (bottom) encounters.
   Phryne (top) is a mysterious girl Clain (bottom) encounters.
The exposition of this episode follows how an idling Clain meets a seriously wounded girl named Phryne after she was forced to abandon her flying vehicle in the middle of a pursuit. While he is able to nurse her back into good health and warm up to her, it is made certain that she cannot stay with him for long. Her pursuers (their not-so-threatening behavior reminding me of Pokemon's Team Rocket) manages to track her to Clain's house, forcing her to continue on her way.  
 
 These are some mildly entertaining antagonists!
 These are some mildly entertaining antagonists!
Before leaving, however, Phryne leaves her ancient-looking brooch with Clain. From the brooch comes another mysterious girl, Nessa. 
 
This is promising to be a fun ride. The science fiction universe of the "Fractale System" lends itself to being a comment on the progress of technology while Clain's interest on artifacts predating it reflects the reliability of the familiar and the traditional. The dynamic of "doppels" that make up most the population of this universe also has the potential for introducing some unique characters, showing us the other side of the fully realized technological superiority of the Fractale System. 
 
The subtle and even heartwarming developments in Clain's and Phryne's interactions this episode also shows promise of what is to come between Clain and Nessa. From what I can judge of this episode, the two may be embarking in an adventure together to find Phryne. I also suspect the same antagonists of this episode, which I felt were refreshingly bad at actually being villains, will attempt to hamper their progress. 
 
I'm especially interested in following this to find out more about the Fractale System and see how Clain and Nessa will end up playing a role in it. Considering Clain's youthfulness and how he is almost rebelliously opposing the Fractale System's developments in how he himself does not have nor apparently wants a doppel, I have faith that this will become a science fiction Bildungsroman. I hope to see more of Clain's reactions to how things are in the Fractale System and have him play a role in its development as he himself develops as a person. If this series delivers on that, I think this could easily become one of the best shows of this season.
Post by Kelleth (7,777 posts) See mini bio Level 20
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Fractale seems like a fun anime to watch, and the great Villain trio legacy continues I see ^^
Post by metalsnakezero (674 posts) See mini bio Level 16
Another great anime from noitminA and a very interesting middle school anime about the question of gender.
Post by shels (217 posts) See mini bio Level 19
Really loved the animation and artstyle of  Hourou Musuko, but being aware of the source material i was confused at some point with the adaptation. I understand that this being a 11 episodes series there's no time to wander off in the story but they tried to flesh all the charachters almost like it was a second season or so, And the way certain situations were shown  didn't really happend accordingly to the timeline. Maybe i'm too hungup on the manga storyline, anyway it was a rather good episode let's wait for the next.
 
Fractale let me a little disapointed, judging by the artwork i though we'd have an eye delight, much in the style of Range Murata's Last Exile, instead we have a ghibliesque-kannagi-summer wars combo. At least the animation is simple and fluid. It would be nice if instead of the generic boy meets girl- we could have the story around the so called fractale system, how it changed the lives of people, and how different kinds of people deal with it, maybe even a episodic series.
Post by Dream (7,737 posts) See mini bio Level 21
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Anyone get Studio Ghibli vibes during the start of Fractale, especially with Nausicaa and Castle in the Sky? :P
Post by EquitasInvictus (332 posts) See mini bio Level 15
@Dream: I think that's the consensus. I mentioned it at the start of my piece on it and shels mentioned it in his comment as well. 
@shels: Yeah, from my understanding the adaptation actually started far in the middle of the manga, right? I feel like it was a wise choice to start them off at middle school, however, since I feel like most of the development relevant to the gender crisis would occur there. Any really important developments from anything before where the anime began would probably be done via some hopefully strategic flashbacks. While I understand your point on Fractale beginning with the generic boy meets girl scenario I feel like it was charming - Phryne seems like a mysteriously interesting person detached from the whole Fractale System, from what I can tell.
Post by AURON570 (572 posts) See mini bio Level 15
like two breaths of fresh air... maybe i'm just in a good mood, but seriously, these are the only 2 anime this season I am truly excited for (now that i've watched the first episodes).
Post by PenguinDust (1,008 posts) See mini bio Level 13
Another great glimpse at the new season.  I'm glad to hear that Wandering Son is showing strong promise since I had high hopes for it since last year.  It really looked unique and unlike much other shows I've seen.  Certainly different than anything airing this winter.   After episode 2 drops, I plan on taking a glance at this show then shelving it until the end.  
 
Also, I like your Shakespeare comparison.  Twelfth Night, anyone?  
 
Fractale looks to be much odder that I had anticipated.  I'm going to have to keep a closer eye on this one. 
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