"I know it's crazy. But... I thought... that she might be able to fly."
Fractale is an 11-episode shounen anime series directed by Yutaka Yamamoto (series production director of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and director of Kannagi) and produced by A-1 Pictures and Ordet.Revolving around a futuristic era in Ireland where the world's source of order—the "Fractale System"—has begun to fall, a fourteen-year-old boy named Clain meets the mysterious Temple priestess Phryne being pursued by chance and rescues her. He takes Phryne back to his home and tends to her injuries, but as quickly as Clain begins to bond with the girl, Phryne disappears the next day, leaving behind a brooch for Clain. A female Doppel named Nessa appears from the brooch, and Clain and Nessa both go in search of Phryne while uncovering the secret of the Fractale System.In doing so, Clain is forced into the conflict between the rebel organization Lost Millennium and the Fractale System's Temple priests and priestesses—both of whom are pursing Phryne—and it grows difficult for Clain to distinguish friend from foe.Simulcast by FUNimation in North America (and now licensed), with a brief interruption caused by a "Oreimogate" variation in which the simulcast was halted until unauthorized copies were removed from the Internet.
Adaptation Dye-Job: Promotional posters show Phryne◊ and Nessa◊ as purple haired, but in the anime, Phryne is a brunette and Nessa is a redhead. Also, Enri and Sunda◊ originally had orange hair in their character designs. Clain is originally a blond in the promotional ads, but his hair was a paler shade of blond than his hair color in the anime.
Adaptation Induced Plot Hole: There's a reason that Nessa and Phryne (as well as Moeran, the High Priestess) have the same hair colour. They are all "Phryne clones." Nessa is how Phryne looked as a 10-year-old while Moeran is presumably how Phryne will look like when she's 40. In the manga, as well as promotional posters, all three of them have purple hair. In the anime, Phryne's hair colour causes Fridge Logic—apparently, as a child, she had red hair. Which turned brown as a teen. And will eventually turn purple.
All Men Are Perverts: Played for laughs with Clain, who's not necessarily a pervert but ends up in situations where it would appear that he is one. Played for drama with Gail, who attempted to rape Phryne in Episode 7, and Barrot, who is far too touchy-feely with his daughter-like figure Phryne for comfort.
Lost Millenium, who have chosen to live without the Fractale System to achieve "true freedom" from the Fractale System's apparent utopia (advanced medical services, easy-going way of life, and especially brainwashing.
Villagers that Phryne, Enri, and Takamii meet while looking for Clain and Nessa in Episode 7 are similar in that they live in a nomadic fashion of herding and seem to basically be Lost Millennium without their "terrorism." Subverted when it turns out the villagers really use their Doppels to work in Xanadu while they pretend to be nomads.
Attempted Rape: Gail attempts to rape Phryne after he smacks her in the face with a vase for innocently insulting his sculpture and pins her on the ground, but Enri knocks him out before he can try anything.
Bittersweet Ending: Phyne and Nessa become the "key," the Temple is destroyed, the clone-producing underground base is a crater and can never produce the "key" again, and Sunda is implied to have died in the final battle. After a full year, Lost Millennium lives in peace growing their crops and living their natural way while Clain stays at home watching over Phryne, who's been asleep the entire time. She finally awakens, only to have Nessa's personality mixed in with Phryne's. In spite of this, Phryne still retains her memories, as she tells Clain that she's always liked him too. Clain hugs her and cries as the series ends panning over the photo taken earlier in the series. Said photo does not portray Nessa, owing to the camera not being able to see Doppels, but can also be taken figuratively to mean Nessa doesn't really exist anymore.
Blatant Lies/From a Certain Point of View: Whenever Dias gives a helping hand, he'll always mask his true agenda—from giving civilians a vaccine (that really removes their Fractale terminals, rendering them "cured" and unable to connect to the Fractale System) to helping Clain rescue Phryne in Episode 10 while secretly planning on having Phryne killed once she is found.
Book Ends: A seagull is shown flying to Clain's house in the beginning of the series and away from it in the end of the series.
Boy Meets Girl: Clain meets Phryne. Clain loses Phryne. Clain wants to find Phryne.
Braids of Action: While Enri appears incompetent and purely there for comic relief, she does manage to capture Clain and Nessa in Episode 2, and she certainly knows how to use a gun from Episode 3 onwards.
Brainwashing: Implicated with the "offering prayers": the Fractale System uses its "stars"/"balloons" and the Star Festival to control humanity and wipe out any thoughts or questions that go against the Fractale System, in order to maintain the world's orderas they see fit.
Bridal Carry: Clain carries Nessa in this fashion in Episode 7 while they escape Xanadu after learning that Megan and Colin plan to sell them out.
Calling the Old Man Out: Clain calls out his Doppel parents on leaving him alone in Episode 2, not because families separate to display trust and freedom as they claim, but so they can do whatever they want.
In Episode 6, Phryne spots several photographs in the antique collector's house and takes then. By the end of the episode, Phryne shows them to Enri and these photographs reveal to the audience that the man is Clain's father.
In Episode 8, Clain bandages the injured hand of one of Phryne's clones, commenting that it'll also be easier to find her this way. Clain ends up recognizing her among the clones labeled "useless" that are going to be dissolved.
Chekhov's Hobby: Clain's hacking skill that is brought to good use in Episode 5 was hinted at in the first two episodes.
Clingy Jealous Girl: Nessa develops a quick hatred of Phryne after she slaps Clain in Episode 4. She doesn't want Clain to think about Phryne and refuses to follow Clain when he wants to rescue her. She gets over it in Episode 5.
Crossdresser: In Episode 7, Clain is forced into this while at Xanadu so he won't stand out as the sole human in a city full of Doppels.
Curtains Match the Window: Phryne and Nessa in the manga and promotional posters have purple hair and matching purple eyes. Enri and her older brother Sunda had orange hair and matching orange eyes in their character designs, but the anime changed to Enri having blond hair and Sunda having brown hair and matching brown eyes.
Phryne's relationship with Barrot has implications of rape or other abuse. Phryne claims she doesn't deserve love and constantly refers to Nessa (who resembles Phryne from her childhood) as when she was "beautiful." She comments about how Barrot has been "defiling" her and the rest of the Phryne clones over and over, and Barrot mentions that their history—or them being "bound by abundant love"—is something Clain should know about.
Doppelgänger: "Doppels" are robot-like virtual beings that humans use to both avoid physical interaction and out of convenience, so that they may travel easily without being tied down. Clain has Doppels for parents and can disable them at will.
The Dulcinea Effect: When Clain first meets Phryne, he instinctively wants to help her, and she is probably the first, real human he's seen in a while since most humans use Doppels. It really kicks in when Clain is really only concerned about Phryne during the Temple's attack on Granites Village, and he chooses to rescue Phryne, leaving Nessa behind when she refuses to follow him in Episode 4.
Deus Est Machina: The Fractale System was first created in the 22nd century through networking computers and is more or less a religion of sorts.
Enemy Mine: Phryne ends up in this situation in Episode 4. She has the same goal as Sunda and Lost Millennium, but she doesn't necessarily show interest in working with them and ends up as their hostage. She attempts to escape, but ends up back on the airship as a hostage more or less of her own free will.
False Friend: Megan is more than friendly towards Clain and helps him find Nessa in Xanadu, but she really planned to sell them out to the Temple all along to get more money.
Fan of the Past: Clain is a fanboy for antiques, and his room displays a collection of assorted "ancient" objects. In Episode 6, Clain meets an ill antique collector, who is revealed at the end of the episode to be Clain's father.
Phryne: I heard people who live in this era hate to be restricted and so they don't own their own home. And yet...
Clain: "People who live in this era"?!
Flaw Exploitation: Clain and Phryne both putting each other's well-being above their own or anything else. It nearly bites Phryne when she is almost forced into a virginity check in exchange for Clain getting medical treatment after getting shot.
Fugitive Arc: The series begins with Phryne fleeing from Enri, and the rest of Lost Millennium. But she's fleeing from The Temple, as well. Both factions are after her and Nessa for their own agendas. The Temple needs her to merge with Nessa, in order to reboot the Fractale System. For Lost Millennium, she's the key to destroying it.
The ending song. Episode 5 onward averts it by having the same ending theme in Japanese (with slightly different lyrics) instead.
Phryne's letter in Episode 9. Aside from grammar, she even spelled her name wrong.
That being said, grammar was actually perfect and the wording was believable.
The song that the Temple priest/esses sing a few times, notably in episode 11.
Grey and Gray Morality: The Fractale System and Lost Millennium. The Fractale System is an easier way of life, medically and luxury-wise, but is really brainwashing humans and removing their individuality; Lost Millennium lives life normally without the Fractale System, growing their own crops and having their children learn from books instead of data, but are not above shooting down the Temple priestesses and innocent civilians.
Heel-Face Turn: One of Phryne's clones helps Clain rescue Phryne in Episode 8.
In the beginning of Episode 3, Clain wonders how Nessa can be so carefree after they had gotten captured by Enri. Moments after they are released, Clain gets in excited fanboy-mode when he sees a bunch of antiques, culminating in an instance where one of the guards has a rifle trained on him, and Clain's reaction is, "I can't believe he's still using an optical sight!"
In Episode 4, Nessa hits Phryne while saying, "Nessa hates it when people hit others!" Of course, since she's a Doppel, her punches go right through her.
It's interesting to note that whenever Enri and Sunda kick Clain, Nessa gives no reaction to it.
Sunda forces the "freeloading" Clain to do various chores and work on the Lost Millennium's airship in Episode 5. However, Phryne doesn't have to do a darn thing, though it might have to do with the fact that she is a "hostage." Nevertheless, she does (kind of) help out peeling potatoes in Episode 6.
I Will Find You: Clain wants to find Phryne. It's also pretty much the whole point of the lyrics in the opening song.
When Clain brings an injured Phryne to his home and gives her a first-aid kit, she immediately undresses (only revealing her under clothes) to take care of her wounds and tells him to leave. Soon after, Phryne approaches Claine topless (her long hair covering her breasts), as she can't reach the back of her shoulder to apply the medicine. Both times Phryne is stoic while Clain blushes heavily with uncertainty of what to make of the situation.
In Episode 6, Phryne stripsdown naked so she can have fun splashing water with Nessa and Sanko in the river.
Jerkass: Dias. Other than removing innocent peoples' Terminals, he attacks and bombs the Temple's underground base knowing that Clain and Phryne are still inside, and planned to kill Phryne so the Fractale System cannot be restored.
Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Whenever it looks like Dias is helping out for a good cause, he'll always have ulterior motives. Always.
Dias sides with Sunda in the argument with other Lost Millenium factions to attack the Temple, only so his forces can gain entry to destroy the place/find and kill Phryne.
Just Friends: Phryne's preferred view of her relationship with Clain in Episode 7, claiming that she has no right to be loved.
Kick the Dog: Dias, who in Episode 6 nullifies civilians' Fractale Terminals (while masking the process as a typical vaccine for refugees) and forces them to either join his faction of L.M. or get killed; and in Episode 8 cluster bombs the Temple's underground base with Clain and Phryne still inside.
In Episode 10, Dias helps Clain by helping Nessa and him reunite with Phryne, but he really planned for his underlings to kill Phryne after she is reunited with Nessa in order to destroy the body of the "key" so the Fractale System cannot be restarted.
Gail's attempted rape on Phryne.
Barrot forcing Phryne to let him check if she's still a virgin by threatening Clain's well-being.
Lack of Empathy: Phryne is a little cold to Clain after seeing him easily send away his Doppel parents. She realizes this wasn't the case when she sees a video of an infant Clain smiling with his parents together.
Laser-Guided Amnesia: Clain assumes that Nessa is Phryne's Doppel, but she has no recollection of Phryne. In Episode 3, Nessa appears to be the Doppel of an actual priestess at the Star Festival, who calls Phryne "nee-sama." However, Episode 8 reveals that the priestess "Nessa" is one of many clones of Phryne from her childhood. Episode 9 has Phryne tell Clain that Nessa and she are two halves of the "key"—Nessa as the mind and Phryne as the body to host it—and when they are one, they will be able to restore the Fractale System.
Locked Out of the Loop: Clain is left out of the loop by Phryne, who leaves him in Episode 1 without so much as a word or farewell. When she tries to pull this a second time in Episode 4, Clain has had enough of being a pushover and calls her out on it.
If I am to offer a wish to the day star... I would ask it to shine a light here someday.
Phryne and Nessa both sing altered versions of the song at different points, Phryne towards the end of Episode 1 and Nessa sings it during Butcher's funeral in Episode 4. It remains to be seen whether these lyrics are other verses from the "day star" song or whole other songs entirely.
Episode 9 finally plays a longer version of the "day star" song.
Love at First Sight: Clain towards Phryne. Phryne, after becoming one with Nessa to produce the "key," reveals that she felt the same way.
Clingy MacGuffin: Nessa is one of sorts, as she grows attached to Clain because she "belongs" to him and becomes unwilling to be parted from him.
Memento MacGuffin: The brooch Phryne left with Clain, which is where Nessa appears from. It seems that Phryne got in trouble for taking the "Doppel information" (AKA Nessa).
The President's Daughter: Phryne and Nessa. Both are MacGuffins that are actively being hunted down. In Episode 3, Sunda tells Clain that Phryne is "the key to the world," but in Episode 7, Colin also refers to Nessa as the "key."
Mad Artist: Gail. He was willing to rape Phryne for insulting his art.
Make a Wish: Wishing to the "day star" works in this fashion. Clain used to wish on the "day star," but after a while assumes it must be "laughing" at him. In the same episode, Phryne wishes for Clain's smile to last forever. It remains to be seen if her "wish" will come true.
The ending credits are this. A melancholy song plays mourning lost love and at the very end, Nessa clumsily falls backward off a rock looking at a bug.
Episode 3, surprisingly, takes a turn for the worse. For an episode that starts off so light-hearted, it ends with the Lost Millennium revealing the Star Festival is a branwashing scheme of the Fractale System... and the shooting of L.M.s, Temple priestesses, and innocent people being killed in the crossfire.
Likewise with Episode 4, as everyone is dealing with the aftermath of the previous episode. Nessa (and Sanko) sings the rather lighthearted "day star" song during Butcher's funeral, and when the Temple's airship attacks Granites Village and then chase down Clain and Phryne, Phryne bluntly asks Clain if he's in love with her (which is probably not the best time in the world to ask).
Episode 7. An amusing discussion between Enri and Phryne over the latter's relationship with Clain is soon followed by Gail attacking and almost raping Phryne when she innocently insults his sculpture. After Clain and Nessa are relieved that they escaped their pursuers, Colin shoots Clain, and Phryne arrives to witness this just as Barrot finds her.
Episode 9. A heartwarming discussion between Clain, Phryne, and Nessa leads to Lost Millennium getting called out on their actions by townspeople. The Lost Millennium preparing for battle against the Temple cuts to Clain, Phryne, and Nessa having another heartwarming moment, only for Phryne to later leave the two in an attempt to stop the Temple.
In Episode 10, a tender moment between Moeran and Phryne turns into Moeran choking Phryne out of jealousy, as Phryne is the world's beloved maiden while Moeran is "unloved" by the world. After Phryne reunites with Clain and Nessa, Barrot finds them and embraces Phryne, licks her cheek, and claims that Phryne and he are "bound by abundant love."
The artwork displayed in the promotional ads is quite different from its anime counterpart.
And this magazine scan showing Phryne and Nessa smiling peacefully◊ together. They have quite a tense relationship in the anime, but they have made up in Episode 5.
Not the Fall That Kills You: Subverted. Phryne willingly lets herself fall to escape her pursuers, and for a moment Clain almost believed that Phryne could fly. However, when Clain finds her, Phryne is revealed to be unconscious and injured from landing on a cliff ledge.
When Enri notices how left out Nessa feels during the welcome to Granites Village in Episode 3 (the residents cannot see Doppels unaided), Enri gets them to use their eye monitors, allowing the group to see Nessa. One of the residents, a child named Sanko, becomes fast friends with her.
In Episode 8, one of Phryne's clones tells Clain where his Phryne is after he bandages her wound.
A more or less platonic version between Clain and Nessa in Episode 2.
Played straight in Episode 4 between Clain and Phryne. Clain has to literally chase Phryne down as she's driving off in order to catch her.
In Episode 9, after admitting that he likes Phryne, Clain and Nessa run off to find her.
Rant Inducing Slight: It's implied that Gail has been through his share of critics criticizing his sculptures, and Phryne's innocent comment of his recent sculpture resembling something of a worm is what puts him over the edge.
Subverted by conventional means since it's been stated that she is a virgin.
In episode 11, it is made apparent that Barrot did... something... to Phryne, as the original Phryne's father did to her, thus ensuring that the current Phryne would "match", and could become the key. It seems that that makes Rape as Backstory true for the entire world of Fractale.
Real Men Wear Pink: Clain is forced to wear pink pants for a bit in Episode 5 after his usual pants are dirtied up.
Real Place Background: Taken from the west of Ireland, the show goes into some fairly obscure details, correctly belling the police as "Garda" and containing Irish in a few spots if you look. Luimnigh is the Irish Language name for Limerick City. The town in the second episode appears to be based on Galway City while some elements of Granites are clearly based on buildings in Dublin's Docklands area.
Red Herring: Played with. Clain initially believes that Nessa is Phryne's Doppel, but Episode 3 shows a Temple priestess who looks exactly like Nessa and refers to Phryne as "nee-sama", indicating that Nessa is this priestess's Doppel instead. However, in Episode 8, the priestess "Nessa" turns out to be one of many of Phryne's clones that resemble Phryne from her childhood. It turns out that Phryne 'herself' is a Phryne clone too, specifically #152589, and the High Priestess Moeran is #141923.
Rubber Face: After seeing a video of an infant Clain with his real, non-Doppel parents, Phryne notices Clain doesn't smile the same way he used to. She is noticeably dismayed by this and attempts to reproduce his former smile this way. When that fails (but does make her laugh), she makes a wish on "the day star" for Clain's smile to persist forever.
Thankfully, the situation is resolved and the simulcast now resumed as of January 24.
Sadistic Choice: Suspicious of how intimate Phryne is with her "precious friend" Clain, Barrot makes Phryne choose between having Barrot check to see if she's still a virgin or letting Clain die without having his wounds treated. Phryne is forced to choose the former, but Nessa interrupts the procedure before it happens.
Even Enri seems interested in him. She questions Phryne on her relationship with Clain in Episode 7, is worried for the "naughty jerk" when Phryne and he are captured in Episode 8, and screams out Clain's name when the underground base Clain and Phryne were taken to explodes. She even tries to confess to him in Episode 9.
A tiny bit in Episode 10. Sunda punches Dias after Dias reveals that he was planning on having Phryne killed so the Fractale System cannot be restarted. Dias asks Sunda if he's fallen for Phryne, and Sunda walks away without answering. Subverted in that Dias was probably just being a troll and Sunda couldn't stand the guy.
Sunda is shot and dying and holds the line at an elevator for Clain, Phryne, and Nessa, giving a vaguely motivational speech, certainly reminds one of a sequence from another anime with a decent amount of mind screw.
Barrot: Well then, Miss Phryne, here's a three-choice question. This world doesn't have much time left, so answer it within 10 seconds. Question 1! What action will this world's beloved maidens take now?
Clain: Huh? What's that?
Barrot: A: Go back to the Temple happily, holding hands. B: Go to the Temple while bickering. C: Go back to the Temple for the time being since they're hungry. Now, which one?
[Phryne turns and drives off]
Barrot: What're you doing?! A fourth choice isn't allowed, Miss Phryne!
Took a Level in Badass: To protect Clain in Episode 7, Nessa unleashes a power that "destroys" the virtual city Xanadu.
Clain eventually realizes this towards Nessa, who was more of a "family" to him than his own parents. By the series' end he still thinks Lost Millennium is composed of murderers, but has also grown to think of them as his friends.
Lost Millennium. Interestingly enough, a portion of the Granites Village faction actually are a family.
Enri might possibly be one, indicated by her sweet treatment of her brother Sunda and Sanko, a child from of Granites Village, in comparison to her sour treatment of Clain and Nessa (especially Clain).
Nessa seems to be quite the tsundere as well once she becomes rather clingy and jealous over Clain whenever Phryne is involved. Though, she calmed down and reconciled with Phryne over a game of hide-and-seek in Episode 5.
Unwanted Harem: Phryne, Nessa, and Enri seem to have some sort of feeling for Clain, while he initially only has feelings for Phryne.
Unwanted Rescue: Twice in Episode 4. Clain attempts to escape with a captured Phryne on board the Lost Millennium's airship, but she refuses his help and outright slaps him, angered that he awakened Nessa from her brooch. When the Temple attacks Granites Village, Clain hurries to help Phryne, who again rejects his help, but this time Clain refuses to be a pushover.
Virgin Power: According to Barrot, Phryne needs to be a virgin to become the "key."
Virgin Tension: Barrot forces Phryne to let him check to see if she is still "qualified" to be the "key" or not, but before he can, Nessa invades the underground system and prevents it while on her Unstoppable Rage search for Clain.
Alabaster, another section of L.M., removed refugees' Fractale terminals without warning so that they cannot return to Fractale and are forced to follow them or get killed. All the while Dias—the leader of Alabaster—still has his own terminal intact.
Episode 7. Not only is Phryne almost raped by Gail, the episode ends with Nessa unleashing a devastating power that reveals Xanadu's true nature to protect Clain. Almost immediately after, Clain is shot by Colin, and Phryne arrives only for Barrot to find her.
The whams continue in Episode 8. Barrot is revealed to be the person who raised Phryne to be the "key" and attempts to see if she's still a virgin. Clain learns that there are countless clones that resemble Nessa (but are really clones of Phryne from her childhood) sealed away because Phryne is the "key" and the useless replicas are destroyed. The Phryne clone who helps Clain rescue Phryne is nearly killed herself and points Clain and Phryne to the direction of the underground base's shelter, but the underground base explodes with Enri screaming out Clain's name.
What Is This Feeling?: Clain feels this way when it comes to Phryne. He feels angry at Phryne for leaving him without a word and wants to get "mad" at her when he sees her again, but is confused by these feelings.
Clain:She came as she pleased and left as she pleased. People always do as they please. Everyone is like that in the current world. But... why am I this angry?
What Happened to the Mouse?: It's quite easy to forget that Clain actually stole a data clip from the junk market in Episode 1, and this small action has little to do with the plot than briefly explain the Fractale System.
In Episode 4, Phryne feels betrayed by Clain for not only awakening Nessa from her brooch but for also analyzing the brooch's data. Later in the episode, Clain returns the favor and calls Phryne out for always leaving him locked out of the loop.
In Episode 9, Lost Millennium is called out by a mob of townspeople on their murders and for the underground base explosion.
Wild Card: Dias. His motives are to ensure the Fractale System will not be restored, but his way of accomplishing said goal is morally ambiguous; really, he leans more on being an extremist than well-intentioned. His schemes include removing civilians' Fractale terminals, bombing an underground Temple base knowing that Clain and Phryne were still inside, and planning on having Phryne killed so the Fractale System cannot be restarted.
Will They or Won't They?: Clain and Phryne. They do end up together, but Phryne becomes the "key" with Nessa—she has Phryne's body but Nessa's personality mixed in. Nevertheless, Phryne still has her original memories, as she confesses to Clain that she has always liked him too.
Woman in Black: In her original character design, Phryne's Temple priestess clothing was black instead of blue. Subverted in that her personality is neither dangerous nor menacing.