FLCL is as close to a piece of literature as you're ever going to get with an anime series. Fast paced as it may be, the story beautifully presents a theme of growing into maturity, and accompanies it with stunning visuals I've yet to see surpassed. Many comments have been made on how plot is very difficult to follow due to both its speed, and also because of all the symbols, motifs, and dialogue that doesn't reveal its meaning until the very end. Never in any anime have I seen foil characters like Amarao and Ninamori played as such a beautiful literary
supplement to the main character Naota's journey into adulthood. To me, this series is the perfect balance of seriousness and humour. It makes you laugh, it makes you think, it pumps you up, its aesthetics impress you, it tells an eloquent story with a great mixture of science fiction and real life, it does everything a good story should do. Add to the mixture a soundtrack comprised almost entirely of music by The Pillows, and you have yourself and incredible piece of film work.
I highly recommend watching this series multiple times (it is short enough for sure - about the length of a movie all together). Each time I watch it, I start to pick up more subtleties, like pieces of foreshadowing dialogue, thematic development between characters and their foils, and witty humour. The director's commentary is also extremely insightful to the themes of the story, and I would definitely spend time watching that as well.
Most importantly, I can't stress enough to not be quick to judge this work. If you don't understand everything (and you undoubtedly won't after the first viewing), it certainly does not mean FLCL is "random" or "plotless". It is in my opinion WELL worth a second and third watch in order to pick up as much as you can.
I can't sing enough praise about FLCL. It holds a dear place in my heart, and I hope everyone that reads this can find a great enjoyment in it as well.
Oh, the highly acclaimed Fooly Cooly. It's been labeled as a "masterpiece", something "special" "unique" "pleasantly different" yada yada yada. For an anime to have gotten this much praise then it should have been extremely enjoyable and in particular funny as it is supposedly meant to be a comedy(primarily).
Sadly, FLCL did not offer any but was a one way trip to hell the moment a certain character made a flashy appearance in the first episode.
STORY: There is absolutely no story behind this anime. It is just six episodes of disjointed scripts that attempt to fuse together as much genres as possible then injected with
pointless crude sexual humor. It is as confusing as reading a Chemistry textbook upside down and going to write a Biology exam. It is not anything overly intelligent that one wouldn't understand but a very sorry attempt for a plot.
ART: A rather welcome aspect of FLCL. The art is unique and very neat while the animation is decent but nothing breathtaking.
SOUND: Another redeeming feature of the show.The music, as a standalone is nothing special but mixed with FLCL actually makes sense. It blends perfectly with the animation and just about managed to keep my sanity while being subject to the torture that was Fooly Cooly.
CHARACTER: This is perhaps the aspect of FLCL that is worse than the Story. A good anime has characters that you can connect to, ones you feel an attachment to, ones you root for, likable characters. The only half decent character in FLCL is Naota. The lot of em are either disgusting or detestable and very easily forgettable.
Now welcome to Haruko, my no. 3 most hated character in anime history only behind Shin in Gundam Seed Destiny and Roshio in TTGL. The introduction of Haruko marked the end of FLCL for me. A good description of her would be spontaneously annoying.
ENJOYMENT: I did not enjoy FLCL plain and simple. I have watched this anime an unbelievable 3 times because I kept telling myself maybe just maybe I missed something or there's is an underlying essence but NO, I only hated it more each time.
CONCLUSION: When there is a subject of controversy, you find things like
-One man's meat is another man's poison
-it is hit or miss
-People have different tastes etc
In this regard, FLCL is as polarizing as they come. It will be a love/hate relationship if you decide to brave the show. The good thing is you'll know which category you belong very early on.
You've heard of abstract anime, right?
You've heard of shows that completely surpass convention, right?
FLCL or "Fooly Cooly" or "Furi Kuri" is a vast expanse of hyperactivity, fast-paced, nonsensical story-telling, abstract presentation, slapstick comedy, innuendo, slice of life, science fiction and more...
(you can take a breath now)
It is the definition of "abstract" in that i don't even consider it to be an anime; and here's why...
FLCL is an "all or nothing", love it or hate it show; because there are 2 fundamental viewpoints and analytical approaches that can be used to evaluate it. To remain relatively impartial, i am
going to utilize both of these heavily contrasting arguments to become a part of the rare "middle-ground" viewpoint...
- The "Technical" Viewpoint -
Analyzing FLCL's technical merit as an anime title; with a start, middle, and end...
From a technical perspective, FLCL can only be given low amounts of quantifiable praise for the most part. This is because 2 of the most important parts of any animated title or novel: story and character, are generally quite poor...
FLCL is a highly abstract title after all, with a very vague and arguably non-existent development of a plot line in the form of a journey or growth. Many would argue that this show is nothing but a random and nonsensical arrangement of spontaneous events. It's fast-paced to a hyperactive extent, and so it's a nightmare to keep up with the current happenings. It's full of pointless and meaningless slapstick humor that cheapens the show, makes it impossible to take seriously as an anime, and gives it a "loony toons" vibe of immaturity (which is ironic if you read on).
Therefore most people who reflect on the technicalities of FLCL conclude that in terms of long-term storytelling, and an overriding plot, the show completely lacks fluidity, clarity, and consistency. Therefore rendering it unable to build up a conceivable and/or gripping plot...
It is to be expected of a very short anime, that the characters excluding our main protagonist aren't really "developed" at all. Their design is generic for the most part, uninspiring and conforming to a multitude of cliched stereotypes. Furthermore, they're not nearly sufficiently elaborated upon in the form of emotional growth, changes or back stories to trigger many attachment values. In contrast however, the way in which they all interact is quite clever. It's both crazy and casual at the same time, which leads to an interesting integration of abnormality, into normality.
Due to its time-scale, and it's ever-changing, inconsistent structure, FLCL fails to develop over a long term. Though it does however succeed in the short term, due to it's immediate presentation methods...
If from a technical aspect, there's one light at the end of the tunnel; then it's this integration of casual dialogue/character chemistry, and the way that it maintains an immersive and realistic atmosphere in the midst of all of the craziness. This is helped by the viewpoint of our relatable and therefore arguably the only clearly "considered" character: Naota. He is our realistic protagonist who is critical to the meaning behind FLCL (as i will mention later), and alongside the appropriately uplifting, youthful, casual soundtrack, his existence allows for some slice of life elements to shine through. This means that FLCL is atleast good painting a very "ordinary", therefore relatable, therefore immersive picture; in the immediate term, which provides a very care-free atmosphere to remind you that if you've gotten this far, then you're taking the show too seriously...
- The "Artistic" Viewpoint
Analyzing FLCL's artistic merit and intentions as an "expression"
FLCL is a show that hides the very heavy topic of growing up and maturing into adulthood, behind an ironically "immature" veil of nonsensical slapstick. Those who are generally more open-minded argue that FLCL intends to defy convention in such a bold way to enhance its meaning. This abstract nature is prominent enough to argue that those who only see a "bad anime" here, simply don't understand atall...
The events that take place in FLCL happen at such a blinding and incomprehensible speed, and the show's duration is short: to resemble the pure chaos of the very small amount of time that it takes for a child to loose his/her youth and reach maturity. It is a show that documents the "race" to adulthood.
All of the characters besides Naota appear as "stupid" and "immature", hence the continuous slapstick comedy: to represent the plight of adolescents who feel as though their "non-adult" status nullifies the relevance of the words they utter. This references the rather dark and isolated viewpoint that mankind itself is nonsensical and that "only I" make sense in this world of barbarians/corrupt/immature "adults" who don't live up to their title. This can be linked to the corruption of mankind's rigid and flawed administrative infrastructure.
Those who evaluate FLCL artistically are likely to conclude that it is a very meaningful and relatable show, disguised in a form so abstract that it can only be seen in a good light; if people look into the reasoning behind its bold methods. FLCL documents the plight of adolescents who feel as though they have to force maturity upon themselves by feigning ignorance in childish/immature things, to become better than the evidently immature/corrupt adult dictators that are responsible for the flawed administration of the modern world in which we live.
Considering both viewpoints, it's obvious that FLCL is a show that needs to be looked at from an artistic perspective in order to work. It is therefore not an anime... but an artistic expression instead. It's therefore hard to give quantifiable credit with an ordinary reviewing approach, which could misleadingly cause people to think lowly of the title.
FLCL works on some levels, and doesn't on others (though again, arguable this is intentional). I am going to turn a technically "1 to 2" show to a "6" due to its very meaningful, deep and relatable artistic values which could equate to a "10"... therefore averaging out in my opinion just above the half-way point. FLCL therefore serves to show us that there is a limit to how abstract and minimalist an anime can be, and still be easily praised from a "MAL reviewing" perspective...
Which is shown here to be quite a rigid one...
Do i recommend the show?
- To answer a question with a question, can you be open-minded enough to appreciate it?
~ Nothing amazing happens here, only the ordinary ~
The amount of pretension required to praise this anime is overwhelming. It seems that the writers were convinced that rapidly alternating between art styles, animating grandiose nonsense, and neglecting a coherent story are viable substitutions for writing something that's actually entertaining. They were wrong. I was bored senseless both times I watched this, even though I read many analyses of the series after my first watch.
Story - There isn't one. When I try to describe it to people they think that I'm just making things up. The story is so nonexistent that it's pretty impossible to spoil.
Character - The MC from Evangelion is paired
up with a bipolar schizophrenic girl with unexplained magical powers. The character interactions are nonsensical and character motivations are not even remotely explored. It's impossible to take anyone in this series seriously.
Art - One of the few redeeming elements of the show. The art is admittedly superbly well done, especially the over-the-top ridiculous sequences that this show is known for. My score ignores how the authors used the many changing art styles as a replacement for actual content.
Sound - The sound was excellent as well. The soundtrack was great, the voice actors were solid, and the english dub is surprisingly good. 9/10
Enjoyment - Watching this once was once too many. Some people might enjoy seeing bright flashing colors and absurd sequences of nonsense, but for me it became trite and jaded 10 minutes into the first episode. I was a fool to continue watching, deluding myself into thinking that it would get better.
Overall - The problem with this show is that if everything is ridiculous, then nothing is ridiculous. I love surrealism, grandiosity and not always understanding everything until the end, but FLCL tries so hard to take everything to an extreme that it struggles to be coherent or meaningful. Perhaps this is why fans are convinced that this show is complex - the idea that they so thoroughly wasted 2 hours of their life on something with absolutely no purpose is disconcerting, so they fabricate some "deeper meaning" for the show when in reality, there isn't one. Or, at the very least, there isn't one that can be attained without grasping at straws. And that's not a meaning worth discussing.
Well, here's my review for FLCL (or Furi Kuri, or Fooly Cooly, or whatever the heck you want to call it.) It's really quite a truthful review, for if you're an obsessed fan of the series, I suggest you turn around now and keep your "not helpful's" to yourself.
STORY--- Simply put, there was none. I suppose it was meant to be a coming of age story, but alas, I fail to see this for myself. There was little to no plot, with each episode consisting of nothing but chaotic character interaction rampant with dialogue that could be "misinterpreted" sexually. If I recall correctly, and keep
in mind that I was told this by a HUGE fan of the show, nearly every phrase spoken could be interpreted as a sex joke. Also: many objects in the show can also be viewed sexually (IE: Canti is supposed to represent a penis when he turns into a red cannon.) Even the TITLE of the show is a sex reference!
Too many sex jokes? Too simple? Too mindless?
Nope! When they're "discreetly hidden throughout the show", even sex jokes are "smart." Apparently that's what the kids are thinking these days while they giggle into their hands, in pseudointellectual glee.
ART--- One of the finer aspects of the show, I, by no means, hated the art. This doesn't mean that I'm a fan of the art style or anything; I just had little reason to complain about it (especially when you compare the art to something more atrocious, like the story.) Admittedly, it was really quite cartoonish at parts, but mostly where appropriate, so I had little reason to gripe about that either. Also, the sketchy art style is unique, if nothing else, so I need to rate this at least a seven out of ten.
SOUND--- Again, this is one of the finer aspects of the show. I honestly felt that the voices, as annoying as they may have been, really did fit the characters perfectly (in English anyway.) Also, the musical score is decent, and while it's not something I'd listen to every day of the week, it is something that I can enjoy once a song gets stuck in my head. This is definitely the best aspect of the show, and as such I'll give it an eight.
CHARACTERS--- 99% of the time I'm generous enough not to rate something a one, but the characters in this series don't have a snowball's chance in hell at scoring anything higher. I HATED the characters in this series more than in most. They're loud, annoying, immature, whiny, and entirely unlovable. They're damn near impossible to relate to, and they display little to no development at all...and if they did, then I missed it because of the chaotic "storyline."
There was ONE character I liked in this entire series, and that was the kid in the mouse costume. "Smoooooooch!"
ENJOYMENT--- The reason I gave this a four was because, when you don't try to swallow the "symbolism" and "intellectual value" that this show allegedly has backing it, it's actually mildly entertaining. Of course, this is long after you've accepted that the show is nothing but mindless entertainment.
And it is mindless entertainment.
Personally, I'm not the biggest fan of mindless entertainment, so I gave this a four. You'd think that I, the one writing this negative review, would've given it an even lower score, but I do have some reasons for not outright giving it a one. First of all, I did enjoy some of the humor, to some degree. It was random, sure, but there were some parts that I found mildly amusing. It's not like I was bursting out in laughter or anything, nor did I find the show terribly clever or witty, but I did give a chuckle here and there. Also, while I did not come for the art, nor the sound, I did enjoy both of said subjects thoroughly (more so the soundtrack; I didn't really 'enjoy' the art, but I'm not complaining either, so I guess you could call that 'enjoyment' since this is FLCL we're talking about here.)
OVERALL--- I COULD have given this a one. I really could have; especially when you compare this anime to some of the real masterpieces out there. In fact, it deserves a one simply because it is absolute garbage compared to these masterpieces I speak of... but I'd feel bad giving it a one because the sounds (voices/music/etc...) were actually pretty good, and the art wasn't half bad either. So I'll stick it with a two and get over my guilt eventually.
The story was a train wreck, the humor was mostly sex-based, and got old really quickly, my primary enjoyment of the series consisted of "ooh, pretty music", and, on top of all this, I hated the characters more than I've hated in most series. While the show did have its redeeming qualities, the fact remains that I didn't watch this show because I heard it had good artwork, nor did I watch it because I heard it had good sounds...I watched it because I heard that it was a good story with good characters, and that it was off-the-wall hilarious with all sorts of intellectualism going on.
I got the opposite of all that. Hence, my low score.
I hope you all found this review helpful, and I'm hoping you won't give me a "not helpful" simply because I spoke my mind about the show.
After just watching this series again and coincidentally clicking on a link to the FLCL's manga page, I noticed that for such a frequently recommended anime, there really aren't that many reviews.
So, having just watched this short and enjoyable series again recently, I thought I might write a bit about it.
First, before anyone decides to mug me, I'd just like to say that my ratings are generally a bit on the harsh side. I'd like to think of it as more realistic :P I also rounded down regardless of what was behind the decimal.
People will typically say that the story is complicated but it isn't. It's actually very simple but is confusing because of how it's told.
The story centers around Naota, a young boy who's coming of age, and Haruko, a mysterious girl who suddenly appears in a very calm and almost boring town and starts to shake things up. The story deals primarily with the insecurity, anxiety, jealousy, and adjustment issues that Naota and the people around him begin to feel as their lives move forward (or don't move forward). It's about desire and disappointment, reliance and independence, and everyone's discovery of what lies within them (be it the capacity to love, a robot by the name of Canti or various "enemies").
The style of story-telling comes together with the plot to form a rather realistic and moving depiction of how life is sometimes -- especially during adolescence. FLCL hides its simpler truths behind bizarre mecha-action and explosive energy just like how reality hides its truths behind the business and liveliness of living. FLCL turns very simple concerns and issues into full-blown craziness just like how we often exaggerate very simple things in real life.
After you begin to see through the energy, craziness, and business of the story, you'll begin to notice how simple things are. Just like life.
As for why I chose to give a rating of 7, to me, good stories draw you into them with their appeal and energy. Great stories keep you there and cause you to fall deeper into them because of their depth and development.
FLCL's story is short and very charming but lacking in depth and development. It's really hard to rate FLCL because it's true that some stories do benefit from depth and development and some stories don't benefit from those factors. In FLCL's case, if the story did have more development and depth, it might lose its defining light-hearted and free atmosphere. Even with that said, FLCL's story gets the job done because of a collective agreement between many things - story, character, animation, and music - but as an isolated entity, the story isn't an all-around masterpiece that a 8 or 9 might describe.
This is a GAINAX product so you can automatically expect a certain quality of animation. That being said, the technical animation quality (in terms of frame detail, the fluidity of animation, and general effort) is probably only slightly above average (considering this is only a 6 episode series).
What FLCL does have is a pretty appealing aesthetic style that makes a lack of detail and effort acceptable, appropriate, and even entertaining at times. Because the story is so loose and energetic, it was actually more effective that they adapted a more abstracted, playful and experimental style of animation. At times it does go over board but generally, it keeps your eyes pretty active and happy.
This is probably FLCL's greatest strength. The series itself doesn't have a definate opening theme but instead uses a very wide collection of j-rock insert songs that vary with the mood of the episode or the mood of a character. GAINAX went as far as to license the first three albums from "the pillows" for this anime and it paid off pretty well.
The only real criticism I could see of FLCL's soundtrack is its lack of variety. The reality is that FLCL itself is only a 6 episode series with an already very focused style. To expect uncharacteristic variety from the anime's soundtrack is asking for something that the series isn't.
FLCL does an absolutely amazing job in controlling and adjusting the music to match up with the visuals well. songs will fade in and out and key fragments (like the chorus) will take center stage at opportune times. Though the songs generally have lyrics, the lyrics will rarely get in the way of the actual dialogue.
As for the voice acting, to my knowledge, none of the voice actors (japanese) are well known or experienced and yet they did a pretty good job with the roles. I suppose some people might find Haruko's voice a bit on the annoying side but I thought it was okay. The voices and acting were generally pretty dead-on and believable.
The characters are generally pretty likable, but just as with the story, the majority of them suffer from a lack of depth and development. The only character that I thought we could truly sympatize with and understand at the end was Naota. I think in the end, we just simply did not know enough about the feelings and backgrounds of Haruko, Mamimi, Canti, and Naota's family or classmates.
I'd say that the ultimate goal as a character designer is to give birth to characters that can and will be remembered. This series definately has its fair share of characters that you won't forget. But, in the end, those characters aren't the majority and FLCL isn't as strong in this department as longer and more developed anime.
Like I said earlier in the section regarding the story, FLCL is successful because of its collaboration between story, art and music -- nothing is horribly out of place. If you look at FLCL like a building, the story would be the design and foundation, the artwork would be the walls and roof, and the music would be the final touches like paint, wallpaper, etc that help accentuate the overall feel of the series. All elements of this anime are pretty fundamentally sound but collectively, FLCL becomes more than the sum of its parts. To see such harmony within a work is truly enjoyable.
FLCL, Furi Kuri, or Fooly Cooly is an anime that is about as difficult to review as it is to fooly understand (ha!). People seem to either love this series or hate it. There seldom is a middle of the road opinion. That being said, most people can agree on one thing: this anime has energy. It's fast paced. It's crazy. Whether or not these are all good qualities is up to the viewer.
Growing up is hard, but almost everyone is ready to make that leap at some point. In Naota's case, it is especially hard. He is surrounded by people older than but less
mature than him, he is confused by the signals he receives from the women in his life, and he just wants to be taken seriously. These are all very real, very relatable problems that teenagers facing adolescence have to deal with. We pretty much all have that one older kid who is so cool that we want to be just like them. For Naota, that is his older brother who recently left Japan to play baseball in America. With this role model in his life gone, Naota puts pressure on himself to grow up.
He pretends to not care about things, he forces himself to drink sour beverages over sweet ones, and above all he tries to throw away the childhood that he still desperately wants to cling to. His classmates and his own father act younger than him, making Naota feel isolated and frustrated. However, his primary struggle is one we can all relate to. He doesn't know how to cope with his own feelings. Throughout the series, the dialogue is filled with sexual innuendos which represent Naota's mind being assaulted with thoughts of sex. With no trusted adults to go to for help, his feelings of isolation only grow and grow.
The animation is breathtaking. It creates an incredible atmosphere full of color and emotion. Every character looks great and moves in a fluent and natural way; whether that entails them having a normal conversation or violently flying across the screen depends on the scene. Not to mention, The Pillows did a fantastic job of providing a musical backdrop that fits in perfectly.
This is the most energetic anime I have ever seen. Right off the bat (baseball reference not intended), it hits the ground running and never slows down. What better way to demonstrate a rushed maturation process than an action packed six episode series? For some, it is too fast and too crazy. I feel that if I sit down and really process it bit by bit, it all slows down and turns out to be a very organized and cohesive story. But how original is a coming of age story? It seems that every show these days has characters that grow to be more mature versions of themselves. Not that this is a bad thing, but it is definitely a theme that is well explored. However FLCL keeps things fresh because it really is the definition of a "style over substance" series. The final destination is by no means new, but the road they take to get there is innovative, exciting, and truly a wonderful experience.
Innovation is a term that is thrown around a lot these days and is used almost interchangeably with the word creativity. But, innovation and creativity are actually two very different things. Creativity is just novelty, while innovation is novelty that has value attached to it. While we do see glimpses of authentic creativity occasionally, true innovation is almost impossible to come across.
In the beginning of the millennium, Gainax tried to do what they do best – innovate. To recreate the magic of the legendary Neon Genesis Evangelion, they utilized the same key members of the staff, appointing Kazuya Tsurumaki as the director and Yoji
Enokido, the author of the original FLCL novels, as the scriptwriter. And at the end of April of the year, the first episode of FLCL was released and gave birth to what would become yet another Gainax success story.
FLCL (Fooly Cooly or Furi Kuri) tells the tale of a precocious punk named Naota. When his brother left for America, he and Mamimi (his girlfriend) are left devastated and stumble through each day, finding solace only through each other’s thoughts of the brother. However, all this changes when an extraordinarily eccentric (borderline insane) girl, Haruko, barges into their lives and changes Naota inside and out. What follows is Naota’s coming of age story, crammed with outlandish sci-fi incidents that will light the way the way to adulthood.
FLCL takes up the word “chaos”, chews it up, spits it out and moulds it into something that’s preposterous even for Gainax’s standards. The storyline is erratic to say the least. What starts out as a wacky comedy about a kid and an oddity of a woman, turns into an over the top sci-fi series that attempts to showcase the fragility of the human mind. One second it’s about sexual innuendos, the next it’s about giant mecha emerging out of a kid’s head. It lacks any sort of consistency whatsoever and the end result is an indecisive plot that is more confusing than it is entertaining. This “middle finger factor” of the show gives off the illusion that an episode is longer than the thirty minutes of runtime. However, the true meaning and context of the show is still open for interpretation and lacks traits of any particular genre it belongs to.
The randomness and spontaneity of the crazy events does have its charm and works to the show’s advantage at times. But the complete lack of coherence does get to you and leads from “What the hell am I watching?!” to “Why the hell am I still watching?!” The absence of a strong and well directed plot is made obvious by the really cheap and downright silly humor. The jokes are not tasteful and unless you find getting run over by a scooter and whacked by a guitar funny, there’s nothing LOLable. Things even get severely disgusting at times.
Criticism aside, I land on one of the anime’s strong suits – the art. It excels in this department. The artwork is very stylish and exudes creativity. The characters look unique and are recognizable within an instant. You even have different styles employed, such as manga panels, cartoony and even a few scenes where the environments and characters are drawn in a South Park-like fashion. For an anime made a decade ago, the movement is very fluid and there are very few still shots. Here, Gainax innovates and the graphics look dated at no point. A perfect score.
FLCL shoots and scores with the soundtrack as well. The background music consists of several pieces made by the band Pillows. The rock band works well in creating some head thumping English tracks. It would certainly be a boon to the anime industry if these fellows were to make more tracks for anime.
The characters in FLCL are an eccentric group of locals, most of who are mentally deranged. Naota is the standard Gainax “kid-who-wants-the-power-but-not-the-responsibility” protagonist. The silver lining is that instead of just his psychological warfare on whether or not to accept the powers, you also get to see him battling his lusty pubertal desires. There is a certain amount of depth to his personality, but nothing that would top your favorites list. His character design was probably the inspiration for Simon of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Mamimi is, once again, an intriguing character, but she is sidetracked along the middle. The star of the show is Haruko. This disturbing woman takes the cake when it comes to randomness. Her seiyu, Mayumi Shintami does her job perfectly and projects Haruko impeccably as an annoying, yet likeable character.
The enjoyment factor is what splits the audience into two halves. On one side, you have the average anime viewer, who has his/her tastes limited to only a few genres and on the other, we have hardcore fans who are experienced with a wide plethora of shows. Viewers who are part of the former will probably have to turn their brains off to enjoy the mayhem that ensues in order to feel their time well spent. But it is a very difficult task considering that the show attempts to be intelligent and crazy at the same time. It is the exact opposite if you’re a case of the latter. Seasoned Gainax fans will feel right at home with all the hidden references and the troubled teenager hero. It’s just that they would be much more familiar with the spontaneity than those who are yet to watch a lot of the studio’s works.
[ THE WRAP-UP ]
FLCL is an anime that is a total hit-or-miss, mostly relying on your experiences with Gainax’s works. The coming of age element in the plot is completely buried because of the inane lightheartedness and when watched casually, it’s easy to miss. While it can be watched as a fun “go with the flow” show, the arbitrariness of it all irritates more than it enthralls. Thankfully, the animation in this six episode series spices up the scenes and makes for some excellent eye candy. The Pillows, a J-Rock band, play their part in making the anime technically sound by providing some wonderful tracks. Overall, FLCL is something that you would want to watch if you’re looking for something to tingle your taste for the bizarre, but a series that you must avoid at all costs if you’re looking for something thought provoking or well-drawn out.
Furi Kuri, or FLCL, was suggested to me by a friend. I figured I would watch it because it was short and I could get it done quickly. This however, was a bad idea.
I won't attempt to tell you anything about the story, as it is basically non-existent. I normal like some good random entertainment, but this show is just plain stupid.
There is no plot development, character development or even a real sense that anything happened. Every episode I was waiting for an event or explanation that would make the whole series make sense. It never came.
The characters are annoying and unlovable. There is nothing
that makes you feel connected to the characters. The only good part of the characters at all, is their animation and style.
One part stood far above the rest however, the sound and songs in this anime are by far above most you will ever see. There are several great guitar tracks that are worth your time, even though the series isn't.
This collection of random events was not enjoyable to watch at all. I was hoping that it would get better as I finish it, but I just disliked it more. I'd suggest not wasting your time, and watch something else.
This is a fast - paced anime. So fast - paced, that I'm not sure if I understood it clearly and completely. It still did interest me though. Not one dull moment.
Since I didn't understand the storyline all too well, I am not sure if I will be able to give a valid comment on this aspect. For purposes of writing a review that will get other people interested in it, I will give it my best shot.
The storyline is definitely different - it is nothing like any anime I have watched before. I probably said that line a million times, but let me tell
you, this is in a whole different league. What I like about it is that, the creators were able to get away with a real good story in such an amount of time. I'm tired of anime with a lot of episodes - let's get more 6 episode OVAs.
In three words, I would say that FLCL is funny, weird and different. Every episode made me laugh out loud, and at the same time, every episode made me go "what?" Some of the things that confused me is the emergence of "pedophiles" in this anime. Naota is just 12 years, people. People who go by the names Mamimi and Haruko - here's my message to you. Stay away! Note: Definitely not for kids under 18. I'm 20 and it still shocked me. There are scenes that are too, well, graphic (Scenes with Naota and Ninamori bathing..).
I did notice some american influence in this anime. I don't know if it's just me, but was that Kenny? Yep, pretty sure that was. There was a part in the OAV where they spoofed South Park. I don't know why, but it's all good. . Another thing is that the characters play baseball, Naota's brother is in America for pete's sake! I also noticed that the characters are fond of using english terms, specially Haruko.
But then again, I do understand why they like Naota so much. He is a bit cynical for his age, and he acts nothing like a 12 year old. He's more like a twenty - something guy stuck in a pre-teen's body (but then again, all kids in FLCL are - them kids are driving trucks). I do like his character though. He is rather interesting. Haruko is a bit weird. She is an alien, but I've seen a lot of aliens in other anime before. She is weirder than any of them and all of them combined. She's so weird, but she's still pretty and cute. Mamimi is a bit strange, and would need to see a therapist. She's a pyromaniac arsonist, a sexually charged teenager, etc, etc. She's a bit creepy. She seems to like Canti-sama a lot, and so do I. He's cool and weird. Heck, everyone in this anime was weird!
Drawing style is pretty good. I don't like how their faces morph now and then, specially for Haruko. She's such a pretty girl, and the creators have succeeded in making her ugly. Other than that, character design is an A. The backgrounds are also beautifully designed, and the details are made intricately.
Voice acting is not so bad. I found Haruko's voice to be slightly irritating, but I made it through the end of the OVA without saying much about it. Yes, it can be helped. Everyone else seems to have a more or less, capable seiyu.
And now for the best part : the music! The whole anime was about rock n' roll, which is a good thing, because I just finished watching BECK. I love the music of the Pillows. This is the first time I heard a lot of their music (I heard some of it in the BECK soundtrack) and I have to say I just love it. Every single song in the OVA was so modern and it really rocked out.
I really think this is a must - see for everyone. I do think that it's even for those who don't usually watch anime. I don't think that this review is enough to express how much I liked FLCL at all, so just watch it already and see for yourself!
Ah, Fooly Cooly. I was very excited to start watching this series, as I noticed it was from Gainax of Evangelion fame. There were some elements of this show that I thought were very well done, but for me the overall story and characterizations made me feel extremely disappointed after finishing the last episode.
First I'll start off with what I really enjoyed about this series. The art design I truly thought was superb, I enjoyed it. What is also very unique and creative is how throughout the series different styles of animation emerge, such as bullet-time, manga panels, a South Park-esque style, and many more.
I felt the art and animation was very fresh and exciting to watch. In addition, the music in this shows has a very cool, modern vibe to it. Expect to hear a lot of really awesome guitar and rock music. The visual and audio aspects of this show are what I really feel shines in this show.
Now, as for the story... I for one will acknowledge that I tend to be very particular about my anime. My favorite shows are typically character driven, with less emphasis on plot. Unfortunately in this anime, I had a difficult time even following the plot. Perhaps this merits another watch-through, but I honestly did not enjoy the show enough to do that. To me the plot was very frazzled. I did not really understand Haruko's objectives, which I am sure is central to the show. Overall, I believe that the show may have been far too fast paced for my enjoyment. I do understand why it was fast paced, seeing as it is a six episode OVA. And I do feel as if there is a coming-of-age story buried in this hodge-podge of a show, but it is so unclear to me.
In conclusion, I would recommend this show to anyone looking for some really well done Japanese ANIMATION, but not story. Stylistically this show is one of the most original I have ever seen, and it does score some points from me for that. And for those of you who enjoy this show, I think that is wonderful; I guess it just isn't my taste.
Expect to be bombarded with imagery you'll be scratching your head at, ridiculous plot line, and a style that's pushed to the very limits of animation and visual storytelling.
In the city of Mabase, nothing amazing ever happens. Nothing to interest adolescent Naota Nandaba anyway. Growing weary of the same old routine: school, bizarre family, and his older brother's girlfriend constantly hitting on him while his brother is away in America playing baseball. Nothing at least until Haruko Haruhara runs him over with a Vespa...
Everything about the visual experience is unique; the series really pushes the boundaries of what animation in all styles can
do. In one moment the scene appears calm, the palette bright but unsaturated, then in an instant the scene changes and the expressions and anatomies are pushed to extreme levels of in-your-face. Each episode is different and plays around with different techniques that make the whole show stylish and cool.
The music in FLCL is spot on perfect, albeit pretty unorthodox. Japanese alternative rock band, The Pillows, is amazing. While only a couple of the songs were composed specifically for the show, all of their music is top quality stuff. The songs are upbeat and mellow and wouldn't be expected to work with the intense visuals and storyline, but somehow, like the rest of FLCL, comes together and just works.
FLCL completely succeeds in using animation as a visual medium for storytelling, but it's not all style over substance. FLCL sports an incredibly real and likable cast of characters. Naota is your average, nothing particularly special, twelve year old boy; the perfect age for just wanting to rush into adulthood and skip all the awful hormonal happenings that occur in between. Naota's brother's girlfriend, Mamimi, is a photographer and pyromaniac projecting her missing baseball player onto the closest replacement. Haruko is loud, flamboyant, and constantly walks the fine line between incredibly annoying and incredibly awesome.
While the character's don't get a whole lot of development through the OVA, they are complex and they do change. All the adolescents deal with real relatable problems and react in ways to the bizarre happenings and difficult emotional issues in ways we would expect them to. With maybe the exception of Haruko, they all hit home in a way that everyone can sympathize with. Everybody has gone through the motions of transitioning between child and adult, first crushes, dealing with annoying parents, second crushes, and so on.
Now it's easy to become overwhelmed with all that goes on. The OVA is first and foremost a roller coaster ride of an experience. Don't go nit picking at every image asking "what does it mean, what does it mean?!" You'll end up buried somewhere in a psych ward that way. But that isn't to say that all of the weird visuals aren't symbolic or allegorical in some form. In addition to telling the loose story, FLCL is full of pop culture references, homages to other anime, and even some American television as well. It is also intensely funny with the jokes and general insanity running alongside at breakneck speed.
It's easy to write off FLCL as a ridiculous anime, no plot, no complex characterization, just visual flair and no depth, and to an extent that's true; but you don't have to look too hard to see that it's not completely random and plotless. It's about simple truths as well as intergalactic space conflict with robots. It strikes an excellent balance between silliness and sincerity. It might not be for everybody, but don't be too quick to judge the series. It's wild and crazy, but you can handle that, it's thought provoking and a lot of fun.
Pretentious is a word which is thrown around a lot these days, even though it is a word that almost no-one seems to understand. In order for a creative work to be an example of 'pretentiousness' it needs to present commonplace ideas in an overly elaborate way, and while firmly under the illusion that what it says is deeply profound. It must have a delusion of grandeur, in other words.
There are many out there who say this about FLCL, but there are just as many who will also say, sometimes within the same breath, that it doesn't have any "storyline" or "plot" or that it
doesn't make any sense. But if you cannot state what is being said, how can you assess whether what is said is novel or trivial? Nothing can be cryptic and conspicuous simultaneously.
As it happens, FLCL is not something which is terribly difficult to understand. The entire picture is little more than a metaphor for adolescence. This is hinted at slightly in the show, by the fact that the lead character Naota, is a young boy who suddenly becomes quite moody and irritable. Perhaps you yourself have experienced adolescence, or you know someone who has: it is the period of life where young boys and young girls begin to develop emotionally, physically and sexually. There are a wide range of symptoms, but Psychologically, they usually manifest themselves in the form of moodiness and irritability.
That is of course not to say that other aspects of FLCL can be considered part of adolescence. For better or worse, most people do not encounter fighting robots or alien bounty hunters until they enter College, or sometimes even later in life. This is an example of 'creative license' wherein creators are allowed to operate outwith the confines of observable reality and produce work purely from their own imagination. Of course, it is probable that in doing so these creations have a connection to something which does exist in the real world, acting as some kind of 'metaphor' or 'allegory'. One example of this which appears in FLCL is the character Haruko. She is the first woman which Naota looks at in a sexual way, and is very alluring despite being completely unsuitable as a romantic interest. In other words, exactly the kind of woman that an adolescent boy would be attracted to. Of course, women are beyond the comprehension of most adolescent males, perhaps to the extent they may be perceived as being 'alien' to them. I am not a literature student, but I believe that there is a term used when a writer attempts to emphasise the similarity between to things by equating them with one another. Oh yeah, a metaphor.
Another important character is Holden Caulfield, or Mamimi as she is actually known in the series. While Naota is in the onset 'angsty' phase of adolescence, Mamimi is in the 'existential crisis' phase where patients become consumed with apathy and decide to take up smoking. For Mamimi, the transition between childhood and adulthood is incomplete, and while she is sexually active she is still very childlike in her reliance on others. Her boyfriend, on the other hand, has left her behind... placing some distance between them... like the distance between childhood and adulthood, possibly... who knows?
If you are not the sort of person who is capable of lateral thought, or are intimidated by the prospect of having to figure something out for yourself, then FLCL is unlikely to be appealing to you. If not however, it is arguably among the greatest anime series ever made. The visuals are as groundbreaking as they are stunning to look at. The level of creativity demonstrated here is greater than the entire output of anime in the past five years. This anime doesn't assume that you are not smart enough to figure out abstract ideas on your own.
I hear OVA's takes ages before all the episodes are released. Well, kinda make sense in the case of this show, because it must have taken them a long long time and a hell of a lot of blood, sweat and tears to make something *this* bad. "FLCL"? "Furi Curi"? "Fooly Cooly"? Regardless of what this anime is supposed to be called, "Fully Crap" is what this anime *deserve* be called, and call it that I shall. While watching "Fully Crap", I felt so apathetic, so detached from everything that was going on on screen that there were moments where I wondered if I'd accidently
consumed some drugs beforehand.
"Fully Crap" has in abundance most of the stereotypical things that puts people off anime. It's random, insanely over the top, infused with oddball Japanese humour, and contains lots of super deformity, mechas and explosions. The only thing that's missing is probably tentacle pr0n, and perhaps some sense. And to prove my point, let me tell you that I was watching this with a couple of friends who were relatively new to anime. About five minutes in, they both walked out on me with dropped jaws and glazed eyes. I was left watching the remainder of the episode accompanied only by those aforementioned jaws that my friends dropped on their way out, and fueled only by my own stubbornness to finish what I'd started... and boy did it push that stubbornness close to its limits.
At first it seemed just like a normal anime, then along comes a girl on a motorbike wielding a guitar... and everything goes to sh*t from there on. I had no clue what was happening. The creators' aim appeared to be to try and make "Fully Crap" as crap, as incomprehensible, and as insane as possible. A couple of the better episodes are very crap, which can be considered sky high praise in the case of this anime, because the rest of it is unwatchably crap. Towards the end of the series, it almost felt as though bits of it was starting to resemble some form of meaning, though perhaps that's due to my mind deluding itself after desperately trying for so long to make sense of what's going on. It's like the feeling of trying to piece together a jigsaw puzzle with 90% of the pieces missing, and with the pieces you do have deformed to such an extent that it's hard to tell what images are printed on them.
I'm really struggling to think of anything good to say about "Full Crap". Er... the animation's okay when it's not too busy being crazy, and the music works out occasionally, although this appears to be more by fluke than by design, as they basically have a load of jrock songs weakly glued together to form a constant racket in the background, and by chance it manages to match the scene once or twice. And er... that's about it really. Probably the only way they could have made it worse is to make it longer - then I would have had to sit through more "Fully Crap" stuff. *shudders*
Anime has brought us some crazy worlds. Ones in which people transform into animals and the fate of humanity rests on the shoulders of teenage mech-pilots. Even by these standards, however, FLCL is in a league of its own. At its core, FLCL is a simple coming of age story. It just so happens that this coming of age story takes place in a world so unhinged that it rivals the craziest works of Douglas Adams.
Naota is a grade school student obsessed with being mature. He is often irritated by the less than mature antics of the adults around him; and looks up to his
older brother, who he sees as the epitome of maturity. He is so determined to follow in his brother's footsteps that he carries around his brother's baseball bat. He even hangs out with his brother's old girlfriend, Mamimi, who refers to him as "Takkun", a nickname she used for Naota's older brother (who's real name is Tasuku). However, Naota's life gets turned upside down when he gets hit by the pink-haired, bass wielding, Vespa driving Haruko; who is allegedly an alien. Soon after this bizarre encounter, things start popping out of Naota's head, including guitars and giant robots. Just as alarming is that Haruko has taken residence in his house as a housekeeper.
It is hard to imagine a show being as loud, hyper, and as insane as FLCL. There is just so much going on: visual gags and puns, countless pop culture references, and unexplainable sci-fi madness. A hurricane of lunacy is the best way to describe this show. Throughout this all the fourth wall is practically non-existent. In the first episode there is a scene that freezes and cuts back to the characters, who are sitting in a room watching the scene and talking about how difficult it was to pull off, from that moment on it's clear that anything is fair game. The characters often imply they know that they are in an anime, and even are aware of things like the shows constant art-style shifts. Then there is just the absurdness of it all, like Haruko using a guitar as as a multifunctional weapon, and skyscraper sized robots popping out of Naota's head. Everying that happens in this show is just so far out there, it is hard to compare it to anything else. The closest thing FLCL can be compared to is Douglas Adams' "Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy" in all its glorious sci-fi driven lunacy.
This may all just seem like creative venting, but there actually is a method behind it. A lot of what the viewer experiences is a colorful metaphor for the awkward trails of growing up. As the show progresses Noata starts to become his own person; stepping out of his brother's (and later on Haruko's) shadow. Likewise, he learns to make decisions for himself and take action. He also learns to consider the consequences of his actions. These metaphors can come in forms as bombastic as Naota choosing to swing his bat (or guitar in this case) in order to save the town from a falling satellite; or as understated as his attachment to Mamimi and idolization of both his brother and Haruko. It is all very cleaver, even brilliant at times. However, this is not to say all of what you see is a metaphor. In fact, a lot of it is just crazed nonsense or references to pop-culture or other anime. If not for the coming of age story centering around Naota anchoring it down, this show would blast off and float around aimlessly in the exosphere.
For the rest of the cast, first off there is Haruko, who might be one of the craziest anime characters ever conceived (and that's saying something). More than any other character, Haruko embodies the essence of the show. She is loud, unpredictable, and really just a blast to watch. Her relationship with Naota is a rather interesting one; though he is irritated by her at first, by the final episode he grows quite attached to her. However, it seems that Haruko has ulterior motives for wanting to be close to Naota. Then there is Mamimi, who is the perfect picture of a troubled teen. Mamimi is shown to be insecure and unsociable, constantly smoking and scarcely attending school, where she is often bullied. She idolizes Tasuku (Naota's brother) just as much, if not even more, than Naota himself. Mamimi has the habit of adopting things she sees as more helpless than her and naming them "Takkun" (Naota for example), which serves as a way of dealing with her own insecurities. The rest of the cast is mainly used for comedic effect, however also play into the coming-of-age themes. Most notable are the class president, Eri Ninamori, who is having family troubles; and Commander Amarao, an interstellar agent who has history with Haruko and sports bizarre eyebrows.
On the technical-side, there is no experience quite like FLCL. This show is a full out assault on the scenes. The visuals are nothing less than phenomenal. The animation is incredibly fluid and well choreographed. The color scheme is vivid and eye-popping. However, the big attention grabber here is how often and seamlessly the show shifts art-styles. The show goes from the standard anime look, to a more bubbly look, to manga form (which actually still has some movement in it), and once even goes South Park. Just as impressive is the soundtrack, which honestly is a great listen all on its own. Better yet it flows perfectly with what you see, sustaining seemingly limitless energy throughout the shows entirety. As noticeable as the music is, it never interrupts whatever is going on in a scene, which just goes to show how great the sound mixing is here. Really, it is impossible to picture the show looking or sounding better.
The high energy insanity of FLCL is sure not going to please everyone, some people will find it too hyper and ridiculous. However, this is one case where appearances are deceiving. As off-the-wall as it is, FLCL is far from blatant nonsense. While it may at times get too wrapped up in its madness, there is a genuine story here. One about growing into your own person and taking responsibility, and a damn good one at that.
I've heard great things about this anime, seen reviews calling it a masterpiece, heard demands for sequels and more episodes. I'd seen the first episode a while back, and found it stupid. It had some vague promise of a plot, I'll give it that, with explanation of Noata's brother having left for America and his girlfriend becoming strangely attached to Noata, and the events that Haruko's arrival caused. Noata and Mamimi were portrayed quite well to begin with, with how Mamimi acted when talking about Noata's brother giving promise of development of the charachters and the relationship between them. So a promising start to the
episode, ruined upon Haruko's arrival, with the threat of a plot about Noata's brother was forgotten to be replaced by the question "what is that innuendo growing out of Noata's head?". So now the plot has been chucked out of the window, the episode becomes stupid, one moment changing to become a manga strip on a screen, the dialogue becoming senseless, with Haruko constantly spouting meaningless crap, Noata constantly asking what the hell is going on, and every single other charachter saying nothing to advance the plot, with Noata's family just accepting everything as normal and his friends just wondering why he is wearing a hat. The end of the episode redeemed itself with promise of a plot upon Canti's appearance, but that wasn't enough to make me want to watch more after the stupidity of the rest of the episode. So I stopped watching it.
Since then I read the reviews mentioned earlier, seen forum posts praising it, and heard the demand for more episodes. A friend of mine told me not to judge it on one episode. So I gave it another chance, expecting it to improve after the first episode. It didn't. The next two episodes were just wondering what would come out of Noata's head, with no charachter development, no plot advancement, and plenty more meaningless talk from Haruko (whose voice I found quite annoying). From the fourth episode onwards, it promised plot, but very little was properly explained. The dialogue of the new charachters introduced in episode four at least had more to it than anything Haruko said, and at least explained they were trying to stop the 'Medical Mechanica" (a very misleading name, it never did anything medical), even if who they were, what the Medical Mechanica was, how they knew what it was, was never explained, or not explained in any way that was understandable. The final episode brought very little sense of a conclusion, with the only thing you get from the explanation of the Medical Mechanica is that it's purpose is to destroy things, and Haruko saying, in a lot more words, that she is only there for a man. The only actual change at the end of the episode from the way things were at the beginning of the series is that Canti is living with Noata, and Noata now has a bass guitar.
Other problems with the plot include: Noata's insistence at the beginning that everything is ordinary and there is nothing wierd about the town, with the giant iron that is the Medical Mechanica in the background. That's not ordinary, the attempt at a plot later in the series is based on the fact that is is far from ordinary. Secondly, no one ever seriously questioned the existence of Canti. No one else in the series has a robot, yet the only response to Canti is "cool, a robot". Thirdly, why Canti obeys Noata yet everything else that comes out of his head or is related to the Medical Mechanica is trying to destroy things is never explained. We just have to accept that Canti is a good guy and every other robot is a bad guy. Finally, Haruko's bass. It's a bass, but it's a club, but it makes a noise like a chainsaw, but it's a gun, what the hell is it? For the first four episodes it's use is to hit things, then on episode five it suddenly becomes a gun, with no explanation offered.
On a more positive note, the final fight scene was quite enjoyable, and a nice change from the practically identical fight scenes from previous episodes, which consisted of Canti absorbing Noata, and him and Haruko hitting the other robot, before Canti turned into a giant red cannon and shot it.
The only redeeming quality of the series was the soundtrack. Each episode had some decent rock music in the background in what I have to assume were considered to be important scenes, and I intend to find a copy of the soundtrack. The artwork was good for the most part too, the robots looked great, however that was let down by the times it became a manga strip, and the occaisional stupid cliched unrealistic facial expressions/body language (such as people's faces changing shape or colour to show shock, anger etc) found in anime aimed at younger audiences that I must assume were meant to be funny. I must however praise the use of south park style animation in episode 5. While, like much of the rest of the series, it was completely pointless, it was a rare moment where the series parodied of something other than itself.
So, to conclude, get the soundtrack if you enjoy some decent j-rock tunes, but don't waste your time watching the series, it's two hours of my life that I'd rather have back.
This is somewhat of a head-trip. The story doesn't really make a whole lot of sense at first, but if you can pay attention (meaning no drugs or alcohol...trust me, you won't need them), you can start to understand it. Although there are few parallels in any real way, I have to compare it somewhat to "The Matrix" in that you can't really get a full grasp of the whole story and all the levels of metaphor in just one viewing. At least "The Matrix" sits you down and attempts to really explain things (at least plot-wise)...whereas this series does not.
The only reason I rate
the story as low as I did was because of how hard it is to follow. There are so many elements that just seem random...and, I do believe, was probably intentional. From my understanding, this was basically the crew at Gainax (the production studio) just blowing off steam and not trying to make a serious attempt. Honestly, I wish they'd do that more often...the result was fantastic! I do rather love the real quick jabs they make at a few other popular anime series (of course, I believe Gainax produced those as well).
The art was incredible in many areas...I LOVE the "3D rotating camera" effects they use in certain places. The sound is AMAZING. If you have surround-sound, it really does add an extra dimension to the action on-screen. The soundtrack is also VERY good. I actually bought the album for the series...it's all done by a Japanese rock band called "The Pillows". "Hybrid Rainbow" and "Ride on Shooting Star" (the end theme) are my favorites.
Although there's not much time to get in character development, the writing is done very well in that you really get a feel for each character's distinct personality. The only thing that bugs me (and again, this goes back to my giving it a 7 for story) is that it seems to be part of a much bigger series or storyline, but I've not been able to come up with anything. Even the manga just basically recaps the anime. Luckily, there is a distinct beginning and conclusion, but it really does seem like there should be more...I wish there was!
Between the surreality, bizarre metaphors, humor, music, and action, this is a series well worth watching. My advice? Watch it once with an open mind and enjoy it for its aesthetics both visually and aurally. Then, watch it again to catch the story and some of the metaphors. Otherwise, you might sprain your brain...I almost did! It really does make a lot more sense the second and third time through. I've seen it many times and will see it many more in the coming years. I highly recommend it!
The definitive postmodern animated masterpiece that tells a heartwarming coming-of-age story while simultaneously redefining the boundaries of storytelling in 21st century anime ...or an incoherent stream of pretentious symbolism and innuendos hand-wrapped loosely in the name of a story by the self-pleasuring hands and narcissistic minds of Gainax?
FLCL struck many as one of the more controversial anime series in the collective fandom at the time. The story didn’t seem so sequential, the characters were muddy and cryptic, plus, what EXACTLY was this anime even about? And the fact that this apparent “mess” was polished up in the best damn Japanese animation that the year 2000
could produce made you sure that this wasn’t some low-budget shit cooked up at the last moment, so what the hell Gainax? It took itself seriously during the most ridiculous moments and it didn’t take itself seriously in the most serious of moments, this anime was self-aware. It wouldn’t take long before the viewer realized he/she was watching something incredible, it was an anime that was sincerely trying to break new ground, positive or negative, it didn’t matter; it was navigating through uncharted territory, a new territory that would become the foundation for much of 21st century anime.
Of course, many newer anime viewers will watch FLCL and oftentimes ask themselves: why is this anime so controversial? After all, these newer fans have already been fed on a steady diet of unconventional anime of the 21st century (without a doubt, influenced directly or indirectly by FLCL) such as Tatami Galaxy and Bakemonogatari among many more, so it didn’t seem TOO weird to them, but it was still undeniably weird.
The story follows Naota as he lives his mundane school life with his irresponsible family and boring classmates in a generically uneventful Japanese town. This life, however, is disrupted when a pink-haired girl by the name of Haruko comes around and starts to turn Naota’s life upside down. Slowly, Naota’s viewpoints on adulthood, his family and friends, and life in general begin to change…
The bare bones introduction of this story is very typical to say the least, and if you were to strip away the entire plot to the bare minimal level, you would realize FLCL’s story is childish and silly. But it’s layered, coated, and glazed with so many globs of symbolism, self-parody, innuendos, themes, and character development, the final product looks almost nothing like the starting point. And that’s the beauty of FLCL; the amount of ideas all packed in a loose story gives an extremely wide range of interpretations and analysis of the same show that you wouldn’t find in many other anime.
FLCL, at heart though, is a coming-of-age story of a boy who tries so hard to be adult that he, ironically enough, comes off as a child. The main character is being surrounded by a world of conflicting emotions and it confuses the hell out of him, and the manner of FLCL’s storytelling reflects this mass of bottled up emotions inside Naota. The story is fragmented, but obviously done intentionally, and that kind of intentional randomness creates a very surrealistic atmosphere in the midst of careful doses of self-parody and deconstructions that makes FLCL witty and humorous. It’s not a straightforward story with a clear point A followed by point B, it’s a symbolic and innuendo-soaked story with a vague and muddled point A that may or may not lead to point B. It’s a story that needs to be re-watched for the viewer to notice many things that might fly over the first time (and they WILL fly over the first time). The story is admittedly confusing and seemingly incoherent, until a second viewing dawns upon the viewer that every single “irrelevant” detail was made, discussed, and done for a very precise reason of foreshadowing, characterization, etc.
In a sense (and I say this half-jokingly), FLCL is like the anti-Evangelion, the symbolism isn’t just there for the sake of symbolism, it all ties in for a purpose, and that makes it a deceptive and intelligent show.
The show likes to experiment in its animation. Exemplified by the now famous “manga scene” and other examples such as a shaky scene in which the character outlines are wobbly to parodies of the bullet time visual effect popularized by the Matrix. This outburst of animation inconsistency further conveys the random and loose nature of the show and keeps mundane scenes exciting, a concept further explored nearly a decade later by the likes of anime such as Bakemonogatari.
The unifying animation style is top-notch and high quality because, well, it’s a six episode OVA and it’s mainly produced by a Gainax blazing after the success of NGE. The palette of the animation is light-toned and the scenery is reminiscent of a watercolor; this creates a dream-like atmosphere to the whole story that ends up quite effectively suiting the surrealist tone of FLCL.
The character designs are decent and individualistic in their appearance, which is a nice step-up from Evangelion where some characters look like palette swaps. Naota has a “cynical brat” look to him, Haruko is alluring and foreign (which is a theme in this show), and Ninamori is traditional and noble. Conceptually, the idea of a robot exploding out of someone’s head is both ridiculous and brilliant, and the robots seem to take their cues more from the designs of Gurren Lagann, which wouldn’t be released until 7 years later, or it’s the other way around. Nonetheless, the newer anime fans that have watched Gurren Lagann will definitely notice the striking similarities in terms of design and animation of Gurren Lagann to FLCL.
One thing director Tsurumaki has emphasized in this show is breaking boundaries, and musically, the director did just that by recruiting contemporary Japanese rock band the Pillows to score the soundtrack. The band’s provided theme songs are jumpy and loud, furthermore tying in with the style of the show. One unique thing about the Pillows is that whereas most Japanese bands are content to play ballads and soft rock, the Pillows are distinct among even some western indie rock fans as having a sound reminiscent of 80’s alternative rock. This is especially refreshing considering most anime studios would rather play it safe and hire catchy bands such as UVERworld over the Pillows. As a Japanese rock band taking their cues from Dinosaur Jr. and the Pixies, the Pillows serve as the perfect composers for such a definitive and influential series such as FLCL.
Aside from the contribution of the Pillows, Shinkichi Mitsumune writes the rest of the score, which, of those played in the show, consists mainly of rock instrumentals during the more intense scenes. This soundtrack accommodates the show well because really, what other music besides rock do you expect to be played in a show as unflinching as FLCL?
As much as the story is important, the characters of FLCL are even more important. For a show as short and abrupt as FLCL, the characterization is exceptionally a cut above most other anime. FLCL’s fantastical situations are completely not relatable, yet the characters themselves are some of the most three-dimensional I’ve ever seen in anime. The characterization of FLCL shows that even though some characters may change, in the end, they don’t change that much because ultimately, you are who you are. And that kind of development in the characters is risky but extremely rewarding if executed right. Whereas most anime series will have the protagonist or the heroine go through the story and emerge as a completely changed person, FLCL strikes that to the ground (with a bass guitar) and sends out the message that your viewpoints may change, but ultimately, you are the same person; but that doesn’t even matter, because it’s those tiny changes that will make it all better in the end, not the drastic ones.
This message is communicated through Naota and Haruko. Naota MAY have been changed by the ordeals as you slowly see the boy change his outlook on life all while the bottle holding his emotions inside slowly crack, but in the end, he is still the furrowed-brow kid he was, albeit a happier, more optimistic one. But it’s FLCL’s characterization that shows you can only progress a little by little, and that in the end, you can’t change who you are, but you can definitely improve it. Haruko, likewise is the same. Throughout the series, she begins to develop a close bond with Naota, and it’s that relationship that morphs her from a manipulative person, to a human being (or alien) with a tiny sentiment for affection. All well until the end, you realize, that she STILL is the same manipulative person, though now slightly less manipulative and more caring. It’s the complexity of these characters that make FLCL a worthwhile 180 minutes.
Other characters such as Mamimi symbolize the feeling of despair and loneliness without warmth in your life, while the mysterious older brother of Naota represents the abandonment of your roots. Every character is there for a reason, and though interpretation of their character is completely up to the viewer, every character is integral to the show (yes, even that blue cat with the big genitals). Ninamori is a specially well-written character used to show the confusion found in adolescence (even though she’s in 6th grade) and her development as a character is intensely subtle, but beautiful nonetheless.
The FLCL cast is quite possibly one of the best casts in anime I have ever seen. The amount of symbolism, depth, and purpose in each character is incredible, even more amazing is that a 6 episode anime was able to develop its characters better than most full length 26 episode shows do.
On a side note, there is a fascinating analysis somewhere online about Naota representing liminal Japan and the various characters around him acting as choices for the propelling nation. I would highly recommend reading it once you finish the series.
FLCL can be enjoyed on two levels, one level is the shallower level in which the viewer can enjoy the randomness and watch it as a heartwarming coming-of-age story. The second level is the one in which the viewer must be prepared to think, and really notice the tiny details of this extremely well written and well though-out story. With fantastic animation, a surreal story, a good sense of humor, and detailed characters, the idea is that FLCL will be enjoyable to anyone who enjoys watching good anime, and you do like good anime don’t you?
FLCL is one of those shows that every new anime fan needs to watch; it’s a thoroughly engaging anime that sometimes seems as if it has a mind of its own, from constant parodies to breaking the 4th wall to pop culture references. It’s a humorous anime that also manages to be much more than just about humor and randomness, it’s a coming-of-age story filled with self-reflection. It’s also a metaphorical story about Japan. It’s a wet dream filled with symbolism and innuendo about sexuality. Or it’s an animated art piece summarizing the results of postmodernism. Whatever FLCL originally was about, it sure as hell has sprung out of control, and for once, maybe that isn’t a bad thing.
Going in you have to be open-minded as this anime is not like other anime. The story is about a kid named Naota. He is going about his life with the girlfriend of his his brother who is in another country. Whilst they are hanging out they encounter a young girl by the name of Haruko. She is definitely the most interesting of the cast as she causes all of the problems for the main character. She is a mysterious person who fights robots with a guitar. With only 6 episodes there isn't much character development. The story doesn't get
too deep either and there are questions that are left unanswered. Even the ending seems a bit odd in comparison to the story. While there could be some sort of moral and ending that helped the character become better through this experience, I personally think this should have had at least 12, the way it is it feels like a mess of spontaneous moments.
Let me say that I could not force myself to finish FLCL. I came to this anime due to the hype and I tried to like it, but after 3 episodes of total boredom and being totally lost every single moment of the anime I simply gave up. FLCL is the first anime I have completely dropped. I simply do not want to force myself to watch an anime that doesn't entertain me. Outside of the art and a decent soundtrack, this anime is one of the worst I ever seen. Below is the breakdown:
The story in this anime makes no sense. Infact, I
suggest you don't even try to understand it if you want to enjoy the anime because it will reveal just how dreadful this anime is when you fail to get it. The plot is based on some convoluted garbage about a kid getting hit in the head by a guitar and all of a sudden he starts growing large horns that have robots shooting out of them that start fighting other robots. Yeah, that sounds about right. There was an attempt for a coming of age story but it is hard to appreciate this when the anime is completely random and difficult to follow. It is very difficult (for me, it was often impossible) to keep track of what the hell was going on and why the hell it occurred and you start asking yourself "what the fuck am I watching and why am I watching it"?
The art and animation are undeniably top notch. I have found nothing to complain about in this department. The environments look great, characters look great and the animations flow smoothly. High quality art and animation is expected from an OVA and this will not disappoint you.
The soundtrack in the anime is alright. I would have appreciated an opening theme but that is not too much of a big deal. What caused me to take off points was the fact that the soundtrack was constantly playing and was quite loud. Some points of the anime felt like I was watching an AMV instead of anime. The music was very noticeable and it almost never stopped. I would say that this anime fails to use its soundtrack to increase dramatic effect.
Nothing much to say here. I'm not going to go into detail on their personalities, interests, etc because you could easily find that out yourself on this MAL page. I will simply state my opinion. I found the characters to be quite annoying, whinny, unlikable and completely unrelatable. There are no memorable characters in this anime outside of Haruko, who is only memorable for being completely ridiculous and often disturbing.
Its truly amazing how this anime was hyped as a glorious masterpiece comedy but when I watched it I didn't even laugh once. This is when I was TRYING to like the anime as well. I came in with expectations and a desire to love this show. I came out totally confused, bored and disgusted by it.
One of the worst anime's I have ever seen and the first anime that I have dropped. I cannot recommend this show.