Naota Nandaba is an ordinary sixth grader living in a city where nothing amazing ever seems to happen. After his brother Tasuku leaves town to play baseball in America, Naota takes it upon himself to look after everything Tasuku left behind—from his top bunk bed to his ex-girlfriend Mamimi Samejima, who hasn't stopped clinging to Naota since Tasuku left.
Little does Naota know, however, that his mundane existence is on the verge of being changed forever: enter Haruko Haruhara, a Vespa-riding, bass guitar-wielding, pink-haired psychopath whose first encounter with Naota leaves him with tire tracks on his back and a giant horn on his head. Though all he wants is some peace and quiet, when Haruko takes up residence at his parents' home, Naota finds himself dragged into the heart of the greatest battle for supremacy that Earth—and quite possibly the entire universe—has ever seen.
The original property rights of the anime were sold by Gainax to Production I.G in 2015.
The anime placed third place for the Best Animation Film at the Fantasia Festival in 2003. In 2007 the anime got a nomination for Best Cast, and won the Best Comedy Series and the Best Short Series at the American Anime Awards show.
#1: "One Life" by The Pillows (ep 1) #2: "Instant Music" by The Pillows (eps 2-3) #3: "Happy Bivouac" by The Pillows (ep 4) #4: "Runners High" by The Pillows (ep 5) #5: "Carnival" by The Pillows (ep 6)
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.
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 ~
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.
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.
Fighting is bad... but sometimes it can be so bad that it's good, right? Prepare yourself for some serious ass-kicking. We're counting down 20 of the greatest, coolest, and most epic anime fight scenes in anime history.