Kana is a 17-year-old high school junior who spends her days hanging out with her besties, Mossan, Hijiri, and Pets. They live unremarkable lives, until the day a Mecha falls out of the sky, along with a strange woman named Haruko. Her plans for Kana and her friends involve the force known as ATOMSK. Kana will have to risk everything to decide whether or not to help... like she really has a choice!
FLCL Alternative is an interesting show. Accidentally brought early for April Fool’s day, FLCL’s lax cousin was forced to bear the burden Progressive was supposed to have, that being the weight of being the sequel to a legendary piece of animated passion. Sadly, it was stuck with it anyway after Progressive turned out the way it did and paid the piper for it in terms of reception. For such a Herculean task, this show was oddly calm, even nostalgic in some ways. It’s a miracle it worked at all given its approach.
One obvious point in this show’s favor is that it actually tries to tackle
something different from the original. Progressive focused more on adding intrusive lore elements to Haruko while providing unnecessary and flawed critique for the sake of a character arc. It sidelined its own protagonist’s role, leaving its core messages and delivery half-baked. Alternative takes a new angle entirely, focusing on a group of four teenage girls on the verge of adulthood rather than the beginning of adolescence. From there, it begins studying our main leads one by one in the first half, while sandwiching them with Haruko, and the style and structure of FLCL.
What makes this work is the sense of chemistry our main leads have. Each interaction feels as lovey and genuine as these girls’ distinct personalities. This makes studying them individually and what makes them a part of this group so rewarding. It shows off all their jobs, passions, and struggles to make each girl feel almost real. Adding onto this genuine feeling is how organically the show taps into teenage culture. These girls hang out at restaurants and malls, text each other, and visit each other’s houses to learn about each other and hang out more. Kana, Hijiri, and Mossan are particularly fun to watch and explore, and even Tomomi -the character who often just blends in while making humorous jabs- gets her time to feel like a true member of this lively cast. Seeing Mossan’s little siblings draw food to “pretend feed” her, and how tired she is while she works, tells us more about her than the exposition her mom gives to Kana. Kana’s bookbag charms and cracked phone screen tell us about her character better than any thankfully non-existent exposition dump does. Hijiri’s forlorn sigh after her break up tells more than any exposition dump does. Most refreshingly, some of the scenes of characters talking about each other reveal more about themselves and their dynamic than the people they’re referring to. It all melds together to forge this small community of girls to get attached to.
The fact that even with this, Haruko trumps all, is easily the most astounding part. She is what ties everything together in the nicest of bows. Her absurd occupations are as glorious as the fact that as long as she gets her job done, she legally has jurisdiction -in universe- to do whatever the fuck she wants. As such, she can go from being a nurse and a food truck vendor to someone slaying Bumblebee while shouting “Michael Bay” in a 3D action sequence! She’s every bit the force of nature she once was, now with an entirely different purpose and even more insight. The monumental performance by Kari Wahlgren truly exemplifies what a joy this incarnation of Haruko is to watch. Her main redesign also reflects this wonderfully while being as wonderful as her original design. Not every appearance feels necessary, but they are generally some of the highlights of any given episode.
This isn’t to say Alternative’s writing is perfect, even in terms of living up to its predecessor. The writing can be a bit too blunt, even if it doesn’t always spell out each episode’s message. It doesn’t have this sense of subtlety the original had. At times, some dramatic scenes can feel boilerplate, as if they did it just to have one. The same also applies to some of their attempts at incredibly weird and visually varied sequences that really drag on and feel more awkward than bombastic. Another, more important issue is that that for ⅔ of the show, there’s no real sense of escalation or reason to care about the grander narrative. What makes matters worse is that the middle section feels more undercooked and wasteful than anything else, especially since a short 6-episode series should have no reason to buy time. Thankfully most of these writing issues aren’t generally deal breakers, especially compared to the more damning flaws commonly presented about Progressive. It’s mainly a problem in the middle of the show, so the first and final 1/3s of the show can still be enjoyed to the fullest.
On the subjects of improving, let’s address the visuals. The animation feels livelier, more fluid than the often stiff and awkward-feeling animation presented in Progressive’s action sequences. It isn’t as fluid as the original, and there are some rough moments -both in the animation and CGI department- but the visuals are far more vibrant and less awkwardly restrained as they were previously for the most part. Additionally, the character expressions are far more lively here to boot. Combine this with the generally fun character designs and fashion, and you have a fun jumping off point. Combine this with Haruko’s numerous hairstyles and designs this time around, and some more interesting designs for the one-off enemies of each episode, and it’s not hard to see how this was a step above the previous entry.
Finally, we arrive at the audio improvements. The dubbing here was more excellent than before, not just with the main and/or returning characters, but with the glorious additions of Steve Blum and Patrick Seitz as secondary characters. However, the biggest step up is in the music. Where Progressive only really had one track of note -that being “Thank You, My Twilight” by The Pillows- Alternative doubles that with two of the best tracks in the franchise. “White Summer and Green Bicycle, Red Hair and Black Guitar” is easily my favorite insert song in the franchise, with a wonderfully nostalgic feeling to it that makes reflecting on a walk or bus ride a marvelous experience. None of the other tracks match up, but they are at least serviceable. The absolute splendor of these two tracks by The Pillows is already enough to show how much more effective this show was than its predecessor.
FLCL Alternative may not match the original’s sheer passion, subtlety, skill, or visual splendor, but it keeps the spirit moving in a new direction. It switches gears organically, embracing itself as its own justified identity while keeping true to its roots, even if it isn’t always successful at that. This laidback alternative is as unnecessary as it is welcome, and that’s all it never needed to be.
Written and edited by: CodeBlazeFate
Proofread by: Peregrine
"One of the hardest things in life is to be average."
- The MC who blushes a lot
Conveniently - or was it ironically - the easiest thing in the anime industry is to be average, but that is not what FLCL Alternative is. After the disaster that Progressive was, no one could have expected this, but Alternative manages to leave the common mediocrity level and surprise with its quality positively. As an FLCL sequel, this series is still a shameful and embarrassing piece, but when viewed as a franchise reboot / spinoff starred by Haruhara Haruko's downgraded clone, we can't complain too much. In fact, we
can go praising it for its achievements.
Our story centers around a group of 4 girl friends called blushes a lot, kinda fatso, really normal and the pretty one. This is unarguably what every female friend group looks like except on average there are only 3 of them - needless to say the normal one is missing. Their outlook is not the only painfully accurate thing about these girls. They are also living pretty much the most normal and assumably well-adjusted life of a teenage girl, fitting the mold, being like everyone else. That kind of awesomely average stuff, hence the quote seen in the beginning. However!!!
Pretty much exaggerating up there in the end with that last word and the !!!^, but there is a catch to it, which pretty much everyone who has seen the original FLCL could have come up with whilst writing fanfiction. Work, date, school, boys and hanging out with the sis sets its sails towards real space ships, robots, brain flowers and more abstract coming of age stuff because aliens and chainsaw-guitars. Logic can't be found from this narrative, but it does contain beauty, and at the end of the day, any reasonable person can be logical, but it takes much more to be beautiful, so it is easy to appreciate what FLCL Alternative does.
"The days flew by even though nothing took off."
-One character, probably really normal or blushes a lot (forgot)
To talk about the production, we have 3 directors here who all are doing their best. Some shots are polished with some creativity and effort was put in the editing and making department. Stuff such as live action on-stage type of music video playing while the life and important events from the cast's daily life is told in the forms of fast-paced visuals, is unarguably a decent idea and well-executed scene as a whole. It would be fair to say that lots of love is put in the making of this 3rd part, and this time around, it feels much more like a tribute to FLCL than an insult which the 2nd part represents. Not to be confused with "a good sequel" which I still think this isn't, but a successful tribute it is.
The animation and overall style in art is bit closer to the original FLCL than last time around. It gets a plus mark if not two in today's industry for sure. It managed to occasionally even remind me of the coolio that Punch Line was with its amount of animation detail, which I guess is explained by one of the directors directing that series. Either way FLCL Alternative has style and it deserves credit for it.
The OST is extra neato, but I am still not completely satisfied with the sounds, mainly because the English voice acting sounded rather monotonous and bland at times, even out of place occasionally. This is a downgrade from Progressive (the downgrade actually since it's the one and only) where the seiyuu work was decent as a whole. Perhaps the Japanese version will be superior this time around(?).
As a conclusion: I genuinely enjoyed watching this one. While it was mainly just a momentary experience with no long-lasting impact, and its biggest achievement is lessening the negative after taste caused by Progressive, it surely is a noteworthy piece from its production year if not all that much more. I wholeheartedly recommend this to people who hated Progressive because this one is a major improvement. As for die-hard FLCL fans, I can't promise you will like what you see. As an anime, Alternative achieves more in 6 episodes than most shows from currently industry achieve with 12.
I hear people like numbers so here are some,
Voice acting 5/10 (English)
Art and animation 7/10
Besto curl: 3 (I said numbers)
As a bottom line, judging this based to Progressive and prejudices caused by it, is not cool, nibbas. This better by a landslide or two.
*Please note that I saw the 6 episode long OVA series that was broadcasted on Adultswim, and not the original Japanese full length movie. In case this entry will be changed from Movie to OVA in the future claiming I only saw part 1 of 6, that is not correct: I saw all the parts*
I'll review briefly starting rant, and then move into the story, art, sound, character and overall enjoyment in brief but worthy paragraphs. I reference the ending but don't go into detail, so nothing I say about the ending should worry you, at most it should prepare you, to not be as disappointed.
OPENING RANT; I'll keep it short & Sweet...
Both were dog shit honestly.
Alternative had better characters and the first 5 episodes were pretty good.
But progressive had a better ending. And a somewhat better story. Defiantly better action.
Both main characters were lame and progressive she was emotionless, in this one kana is an very over emotional
& childish but somehow functioning wreck. At least in alternative, the side characters were not as horrible as progressive. And haruko was actually like-able again, like she was the best part of this season all the random gimmicks with her were entertaining..
(Like I cannot tell you the ending, but they literally dues ex machina the story, & make the theme of the show of things staying the same a reality in the most blood boiling dues ex machina twist, worse then The future diarys ending.)
And they had the audacity to reference the original fooly cooly like they were hip with the new times and we had to accept it after this things can never say the same speech they throw in flashbacks projected onto haruko & the vespa with tasku/naoto scenes. Like no, you had the opportunity to be better then progressive and wasted it on the worlds shittiest ending. Neither could of surpassed the original, but alternative could at least had made an impact.
But they threw it away and now were left with two mediocre piles of, I'm sorry I'll stop saying shit.
STORY; 4 (Part of the story is referenced in the character section as well as they go closely hand & hand.)
The story starts out good with this girl wanting to change and grow up, but it trys to hard to be a coming of age story, and she actually never really gets over this I don't want things to change and I wanna cry about it all the time, until the last five minutes of the show without exaggeration.
And this change of heart and all this determination she finally gets comes from haruko yelling; "Stop caring what others think you are seventeen now!"
Then shes like, oh shit your right, her hair glows & you almost think she has the power of animus like naoto was in the first, and then instead of an awesome ending fight scene we get more speeches & long still frames of flowing hair, that literally took up the last 15 minutes of the final episode. And then a random collage of scenes that make no sense and a half assed ending. At least I didn't say Shit.
Every other fight scene was good, it was kind of nostalgic in some of them, so I find that their was no excuse for what they did.
The story could of worked, they just ended up throwing away all their work at the end... What a waste... They built up the characters they all were fleshed out nice, it was working so damn well, I really had hope all the way up until the end. I did enjoy it, but they left it all kind of unfinished which makes it extremely mehhh feeling....
I'll try to tell you more on the beginning of the season, which was the better part as I go on about it below.
Honestly like I said they are better, they all get their own story arcs so the side characters are enjoyable, the heavy set girl didn't really have much of a story besides fashion dreams that were wrapped up in a single episode.
Her other friend who she argues with about leaving town, which is one of the things that really start the theme of not wanting it to change, is never really resolved. (I remember people calling her pets in the forums)
Her other friend with the long black hair who had the older boyfriend has their issues resolved in a single episode & then they are all kind of background characters from then on.
For the most part anyways. But all the effort is kind of left to rot on some ends, it could of been tied up nicer.
They try to expand on the fooly cooly universe and make it unique and spontaneous, but honestly... They tried to hard to be like the original in progressive and to hard to be original & unique in alternative. When, if they would of just had some moderation and actually tried to use forshadowing and visual displays of story telling instead of just shouting the explanations and kana yelling, I want things to say the same forever, forever always, always & forever.
(And I'm not saying that to be mean, she literally says she wants things to say the same over 50 times, It's like yeah, this is the theme, we have to make sure they know it, that they understand it, that we pound it into their thick dull minded skulls. Like yeah alright guys, we FFFFF-ING! get it already!!!!!!)
We know that Kana is a L 7 Square!!!!!! LOOOOSERRRRRR!!!!! (That's a sandlot reference btw/fyi)
Her emotional childish actions could of been ok & perfectly acceptable, but the fact she had no progression towards being an adult like she wanted was just lame.... And made the story nothing but wasted potential and very unsatisfactory. Sorry to make a big deal of it, but it was literally the focus point of the show, and no one grew up or changed by the end of the show all the progression went no where & that how you be alternative compared to progressive??????. (YES, all these cheesy puns are intended!)
They also decided to drop some storylines and the background information you got on her friends never really go anywhere because they never really develop past those episodes where they get their backgrounds introduced. Which ruins it, & I'm trying not to reference the other 2 FLCL shows in the bottom half here, but that's what made the original FLCL so enjoyable, every single character had some development or change in character by the end of the show, no one was really left hanging outside to be buried & forgotten. Thats not the case here, they were left for dead more then the game left for dead was left for dead. That's how left for dead they were.
Haruko was the best character of the season.
ART & SOUND; Both 8 so I'll review them together.
It is still the great art that is mostly, and i say mostly fooly cooly. But even with the same art, and a good sound track. It could only save the show so much.
Even the soundtrack falls off at the last two episodes and is no where as good as the start, it seemed like they started to use less and less music as each episode came along. Which makes you wonder why? When that is one of the key things in the show. I guess because they're being "alternative"
I actually enjoyed the fights and the music and the show for what it was, the fights were fun and thought out like usual except for the last episode, every fight before even the first trumps that boring mess......... And while it was kind of a slice of life, it did not stay focused on that, and still had some fun, I cannot deny I did enjoy it for a while..... For a short time, I had actually felt some real nostalgia of the original show. BUT it was brief, so brief, . Like for two or three of the episodes.
OVERALL; 6 Maybe 7, but nah, so a 6,
For some watching this all the way through you may not be hurt by the ending as badly, but feel cheated for that hour of your life.
I felt cheated for 2 months, longer in fact as I thought this was going to be the show to make up for progressives failure and then when it showed promise I was happy. Then when the bullshit ending came my happyness was crushed, crushed so far down and deep in fact, that it became a blackhole where no enjoyment could ever escape.
And that my dear readers, is what this show is. It builds you up, it builds you up so high and fills you with hope, only to take it all away. And never did I think a ending could ruin a show for me, not after the horrible ending of soul eater, made me waste 64 episodes but I still gave it a 9! But no, this show wasted 15 entire minutes of the ending & took such a steaming pile of hate filled shit on us. That it tore my score from a 9, which IF, for gods sake, IF ONLY, they would of just given it the ending they deserved it could of been granted a 10!!!! But instead they destroyed the show & took it to a 6. Probably a 5 or 3 in others eyes. And I cannot bring it any higher even though I enjoyed the rest. Because that's how much enjoyment the end drags away from you.
It makes none of it worth it, it destroys the entire story they tried to build & made it meaningless. It is a blackhole of hate by people that are confused about the love they have for FLCL & should have never been allowed to make a squeal to it. An illiterate sociopath could of written something better.
LAST WORDS; -----
By all means, watch it, I wanted to say it was better than progressive but there both just average & I know I ranted a lot but its still fun and the action is really cool, I'll be honest, the first four episodes, were the greatest thing since well they were great, at least it was better & it was fun, lets leave it at that. But the beginning was really good looking back on it.
Stick to the original if your are a weak minded or a hardcore original FLCL fan.
If your strong enough to endure some borderline blasphemy, give it a watch, but no matter how strong you are, just be prepared to feel a leeching snake suck the soul right out chu in 10 minutes my dude or dudett. You have been warned.
This latest incarnation in the FLCL franchise is a significant improvement over its immediate predecessor, Progressive, in virtually all aspects, with vastly superior writing, art, animation, editing and even sound mixing. It also manages to deliver on its "Alternative" namesake, taking a significant departure from the stylistic choices hitherto established by the franchise. Make no mistake, this is not "Furi Kuri", and fans expecting to see more of the wildly experimental animation and frenetic pacing of the legendary Gainax OVA are bound to be disappointed. Instead, Uemura Yutaka and his team at Production IG have created a solid, slow-burn, slice-of-life melodrama featuring
four female leads, which is only occasionally intruded upon by the irreverent chaos and destruction that accompanies Huruhara Haruko.
The choice to try something different within the established tropes and parameters of the franchise was a smart move, and allows the story to focus on substantive characterization and thematic development, which is what was really at the core of the original story to begin with. In contrast, Progressive's choice to double down on the lore of the series' universe felt pastiche and uninspired, and resulted in something of an aping fanfiction that wasn't quite sure what it wanted to say. The relationship between the four friends is interesting enough to watch, if a bit tedious, the humor and pop-culture references are funny enough to laugh at, and Kana, the lead, is a surprisingly compelling protagonist with a highly satisfying character arc. The thematic elements of the show, with an emphasis on the uncertainty and change that accompanies late adolescence, aren't handled with quite as much nuance as the original but are still presented very well, in a sometimes moralistic way that remains resonant nevertheless.
The art direction stands out as one of the show's high points. Sadamoto Yoshiyuki's character designs shine here, and the backgrounds display strong composition and color choices that are immersive and serve to recreate an aesthetic of magic realism that FLCL is known for. The ED, animated by Uekusa Wataru, and set to The Pillow's "Star Overhead" stands out in particular for its fun and dynamism. The Pillows' soundtrack is used to much greater effect in this season, though it remains perhaps a bit too sparse and subdued.
Without spoiling anything, the ending to this season is something that has to be mentioned, and will undoubtedly divide fans of the series for years to come as a point of contention. The finale resolves itself in the last few minutes of runtime in an out-of-left-field, bizarre fashion that is sure to leave heads scratching. It is a classic Gainax ending that outdoes the original FLCL in both scope and absurdity, that plot-wise, it is incredibly open ended and leaves room for a variety of theories.
In short, Alternative is an entertaining show and a solid entry in the FLCL franchise that deserves at least one viewing. It will make you laugh, it will make you think, it will make you feel things, and most importantly it will leave you confused, which is pretty much anyone could ask from FLCL.