a.k.a. Fooly Coolly
a.k.a. Furi Kuri
Naota is a boy with problems. He has a crush on his brother’s homeless girlfriend (whom in turn is sending mixed signals). And if that wasn’t enough, a strange woman on a scooter collides into him. And to make matters worse, she strikes him on his head with her electric guitar. Not a great way to start off the day, but the strange growth that’s protruding from his forehead isn’t making things any easier. Just what does all this mean, and how does it involve Naota and the huge factory lying just outside of town?
summary by Kain
Highs: Has no creative boundaries and knows it; memorable rock score; one of the best seiyuu casts around
Lows: Will have most people saying “Huh?”
Yes, you heard me. Even a somewhat jaded anime fan such as myself can be beaten to a drooling heap by an outstanding anime. Folks, you’re looking at one right here.
Now, I don’t want you to get too worked up over FLCL. If there was ever an anime that had a very specific niche, it’s this one. Most people won’t get it. I don’t presume to understand it all fully, either, but from what I did grasp I was hooked. This anime is so in-your-face it’s like a kick in the groin to the senses. From animation that ranges from mind-boggling all the way to hysterical (do not miss the South Park parody!), the viewer is left on the edge of his seat just to see what comes next. Scenes flash by in a flurry of colors, and body gestures resemble those from a Wile E. Coyote sketch. The rock music, performed to perfection by The Pillows, is mesmerizing and only enhances the anime tenfold or so. Voices are right on cue and hit the precise emotional tone when needed. Yes, even Haruko’s nasal speech is masterful, to say the least.
So what is FLCL? The series is so chock full o’ subliminal messages it’s really hard to describe. One major theme I drew from it is the conflict children have coping with the adult world. I believe it was made intentionally deceiving so each viewer can draw his own conclusions.
FLCL is everything Neon Genesis Evangelion was and everything it should have been. Bravo, Gainax, for having the cojones to release something so passionate and refreshing.
Highs: Oozes style; very humorous at times
Lows: No real, coherent story; ambiguous concepts
Gainax has done it again. The last two episodes of Neon Genesis Evangelion left everybody scratching their heads and asking what had just happened. FLCL does exactly the same thing. It is the first Gainax project in which Anno Hideaki was not directly involved, but his fingerprints are still all over this series. Once again, we face what seems to be a story, where the characters are plain weird and the situations and imagery are even weirder.
Unfortunately, unlike Evangelion, this anime seems to jump all over the place and scoffs at the idea of presenting a cohesive storyline, instead showing a series of moments. This would work in anime that are episodic in nature, but FLCL is not supposed to be one of them. We thus learn very little about the characters, and that in the end made it hard for me to care about their situations because I had no emotional attachment to them.
On the bright side, being a six-episode OVA allows FLCL to excel in the animation department, without the time and money constraints that eventually became the artistic downfall for two of Gainax’s most popular series. The music by The Pillows is just amazing, becoming easily one of the best anime soundtracks and the only element that really clicks with what is going on inside the screen. And finally, some of the comedic elements are just incredibly funny and will have you laughing until you burst.
I believe that, just like Evangelion, this is an anime that is not for everyone but should be watched at least once. You should have a good time with it, but it will leave you with very little afterthought, just like many comedies that go for the shock value, and shock value is what Gainax did best in the ’90s. FLCL was as enjoyable as a good techno tune; I danced to the beat, hummed to the song, but it was nothing that remained in my musical catalog for long.
Highs: Extremely stylish art; amazing soundtrack; incorporates modern pop culture in a highly effective way
Lows: Several interesting characters are left underdeveloped
FLCL is one of those anime that are simply in a league of its own. Being extremely stylish, this anime rips through each of its six episodes at a frenetic pace, mixing powerfully suggestive imagery and instantly recognizable pop culture references with a truly rocking soundtrack. Love it or hate it, FLCL leaves a strong impression on almost everyone who watches it.
Packed chock full of seemingly incoherent, frantic activity, FLCL wastes no time as it charges headlong into a convoluted story. Pop culture references and parodies are mixed in by the handful, along with some of the most powerful symbolic imagery ever seen in anime. In the end though, many viewers will be left scratching their heads and wondering if FLCL actually had a deeper meaning at all. One thing is clear: this anime revolves around the characters, specifically Naota and his coming-of-age. Given the extremely short length of the series, several of the more interesting characters don’t have the screen time to fully develop. This is especially true of Naota’s classmate, Ninamori. However, given the extreme hyperactivity of this show, six episodes is probably precisely the right amount. Any more and this anime would undoubtedly have begun to lose momentum.
Sometimes vulgar and at times crudely drawn, the art of FLCL is one thing that makes this anime truly unique. Edgy and brightly colored, the art seems to epitomize avant-garde stylishness. Though a statement by itself, the visually engaging art is supplemented by a truly amazing soundtrack. Given the ultra modern edge of FLCL, the rock music by The Pillows was an absolutely perfect match for this the visuals in this anime.
From Haruko’s nasal voice to over-the-top action, this anime truly nails it time and time again. However, the ambiguity of the plot and sometimes totally chaotic confusion of FLCL will deter some viewers entirely. Though many fans of this series like to embroil themselves in endless debate over hidden symbolism, most first-time viewers would be best served by sitting back, relaxing and trying to take it all in.