Review: FLCL

In my effort to expand my knowledge of anime and manga, every so often I will watch and review old series (as in not currently airing/in serialization) that have caught my attention for various reasons, and this time I have decided to watch the chaotic eccentricity known as FLCL.

FLCL, also known as Fooly Cooly, is a six episode OVA released between 2000 and 2001. The series produced by the FLCL Production Committee which included Gainax, Production I. G., and Starchild Records. The OVA series takes place in the quiet fictional suburb of Mabase where 12-year-old Naota Nandaba lives a peaceful and boring life with his father and grandfather, but the days of peace are interrupted when Haruka Haruhana arrives in town, runs over Naota with her scooter, and subsequently whacks Naota on the head with her bass guitar. After surviving the attack Naota returns home and is shocked to learn that Haruka has become his family’s live-in maid. Haruka is searching for an alien being known as Atomsk, and it turns out that Naota’s head is perfect for creating a N. O. channel that Haruka needs to conduct her search. The rest of the series follows Naota as he tries to deal with Haruka, the other residents of Mabase, and the robots that emerge out of the N. O. channel in his head.

FLCL is at heart a coming-of-age story for Naota as he learns to be more independent and step out from the proverbial shadows of his baseball-playing brother, but you wouldn’t be able to tell at first glance as everything is wrapped up in an eccentric brand of chaos. Common occurrences in FLCL include giant robots emerging out of people’s heads; people getting run over by various vehicles; and people and robots being bashed around by guitars. To add to the craziness, the show makes use of alternative artwork such as appearing as a moving manga and even using South Park-style artwork for one particular scene. In short, FLCL is just short of a riot; it is a bunch of chaotic scenes shoe-stringed together with what barely qualifies as a plot. Surprisingly, everything actually works out because the chaos and craziness make it hard to pay attention to the less exciting aspects of the show such as the story (or lack thereof).

As expected from a series that excels at mayhem, FLCL features a cast of crazy characters. Haruka is of course the eccentric, Vespa-riding, guitar-wielding catalyst that sets everything in motion, but the other members of the cast are quite lively in their own right. For a supposedly normal and quiet suburb, Mabase certainly has its fair share of strange people even before the arrival of Haruka. Naota’s father and grandfather are both huge perverts; Minami has an unhealthy obsession with fire and Naota’s brother Tasuku; Commander Amarao covers his eyebrows with seaweed etc. Naota, who is relatively normal by comparison, also has a personality quirk in that he idolizes his brother to the point of allowing Minami use him as a substitute for his brother. The point is, almost every (important) character in FLCL can be deemed as abnormal, and the weirdness of the cast adds another level of chaos on top of the robot-guitar-bashing that’s already going on., making the series even more fun to watch.

Besides the aforementioned tendency to switch to another art style, the animation of FLCL in general was impressive. The default art style is not very sophisticated in terms of details and shading, but the style is loose and expressive which fits well with the tone of the series. It is during the action sequences where the animation really proves its mettle, with all the motions being fast, fluid, and full of life. Moving on from the animation, the rock music used FLCL is also nice and compliments the casual and offbeat feel of the show.

In short, FLCL is a case of craziness done right. The plot doesn’t make much sense and there are tons of things that aren’t properly explained (such as why robots randomly appear from N.O. channels and what “FLCL” really means), but the series makes up for it with its eccentricity and chaos. FLCL is the type of show that may leave you scratching your head at the end and wondering what really happened, but at least you’ll remember the craziness and mayhem.

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