Welcome, anime viewers, to our next review. Today’s anime will be FLCL. This anime series is only 6 episodes long for those who have not seen it, and this will be factored in review analysis. Beware of minor SPOILERS before we proceed.
Now without further ado, let us begin the review.
Summary: Naota is a normal Japanese 6th grade boy (although a little cynical), but when his older brother leaves for America to play baseball, his brother leaves his homeless 17-year-old girlfriend Mamimi behind. Mamimi is sending mixed signals and advances to Naota, and he doesn’t know what to do about her. But to make matters worse, Naota’s world is totally turned upside down when he is run over by a woman on a Vespa. During their first encounter, she hits him over the head with her bass guitar, which then causes a horn to grow out of his forehead. She calls herself “Haruko” and her presence changes Naota’s life to even further insanity. -MyAnimeList
Typically, it is fairly clear as to what the conflict or plot of the anime series is. This not the case with FLCL. I had to actually go out of my way to fully figure out what the plot was by reading about it online. The story is all over the place, and many scenes contribute little or nothing to the story’s advancement. While the concept of an all out battle between several opposing factions is interesting, the haphazard storytelling style makes it difficult to enjoy or even fully grasp what the plot is driving at. The plot also fails to explain certain aspects in detail, further weakening the plot. The plot does also does not provide much context beyond snippets of a backstory. The chaotic storytelling may be fun for some, but makes a weakly developed plot that leaves viewers confused.
Characters in FLCL fall into under two categories: overdeveloped or underdeveloped. The main character Naota, along with a handful of others, is properly fleshed out and explained. However, many characters do not really have their significance explained in an easy way, even when the story chooses to focus on them some. The lack of serious character development in anyone other than Naota, while making sense when the story is interpreted a certain way (which will be addressed in Themes), provides another weakness to the characters.
While I’m generally pretty soft on animation, FLCL is a mess when it comes to animation. The animation style switches a lot, and adds to the chaotic nature of the show. The most frequently used animation style also is a bit lacking. These things combined can be a bit of a turn off to some viewers.
While I have been harsh on FLCL thus far, the soundtrack has huge redeeming qualities for the show. It is primarily done, as LowKev had informed me, by the Pillows. The soundtrack matches perfectly with the show’s mood and nature, and would be a lot of fun to listen to even separate from the show.
FLCL appears very shallow initially, though the show drops several hints about it being something deeper. Many times throughout the story, Naota is teased about being a child and having to grow up. This points out that the series symbolizes the progression of a child through puberty. Many other aspects of the series can be explained by this theory. An example of this symbolism is when Haruko hits Naota with her Vespa, this is an illustration of puberty hitting Naota suddenly. Haruko continues to be a symbol for puberty as she is both a source of pleasure and pain in Naota, much as puberty is to people as they endure it. She then suddenly leaves Naota, same as puberty does once we have developed enough. There are many more symbols and comparisons, and I invite you to look them up yourself. The show does a good job with making use of the sci-fi genre that it is typically labeled under, and the ridiculousness of it also is quite humorous.
Final Score: 8.2/10
Final Grade: B
FLCL was by far the oddest anime I have ever seen. The best way to describe it is an acid trip. It was a very confusing and hard to follow anime. It is constantly changing pace and it feels like the characters constantly forget their end goal and just go and do something else. Speaking of the characters, they seem really shallow and they don’t really grow on you much. There is supposed to be a deep meaning of growing up with the main character symbolizing it with his challenge to keep what is real and what is fantasy straight. But that is so hidden by the craziness that I had to actually look that up to find it out. Though I am giving it a lot of crap I did kind of like the anime. I cannot really tell you why, but amidst the chaos I managed to enjoy it. Out of 10 I would give it a 6. I would recommend this to veterans of the community who want something new to watch, but beware, and I can’t stress this enough, it is really strange. – B-Ro
Fooly Cooly is one of the first animes I had ever watched, and one of my absolute favorites. I was told some very simple advice that helped me a lot when watching it: It represents puberty and growing up. Armed with that knowledge, I dove into the first episode, and instantly my head started spinning. The show is really insane at times with crazy diologue, animation style changes, and a whole lot more. I’m sure this brand of seemingly senseless insanity will turn a lot of people off, but I highly advise you to just go with it. Watching it on Youtube, the comment sections were full of people expressing their confusion, followed by replies of people explaining what it all means. There’s a lot of depth, symbolism, and an interesting (though still crazy) plot hidden amongst all of the wackiness. It’s not always easy to see, but the more you watch it, the more you notice. By making the show this way, one can laugh at the craziness, and at the same time think about the meanings. The characters are quite unique, and I really connected with Takkun as he went through the insanity of being a kid (I of course was never hit in the head by a bass swung by a lady on a vespa, but I symbolically related to him). And that soundtrack…. THAT SOUNDTRACK!!!! The Pillows are an amazing band, and really make the show with their songs. It’s almost impossible to think about FLCL without The Pillows. Little Busters, Last Dinosaur, and the amazing closer Ride on Shooting Star to name a few are simply amazing. It’s almost hard to explain why FLCL is so good and iconic. There’s something about the feel of the show, the way the music and characters and animation all melded together in a special way, that really resonated with me. It’s just something you have to experience for yourself, maybe you’ll see it, maybe not. I hope you do though, and maybe we can discuss it sometime. I’m glad I was given the recommendation to watch this show. It’s not for everyone, but if it resonates with you as it did me, you’ll be in for a wild, memorable ride.
Final Comments: FLCL is an anime that is all over the place, both in terms of plot and animation. However, the chaotic nature makes this series charming in a way, and throw in some deep symbolism and a fantastic soundtrack, and you have a decent anime.
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