While anime is known for it’s distinctive style they’re generally backed by either a good story/idea that lets the viewer cling onto something other than the flashy visuals. FLCL isn’t one of those anime. It’s all flash, with little substance, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
FLCL, or Fooly Cooly, was a six episode OVA directed by Kazuya Tsurumaki who worked on Neon Genisis Evangelion and it’s assorted spin offs with the production from Gainax and Production I.G.
The story follows a sixth grader, Naota Nandaba, who lives in a small boring town, that just happens to have a giant Iron shaped robotics factory in it.
Naota spends most of his spare time hanging out with his brother’s ex-girlfriend Mamimi. He spends so much time with here that his friend’s referrer to her as his wife. However his life is quickly changed when he’s run over by a Vespa riding, Rickenbacker 4001 welding girl named Haruko Haruhara.
As they get to know each other, and even live together, Naota soon finds something growing out of his forehead. It later turns out to be one of many robots that will pop out of his head. Naota, along with his new robot Canti and the bass yielding girl fight a number of robots in order to find the Pirate King.
Confused yet? Get use to it.
After just one episode, one could almost get a feeling of sensory overload, but there was something charming about this story.
I’d be lying if I said that the plot makes any sense, and it goes even crazier over the coarse of the six episodes. For example as secret government organization is introduced, the main G-Man tries to explain the cosmic back story and the importance of the Pirate King, but it will more or less just go over your head.
Much like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya the craziness of the story somehow don’t really get in the way of the viewers enjoyment.
A major contribution factor to the shows insanity comes from the shows alternating art style. For most of the show the animation style is simple and effective. In fact it looks a lot like many other shows from the time period, however when the show kicks into gear it can change quite dramatically. These moments include something along the lines of a messy heavily penciled art school project, to a moving manga comic to even something out of a South Park episode.
The shifts are jarring at first but are extremely impressive. At several points the show moves from one to another during action scenes.
The backbone of the show comes from the shows great soundtrack. The creators of the show licensed the music of the Japanese alternative band the Pillows. The Pillows also wrote and record two original songs that ended up being the opening and closing themes of the show.
The show uses the music quite well as it helps the show move around from its crazier moments to more grounded one easily. Honestly, the soundtrack makes the show stands at times. It’s essential to anime fans collections right beside your Cowboy Bebop albums.
Despite all of the positives, there are something’s that could bother viewers. The biggest being it’s plot.
The shows lack of a clear plot makes the show at moments difficult to understand (especially during the final episode). Also many of the characters, aside from the three I’ve mentioned really have anything to do.
While Naota’s father doesn’t need to be important, the plot points that feature him don’t really come off that well, it fact his father should probably be in a correction institution for the way he acts around some of the characters.
The same can be said for Naota’s school friends. When they do show up in the plot, they all act the same; the mature girl who isn’t affected by anything, the guy who doesn’t care and the spastic dude who points out every sexual innuendo even if they don’t make sense. At times they help develop the story, but in most instances they’re useless.
Another issue with the OVA is it’s ending. While it’s hard to wrap up a story in just six episodes, the ending seems rushed. Couple that with the views lack of understanding of what the hell anyone’s goals are, the show is WAY to big to be told in just six episodes.
If I had to compare FLCL to another work of fiction, I’d pick Blade Runner. While both are presided for their excellence, they lack a lot when it comes to plot. Despite this the show is still fun. We don’t need to now what the unicorn means (or In this case…just about anything that deals with Haruhara) we can still enjoy the show and love it for what it is.
FLCL is a classic, as any anime fan will tell you. It’s loud, it’s stupid and every minute of it is enjoyable.
FLCL is licensed in North America by Funimation and in Europe by MVM Films. The show was recently released in a Blue Ray Package from Funimation and is easy to find. While the show wasn’t based upon any other source material a novel and a manga here created. The book wasn’t released outside of Japan, but the manga was published by Dark Horse Comics in North America.