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Anime Review: FLCL

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FLCL

Genre: Science Fiction Comedy
Director: Kazuya Tsurumaki
Distributor: Synch-Point
Duration: Six episodes, 30 minutes each approx.
Production Creation: 2000

Plot Synopsis

Naota is a Japanese schoolkid, and besides an immature father and grandfather his life isn’t really anything out of the ordinary. He lives in a mundane town, with a river, a bridge, a school and a shopping district. The usual stuff. With the exception that is, of the huge iron-shaped medical supply center that lurks on the town’s outskirts.

Sure it looks neat, but nothing strange ever comes of it. Until today. Naota’s brother who left Japan to play baseball for the U.S left his girlfriend mamimi, behind, who constantly makes advances on Naota, then all of a sudden some whacko girl runs him over with her vespa, clobbers him with a bass guitar and then becomes his housekeeper! And to top things off, robots sprout from the poor boy’s head!

So much for things staying boring…

The Review

FLCL stands as a both unique and a complete insane anime the likes of which I can say with some certainty, I’ve haven’t ever seen before. Apparently an ‘experiment’ by those fertile minds at Gainax to combine traditional cel animation with more modern CG techniques, FLCL is refreshing, visually explosive and not to mention very, very strange.

Let’s see what do we have here; robots popping out of a boy’s head, a girl with a guitar attacking said robots, characters going into ‘manga’ style, a guy with huge twitching eyebrows, the list goes on and on. FLCL isn’t off the wall, it was never on there to begin with. There is some semblance of a plotline with Haurko (the mad Vespa riding alien girl) seemingly concerned with Naota and the fact that he’s more ‘grown up’ than other guys, and also some other subplots with mamami trying to deal with her feelings for Naota and trying to sort her life out. Ultimately it’s a somewhat crazed look at adolescence and how adolescents struggle to find their place in life as they grow up.

My little summary of the plot though may have given it more credit than it deserves as FLCL carries much more significance not as a story, but rather as the piece of experimental animation that it was designed to be. Should I degrade it because it has no real plot or substantial characters? Normally yes, but while it doesn’t satisfy in terms of plot and characterisation, it much more than succeeds as a work that overwhelms the senses with lush visuals and pure adrenaline crazed anime insanity.

Of particular note, is the simply huge amount of references and parodies that can found in FLCL. There’s a veritable slew of crazy comic references to a whole load of things ranging from Gundam and Lupin III (complete with classic mechanised fist crushing a randy Lupin wannabe) to other things too like Manga, John Woo, Nintendo’s Gameboy console, The Matrix and even South Park too. The list is near endless. The persistent intensity that FLCL so readily displays is further highlighted by the constant J-rock and J-pop soundtracks that permate FLCL throughout all of it’s episodes and running time.

Of course the focal point of the production is easily it’s visuals. Rendered using a combination of traditional and CG animation styles, FLCL is colorful, vivid, smooth and simply breathtaking to watch. The visual majesty of FLCL is further complimented by the kaleidoscopic range of styles on offer, heck, even South Park animation ‘style’ is parodied!

FLCL is simply completely nuts. There is absolutely nothing logical about whatever story exists and the events which take place are simply just bizarre and the fact that many of them are unconnected with one another, simply serves to highlight confusion on the part of this reviewer. Then again though, I shouldn’t be judging it on those kinds of criteria because FLCL doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t, and in the process, stomps on every convention of modern anime that you can imagine. FLCL is truly one of a kind.

Just like the earlier Otaku No Video, it seems the Gainax likes to cut loose every once in a while and should always be commended for trying something new. Sure it’s strange, weird and nobody can really claim to understand everything about FLCL, but ostensibly it is one heck of a ride into anime fused insanity that every otaku worth their salt should see. Go on, you know you want to watch it.

Ratings Summary

Animation: A-
Art: A
Music: B
Content: B

Overall: B+

Review by: John-Paul Jones

Suitability for children

There is some non-bloody violence, some sexual themes and alluded sexual encounters but to be honest none of it is really serious to warrant a rating above 12+.

If you liked this why not try…

Otaku No Video – AnimEigo

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Written by bitsnark

December 14, 2008 at 6:33 pm

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