FLCL

Alt titles: Furi Kuri

Reviews

sothis's avatar By on Sep 25, 2004

Story
First and foremost, I want to say how difficult this review is to write, because I didn’t like FLCL that much at all. But, I can still see it for what it is: a great piece of work, so I have to adjust my scores accordingly and not simply rate low based on my own preference. That being said, I am going to write myself off as one of the many people who "didn’t get it" (re: the story) after seeing this one time through. FLCL is NOT something to watch if you want a cut and dry story, or even a confusing story that eventually makes sense. I like confusing stories, I really do. Take Paranoia Agent, for example; it makes no sense for quite awhile, but eventually gives you a sense of completion, and that, as far as I’m concerned, is what makes it worth watching. Perhaps I am just biased because I don’t like shows that make no sense, or are incredibly symbolic, but that’s a personal preference. FLCL is definitely one of these almost nonsensical type shows, and you will either like it, or hate it.

I will admit, though, that for the type of show this was trying to be, the "plot" (if you want to call it that) shined. It’s kind of like watching Evangelion – it won’t make sense unless you watch it a few times (or so I’ve heard). From the get-go we are bombarded with symbolism and subtleties that you won’t pick up on or remember, and this hinders the process of understanding even more, but also can make for a more satisfying experience, if that’s what you are looking for.

In general, the story revolves around a small town that recently had a factory built on a hill, which resembles something... familiar. Steam comes out of the factory every day like clockwork, and Naoto, a young boy, is living life like normal. His brother has left for America, and the girlfriend he left behind (Mamimi) hangs all over him now, causing quite a bit of awkwardness for a boy that is just a child. Things change when Haruka shows up, a Vespa-riding guitar-toting diva who claims to be an alien from space. Things get even crazier from here, with robots that come out of Naota's head, and more. See where the spastic nature comes in?

All in all, a well executed plot – for what it was trying to be – but still a bit heavy on the abstractness if you aren’t in the mood for it.
Animation
This is another category that I can’t help but give a super positive score to, even though it might not have suited my tastes. The animation style of FLCL was very scattered to say the least, encompassing a variety of styles including abstract colors and shapes, still action scenes, panning shots, and moving manga imagery. One of the most prominent things to note about is that the movement itself, like the "plot", is quite spastic and random. The camera is often extremely jittery like a hand-held camera, presumably done to increase the craziness factor even more. Colors used were a very diverse mix of vibrant shades, from dark reds to blues, to cotton candy pinks and yellows. Sometimes, the backgrounds and scenery reminded me of beautiful works like Paranoia Agent, and other times, it seemed so simple that it felt like the budget had just been cut by 80%.

And I think that was my largest problem with the animation style on a personal level: the inconsistency. Obviously an anime such as this that is trying to make a statement would feed on the concept of inconsistency on all levels, but I feel the animation could have been a little more uniform. Sometimes, for example, the character designs looked very, very simple and hideous. Other times, the camera angle, colors, and shading used made the characters look quite detailed and interesting. Or another example would be the thickness of lines used. Sometimes, everything would be outlined in black, and other times, almost no shading at all. I didn’t enjoy the animation very much, but again, if this is the kind of series you are looking for, I can’t in good conscience subtract points for how well the animation style DID fit the OVA as a whole. It definitely succeeded at pushing the high octane feel, that’s for sure.
Sound
"The Pillows" are fairly well known, largely because they did the soundtrack for FLCL. Whining rock rifts dominate the entire series, with English vocals at times, and a whiny flair similar to Weezer or bands of that era. This, to me, was very fitting for the first episode or maybe two, but became very, very old after that. Part of the problem is that the same song was replayed over and over, at least twice per episode. This is definitely a case of overkill syndrome, and I really wish they could have put ANY other music in the OVA except for the same 3 songs on shuffle mode the entire time. Even the intro and outro were rock music. I think it would have been different if the music had been in the background, as an accent of the series instead of a highlight. Unfortunately, the music was very loud and shoved in your face a very large percentage of the time, so you couldn’t help but hear it. Fitting? Yes. Annoying as hell after awhile? Yes.

Voice actors were good, but I really thought Haruka’s nasal whine was very annoying.
Characters
The character development and interaction in FLCL is admittedly the whole point of the entire OVA, but it suffers the same formula as the story: you have to watch it a few times and pick up on subtleties to really understand what’s going on. Again, I really didn’t personally enjoy this, because I don’t want to have to rewatch something several times, nor was I looking for something super symbolic. Regardless, I can still accept and identify that for those who enjoy this kind of thing, the interactions were very profound and layered, and effective to boot. One thing even I could see is the advancement of each character’s struggle to change, whether intentional or not. For example, Mamimi progressed throughout the story to try to get over her long lost boyfriend, and become somewhat independent, and the change was eventually apparent. Takkun (as Mamimi called him) matured, being forced to grow up quicker than he should have had to. In general, most of these changes are symbolic or subtle, and have to be carefully observed.
Overall
I want to reiterate that this score, for once, doesn’t reflect my feelings for the OVA. If I had to rate it based on my overall enjoyment, it would be around 5.5 or 6. But with something in this kind of a niche, I have to review it from a slightly non-biased perspective as well, and recognize that for the type of series this is, it would appeal to others. I’ve seen lots of things like Kare Kano, which I felt was awful because I honestly felt the character development was terrible, the plot was flimsy, and the animation was godawful. Others disagree because they feel it had all of these qualities. In FLCL’s case, it isn’t that I think the animation or story were bad, per say, they just didn’t fit my personal tastes at all.

So, if you are looking for a series very heavy on symbolism and abstract concepts, with a very, very spastic and fast pacing, animation style, and storyline, FLCL is for you. But bear in mind, you’ll either love this or hate it. So even if you are like me and wanted to watch it just because everyone seems to like it (but maybe you think this isn’t your kind of series), heed my words and DON’T WATCH IT, because you probably won’t find what you are looking for.
7.5/10 story
9/10 animation
5/10 sound
7.5/10 characters
8/10 overall
Gzerble's avatar By on Jan 7, 2015

FLCL is a must see for anyone and everyone. Not only that, it should be seen more than once.

As far as animation goes, and not just anime, it is arguably one of the best works of all times. There are no weakpoints other than the fact that in order to get half of what is going on you will need to watch it twice. On the surface it may be seen as an ahead of its time "lolrandom" coming of age story, but that is not what it really is. If only for the insane density of it, the sheer amount of details everywhere, and the way that the complete lack of uniformity of art and machine-gun reference speed, this deserves to be called a work of art.

There is a dazzling lack of uniformity when it comes to the animation and story, that is held together by the soundtrack and characters. This makes a distinct sense the more you watch it, as the art and story are carefully crafted to pack more information in every scene than should be possible. In the end, it is a carefully told coming of age story, but beyond that it is a delve into human nature with some philosophical undertones. Most of all, it is funny, it is moving, it is angry, it is beautiful, and most of all, it is anarchy personified.

Story:

In the end, it is first and foremost a coming of age story. But saying that is like saying "a spaceship is just a thing that flies" - technically true yet missing the entire point. There are endless tangents, metaphors, references, and so on that cover subjects from personality disorders, broken homes, finding your own place in the world, the definitions of fun... and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Everything is well thought out, and nearly no sentence has no meaning.

How is this managed? Well... the price is consistency. The changes in the tone of the narrative are fast, the changes in meanings are faster, and the amount of details is (for a lack of better description) insane. It manages contrasts such being nonsensical and grim, metaphorical and silly, childish and heavy. Sometimes at the same time.

But as I stated, at the heart of it all is a coming of age story, and while it was quite revolutionary (and definitely the best) at the time, in over a decade since, other people have pulled it off in cleaner and better ways. In 2001, this was an easy 10/10, but in 2014, the fact that it is so packed into under three hours of content makes it a strain for anyone who does not watch the entire thing multiple times. That being said, it is still wonderful and far above the run-of-the-mill average.

Animation:

There are a few flaws. A lot of them actually. Everything is wildly inconsistent between scenes (and sometimes between shots and even in the same frame). You can see that animation has progressed since then. The character designs are (at least nowadays) run-of-the-mill.

But, and this is the brilliance of it all, this series turns weakness into strength. There are parts where the characters are near featureless, but that fits in with the story. There are parts where the format is just scrolling through a manga book, but that fits the story. There are parts where there are obvious mockeries of other works (The Matrix, South Park, etc), but again, that fits the story.

Ridiculously stupid mechs, featureless faces with an intense zoom putting them in the center, nearly unmoving characters at certain points, static backgrounds, bland features, and so on. But at the same time, a powerful connection between them all, that makes it all work together. This is not a modern super-high-budget animation, but it is proud of being what it is... and that makes up for it. You don't have to be polished in order to be amazing, and since FLCL is all about a feeling of rawness, that is just fine.

Sound:

This is the go-to of how to make a soundtrack alive. Cartoonish effects, energetic rock music, emotive and distinct voice acting, and all these give a definition to the story and animation that it would otherwise lack. People often criticize and say that musical themes repeat too much in FLCL, but the point is that they have to - because this adds a level of coherency that ties everything together. Without the soundtrack, FLCL's choice of animation and story just wouldn't work.

I usually try to go more in depth, but in a series where everything is greater than the sum of the parts, this is the engine that drives everything. There has never been a better fit of sound to animation. Nothing more needs to be said.

Characters:

Oh, we've seen them since many times. Anime, like literature, movies, and so on, makes repeated use of archetypes. FLCL is one of the defining pieces of art whose influences last until today. Naota's character has since been copy-pasted into so many works that it is just ridiculous. Haruko is the embodiment of the wild, violent, assertive, selfish, yet ultimately decent-sort-of-person female character. Mamimi is the fragile girl that broke.

We've seen these characters done before, and done again since. But still, for the amount of runtime that this has, they are developed to a wonderful degree. These are not the best characterizations ever. But they are definitely well done. Haruko's nasal voice, gangly physique, and predatory grins match add up to a roguish charm. Naota's inability to show when he is overwhelmed to a near pathological degree is all the more impressive when the lie becomes truth just as much as when the truth becomes lies. Mamimi... well, analyzing this character can go from "future serial killer with traumatic past" to "that odd girl whose coping mechanisms are weird" once you try to put her into context (and attempt to figure out where the metaphor ends and life begins).

Are they the best characters ever? No. Are they great? Yes. Are they unique? No. Are they interesting? Absolutely.

Enjoyment:

Perfection... upon multiple vieweings. The first viewing you just strap on and ride the episodes out. The second, things start coming together and details you haven't picked up on suddenly start making sense. The third, and you've already admitted that this is one of the most pleasurable things ever and you want to see it a fourth time at a later point.

I have never had more fun watching anime then when I discovered this series, and since it is not a category listed, right here I will state: 10/10, would watch again and so should you.

Overall:

One of the greatest pieces of animation ever. Brace yourself for the insanity and wonder that is FLCL. Watch it now.

8.5/10 story
9.5/10 animation
10/10 sound
9/10 characters
9.7/10 overall
aritentd's avatar By on Oct 4, 2009

FLCL

I started watching FLCL knowing of all the hype surrounding it and after seeing it, I know why it has such a strong fan base. Unfortunately it just didn't work for me.

FLCL is highly abstract anime. I personally love shows, which make you think. The problem with such level of symbolism as FLCL has starts when you are unable to grasp what it tries to say. I have to admit, that I have probably missed 50% of the points FLCL tried to make and regarded them just as a visual try at originality.

In fact FLCL's visuals are really original. It ranges from simplicity to diversity and animation is smooth. And it is quick, quick as hell. It is a complete opposite of slow-paced shows. That worked both ways for me, it made it presentation quite original, but hard to follow at times.

Having read sothis' review, I must say that FLCL's repetitive soundtrack wasn't as much of a problem for me. That is probably because I watched it slowly for a few weeks, those songs were not in my mind when I started next ep. I enjoyed the guitar and think it suited the animation style.

I am sure a lot of people will love this show, but I am not one of them. Without understanding it completely, it is below average.

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
5/10 overall
angelsreviews's avatar By on Aug 6, 2013

This show is mostly one of the funniest shows that I seen. Alright, so the characters are really out there but what I think is the crazy thing is, the one person that is seen as ‘normal’ is the main character, Naota. Unfortunately, I think he’s a little two bland of a character at least in the beginning. He always says nothing ever happens in the small town he lives in but yet, all around him, strange things that aren’t normal are happening. It makes me want to slap him upside the head! Of course, if I did, then something else may come out of his head then.

Haruko is a pretty cool character and as you keep watching, you find that she isn’t just a comedy piece. She actually seems to be rather smart and has some good info. As Naota and her get closer together, I feel that she helps him to except becoming an adult but yet still being a child.

Mamimi, I think, is an adult that never grew up. She seems to not be all there and in turn, it does make her a bit creepy to me. I don’t really see what Naota sees in her and even at one point; he seemed to be forcing himself to actually like her. I think she was just a substitute for his brother.

The artwork is really out of control, sometimes shown with a runny eggs look and other times almost normal (if you can say anything about this show is normal.) Now someone was a good boy and actually paid attention to their camera angles, sometimes it’s just a simple flip of where they are sitting and sometimes it’s just the angle in the battle scenes. Another little piece that’s interesting is that they used sort of a manga panel style once in a while. It shows off a bit of different styles from super realistic to runny eggs to even American pop culture like South Park.

When we go into the thought of English Dub or Sub, Dub I think is the way to go. The voices match the Japanese dub pretty well and they do keep the real intention of the show. Of course, they do change a couple little things but most of them were actually cultural differences and not much else. The music is wonderful and the pillows seem like the perfect band for this show. They are somewhat out of control and crazy but also has a controlled feel.

10/10 story
5/10 animation
9/10 sound
6/10 characters
9/10 overall
roriconfan's avatar By on Apr 30, 2012

ARTSY ANIME
Full list of the review series can be found on this page, 3rd post from bottom:
http://anidb.net/perl-bin/animedb.pl?uid=251338&show=userpage&do=blog&blogid=29009&page=0

Many things have been said about this anime yet down to it, it is very easy to understand where its fame came from. It was made by GAINAX a company famous for its psychedelic imagery and stories, it was heavy on symbolisms which is what makes anime so cool, it had something to do with coming-of-age and sex which always sell no matter the context… and it was insane which has no explanation because it would then be sane. Those who like FLCL belong to the group of people who like the unorthodox, the artsy, the mysterious, the sensational, the WTF type of presentation. Those who don’t, prefer more mainstream, straightforward, reasoned, explained, logical.

I see very little point in describing the story or the artwork, as they are all made to be completely symbolic and irrelevant to the initial premise of the setting. So ok, it’s about a female alien beating an earth boy with a guitar so stuff will sprout out of his head in an attempt to find her lover king or something like that. Does that make any sense? No, it is just a lame excuse to shoehorn as much sexual innuendo as possible, leave it all as blurry as possible, and leave the viewer to give his own interpretation of the whole mess.

Let me admit that the story is boinkers; just a poor excuse to have something happening to some people that has something to do with sexuality and growing up and something-something erections, something-something I-don’t-know-figure-it-out-yourself. Although every individual can give his own interpretation of what is going on, down to it the story is as important as in FPS games. Meaning, you don’t need it but does help if it exists. Although it does exist, it is underplayed heavily in favour of weird stuff happening to the point it doesn’t matter at all. By the time you finish it, your brain will be jammed because of the weird information surging though it.

Let me also admit that the characters are all eccentric caricatures, based on stereotypes. You just get to see what makes them tick… and snap… and go wild with your common sense. It’s the unorthodox plot that makes them look like they are different or special and in a way that helps to make them memorable. They do develop in some way or the other but like the rest of the anime, it happens in a completely erratic and chaotic way without a clear line of thought. All that are accomplished thanks to the whacky animation, made to inflict the viewer with the chaotic mentality of adolescence, as hormones take over and the world is now a crazy place. One could say that the entire setting is made specifically to look like we see it through the eyes of an insecured boy, scary, bizarre, sexual, and illogical. That is after all what goes through the minds of every teenager and thus that is what the imagery helps us visualize. The effect is of course tenfold if you actually still ARE a teenager. You might even find a sort of identification amongst all this chaos. You might scream THIS MAKES NO SENSE, JUST LIKE MY LIFE, THIS ANIME IS AWESOME!

For that reason, I say the production values are quality art. They are made specifically as such to transmit the mentality of the main characters. They are completely relevant to the mood of the show and not irrelevant random images thrown in to dress an otherwise simple and boring premise. Thus they fulfil their prime directive; to affect the viewer with emotions and notions relevant to the mood of the show. They are also not static panels like SHAFT loves to do; they are full of motion and vividness, it’s as if the entire world is alive, fluent, ever-changing in a seemingly chaotic manner… just like the thoughts of teenagers. It is the real notion of animation and artwork at work and they get full scores.

FLCL managed to repeat the success of Neon Genesis in the sense that it is full of mentally unstable characters doing seemingly illogical actions. Any standard series would demand from the characters to be reasonable; if not all that would feel like plot holes and the cast being out of character. Yet in this case, the cast is MEANT to be chaotic and random, thus excusing anything one may not like as simply “the craziness of being young”. You can’t blame it for anything, just like you can’t blame a kid for not understanding something. That is just brilliant and something more companies should pay more attention to instead of wasting their funds of mediocre shows that follow the formulas and get forgotten in a few years. This anime is practically sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. It is exciting and excused to be chaotic, it talks to its audience directly, it makes you think and feel stuff even if you don’t like them. This is art at its finest.

… I would still like some more plot though.

And now for some excused scorings.

ART SECTION: 10/10
General Artwork 1/2 (artsy)
Character Figures 1/2 (crazy-looking)
Backgrounds 2/2 (bizarre)
Animation 1/2 (fluent)
Visual Effects 1/2 (artsy)

SOUND SECTION: 10/10
Voice Acting 3/3 (fine)
Music Themes 4/4 (funky)
Sound Effects 3/3 (cartoonaly funny)

STORY SECTION: 7/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 2/2 (fine)
Complexity 2/2 (rich context)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy)

CHARACTER SECTION: 7/10
Presence 2/2 (funny/sexy)
Personality 2/2 (well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)
Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there)

VALUE SECTION: 9/10
Historical Value 3/3 (all-known)
Rewatchability 2/3 (high if you dig the style)
Memorability 4/4 (extremely funky to the point of forever remembering it)

ENJOYMENT SECTION: 8/10
Bizarre and confusing but quite funny and artsy.

VERDICT: 8.5/10

7/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
7/10 characters
8.5/10 overall