This six episode series is mind-blowing on multiple levels. All of which make this a must see film for anime fans. It isn't that the storyline is particularly brilliant (it is crazy and, oddly, rather simple), but this is first class anime. Naota's whirlwind coming of age experience echoes Shinji's Freudian crisis in Evangelion without being all consuming. The action and animation shows the vividness and edginess of Gurran Lagan, but with more innovation and creativity and insanity. The soundtrack - one long rock and roll trip - fits the mood and, honestly, is just damn good music. The animation is stunning and has few comparisons. Scenes like Haruko's appearance are brilliantly entertaining and it requires a few watches just to take in all the aspects of the art. This is great anime and pushes the limits and flexing the considerable muscle of the genre.
Another interesting subtext to the series - embedded in the coming of age story - is the simple question of what it means to come of age. The adults in this film are, by and large, not very adult - scenes like Ninamori's interactions with her father's mistress and any scene involving the mess that is Naota's father bring out, strongly, the ways one can fail to come of age. Good food for thought amidst the utter pandemonium
Critic's Log: March 11, 2013.
Watching an anime may be fun but reviewing an anime might turn out to be either fun or something completely different depending on your mood. I guess the same goes for watching anime depending on what you're watching I guess. With that said, I do have another review this time!
Naota is a normal Japanese 6th grade boy. His older brother leaves for America to play baseball and 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. To make matters for the worse, Naota's perception of life 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 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
To be technical, this is a Studio Gainax and Prouction I.G. collaboration and their previous collaboration was on the movie The End of Evangelion, which was either an alternate ending to Neon Genesis Evangelion, a replacement to the original ending, or to be viewed alongside the original ending. Besides that I just shared that little tidbit, this anime is a short little miniseries that only lasts 6 episodes and Fooly Cooly is an OVA series, Meaning that this anime was never aired on TV and went straight directly to video back in 2000. Unlike Japan's exposure to FLCL, The show was aired on TV in the U.S. back in 2003 and had re-runs for once in a while occasions ever since. Now that I've said that, I think I should actually talk about the animation. Since this is an OVA, there's some freedom in the budget and the schedule and the production values in an OVA are usually higher than a TV anime. In the long run, Fooly Cooly's animation is fantastic (In a unique way) The animation is a bit sloppy with inconsistent character figures or frame rate. This is intentional to give the show's bizarreness and grotesquesness surreal. It works perfectly for this show.
Another interesting fact about Fooly Cooly is what Kazuya Tsurumaki once said that he wanted to break the rules of anime bwhen making FLCL by using a contemporary Japanese band to provide the soundtrack and patterning the style more after a Japanese TV commercial or promotional video. The music is provided by a Japanese rock group known as The Pillows which is unorthodox for an anime. There's a good chance most of the songs were written for the show which is kind of why the music fits the show thematically and in tone. Those that love J-Rock will not be disappointed and if you are not much into rock music, this is still a terrific soundtrack to the show. Also, Ride on Shooting Star is an awesome closing theme.
When it comes to voice acting, The Japanese cast is fitting and terrific but here's the interesting thing. The Japanese cast contains lesser-known seiyus. The reason I find this version extremely fitting is because it blends in with the bizarreness of this anime, Jun Mizuki is great as Naota, Mayumi Shintani is terrific as Haruko, and Izumi Kasagi is alright as Mamimi, some good extras in the subbed version would be Mika Itou as Ninamori, Suzuki Matsuo is a blast to hear as Naota's father. Now this brings me to the dub of FLCL. The English Dub is terrificly acted as well but may be debatable to some degree. For one, The English cast nearly sounds the same as the Japanese cast. This might not sound too bad, but it might annoy some people. Allow me to explain, The Japanese language has their own colloqualisms, acting style, manner of speech, etc... I don't mind this because I'm an anime fan. In reality, there are certain effects that can only be acheived in the Japanese language when it comes to anime and there are certain effects that can be achieved in the English language as well. Marc Handler did not use that advantage for the English dub while he was the ADR director. In the long run, The English dub sort of imitates the Japanese cast which might alienate some people that don't mind English dubs all too often. But you know what, this dub can get away with this because it is such a wacky bizarre nonsensical series that speaks for itself in a way by shouting out "F*** YOUR LOGIC!" because this show is full of creativity as well as feeling a bit experimental. So having a dub that sounding extremely accurate to the original intent is really fitting to both the show and it's bizarre elements. When it comes to the English Dub, Barbara Goodson is terrific as Naota, and Haruko is Kari Wahlgren's debut role and she plays a terrific Haruko and is easily the highlight of the dub. Stephanie Sheh is also great as Mamimi. The extras in the dub would include Dave Mallow as Amarao, Melissa Fahn as Ninamori, Jessica Stenuis as the teacher, Joe Martin as Naota's father, and Steve Kramer as Naota's grandfather. Both versions are terrific and worth listening to. Also, Steve Blum voiced the big fat cat Miyu-Miyu, and here's a real mindfrag, Miyu-Miyu was voiced by Hideaki Anno in the subbed version. That's right, the director of the Evangelion series himself is in the show (for a short amount of time that is). Now that I've mentioned the voice casting, all I can say is that FLCL is an anime that's good in both versions.
When it comes to characters, they are all very memorable and I'll leave the rest for you to discover. I can say that they are pretty interesting.
Which brings me to my analyzation of the story *Sigh* My oh my, is this going to be a doozy when I try to analyze this bizarre tale. To be perfectly frank, FLCL is an anime full of style with little substance but it does have its themes though. Trying to explain this anime was never that easy to begin with. It surprisingly has a plot, but it's a non-sensical, bizarre plot at that. The themes and symbolism is all up to interpretation and I really don't see a point in explaining the plot since it was intentionally made the way it is. Since this is only six episodes long, I guess I can explain what is worth seeing in this show without giving it away.
Episode 1 is a pretty good starting episode and quite an interesting episode too. Episode 2 is also an interesting episode. Episode 3 was also interesting and a blast in the second half, Expect mindfrag grenades on Episode 4, Episode 5 has an awesome second half, and The Final Episode is unbelievably awesome. Also, expect some South Park references in some of those episodes. Yoji Enokido's writing is indeed unconventional to this anime and that's fine considering the original intent in this show.
If there is a theme that is easy to spot if looked hard enough would be the theme of growing up. Yeah, It gets brought up by some people and I believe that this is one of the themes portrayed in this show. This has got to be the most bizarre way of portraying the theme of growing up. You wanna know something else? This show is pretty much perfect, there is hardly any flaws to give when it all goes down in the long run.
Fooly Cooly was available by Synch-Point which I don't think they got high recognition because this anime was the only well-known anime in their catalog and that was thanks to the U.S. TV airing of FLCL. Synch-Point released this show in 3 volumes...making it 2 episodes per volume, Synch-Point did go under but FLCL was rescued by Funimation and they re-released Fooly Cooly by putting the entire show on 1 Disc, making it one hell of a bargain and it's the way to go if you plan on getting this series. It is also worth every penny. The manga written by Hajime Ueda was available by Tokyopop but it went out of print for a time until it was rescued by Dark Horse Comics, Dark Horse has released the FLCL manga in a complete omnibus. The FLCL novel series written by Yoji Enokido was available by Tokyopop until it went out of print
With all that said, Fooly Cooly is a uniquely bizarre work of art with energetically explosive animation, a rocking soundtrack, memorable characters, and an unforgettable experience. This anime pretty much has style over substance but the way it was intended and made. It was simply perfect in its approach and experimental visuals. This is an anime you need to turn your brain off and let a giant robot pop out of your head.
I give FLCL a 10 out of 10, it is a MASTERPIECE!
Feel free to comment below, and start playing your air guitar
One of my favorite anime of all time. It is also one of the first anime i ever completed. I guess we can start by simply going down the score list.
Story - There is three main story lines that this anime has all wraped up into one 6 episode series. You have Naota who is a young boy who is living his normal life. He is around 12 years old and his hitting puberty. The whole show it shows his struggles of going through this stage that we have or will have to go through. And, its done really well. Merged into that, aliens are having a battle with a government orginization. Who doesnt like that? The best part is, its subtle and slides right into his semi-normal daily life. Very small action scenes happen but when they do, they go all out. And then it settles back down. The boy is dragged into this battle while he is still struggling with growing up. Finally to finish it off there is an orginization called Medical Mechanica who is trying to take over his town, but what makes this so unqie is its a massive metaphor for something on a much bigger picture. One of the best things is, everyone has a different theory on the show.
Animation - Oh man. The colors. The way the style changes so many times. It just fits the theme of this anime so well. The action is really well done. The charecters look very unqie. Nothing at all to complain about when it comes to animation with this.
Sound - Most, if not all, songs are done by the same band. First off, the songs are just really good. 2nd, the fit perfectly into the anime. Very unique and themed to the series. It set the mood when it needed too. Couldnt have been better.
Characters – I loved the characters. I may not have liked them because of certain reasons but they were really well done with personalities and dialogue. The back stories were very good and intriguing and how it tied them together.
Overall - A must watch. If you dont like this anime, its because you dont like to think in depth on things and dont appreciate metaphors.
STORY: Naota is a bored young man who is waiting to die. He is constantly being sexually harassed by lonely 19 year old girl, Mamimi who missed Naota's older brother, Takun. Suddenly a crazy alien lady Haruko run Naota over with a bike and hits him over the head with a guitar. Naota grows a bump on his forehead, hides it with a band aid. Haruko moves in, then a robot grows out of his head. The robot starts living at his house. Metal Mechanica, a orginization living in his town starts tracking Haruko, having some kind of connection with her.
FLCL takes drama and abstract comedy and blends it together. The drama reminds me some what of a teen drama along the lines of Dawsons Creek or Beverly Hills 90210 minus the school settings, however what FLCL does different in the drama department is that it never feels like a Soap Opera or an after school special, I think this is in due in part of the symbolism and subtlety. FLCL avoids any melodrama or needless exposition (pointing out the obvious), FLCL has a lot of sexual symbolism, from what I understand, the same person who did the sexual symbolism for Revolutionary Girl Utena also did symbolism for FLCL, it's a very nice touch for the underlining theme of growing up. FLCL is a story about growing up, and about adolescense, the way the message is portraid is unlike anything you've seen before. Naota doesn't become a man however over time he does get his misconception about what being a man is, he grows an ego, he starts becoming attracted to girls, the works about what growing up actually is, and this is all told with out exposition or speeches about what becoming an adult is about, which is more than anyone could say about most coming of age stories, this is the most powerful coming of age story since Revolutionary Girl Utena. The emotions the FLCL gives ranges from sorrow, melancholy, and even hear warmth. Some people say FLCL is stupid, however the way FLCL's message is told is anything but stupid. However the same couldn't said for....
I've talked a while about the drama, but FLCL is also a comedy. The comedy is random, but not very intelligent, it's like they took every first idea that came into their head and put in the series. Some of the dailogue comes across almost as babbling, non-sense. I like this kind of humor, personally, however there were times when the jokes came off as painfully unfunny or even obnoxious, but when it's funny, it's outragously, a shining example would be the Manga scenes found in episode 1 and 6. If you are into this kind of humor, it's a hit or miss.
So being a comedy as well as a drama, how well does it blend together? Well, like it's humor, it's a hit or miss. There are scenes that go from an extremely chaotic comedy scene and transitions, rather poorly, to a dead serious scene, this is evident right from episode 1. Other times, it transitions seemlessly. There were a lot of times where I wish the story took itself more seriously, but with out the comedy, FLCL would lose it's charm. This is how a pre-teen would see the world, everything seems alive, yet it doesn't. The comedy is what gives the world life, of course, it could be a droopy drama with out it, but FLCL needs it's comedy and with that said, FLCL is not for everyone, especially for those who don't like over-the-top comedy, but at the same time, I can't imagine FLCL with out it's zany comedy. It's not Monty Python but FLCL is what it is. I guess a good word for the comedy here is charming. But one more thing I should mention about the comedy is that there is a lot of perverted jokes keeping in tone with the sexual symbolism, so I could see why the comedy here would turn a lot of people off.
Of course FLCL also contains a lot of chaotic action, tender and complex romance, a plot surrounded in a lot of mystery, and even a bit of horror Evangelion style! It seems like Gainax is giving it their all here, so even with the hit or miss comedy, the complex story that has a lot to offer gets an 8 out of 10
ANIMATION: FLCL's animation is very stylish. It has a very light color pallete, all the colors are pale, the animation is almost always moving when things get very chaotic, but during said moments, the character models start to loose detail but that's okay because it's also very entertaining to watch the chaos. During the serious moments, it's also very beautiful, the detail picks up and everything starts to become expressive. Simply said, the budget goes into the scenes that matter, well almost (The Manga scenes were very expensive, and that particular scene didn't even contribute to anything).
Consistancy and animation style seems to have split up here. You will never be watching the same animation style for more than a minute at the least. Character models go through the standard anime look, a cartoony look, a comic book look, a hard pencil sketch look, they even turn into a South Park look.
FLCL's backgrounds and setting are beautiful. There are times when you'll see a lot of shade of white or a lack of detail (mostly when things are comical), but aside from those scenes, they are absolutely breath taking when it wants to be. They are colorful and bring a lot of personality. The Animation is stylish and chaotic but also sets the mood when it needs. FLCL is a real eye candy and most regards. 9 out of 10
SOUND: The dub of FLCL is fantastic. Naota plays an apathetic and whiney Naota, his voice is a little gratting when he is yelling (which is a lot) but when he's quiet, his emotions gets across fine. Haruko's voice fits like a glove, right from when I first heard her voice, I had an idea of what kind of character she was going to be,energetic, out-of-control, and all around fun. Mamimi's voice is brilliant, she has a voice of a little kid, despite her age (19) which is perfect considering her character. Everyone else's voice is brimming with personality. Not a lot to complain about here.
The main attraction of FLCL is the Alternative Rock soundtrack composed by The Pillows. The music, like it's stories, cover a lot of emotion with it's memorable melodies from Melancholy (Bran New Love Song), to absurdity (Come Down), to action (Advice), to hope (I Think I Can). It's like watching a music video. Some of these songs don't even need to cover any moods, songs like Beautiful Morning With You are used just to show the dawn of day. Coupled this, with the animation creates a visual experience unlike any other. This not one of the best anime soundtracks, this is THE best anime soundtrack, even if you don't think so, I can garentee at least one of these songs will find it's way onto your Computer into the music folder. There is no contest, the Sound gets a 10 out of 10.
CHARACTERS: FLCL has a lot of useless characters like Naota's father, his friends, the teacher. And the plot characters like the Metal Mechanica orginazation and Canti don't get a lot of devolopement, except for the busy eyebrowed leader Amaro who's devolopement is hidden. Instead we are given a lot of devolopement into the characters who do matter like Naota, Mamimi, and Haruko. They are given a lot of mystery surrounded around them, and their problems connect with eachother well, I felt like they (Discluding Haruko) all had similar problems but they are deal with it in different ways. I felt attached to most of the characters for more than one reason, the serious characters have problems that people at that age can relate to, weither it be Mamimi who acts like a child dispite being an adult and is very clingy, or Naota's apathetic behavior, this one girl who I forget her name, is very bossy and likes to control things, or Amaro who thinks he's grown up but is very childish deep down inside and for good reason. But those are the only serious characters, everyone else is a comical character, and of course these characters are hit or miss. FLCL boasts both deep and comical characters, 9 out of 10.
OVERALL: FLCL is a unique experience both visually and story-wise. You will find something to like in this anime, but it'll be hard to love it if you only can find one and one thing only to like in it, but for those who love, you will love it for many different reasons. For all the thought, love and effort put into this anime, I can not give it any lower than a 9.5 out of 10.
This is Gainax's best work and if you don't like, you just don't get it.
Mister Walrus Reviews FLCL!
The anime is short and sweet, with great characters and crazy story.
"A coming-of age allegory on speed"