Let me first say that this manga is probably 3X as confusing as its anime counterpart, and a lot less entertaining overall. The characters that shone so brightly in the anime are just shells of their former selves, and if you understood the ending of this, you have one up on me. The artwork is where this series really shines. It isn't the best by any means, but it is very unique, and provides something interesting to this otherwise overly strange manga.
Surprisingly, I actually like the anime better then the manga. The manga tries a bit too hard to be serious and in some areas, it does it well but in others it feels like it’s a little forced. The anime made things a lot more fun and comical even if it was pretty random. The manga on the other hand, the idea of these characters being so serious when the world around them is going crazy just feels like they are becoming rather bland characters.
The manga though does make Naoto out to be more of a boy his own age who just has had a bad run in his life with people he kind of doesn’t really care much about. His father and grandfather are crazy, his father always getting into other peoples business and his grandfather wanting him to become a good baseball player. His mother is no where to be found although I could never tell if she just died or ran off somewhere. He has a teacher who tries to protect her students from the world and acts as though they are much more innocent then they are. Even a lot of the friends he has seem to outcast him or tease him. The only person he really seems to care about is his brother’s ex- girlfriend and yet she always seems to see him as his brother. I would understand why a boy like that would be in depression if the world around him was like that.
You could almost look at his world as the same with a video game called Mother (Earth Bound to some). In Mother, a young boy ends up with a strange power and goes on a quest to learn about the outside world, only to stop an evil alien that wants to destroy the world. In FLCL, Naoto is a normal boy who has strange things coming out of his head and ends up having to deal with aliens all while learning about growing up. I can’t say its exact, hell I could never say it was exactly the same type of story but for those of you that know Mother, the idea is very similar.
When we get near the end, though both the manga and the anime have different endings to one another, I still liked each of them for what they were. They just had a very different effect to the story and seemed like it was trying to say something different then the other. The Anime was much easier to interrupt then the manga and I felt like I was getting lost a bit more then I should but still, for the two volumes it was, it was pretty interesting to see the difference.
The artwork is all over the place from rather thick lines to small thin lines that look rather like sketches. There is a lot of negative or white space around the characters and when there is a background, it looks very much like a dream with almost a hazy look. Many of the lines feel like they were actually done with ball point pen or a paint brush and only some of the pages have a rather soft or smooth look to it.