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FLCL Review

by: sothis
September 25, 2004

story 7.5/10

FLCL screenshot 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 9/10

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 5/10

"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 7.5/10

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 8/10

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.

Anime Info

Naota Nanbada is a boring young boy who leads a boring life in a boring town. His older brother has left for America, and the closest he comes to any excitement is when his deadbeat dad has too much sake. But things change one day when a bizarre girl zooms up to him on a scooter and smacks him in the face with her guitar. What's more, once Naoto returns home he discovers that this strange woman has arrived ahead of him and moved in! Not only does she constantly engage in perverted activities with Naota's father and flirt with the young man himself, but she also claims to be an alien who is searching for the ‘Pirate King.' Now, Naota must learn to live with this new intruder, deal with an odd government agent who sports exceptionally large eyebrows and the mysterious Medical Mechanica, and come to terms with the fact that there are a variety of robots and weapons emerging out of his head - amongst other things. Perhaps boring wasn't so bad after all...

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About the Author

sothis's avatar


My fav genres include sci fi and horror, but you'll find a lot of obscure reviews from me too, given I watch a ton to add to the database. My new reviews are written a lot better than my old ones, so when in doubt, sort by date! ^_^ Enjoy, and I welcome any and all feedback.

More Reviews


ale202 avatar ale202
Jan 30, 2010

whoever wrote this anime is an insane genius.

great anime just psycho

sakurafice avatar sakurafice
Dec 18, 2009

lol why do people take this as a warning?

see the anime for yourself and find out -.-

it's a love it or hate it show

Anathemus avatar Anathemus
Nov 30, 2009

Just finished watching this, it's a hell of a trip! and the animation is one of the best i've seen not to mention the kickass soundtrack

leshinor avatar leshinor
Nov 11, 2009

Thanks for the warning! I am falling in the same trap and want to watch it just because it is really popular. I will watch a couple of episodes and either drop it or keep wathcing (if I like it...)

Nice work on making an unbiased review though! Not many people do that...

nitaipriya avatar nitaipriya
Nov 3, 2009

I second the thank you for an "unbiased review" like mlove.... but like u said... i was thinking to watch because everyone seems to enjoy it - but it does not sound like my cup of tea. Warning heeded - Thank you! ^^

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