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.
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