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!
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