FLCL: Grunge

Alt title: Furi Kuri: Grunge

TV (3 eps)
2.821 out of 5 from 208 votes
Rank #16,839

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The Medical Mechanica plant is back, to iron out those wrinkles. This time, we see what kind of impact the Medical Mechanica plant can have on artisans. In the three episodes of FLCL: Grunge, we follow the lives of three kids; Shin, Shonari, and Orinoko. Shin is a boy who works in his father's sushi restaurant, but the restaurant is struggling to get customers. Not only that, it's struggling to get good quality fish... and Shin wants to learn from his father, but the current state of the world makes it hard for him to learn anything.  Then we have Shonari, a rock alien that watches his big brother lose control of his life. The brother works for the local yakuza, and picked up the habit of drinking too much. Shonari cares a lot for his brother, trying to help him in any way he can. And then finally we have Orinoko, the daughter of the local blacksmith. After school, Orinoko makes her way to the scrapyard to find useable iron. Unlike Shin's father, Orinoko's father has basically given up, and she's trying her best to help him. Basically, there is one story, and each episode is dedicated to the perspective of one of the kids. All three starting out naive, but slowly growing up and understanding what kind of world they're living in. Looking for a brighter future. So... I'm somebody who believes that the first FLCL will remain a cult classic, and was released by studio GAINAX and Production IG. Studio GAINAX got acquired by Kinoshita Group Holdings, and Production IG ended up purchasing the rights from GAINAX. Eventhough FLCL didn't do that great in Japan, it did do great in the western world. So, after the first series, Production IG asked Kazuya Tsurumaki for more, but he refused. Production IG still wanted to release more FLCL episodes and ended up asking several different directors to work on several different FLCL projects. Why am I mentioning all this? Well...  Even though all these new FLCL projects try to do their own thing, they still heavily rely on the original series. It's nostalgic to hear the Pillows play their old hits, but where Kazuya Tsurumaki wrote the story around the music, they're nothing more than background tunes on these new projects. It's great to see characters like Amarao and Haruko, but it reminds me of people, who you don't know, using your inside joke and expecting you to automatically accept it. Phew... Other than that. The story itself wasn't bad, but I wasn't a huge fan of the Jimmy Neutron CGI style. There are still some charming moments, and CGI has come pretty far these last few years, but it just doesn't feel right... or, I should say, this isn't for me. Which is weird, because I'm sure people like me are the ones that place FLCL on the pedestal. It's funny how the original FLCL was about losing your uniqueness due to the oppressive nature of adulthood, and here we have a bunch of new FLCL projects that make me feel like I'm just going through the motions. Production IG doesn't understand that they themselves are the perfect representation of the real life version of the Medical Mechanica plant. Hopefully FLCL: Shoegaze will be a different experience. Hmmmm...


I don’t think I did anything horribly wrong in life, but for some reason I feel the need to perform such harsh acts of penance, by watching new versions of FLCL. Story - 2/10 To try to make up for the lack of any deep plot, the show decided it would tell the events of the same day, from the perspective of three kids realizing they have to grow up. By doing this they turned an already short OVA, into an even shorter one, as so many scenes are reused, but I guess it’s a blessing in disguise as it keeps us from having more of this series. The over arching story, is that Haruko is seducing the mayor so that she can get a meeting with the head of Medical Mechanica, and infect him with a computer virus, thus activating the plant and releasing Atmosk. The problem is, it’s just not a good story. If you hadn’t watched the original you’d have no clue what was going on, and even if you did watch the original you’d still be mildly confused as most of the other scenes and mini-stories have absolutely nothing to do with anything. In the end it really seems like the creators, if we can call them that, just wanted to have the big fight scene, and then cobbled together some excuse to get to it, three times. If their real goal had to do with the reveal in the last few minutes, having to do with the katana, there were much better ways of doing it, and maybe one that actually made sense to the story. Despite being labeled as a prequel to the original, there is almost nothing that would indicate that, since little in the story lines up with the original. I’m not even sure the people creating this knew there was an original, because half their plots come across as if they think FLCL: Alternative and Progressive, are actually the originals.   As this is still apparently Earth, where did the rock people go between Grunge and every other part of the series? Even if they died you’d think people would still be talking about them. Similarly Canti is at first hidden, because the idea of a robot living with you is weird, but in this version it’s just seen as commonplace. Likewise they show the rockets leaving Earth, but that storyline only has to do with events happening after the original, in Alternative.  The most egregious is Amarao’s eyebrows, as in the original Haruko comments how he’s changed his look to try and be more manly, which would indicate it’s the first time she saw the new bolder look, but then they have her seeing him, and his eyebrows, in this earlier time. On top of the fact he’s essentially used just for that joke, despite us knowing that these two had a previous relationship. One other, of the many major flaws, is the need to constantly just rehash items from the original series. Phrases, iconic moments, and damn near entire scenes are copied and used with one of the new children in place of one of our original characters.  On top of all of this, they repeatedly insert odd memes and stupid pop catchphrases in to so many areas, as if they didn’t understand their audience one bit. As I said with the other new addition to the FLCL franchise, why make something like this when there are legitimately great stories just waiting to be told about the events preceding the original. We know about Haruko’s search for Atmosk, about her attempts to use Amarao’s brain, and Medical Mechanica’s previous planet flattening, so why not actually tell one of those stories, instead of just using the idea of those scenarios to make a plotless story? It’s no surprise to see how most of the creative team has no creative experience, and that further strengthens my idea, you’ll see later in the “overall” section. Animation - 1/10 The animation for FLCL: Grunge is amazing, if you just woke up from massive head trauma you received near the turn of the century while playing Jet Set Radio. Not only is the look bad, but the characters and their movements just look so clunky and amateur. The flash in the pan style worked for all of a few months, decades ago, and there was never any reason to bring it back.  Sound - 2/10 So it’s not that the music isn’t very good, it’s the Pillows, so if you love FLCL you most likely love them too. The problem is the music is just everything from prior seasons, and like the awful Progressive, many of the songs are dropped in to scenes that mimic the original too. Having music that perfectly accompanies scenes was something FLCL did better than any show, and I’m convinced many major network series copied some of their style, such as their use of ending episodes with songs fading out along with the voice over reaching it’s conclusion. Even when trying to copy the song placement, they just didn’t know how to pick the correct moments in a song, so it just comes across as out of place. The one new song, which closes out the show, is also just okay, and almost sounds a bit slapped together, just the make an “FLCL” type song. The voices for the characters are also awful. There is so little emotion and effort put in to most of the roles, even Kari Wahlgren just sounds like she’s going through the motions, tossing out the same lines in the same manner. The biggest atrocity might be how replaced Dave Mallow as Commander Amarao, one of the best acted roles in anime. Characters - 1/10 So there are four characters who play an important role in the show, well as important as you can play in this particular iteration.   The first is Shin, the Naota stand in who basically has the exact same story line as Naota, in almost every way possible. Of the three new characters he’s easily the weakest, heck out of thousands of anime characters in general, he may be the weakest.   The second episode follows Shonari, a copyright violation that owes Jack Kirby and Stand Lee tens of dollars, based on the assumed profits of this terrible OVA. As an alien he’s basically alone in the world, as his brother has fallen to alcoholism after the death of their parents. Despite being a literal rock, he’s a bit of a softy, as he cares for his two friends, and even his criminal brother. Unfortunately that’s basically the extent of his story. Finally there’s Orinoko, a girl who is stuck with a backstory that a million shows have already used. Her mother died, and her father became ill, so now she must run the family business. She works hard, but knows it’s pretty much a pointless venture, as most of her creations are bought by her two friends out of pity. Of the three you can technically say she’s the only one who has a lasting affect on the series, as her sword was instrumental in the future. As each kid only really had ten minutes of valuable screen time, there isn’t much that changes about them. Sure each now realizes they are stuck with the life they’re in, but we’re left with no real sense of what that life will be, heck based on some readings of what happened we can almost assume Shin and Shonari are dead. Now to those returning characters, specifically Haruko, who has become an escort, a yakuza member, and an essentially worthless character. Throughout the three episodes she just repeated everything from seasons past, stupid internet catchphrases, or other attempts at rekindling what was once great.  Finally there’s the great Amarao, who’s in the show just so they can rehash eyebrow jokes. Instead of trying to expand on the characters we know, and their backstories, we’re just given utter stupidity for the sake of entertaining mental patients under heavy sedation.  Overall - 1/10 I almost have a feeling that the people over at Cartoon Network are playing a joke on all of us, and they actually fed previous FLCL scripts, along with the writings of a reclusive alcoholic, and videos of vapid tiktok blowhards, into a computer, and had AI write this show. Everything about it is just terrible attempts to copy the original, and it’s even worse than their last terrible attempt to copy the original, FLCL Progressive. While the original was always referred to as erratic and weird, there was a method to the madness of the creators, and every single moment was actually thought out, and done for a reason. Here it seems like insanity just for the sake of going “look how cool, wild, and out of control we are,” while not being any of those. Nothing about these three episodes would lead me to believe any intelligent being was involved in the creative or approval process. It’s just their attempt to plaster stupid memes and catch phrases over a non-existent story, and hope those paying the bills don’t realize how much they bilked them for.  Even ignoring the original, if possible, this can’t work as a stand alone as there is no plot, just scenes that point back to the first. If you view it as a companion it is just a mash up of scenes they thought would grab attention from those who only want nostalgia, or trying to appeal to others from a generation whose attention span only allows thirty second videos (which almost eliminates even the most fidgety of anime fans, who can watch months worth of a series without sleep.) This was not only the worst anime I’ve ever sat through, it’s more than likely the worst piece of any type of entertainment I’ve ever spent time with. It should have culminated with so many people being fired from their jobs for incompetence.  Positive Reasons for Score: * None, there is literally not one positive thing to say about this show. Negative Reasons for Score:  * Horrible writing.  * No story.  * Completely pointless. Ways to make the show better:  * Demolish the Cartoon Network HQ.  * Salt the Land.  * Start growing coca plants there and creating crack, it would benefit the world much more.

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