Furi Kuri certainly is 6 episodes of an Seinen, Sci-Fi, random WTF-just-happened kind of anime. While it is highly praised, I'll say it now, this anime won't be to everyone's tastes. It can also be difficult to understand and there is no obvious coherency to the story. Most would find it too boring. It's a refined taste like Whiskey, hence why it is a Seinen. It's like Marmite, you either love it or you hate it. Despite being part of the target audience, I didn't enjoy it initially. Did it get any better?
Animation is top notch. Not only is the quality amazing for an anime made at the turn of the century, but the style is also rather unique. The use of colours is unlike an anime I've seen before. The animation style also varies, with them doing a comic books style in one episode (which I didn't appreciate), cel-shaded in another and even go as far as to reference South Park in another episode. Well done for making the animation style stand out, it does better than some of the more recent animes, despite the obvious age. It has a wacky cartoony style for the most part, going very psychedelic and crazy at times. There is not any ecchi (HOORAY!), though a lot of mature themes are referred to or suggested. "...my what a large guitar you have..."
The sound is another thing that a lot of people love about this anime. Or more precisely the music, which is of the ever awesome rock genre. It's really good rock music and it even made me get the soundtrack. But that's it. It seems they got a rock band to do all the music and while rock is my favourite genre, having one type of music, especially rock in this case, is not good enough to have perfect sound. More precisely, it was the sound design. The awesome rock music was in the background of most scenes, even when it might have been inappropriate or made no sense for it to be there, given the atmosphere the scene was trying to convey. If there was any other type of music, I don't remember hearing any so there wasn't enough and it wasn't played at the appropriate moments. Too much of something good can end up making things go sour. As for the voice acting, there is an English dub and even a French dub, in addition to the usual Japanese audio. I honestly didn't like the voice of the main character, who was obviously voiced by a woman. And boy did it show. The voice just didn't suit at all, no offence to gals who do VO for male characters.
The main character is arguably Naota Nandaba, who is a child. Yes, a child who goes to elementary school, not even a high-school student. Now I have nothing against kids being main characters, but in this case it really didn't make sense having the main character as a kid. And that partially contributed to my non-enjoyment of the start. Naota lives with his single dad (ahem) and grandfather, while his older brother has gone off to the US to play baseball. Apparently he's that good. Unfortunately the older brother is never seen. As for Naota, he acts somewhat mature, sometimes. He also gets a lot of unnecessary physical abuse, which is worse since he's also a kid. Violence against children? This results in him growing strange horns out of his head, leading to more dire consequences (I won't spoil it). Of course being a kid, he doesn't understand everything and is confused. He reminded me of Shinji Ikari from NGE, one of my all-time favourite animes. Not only that, but he seems to be weak-willed, letting others do what they will, even if he complains initially. I'm sorry but I didn't like this character too much (and I hated the VO).
The other main character Haruho Haruhara is a crackpot crazy alien who rides around on her yellow Vespa without any consideration for others. Poor Naota gets run over so many times. And it doesn't stop when she's not on her bike. Speaking of the bike, it seems to have a mind of its own. 'Normal Vespa' my ass. Anyhow Haruho's reasons for staying with Naota and his family are unknown, but it may have something to do with the fact that Naota started growing horns after he was run over by her. She tends to use her guitar wrecklessly as a baseball bat, though thankfully the guitar seems to be tougher than diamond. She is very energetic, does what she wants and is random, could be infected with rabies? Reminds me a lot of Excel from Excel Saga, another anime I've previously enjoyed.
Mamimi Samejima, is a highschool girl, who is... very odd. She smokes, is a delinquent, appears to be homeless and has a heavy infatuation with Naota's never-present older brother. She even goes so far as to try and make Naota himself replace his brother, going so far as to even call him Takkun, which is what she used to call his brother. Mentally disturbed? Definitely. An interesting character? Probably. A good character? Maybe.
The other characters feature less and aren't essential enough to be a main character. Bar one blue robot. Canti is a medical robot who SPOILER< appears from Naota's head >SPOILER and is, in my book, the best character in this anime. Yes he never talks, but he is very considerate, doing the housework and being the maid. Even though he isn't meant for fighting, when he first appears, he saves Naota. A gentle machine, who looks badass and is a very peaceful, gentle character, even helping those who had previously attacked him. Even the characters (well, some) in the anime agree and they all (well, some) love him to bits. He even becomes a badass butt-kicking red robot when SPOILER< he eats Naota >SPOILER. It maybe cliche to say this, but this robot has a heart of gold.
Among the other characters is Naota's dad who also seems to be constantly high, though there is a reason for it, a rather grim and morbid one. The dude with the oversized eyebrows is funny, in that people keep on mentioning his eyebrows and they sometimes come off. There's another girl from Naota's class and she's pretty normal for the most part. Though I did wish they got together or something, could have been cool.
The story, believe it or not, is actually a good comprehendable story. It felt simple afterwards and there weren't too many big twists or turns of the story, but that's a good thing for this anime. It actually all fits together nicely, for the most part. Now of course it might not make any sense if one hasn't watched all 6 episodes but, boy it does at the end. And despite what may appear to be, there is no romance. Again, that makes sense and the ending, while some may not like it, I did. It was a solid conclusion IMO and explains what happens to all of the characters. It seems to be all over the place and there is a lot of sci-fi involved, but its okay, just watch it through to the end if you don't want your brain to explode. And if you still don't get it, then this anime isn't for you. Clearly a niche (?) audience of Seinen.
Overall, a competent seinen anime and one that may make you laugh, though it couldn't make me laugh (as far as I can recall). If you like the crazy, wacky, random mindfuck stuff and something altogether more unique, then this is for you. I have heard of people naming it their favourite anime of all time, but I wouldn't put it that high myself. The ending saved it for me, helping make sense of the story and the like. Definitely not for everyone, if you can't handle a complicated story that is actually simple (make sense of that!), then don't watch it. Since you may even find it boring Otherwise, if you've experience and maturity under your belt, then sit back and enjoy the ride. And the awesome rock music of course.
Family-friendliness Rating: 5*/5 Err, no perverted stuff, but young people may melt their minds with confusion when watching this (lower is better) <-maybe this is the exception?
Overall Rating: 8/10
FLCL is a must see for anyone and everyone. Not only that, it should be seen more than once.
As far as animation goes, and not just anime, it is arguably one of the best works of all times. There are no weakpoints other than the fact that in order to get half of what is going on you will need to watch it twice. On the surface it may be seen as an ahead of its time "lolrandom" coming of age story, but that is not what it really is. If only for the insane density of it, the sheer amount of details everywhere, and the way that the complete lack of uniformity of art and machine-gun reference speed, this deserves to be called a work of art.
There is a dazzling lack of uniformity when it comes to the animation and story, that is held together by the soundtrack and characters. This makes a distinct sense the more you watch it, as the art and story are carefully crafted to pack more information in every scene than should be possible. In the end, it is a carefully told coming of age story, but beyond that it is a delve into human nature with some philosophical undertones. Most of all, it is funny, it is moving, it is angry, it is beautiful, and most of all, it is anarchy personified.
In the end, it is first and foremost a coming of age story. But saying that is like saying "a spaceship is just a thing that flies" - technically true yet missing the entire point. There are endless tangents, metaphors, references, and so on that cover subjects from personality disorders, broken homes, finding your own place in the world, the definitions of fun... and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Everything is well thought out, and nearly no sentence has no meaning.
How is this managed? Well... the price is consistency. The changes in the tone of the narrative are fast, the changes in meanings are faster, and the amount of details is (for a lack of better description) insane. It manages contrasts such being nonsensical and grim, metaphorical and silly, childish and heavy. Sometimes at the same time.
But as I stated, at the heart of it all is a coming of age story, and while it was quite revolutionary (and definitely the best) at the time, in over a decade since, other people have pulled it off in cleaner and better ways. In 2001, this was an easy 10/10, but in 2014, the fact that it is so packed into under three hours of content makes it a strain for anyone who does not watch the entire thing multiple times. That being said, it is still wonderful and far above the run-of-the-mill average.
There are a few flaws. A lot of them actually. Everything is wildly inconsistent between scenes (and sometimes between shots and even in the same frame). You can see that animation has progressed since then. The character designs are (at least nowadays) run-of-the-mill.
But, and this is the brilliance of it all, this series turns weakness into strength. There are parts where the characters are near featureless, but that fits in with the story. There are parts where the format is just scrolling through a manga book, but that fits the story. There are parts where there are obvious mockeries of other works (The Matrix, South Park, etc), but again, that fits the story.
Ridiculously stupid mechs, featureless faces with an intense zoom putting them in the center, nearly unmoving characters at certain points, static backgrounds, bland features, and so on. But at the same time, a powerful connection between them all, that makes it all work together. This is not a modern super-high-budget animation, but it is proud of being what it is... and that makes up for it. You don't have to be polished in order to be amazing, and since FLCL is all about a feeling of rawness, that is just fine.
This is the go-to of how to make a soundtrack alive. Cartoonish effects, energetic rock music, emotive and distinct voice acting, and all these give a definition to the story and animation that it would otherwise lack. People often criticize and say that musical themes repeat too much in FLCL, but the point is that they have to - because this adds a level of coherency that ties everything together. Without the soundtrack, FLCL's choice of animation and story just wouldn't work.
I usually try to go more in depth, but in a series where everything is greater than the sum of the parts, this is the engine that drives everything. There has never been a better fit of sound to animation. Nothing more needs to be said.
Oh, we've seen them since many times. Anime, like literature, movies, and so on, makes repeated use of archetypes. FLCL is one of the defining pieces of art whose influences last until today. Naota's character has since been copy-pasted into so many works that it is just ridiculous. Haruko is the embodiment of the wild, violent, assertive, selfish, yet ultimately decent-sort-of-person female character. Mamimi is the fragile girl that broke.
We've seen these characters done before, and done again since. But still, for the amount of runtime that this has, they are developed to a wonderful degree. These are not the best characterizations ever. But they are definitely well done. Haruko's nasal voice, gangly physique, and predatory grins match add up to a roguish charm. Naota's inability to show when he is overwhelmed to a near pathological degree is all the more impressive when the lie becomes truth just as much as when the truth becomes lies. Mamimi... well, analyzing this character can go from "future serial killer with traumatic past" to "that odd girl whose coping mechanisms are weird" once you try to put her into context (and attempt to figure out where the metaphor ends and life begins).
Are they the best characters ever? No. Are they great? Yes. Are they unique? No. Are they interesting? Absolutely.
Perfection... upon multiple vieweings. The first viewing you just strap on and ride the episodes out. The second, things start coming together and details you haven't picked up on suddenly start making sense. The third, and you've already admitted that this is one of the most pleasurable things ever and you want to see it a fourth time at a later point.
I have never had more fun watching anime then when I discovered this series, and since it is not a category listed, right here I will state: 10/10, would watch again and so should you.
One of the greatest pieces of animation ever. Brace yourself for the insanity and wonder that is FLCL. Watch it now.
Fooly Cooly is as very polarizing show, since its point is not obvious. If you take it at face value it will seem like a wacky action comedy of complete randomness. If you look for themes, you will find a lot of symbolism, but nothing will seem coherent or developed. A female alien beating an earth boy with a guitar so stuff will sprout out of his head in an attempt to find her lover king or something, is there as the excuse to have something happening to some people that have something to do with sexuality and growing up and something-something erections, something-something-figure-it-out-yourself.
The best way to approach Fooly Cooly is by considering it an anime that makes sense by not making sense. And yes, that’s one of the most overused excuses when it comes to bad characterization. What’s that, the characters seem to be out of character? They are teenagers, they make mistakes, it’s real and happens all the time. The excuse Fooly Cooly is using has to do with subverting expectations when it comes to coming of age stories. Yes, that’s another overused excuse people are using to make any show sound better than what it is. In case you want to believe this one is different, it takes the premise of coming of age, also known as slice of nothing happens, and turns it into slice of every freaking thing can happen. And just like with any good subversion, you get much more than what you usually expect. One could say that the world is seen through the eyes of an insecure boy, scary, bizarre, sexual, and illogical. It’s what goes through the minds of every teenager and thus the randomness helps us visualize their mentality.
This part needs clarification, since in theory almost every anime in existence is the same thing. I mean, what are school comedies, romcoms and harems doing if not creating excitement out of the mundane? The big difference is, they don’t take it up to 11. Whatever happens in an average anime doesn’t seem to matter once it’s over, either because it was never important to begin with, or the characters stop caring about it. Fooly Cooly is about an alien invasion while everybody is hormone crazy. Everything seems super important and the characters treat it as such.
A big part of how this comes across to the viewer has to do with the minimalistic and experimental artwork, as well as the very fast paced animation. Fooly Cooly doesn’t look polished, and obviously its visual fidelity feels dated after so many years, yet because it’s bursting with energy and color it didn’t age as badly as any other show which was basing its appeal simply on pretty colors.
This part also needs clarification, since I constantly nag about pretty colors meaning nothing if the writing is not good, and Fooly Cooly doesn’t have much of a coherent plot. Why do you hate Bones anime when they are all doing the same thing, you Greek fat piece of shit? The big difference is, Fooly Cooly is thematically very rich and doesn’t overstay its welcome. It’s doesn’t try to last for 26 episodes of constant photo-epilepsy. Watching all the episodes at once is like a two hour movie with a satisfying aftertaste, instead of ten movies worth of nothing to give two shits about besides the animation.
Another plus is the characters who manage to grow beyond stereotypes in a short amount of time. Individually, none of them is special, and they are all essentially horny idiots. Yet the way they interact amongst them creates a very specific chemistry that stands out without making you hate them. For example, The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi is often praised for also having characters who escape their stereotypes, yet when you really think about what kind of people they are, you despise them. Haruhi is a horrible bitch and Kyon is a chauvinistic harem lead.
Yet another plus is how the show is neither preachy, nor about escapism. Staying true to the vision of the once all mighty Gainax, it is not trying to shove a message down your throat. Although superficially it’s about growing up and taking responsibilities, it’s also showing you how adults can be pretty immature as well. And the solution to all this mess is not getting a broken superpower, running away to some videogame fairyland, or becoming the chosen one of the prophecy who is destined to save the universe with his complete lack of personality.
Fooly Cooly is funny without overstaying its welcome. It’s full of action and the characters treat everything as important. It deals with problems everyone is facing while growing up, without spending too much time on couch philosophies. And it’s still not everyone’s cup of tea, since the plot is all over the place and the sex jokes can become annoying, regardless of being thematically relevant.
Ok. David Lynch. Great director, often deals in surrealism. Dude is accomplished, and helped popularize that whole surrealist style.
FLCL. An abortion of an anime aiming to be surreal and out-there but ends up falling into the territory of obtuse and "lol SO RANDUM XD".
Seriously, no part of this makes sense. I'd talk about the plot, but there is none! Non-linear story structures are cool, I often enjoy them, but there needs to be some kind of story. Something has to happen. And no, random monster fights aren't an actual plot point. Sorry.
Then we have the characters. Generic audience insertion autistic school-boy and "I'M QUIRKY!" alien girl. And a robot. Wowww robust cast, no? And not only do they start out bland as all hell, but they outright refuse to evolve. Character development? Fuck that noise.
Oh oh, then the voice acting! Teach a sloth English and you'll have the male VA, and teach a fifth grade girl naughty words and you'll have the female VA. So good! ...
Even if it was just random fighting, that might be good to watch, you know, for the visuals. But no, this show is caught between the horrible anime animation of the 1980s and the slightly better terrible animation of today. It's just no man, no.
This is basically an animation of the imagination games my friends and I would play in first grade.
"Now I'm a robot! PEWPEWPEW I got you!" I would scream, "shooting" my friend with a mock gun formed in my band. "Nooo I put up a shield" he would shout back, his arms held akimbo, simulating a force field.