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...
StoryFirst 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 â€“ 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 â€“ for what it was trying to be â€“ but still a bit heavy on the abstractness if you aren’t in the mood for it. AnimationThis 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"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. CharactersThe 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.OverallI 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.
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 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..." Sound 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. 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. Story 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. Conclusion 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. Story: 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. Animation: 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. Sound: 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. Characters: 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. Enjoyment: 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. Overall: One of the greatest pieces of animation ever. Brace yourself for the insanity and wonder that is FLCL. Watch it now.
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