January 30th, 2008


FLCL? More Like Woolly Bully!

I had come across the name FLCL before in casual searches, but I didn't have a real desire to watch it until I learned that it was listed as an influence for my beloved Avatar. Then, following a posting of this awesome FLCL/Eva "Under Pressure"/"Ice, Ice, Baby" mash-up vid, duchessdogberry remarked that FLCL was her favorite anime. And, well, I knew she had good taste. I became even more excited to see it after unseenlibrarian made this comment:
Of course, all the complaints about the ending (And EoE) being incomprehensible...resulted in the creators going 'Oh yeah? We'll show -you- incomprehensible and weird!'

And then making FLCL.

It's hilarious.

FLCL is pronounced "Fooly Cooly," which in Japanese comes out to "Furi Kuri," which duchessdogberry informs me is slang for masturbation. Which is wholly appropriate for this show, since it's kind of about the sexual awakening of a twelve-year-old boy, among other things. It's a coming-of-age story, with robots! Really, though, there's an obvious running theme about the way a growing child sees adulthood and adults in general. There are metaphors and symbolism and all that, somewhere. But that's not really the selling point.

The major strength and weakness is that the show oozes style. It constantly changes its visual style throughout the episode such that it's sometimes hard to recognize the character designs when they get shifted. It's hyperkinetic as shit; there are a couple parts where it randomly turns into a manga. And one scene that's done like South Park for no apparent reason. They break the fourth wall for the hell of it a few times. In much the same way Eva didn't pin itself down with a specific episode format, FLCL doesn't pin itself down with a specific visual style, so it's free to do whatever the hell it wants. Personally, I really liked the normal art style, so I didn't like when they got into the wacky stuff and the drawing looked lazy. Plus, the girls weren't as cute that way.

Another strength/weakness is the references to various other anime, of which I only got a couple. Of course, there were many other pop-culture references I did get, like a very amusing 360° bullet-time sequence à la The Matrix. There were also a lot of puns that clearly didn't translate into English, but if you know Japanese, the show is probably even funnier!

Probably the best part of the show is the awesome soundtrack by Japanese rock band The Pillows. Just listen to "Ride on Shooting Star," the closing credits theme. There are some nice repeated themes used throughout the show, including some really rockin' battle songs.

The first half of the series is good fun, but in the fourth episode, the plot finally emerges, which is good. Everything doesn't end up making large amounts of sense, but it makes enough sense, and the show is so entertaining and funny (there's a joke about spicy curry that took me a moment to get but then cracked my shit up), I didn't really care. It's like the anti-Eva, in a way; because it's a comedy, it can get away with being slightly blasé about things. It never tries to make you feel any sort of tension. It also never tries to make you care about the characters that much; there's very little in the way of character development, even though there are some potentially interesting characters. It's more interested in the hilarity of a baseball-playing robot.

FLCL is only SIX EPISODES, for crying out loud. You can finish it in under three hours. It's on ten different kinds of crack, but it's the fun kind of crack. And isn't that the best kind?