First Impressions: FLCL

When a boy bemoans boredom,

an alien girl turns life upside down.

How fitting that just after I finish Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, I catch episode one of another odd little Gainax series. I think that the former helped prepare me a bit for the wackiness of FLCL. (The acronym stands for Furi Kuri, or Fooly Cooly in English.)

Naota's head, meet Haruko's guitar.

The episode begins with a boy named Naota sitting by a river with his friend (and brother’s girlfriend) Mamimi. She nuzzles his neck, claiming that she’ll overflow if she doesn’t, presumably because Naota’s brother is in America and Mamimi is missing him. The pair walk up to the bridge above, when suddenly a pink-haired girl on a Vespa appears and runs over Naota. He seems unconscious, but the girl manages to revive him with CPR. As soon as Naota is on his feet again, the pink-haired girl grabs her guitar and smacks him upside the head. When nothing comes out, she leaves. Later on Naota is pushing at the spot on his forehead where she smacked him. A strange shape has begun to emerge from his skull, but he can keep it down if he puts a bandage on the spot.

That just looks... wrong.

The next day Naota hears rumors about the pink-haired girl at school, then decides to go to the hospital to have the spot on his head examined. Instead of a doctor, the pink-haired girl is waiting. Naota escapes and runs home only to find that she’s eating dinner with his father and grandpa. Her name is Haruko, and she’s been hired as a housekeeper by his family. Later on Haruko says that she’s an alien and insists on sleeping in Naota’s bed, so he goes downstairs and learns that Mamimi was just at his house buying day-old bread from their bakery. Naota runs outside and finds her smoking on a bridge. There’s some drama when Mamimi learns that Naoto’s brother has a new girlfriend in America, then a robot and a giant robotic arm emerge from Naota’s head. There’s a battle, Haruko shows up, and the robot arm is defeated. Flash forward to the next day, and Naoto is talking once again about how nothing ever happens. We see the robot from his head kneading dough in the bakery with Haruko, and Naota and Mamimi hang out by the river.

There's mecha? Annnnd I'm out.

This episode was interesting, if odd. The art was very comic book-esque, and reminded me somewhat of Tank Girl. In fact, the dinner scene at Naota’s home is shown through black-and-white comic book panels. It worked well with the madcap feel of the story. As for sound, I liked the English vocal cast, and all of the voices seemed to work well with the characters, though I found the music to be unmemorable save for the ending song played over the credits. I’m not really sure where the story will go after this. The first episode of FLCL felt very complete to me, as though it were a short film instead of a series. Sure, there are many questions left unanswered, but that just adds to the quirkiness. Overall, I’m not itching to watch episode two, but that’s just because I’m not into a lot of mecha. But it was a fun twenty-four minutes and forty-two seconds, and if I get the chance to watch the next episode at some point, I just might.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. LLJ
    Jan 28, 2012 @ 16:57:00

    Yeah…FLCL was arguably the anime that officially kicked off Gainax’s “Post-Evangelion” era. It display a considerably higher budget that many of their previous works. It’s real popular with Gainax fans, but I’m kind of just lukewarm on it personally. I respect its stylishness and artwork, but I feel like it doesn’t have much to say. While it has that sort wackyness that fans associate with Gainax, it’s really your typical “boy coming of age” story, something we see all the time in anime.

    I guess that’s kind of my problem with a lot of Post-Eva Gainax. When it boils down to it, they’ve been making almost nothing but mecha and boy’s adventure series and/or your typical fan-service cash-ins, like Mahoromatic. Now, I’m a guy, so I can dig these stuff, but a part of me feels like fans sort of overrate them a bit, especially today.

    If you’re interested in non-boycentric Gainax anime, maybe you might try His and Her Circumstances someday, their only “official” shoujo that I can recall offhand. It’s not a perfect show, being that it sort of runs out of funding in the 2nd half of the series (this was made immediately after Evangelion, so they didn’t have the funds yet from Evangelion to funnel towards it), but it’s smart and it’s honest and definitely worth a try, especially for the first 12 or so episodes.

    Reply

    • Miss Pink
      Jan 28, 2012 @ 17:04:05

      Ahhh, Gainax did Mahoromatic! That explains a lot. I’m definitely seeing the “boy coming of age” trend in this company. I don’t mind those kinds of stories, but I can only handle so much, especially when they get formulaic.

      I’ll look for His and Her Circumstances, thanks. I’ll give pretty much any shoujo a shot. (And lots of shoujo can be formulaic too, but I don’t mind if it’s done well. What can I say, I’m a sucker for tomboys and bishonen who sparkle.) 😉

      Reply

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