Last Level Press

Anime Review: FLCL

Reviewer: Olen Bjorgo

This is a show that is near to my heart. Not because it’s good, not because it’s bizarre, and not because it has an interesting way of presenting its story, but because I was an impressionable young thirteen year old who was inspired by this show, and it has probably made me into the man I am today… so yeah, that’s pretty messed up. Why? Because nothing ever happens in Mabase; everything is ordinary. Y’know, except for that one time.

Pictured: That one time.

FLCL (Fooly Cooly), is a six episode original video animation produced by Gainax revolving around the exploits of the level-headed, nonchalant, 12 year-old Naota Nandaba and the period of his life that started when he was run over by a strange pink haired woman riding a Vespa and wielding a guitar. And then robots came out of his head, he met some government agents, he learns more about himself and love, all kinds of crazy crap happens.

One thing that should be noted about FLCL is that it’s a visual mosaic of different styles ranging from the subdued to South Park to the surreal: to say that the series is experimental is not far off the mark. However, the show is a surreal comedy, and remembers that it is, sometimes reminding you by breaking the fourth wall just in case you forgot, so don’t let the term “experimental” make you think of some pretentious art-house film with limited screenings in major cities. While there is a large focus on traditional animation, there are moments of digital animation that, unfortunately, hasn’t aged too terribly well in the past decade. In spite of this, the series is amazing to look at and can be appreciated on an aesthetic level.

Last Level Press can neither confirm nor deny that acid was involved

in either the conception or reception of FLCL’s imagery.

Audio-wise, the series sounds great. The music for the series is essentially nothing but music from a Japanese rock band called The Pillows, arguably the most notable thing they’re known for outside their homeland, and there isn’t any great need to know the language to understand its use in the series. Among my personal favorites are the tracks “Crazy Sunshine” and the ending theme “Ride on Shooting Star,” though I do have a soft spot for “I Think I Can” which is played in the last episode. The use of a single band for the entire series helps to set an overall theme for the series, one that is useful in the overall narrative.

“But I’ve heard there is no story!” you might be saying. If not, you’re probably now thinking ‘Wait, people say there’s no story? But you just said there was!’ Truth be told, it’s not a narrative you get on your first watch of the show, and it’s not so much a story as it is an overarching theme in a plot. Now I know you’re confused, so I’ll try to fix that.  FLCL is, at its heart, a story about a young boy who is on the onset of puberty and will start to transition from being a child to an adult; it’s a story about growing up and how that can be a difficult and confusing time. He sees all the adults in his life as foolish and immature, who don’t act their age when he tries to emulate what he believes an adult is, despite his childish tendencies such as not liking sour drinks or spicy food. In all its comedic and surreal nature, there is a simple story of dealing with adolescence in modern society. Does that sound a bit pretentious? It does, but it is executed in such a way that you don’t really see these things overtly. In a show that has only a scant number of slow moments the most of what you see are comedic scenes and visual metaphors. There is never a dull moment, never a blah moment, and never a phony moment.

Because really, you just can’t fake crazy like this.

After listening to the blooper reels, I feel I really do have to tip my hat to the cast who performed this. Naota is voiced by Barbara Goodson (Wolf’s Rain, Fraggle Rock, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) and boy is it hard to imagine anyone else for this role. Goodson was more than capable of bringing the wide range needed for Naota, a character who if he wasn’t calm and monotonous he’s yelling, screaming, freaking out, or complaining. Haruko, voiced by Kari Wahlgren (Tales of Symphonia, Gravity Falls, IGPX), could have been a risky move since it was her debut role, but her high-pitched, fast-paced energy that contrasts the more subtle and sinister moments that she brought to the performance does the character justice. A real strength of the series is that nobody, even in the supporting cast, brought a bad performance to the recording studio. The most that could be said against the cast would be that the pronunciations of some names sound a bit strange.

FLCL is one of those shows that remains fun to watch even after all these years. It’s strange, it’s surreal, it’s funny, and it’s even a bit tender at times. If you’re a budding fan of anime, this would be one of my top five recommendations for you to watch because this would be the very show that would come to mind if someone asked you to describe what an anime is: craziness with strange hair and odd characters. However, this might not be the sort of show you would want to get people interested in anime unless they specifically want something like this. And with the whole series complete in under three hours, you could watch this in a single afternoon or as a get-together with friends.

Rating: 8.4

Visuals: 7
Audio: 8
Narrative: 9
Acting: 9
Atmosphere & Experience: 9

  Director: Kazuya Tsurumaki

  Producer: Hiroki Sato, Nishizawa                    Masatomo

  Studio: Gainax

  Release Date (N.A.): Sep 3, 2002

  Release Date (JP): Apr 26, 2000

Final Verdict:


Share this page:

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Google Bookmarks
Share on Reddit
Share on Stumble Upon
Share on LiveJournal
Share on Digg
Share via e-mail

Last Level Press © Copyright Cliff Davenport  Est. 2013.   | Legal Notices

comments powered by Disqus