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Torkuitsu's In Depth Reviews: FLCL
First off let me say, I am heavy into anime. These reviews are going to pretty in depth, or as far in depth as I can go until I start majorly spoiling. That being said, I will make my best attempts at keeping them minor or absent all together.
Do you consider yourself a connoisseur of anime? The classics are great, and the new stuff is impressive- but rarely more than eye candy or "coolness" factor. Stray from the beaten path of obvious plot. Challenge yourself: Visit an art museum. Go to a poetry reading. Experience something without understanding it, then explore it till you do. Watch FLCL.
The first episode I watched, I was entranced. What is this? What on earth am I watching, why is it so beautiful? It felt like experiencing the depths of love for the first time. It's playfully innocent, questionably deep, and sexual in the most curious way. You want to be there, you don't want it to end. You want to show your friends, have them see the beauty- but like art, not everyone has the time or the intention to understand. Like Naota says, Nothing out of the ordinary happens. I think some people choose to think that way. To those who are willing to step beyond the bounds of commonality, prepare to experience something beautiful.
The first thing most viewers will notice about FLCL is itís borderline-insane pacing. Itís almost constant action, sudden meaningful silence, and then more action with a rock soundtrack spurring it all on. Naotaís personal issues are always front and center. From his struggles with his brotherís former girlfriend Mamimi to his clashes with the mysterious Haruko and his immature father, these problems are compounded by the fact he has evil robots emerge from his forehead at inopportune times. Yes, you read that right
Itís a crazy mish-mash of genres that on paper would seem impossible to pull off. Itís a small miracle this story got past the boardroom at Gainax but they should be credited for giving this oddball concept a chance. But this is where FLCL shines, itís brash sense of certainty as it throws such a ridiculous plot at the viewer is refreshing. The show is just effortless cool that is unashamedly designed with the otaku crowd in mind. Most of the humor works on several levels, from the physical gags to the allusions to other anime viewers from a variety of backgrounds can come away with a different reason for enjoying each episode.
FLCLís eclectic mix of characters was what really brought the show to life. Their bizarre idiosyncrasies, tidbits of humor, and all-around wackiness were what brought the show to life. The one (minor) problem I had was the apparent lack of development. You see them as these funny and strange characters, but aside from that, the show doesnít really take them onto the next level except for the odd scene or conversation where we see sporadic glimpses into their persona. It is like seeing a trailer for the summerís biggest blockbuster, but not the main feature. I suppose if the show was perhaps an expanded 12-13 episodes instead of its 6, then this exposition would have happened. Unfortunately this wasnít the case. Aside from this little nitpick, they were fantastic.
Sometimes vulgar and at times crudely drawn, the art of FLCL is one thing that makes this anime truly unique. Edgy and brightly colored, the art seems to epitomize avant-garde stylishness. Though a statement by itself, the visually engaging art is supplemented by a truly amazing soundtrack. Given the ultra modern edge of FLCL, the rock music by The Pillows was an absolutely perfect match for this the visuals in this anime.
FLCL is a comment on the current state of the world, how we are affected by the images we see and the environments we are raised in, how things are moving at a constantly faster and faster pace, and how a lonely human can find comfort in it all. It's also an excellent example of how Western Pop culture is influencing Japan. And if the anime doesn't make any sense to you, well, that's because the world doesn't make much sense right now.
It's hard to explain exactly why, it works. It entertains me. At times, it makes me laugh; at times, it makes me a little misty-eyed; at times, it makes me want to scream and howl and light things on fire and break windows with baseball bats and yes, maybe even buy a Vespa. That's the kind of success that you just can't argue with.
In conclusion FLCL is a show that cannot be categorized. I realize thatís a bit clichť but in this case itís really the only way to describe it. The fact itís unlike anything else and flaunts it at every opportunity is very charming.
It throws the audience through its tale at 200mph and never lets up for a second daring you to blink, for most shows this would be a crippling flaw but for FLCL itís one of the main reasons it succeeds. The unabashed style FLCL has in spades carries this show well beyond what most anime accomplish. While it may not be everyoneís cup of tea those that give it a chance will be glad they did. By all conventional standards FLCL should be a colossal failure, but it somehow pulls together seemingly contradictory elements by the sheer force of its cocksure attitude and delivers an experience like no other
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