Sunday, April 29, 2012

Fooly Cooly (FLCL) Anime Review

Fooly Cooly (FLCL)
Furi Kuri
Complete Collection - 1 disc
150 mins. - 6 episodes
$39.98 (2011)
$44.98 (2011) Blu-Ray
$69.95 (2007) Ultimate Edition
ISBN 704400052415
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Kazuya Tsurumaki
Studio - Gainax/Production I.G

Synopsis: Naota has always been in his older brother's shadow, but now his older brother has left to play baseball in America and Naota just feels lost.  He hangs out with Mamimi, his older brother's ex-girlfriend who smokes and constantly ditches school.  She got dumped, left behind, and is in worse shape than Naota.  They live in a depressing town with a huge factory shaped like a giant iron (like for ironing clothes) owned by Medical Mechanica.  Every day at the same time a huge cloud of steam is released from the factory covering the town in a hazy glow.
Beware crazy pink-haired girls riding Vespas!
The two are walking home one day when Naota is run over by a crazy pink-haired girl riding a Vespa scooter. She stops to hit him in the head with her electric guitar.  Miraculously he survives, but now has a big oddly-shaped lump sticking out of his head.  The crazy girl says her name is Haruko Haruhara and becomes the live-in housekeeper at Naota's house.  She is obsessed with the lump on his head and naturally his dad bunks her in Naota's room (on the top bunk).
Haruko brains poor unsuspecting Naota with her guitar
Weird things start to happen.  A full-on robot battle erupts from the lump on Naota's head and Haruko is there to finish it with a choice bash from her trusty guitar.  One of the robots moves in with Naota and becomes a servant doing chores for the family.  Naota's grandfather has the robot pick up nudie mags from the drug store for him.  It gets weirder.
Then she just shows up at his house eating dinner!
More robots and some Space Pirate King erupt from Naota's head.  The earth is in danger and Haruko (if that's her real name) seems to be in the center of it all.  A special agent from the Bureau for Interstellar Immigration is hellbent on stopping her.  Naota won't admit it, but he's got a major crush on her.  How's a teenager to cope alongside all the raging hormones?
Yep, that left a mark
Pros: Creative and fun, highly imaginative and off-beat humor, literally made me laugh out loud, energetic (almost spastic at times), doesn't take itself too seriously, great music and soundtrack, very good dub, unique coming-of-age story for both Naota and Mamimi, aged well after a decade
Grandpa, two school buddies, Dad, Canti, Haruko, Naota, Ninamori, Mamimi
Cons: Bit pricey for only six episodes, blu-ray version is not perfect due to original 4:3 aspect ratio of show, random over-the-top humor aspect of this show can turn some people off as can the animation style jumps
Hanging out with Haruko = get ready for more trouble!
Mike Tells It Straight: FLCL (aka Fooly CoolyFuri Kuri [kinda love thang]) knocked me on the floor when I first watched it.  It was hilarious, had great action scenes, felt sexually deviant (like every teenager does when the topic of sex flashes across their minds), and contained some poignant moments.  Definitely not for the kiddies due to the sexual innuendo and a bit of mindless violence.
Canti can be pretty badass when he wants to be
It's a manic ride and filled with cultural/genre parody in-jokes.  May be hard to follow at times, but tied together by a simple coming-of-age story as Naota finally emerges from his brother's shadow.  The deep moments were rare and a bit out of place.  The animation style was varied with a little bit of everything thrown in and you can't beat this show for range of visual styles.
Now what is she really up to?
Gainax was responsible for Neon Genesis Evangelion which is an anime classic (it turned mecha on its ear).  I like the idea of them putting out a wacky show like FLCL to free themselves from the darkness of Evangelion.  Another Gainax nut-fest is Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi which I also enjoyed and thought was similar, but with 13 episodes the craziness made my head hurt.
Yeah, this just about sums it up
The original FLCL dvds were scarce/expensive until 2007 when they were re-released, but I was excited to see Funimation put out a new version in 2011 on one disc.  Little did I know the aspect ratio couldn't be changed (from 4:3 to widescreen 16:9 for current televisions) and the SD didn't translate as well to HD.  I don't recommend putting a premium on the blu-ray version - it's not remastered and lacks any improvements to the visuals.  Got the dvd set already?  Keep it, this new version doesn't really enhance the experience enough to justify a repurchase.
Naota gets to swing the bat
I consider FLCL to be another classic anime and well worth checking out.  If you can't take the wild tangents and jokes then it won't be for you.  Watching the show again after many years was great - I noticed a few more aspects of the plot and it made a bit more sense (plus the cool visual tricks Gainax pioneered which have shown up in shows since).  The humor was still there after all those years and it felt kinda uplifting (like after I watched Gurren Lagann).  Go for it!

TO BUY and Recommendations: