Series: FLCL/Fooly Cooly
Genre: Comedy, action, mecha
Summary: Naota is a normal Japanese 6th grade boy (although a little cynical), but when his older brother leaves for America to play baseball, his brother leaves his homeless 17 year old girlfriend Mamimi behind. Mamimi is sending mixed signals and advances to Naota, and he doesn't know what to do about her. But to make matters worse, Naota's world is totally turned upside down when he is run over by a woman on a Vespa. During their first encounter, she hits him over the head with her bass guitar, which then causes a horn to grow out of his forehead. She calls herself "Haruko" and her presence changes Naota's life to even further insanity.
A dear friend of mine recommended FLCL to me, which surprised me since he doesn't really watch anime. FLCL had a famous reputation on the internet for being excruciatingly different, and as the populous says, FLCL was definitely a different type of anime. If anything, it's about as close as a piece of literature as anime will ever get. At first glance, FLCL seems like a fast-paced, random mecha anime that most people don't understand, but looking at it closely, it's absolutely brilliant.
FLCL focuses around Naota, a 12 year old who is obsessed with becoming mature, and his journey into adulthood. His only idol is his older brother, who moved away for sports. When Haruko enters his life, his world begins to advance and change in ways unexpected. Symbolism and metaphors plays a key factor throughout the whole anime. At the core, FLCL is a coming-of-age anime, despite the fast-paced rhythm and mecha robots. Mamimi represents Naota's childhood, Haruko represents his adulthood, and all of the uptight, out of control commotion ultimately represents the turmoil and craziness of the events that are usually associated with puberty. The anime also shows plenty of sexual themes, but it's actually normal considering sexual curiosity is a large part of going through puberty. The way that FLCL tells Naota's story is so unique and different is what attracted me to it so much. Most people can't keep up due to its fast pace, but watching two or three times will really show how brilliant FLCL is. It definitely was not a waste of time for me, especially since the show is only six episodes long.
There are three characters that play the most importance in FLCL: Naota, Haruko, and Mamimi. Naota shined the most to me. In the first episode, he was portrayed as insecure and unsure of himself. By the sixth episode, he became more heroic, confident, and brave. It has definitely shown throughout the course of the anime how much development Naota went through. His experience of growing into adulthood is one that all of us can relate to, making him more likable. Haruko, possibly an alien, comes to Earth in search of Atomsk, an astronomical Pirate King. She serves as the catalyst for Naota's journey through puberty, sexually and emotionally. As exciting and involved Haruko is, inside she's truly a selfish person. The only she reason she stays with Naota is because he can deliver Atomsk to her. Mamimi is the third main character of FLCL. Mamimi is a pyromaniac, sexually frustrated, and depressed because of the loss of her only companion, Naota's older brother. She unleashes all of her troubles on Naota, which creates a discrepancy mix of emotions between them. She represents Naota's childhood and ends up become unattached from him once he gains independence through Haruko. In the end, only Naota out of the three showed any true development, but they were still a joy to analyze and watch.
The sound of FLCL is absolutely wonderful. The entire OST is by the alternative J-rock band, The Pillows. This is a huge change between usual OSTs in anime, and it was a refreshing one as well. Each song by The Pillows perfectly fits each scene that its played in and brings out the emotion and drama of the anime. It enhanced the experience greatly and is a large reason why I adore FLCL so much.
FLCL was produced in the early 2000s. Taking that into consideration, FLCL's animation is absolutely beautiful. However, it can be noticed it changes from clear and fluid to rushed and less anatomical. This could be seen as shoddy workmanship on the animator's behalf, but this was actually on purpose. It's to further show a change in Naota's behavior. Nonetheless, FLCL's animation is unarguably stunning and makes the show even more easier to watch.
FLCL is definitely an anime that has stood out to me from so many others. It's style of story telling, sound, and animation ties it all together to create a spectacular milestone in anime history. Beyond its fast pace and mecha-mask, FLCL's coming of age tale has pleased me. I recommend it greatly for anyone to watch, even two or three times over.