FLCL

FLCL

FLCL anime OVA series cover art featuring Haruko Haruhara
FLCL Cover Art

Overview

FLCL, or Fooly Cooly, is a 6-episode OVA series which follows the misadventures of a middle schooler by the name of Naota Nandaba. However, these misadventures aren’t by his own design. Instead, everything about his life turned upside down when he met a strange woman named Haruko Haruhara.

While there is a plot that ties together the various episodes, I almost feel like the word “plot” is a bit too strong. There’s a story being told across this series, but it’s so random that it almost doesn’t matter.

Basically, what happens every episode is that Naota gets hit in the head by Haruko’s guitar, and then some sort of mecha grows out of it. This mecha then fights against other, evil mecha that appear for various reasons in each episode.

But, the contents of each episode are so out there that they barely have to do with one another. Sometimes the characters are playing baseball, other times they’re being replaced by robots and shoved in closets, and at times they’re even being worshiped as angels.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that this is a super robot anime disguised as a train wreck. And, that’s kind of what people seem to like about this series. I’ll discuss that further in a later section, but for now all you need to know is that I don’t exactly agree with that sentiment.

This series is in a strange place at which it sometimes tries to tackle difficult topics and themes, but then also goes completely off the rails in the very next scene. I think I would have preferred if it chose one or the other, because the swapping between the two essentially killed my enjoyment of both.

Characters

Despite what you might think after seeing any promotional art for this series, Haruko isn’t the protagonist, Naota is. This fact in and of itself is already something I think hurt the series in some ways considering he’s probably the blandest character out of them all.

Despite crazy things constantly happening in his life and in his city as a whole, Naota often mentions how nothing of any significance ever happens. This reminded me a lot of Space Patrol Luluco, and FLCL most likely served as a partial influence for that series considering Trigger and Gainax’s history.

Haruko, on the other hand, is a much more entertaining character simply because she’s the one who brings all the chaos into the series. She’s an alien who’s plotting to take down the Earth government or something and is being chased by the Department of Interstellar Immigration.

She rides a yellow Vespa, wields a guitar as a weapon, and is a generally terrible person, all things considered. She uses people who are usable, and discards those who aren’t.

Haruko Haruhara from the anime OVA series FLCL
Haruko Haruhara

But, while Haruko might be the most entertaining character in the series, Mamimi Samejima is probably my favorite. She’s a high school girl who used to date Naota’s older brother before he moved to the United States to pursue his baseball career.

Now that he’s gone, Mamimi fills the void in her heart by flirting with Naota as a replacement for his brother. She’s also considered a delinquent, especially by Naota’s grandfather, because she frequently skips school and smokes cigarettes.

However, she’s also the character with the most depth. She seems to struggle with depression, bullying, and occasionally, psychotic breakdowns. But, even so, she still takes time to take care of Naota and acts as a pseudo-older sister to him.

Defense

So, I’ve seen and heard the same argument multiple times in defense of FLCL and how good it is. This argument is that it’s okay for the series to not make sense, because it’s just supposed to be fun. Therefore, you just need to enjoy it and not worry too much about understanding things.

While I can see where these people are coming from, I still don’t agree. That argument seems more suited for something so bad it’s good, like Garzey’s Wing, or one of the many ecchi series which basically serve as cheap, mindless entertainment.

However, FLCL isn’t like those kinds of series. It actually has a story involving complex themes about life which it sometimes tries to tell. So, I almost feel that telling people not to worry about the plot and just to enjoy the craziness is doing a disservice to the series.

But, at the same time I also don’t think this anime is as good as those people who defend it in this way believe it is. Even if you want to say that this series is purely about enjoyment, it’s still vastly outclassed by other series in the pure enjoyment department.

I’d argue that Gurren Lagann, a series by the same studio which came out 8 years later, does a much better job at telling a story that can be viewed for “pure enjoyment.” I’m not saying that Gurren Lagann doesn’t have a story to tell, but it tells its story without disrupting the flow of enjoyable scenes, characters, dialogue, etc.

Basically, this series has a surprising amount of depth to it which will likely require multiple watches to fully break down. However, it’s not a good enough series to make me want to rewatch it, so it’s stuck in a strange place.

Conclusion

As for my rating, I gave it a 6/10. It’s above average, but not so good that I would really ever want to watch it again. And, with that said, I don’t see myself ever watching the Alternative or Progressive seasons (unless you want to force me to by signing up for the Heika tier at Patreon.com/DoubleSama).

I’ve heard, even from people who love FLCL, that those seasons aren’t as good as the original. So, if even the die-hard fans don’t think those seasons are all that great, I don’t see myself enjoying them enough to put in the time of watching them. After all, I have a lot of other bad anime to watch already.

Oh, and people really love the music in this series. I don’t think it was anything particularly special, but I guess that just comes down to personal preference. I will say that I really enjoyed the ED song though, along with the accompanying stop motion animation.

If you enjoyed this review, remember to click the like button ❤ down below. And, go give me a follow over on Twitter @DoubleSama so you don’t miss out on any of my future content or updates regarding the schedule.

And, finally, I’d like to thank HeavyROMAN for supporting DoubleSama.com at the Heika tier this month!

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