In 2001, three of the mega-power creators in Anime joined forces to create one of the most ground-breaking series since… well, since their other series. Combining influences from Japanese and American pop-culture and zeitgeist, “FLCL” (also called “Fooly-Cooly”) was something that viewers had never seen before, and blew their minds clear out of the water.
Funimation released a brand new version of this landmark series as part of their “Anime Classics” line, but is it worth the money, or should you skip this DVD like the plague? Let’s find out!
The official series synopsis from Funimation describes the show like this:
Naota is a detached sixth-grader afflicted by the pangs of puberty. He’s fooling around with his brother’s ex-girlfriend when a crazed girl on a motor scooter runs him over, brains him with a bass guitar, and moves into his house. This pink-haired girl, Haruko – who claims she’s an alien – hurls Naota into the middle of a mega-corporation’s secret agenda. Oh, and now giant battling robots shoot from his skull. Mix in mind-bending animation and tunes that echo through your cerebellum to top off the trip that will have you falling hard for FLCL.
I could not have done it better, but the meat of the show lies deeper than the obvious storyline. Much like “Neon Genesis Evangelion”, the plot itself is merely a catalyst to the development of the characters in the show. The meta-world they live in is what makes the show stand out amongst other animes that would take a much more direct take on the emotional output of the protagonists. Even the episodes that do not focus on the main characters of the show move the story along, and develop the mindsets of this young cast.
This one-disc DVD contains all six episodes of the show: 1. Fooly Cooly, 2. Fire Starter, 3. Marquis de Carabas, 4. Full Swing, 5. Brittle Ballet, and the series finale, episode 6. FLCLimax. Each episode is dubbed and subtitled, and FLCL is one of those series where I prefer the dub since the acting is just so good. On top of the series, this new version of the DVD includes about 10 minutes of outtakes with those voice-over actors, several music videos with the familiar songs you heard in the series, commentaries by the directors, and the famous closing credits of the show without text blocking your view of the awesomeness.
While there are some noticeable changes from the manga to the anime, this stylish show mixes mind-bending animation with a rocking soundtrack that will make you think like no other series. After reading the manga, I had a better grasp of what the show was about, which is the thin veil between reality and the world of dreams. This helps to explain a lot of the bizarre visuals and references you see through the show, but the anime took a unique spin on the manga and created deeper stories with their lead characters, adding much more depth and intrigue to them all.
It’s hard to discuss FLCL without giving away spoilers, and more so to simply describe what happens in the show since it’s an experience unto itself. The special features on the DVD are all very exciting. While I wish there were behind-the-scenes features documenting the animation and creation process, i Know that is wishful thinking since this was a series that was essentially created over a decade ago. However, the director commentaries are enlightening, and also as humorous and inane as the show itself. For example, the first episode’s commentary spends about five minutes discussing the rationale for why certain characters are left-handed, and why that is important to the show, as well as why southpaws are so much “cooler” than righties.
Fans of the music in the show will love this DVD, since it includes all your favorite tunes in full-length combined with snippets of the show. The songs are also subtitled so you can finally figure out what “The Pillows” were singing about with their thick Japanese accents, although after hearing some of the lyrics, I rather enjoyed not knowing what they were saying (“Revengeful lobster” and “grungy hamster”?).
Overall, the special features truly make this DVD stand out from the previous FLCL release and complete the experience, since that is what FLCL is – an experience. You can not just watch it once, it’s a series that you will love to view again and again, to either enjoy the animation, try to flesh out the story deeper, or just rock out to the music. FLCL has the total package, and was an important stage in the development of the studios involved in creating it. If you have never seen it, this is a must buy, and if you have, it’s time to watch it again in a new way.
You can buy FLCL: The Complete Series on Amazon for $21.99 new, and it is completely worth it (especially considering I used to pay double that for half of the series on VHS when it first came out).