Reviewby Christopher Macdonald, Oct 2nd 2002
Nothing exciting ever happens in 12 year old Naotas life. There's an alien girl living in his house that seems to be trying to kill him... with her bass guitar; giant robots are growing from his forehead and his brother's ex-girfriend is trying to make out with him.
Okay, maybe things are starting to get a bit interesting.
FLCL, Furi Curi, Fooli Cooli, Fulrlry Culrlry… Whatever you call it, it's a downright hilarious, and very weird show.
Despite all the hijinx, there's a very real story in FLCL, with real emotional content to boot. In essence, the gut of FLCL is a very serious sci-fi drama. That Sci-fi drama has then been twisted around like a wet towel and served on a plate covered with a chocolate sprinkling of craziness. Comedy, craziness, and action seem to have been randomly tossed in with the sci-fi-drama story. In reality, however, FLCL is a very carefully structured show that pulls off all of the above very well… or at least the first two episodes pull it all off; we'll just have to anxiously wait and see about the rest…
Other producers have tried to throw so much into shows before, but rarely have they succeeded. What is most impressive about this anime is that while the craziness is what hits you first, the serious plot underneath it all gives FLCL the emotional weight which most “crazy” shows never have. The result is great accomplishment on the part of Gainax.
Due to the show's eccentric pace and content, and very much by design, it takes a while to actually understand what's going on in the show. If you're quick to catch on, you might have a general feel for the story by the second episode, but other viewers may be left scratching their heads for longer than that. Nonetheless, people who needed four or more episodes to understand the story have still said that they enjoyed it.
There are a couple Japanese studios renowned for excellence in animation. Among the most notable are Ghibli, Gainax, I.G and Madhouse, so it's no surprise that FLCL, which was co-animated by Production IG and Gainax, is visually superb. Not only is the art detailed, colorful and attractive, but the fluid, crisp animation has some interesting enhancements. They do some very cool things with experimental animation and manage to pull it off much better than some other recent shows that we have been subjected to.
FLCL is definitely a show that would have benefited from and made full use of a 5.1 (or 6.1) soundtrack, unfortunately, none is included on the DVD. Synch-Point can't actually be blamed for this though, as there was no 5.1 soundtrack on the Japanese DVD either, which is a pity. Otherwise, the soundtrack is amazing. Music, sound effects, and vocals all come through to create a really top rate production, both on the Japanese original and on the English translation. This is a show that you can really listen to and enjoy.
One of the biggest weaknesses in Synch-Point's DVD release of FLCL is the fact that there are only two half-hour episodes per DVD. At just under $30 per DVD, that's not a lot of bang for your buck in terms of running time. But still, in spite of the short running time (many DVDs with comparable price tags run 90-120 minutes), FLCL is such a great show that it might just be worth your money.
Extras on the DVD are pretty decent. We get the original Japanese commentary track (but not the BGM only track), outtakes from the English dubbing, and a picture gallery that features some very nice, original promotional pictures (as opposed to screen shots)… unfortunately there are only 6 of them and they can't be accessed by DVD-ROM.
All in all this is a great show and every anime fan should check it out; clearly some people will either find it too crazy or too hard to follow, but many, many other anime fans will love this show.
Overall (dub) : A
Overall (sub) : A
Story : A
Animation : A-
Art : B+
Music : A
+ Great music, animation and art; crazy and funny, but most of all, a good story
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