FLCL Furi Kuri (2002)

November 17, 2003 • Film, Reviews

[director Kazuya Tsurumaki]

This is simply the most crazed, unhinged animated series ever. It is filled with elements so disparate, creativity so unchecked, and such a frenzied pounding-together of fascinating thematic materials that its genius is just as obvious as its overwrought insanity. Add to that a beautiful and unique storybook look and a dynamite score by an obscure Japanese punk-rock bank, and FLCL will stay bouncing around your mind for a long time afterwards.

I will attempt to explain: Ten-year-old Naota is a kid with the weight of the world on his shoulders. His father, a former publisher, follows his dreams. Since his current dreams are to be lazy, Naota has to provide a center in their male centered house (all that remains of the family is a grandfather and Naota’s dad). Naota’s older brother has left for the United States on a baseball scholarship, and he has left his high-school-age sweetheart Mamimi “under Naota’s care.”

But only Naota knows that his brother has already abandoned Mamimi for an American girlfriend. And Mamimi, a girl so desolate as to be nearly homeless, keeps trying to get closer and closer to Naota. Naota, desperate to keep his life and those of others around him centered and sane, refuses Mamimi’s very overt advances of affection. Yet he can’t help but be drawn to Mamimi, who—while her accepting nature is the polar opposite of Naota’s righteous indignation—is an outsider like himself.

Enter Haruko, a pink-haired girl allegedly from another planet. She runs over Naota with her vespa and administrates mouth-to-mouth resucitation to bring Naota back to life.

Whereupon Haruko hauls back and smack Naota across the head with her electric guitar. Dissapointed with the results, she calls Naota a good-for-nothing and drives away on her bike.

All of this happens in only the first scene! After that, things get stranger and stranger.

The bruise on Naota’s head, brought about by Haruko’s electric guitar, sprouts into a horn. Eventually the horn swells and becomes a giant robot. But by that time, Haruko has insinuated herself into Naota’s household as a cleaning lady and started communicating with beings on another planet using Naota’s cat as a kind of open radio channel.

This all transpires within part of the first episode of this miniseries. As the series progresses, each episode deals with separate issues and adventures, all the while advancing a kind of generalized plot line that gets more and more developed with each episode. The series is thrilling and well-appointed, with clever humor and style to burn. While there are many cultural references in the show that are not accessible to a Western audience, FLCL is clearly on the cutting edge of world animation, dealing with complicated themes of responsibility in just about the most consistently surprising and enjoyable way possible.

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