By Niccolo Mejia ‘16 / Emertainment Monthly Contributor
You probably vaguely remember FLCL from waking up in the middle of the night while Adult Swim was playing. Just as you step on an incredibly sharp lego on your way to the bathroom, you see some kid getting hit in the face with a bass guitar. But now, sixteen years later, a sequel has been announced!
Mixing new characters with old ones, giving more information about the setting, and introducing a new entity called “Fraternity,” the sequel to FLCL is bound to be an amazing ride for new and old fans. Fraternity apparently stands in opposition to the ominous Medical Mechanica of the original series, though its motivations are unclear. A new, female protagonist colors our perspective on the world of FLCL now, though not much is known about her.
As it turns out, that wacky, racy anime didn’t even make it to air in Japan. Released as an original video animation (OVA), FLCL was not expected to receive the following it did in the west. But is it worth going back and finishing now that the new show is coming out? We say yes. Here’s why.
1: It comes from GAINAX, an eccentric, “fanboy” studio that brought you many anime classics.
GAINAX got its start as a group of student animators who were asked to create the opening animation for a sci fi convention. They even got to show their work to the grandfather of manga, Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy, Princess Knight), and stuck together as a company afterwards. Their most popular works include Neon Genesis Evangelion, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, and Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt. Their lesser known, but still great series are Kare Kano, Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, and Medaka Box.
2: It is directed by Kazuya Tsurumaki, the right hand man to the creator of Evangelion.
Tsurumaki is currently working with Hideaki Anno on the movie reboots of the classic Evangelion, and was even able to take creative control over one of the new characters. It should be noted that Tsurumaki was also the assistant director for the original Evangelion. From these facts alone, it should be easy enough to see how Tsurumaki gained the title of Anno’s protege. Though the project is with Studio Khara, Anno’s offshoot studio from GAINAX, it still has that bombastic GAINAX feel.
3: It features music by The Pillows.
This alternative rock band has been active since 1989. They have almost twenty studio albums, and at the turn of the millennium, they gained a western following thanks to FLCL. Though it might feel like all the music was written specifically for the show, all of The Pillows’ songs that appear were recorded years prior. FLCL has no opening theme, so the repeated anthem, “Little Busters,” is one of the songs most commonly associated with the series. The ending theme, “Ride on Shooting Star,” is probably the most recognizable.
4: Only 6 episodes!
The story is completed within a timespan closer to that of a movie than a full series. The pacing is closer to that of a tv series, but without the time to focus on a scene for too long, the series can run together in your memory. It’s a show you can watch all in one night, and feel satisfied that you didn’t stay up until sunrise just to finish it.
5: It’s character driven.
The characters are what matter in FLCL. A typical criticism of the show is that the audience doesn’t know what’s going on. While this may be true on some levels, including a certain character’s backstory, the show goes out of its way to present you with the information that matters to the heart of the story. Trust us, if you watch FLCL the first time looking to learn more about the people, you’ll have a better time watching it again to figure out the whole universe.
Much of the series includes constant symbolisms being thrown at the audience. Some show up in the first episode and never leave, and others serve their purpose entirely in one episode. Weaving through these and compositing them with the plot is key to understanding FLCL. And even when you can get what the show is about without this analysis, engaging yourself in figuring out what something means can go a long way. Every time you watch this series, you will see something you haven’t seen before, or pick up on a cue that you hadn’t noticed until then.
It warms us inside to know that this sequel coming out about eighteen years after its original run. The short coming of age story born at the turn of the millennium now being shown as a fully grown series. Not unlike the advent of Toy Story 3, FLCL seasons 2 and 3 will hopefully live up to the original and include new ways to leave any viewer moved.