Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I don’t watch much anime anymore but I still like to check out my old favorites now and again, along with whatever next big thing is floating out there. So I was pretty excited to revisit FLCL which was just released on DVD and Blu-Ray at a non exorbitant price for the first time in forever.

Just what FLCL is is difficult to verbalize if you’ve never seen it. Incomprehensible and strange don’t quite do it. About as easy to summarize as any given stretch of Inland Empire and assaultive come somewhat closer. And if you’re one of those people who have absolutely no affinity for anime I can imagine FLCL easily being one of the most intolerable pieces of media ever created.

The show is filled with Imagery of Divine Robots, giant creatures made of hands, oedipal patricide, hypnotic eyebrowed secret agents, a giant cat’s swinging testicles and a scene in which the evil blue glove from The Yellow Submarine throws a giant interstellar bomb in the shape of a baseball at the planet. All combined in what Perhaps is the most torturedly elaborate and obvious puberty metaphor of all time. If there aren’t moments in it that make you feel deeply conflicted and uncomfortable I worry about you as a person.

Yeah it’s kind of like that…

The show follows a young boy Naota, coming of age on the cusp of junior high. Melancholy from the departure of his brother and general ennui, Naota’s world is rocked when he is assaulted by a pink haired girl riding a moped who bashes him in his head with her guitar. Now giant robots occasionally erupt from his forehead and get into giant kauji battles over the city.

Yeah it’s kind of like that…

And while the above might make FLCL sound bog standard (or at least bog standard as far as anime goes) as anyone who has seen it will tell you FLCL is anything but. Exuberant, stylistically bold (or somewhere beyond) and filled with that strange irreplaceable energy that comes from artists doing whatever the hell they want to do. If you’ve been reading me for any amount of time I don’t need to tell you that audacity counts for a lot with me. And FLCL is one of the most audacious experiments in style that I’ve seen in any medium.

By the time the time the series reaches its apex in an episode long parody of/tribute to the absurdity of The Heroic Bloodshed genre during which more rounds are fired in twenty minutes than in the runtimes of The Killer, Hard Boiled, A Bullet In The Head, and A Better Tomorrow 2 combined. Said episode ends with our principles fighting a sky scraper sized robot made out of guns. All while cutting across so many mediums that it positively shreds them.

I’m sure that one day people will be able to beam inexplicable imagery and sensations directly into our heads, driving us past the point of madness. Until the madness gun is invented FLCL will have to remain the next best thing. Watching FLCL is like snorting a line of pixie stix. The initial reaction is of course to grasp one’s face in pain and terror, yet there can be no denying that there is a certain exhilaration to it.


Budd said...

Bryce, FLCL and Excell Saga may have destroyed Anime for me. Everything that comes after will be derivative and lacking. All that comes before are just leading into them. There are better anime out there, but none that capture over all anime so well.

The amazing thing is that these shows are still considered found gems. I overheard two anime fans at a store talking and one was telling the other about FLCL, but he was telling him about it as if it had just come out and only the cool kids knew about it. I remember the same thing from my childhood about Akira.

Matt Keeley said...

I've been meaning to watch this show for years. I think I would order the Blu-Ray *right now* if I still had a functioning player.

I know what you mean about not watching much anime though. The last one I bought I've only watched a single episode of. It's just hard to be impressed these days.

BTW, got Kiss Me Deadly in the mail from Netflix today. Looking forward to watching that sometime.

Bryce Wilson said...

@ Budd: Ha thanks for sharing Budd, that gave me a smile. I guess that's the thing about anime though there will always be a few titles that retain legendary status.

@ Matt: It's just twenty bucks on amazon. I only went with the DVD because that makes it a bit easier for me to watch.

Looking forward to your thoughts on Deadly.