This past weekend saw the resurrection of one of Anime’s weirdest, most beloved series, FLCL.
Pronounced Fooly Cooly, FLCL originally aired in Japan back in 2000 with an American dub later on in 2003. I’ve tried in the past to sit thru these six episodes to no avail. Fortunately, with Adult Swim re-airing the first season every Saturday night I was able to manage a half hour a week for what is no doubt one of Japan’s harder to comprehend animes. And trust me, it isn’t the easiest thing to follow. In short, the plot revolves around a boy who gets hit by an alien with a guitar and then proceeds to try to be normal despite the robots that keep growing from his head no thanks to the alien with a guitar. There’s heavy sexual overtones, weird references to things I’m not totally sure exist, violence and the overall sense that this is supposed to be a coming of age story for the main character, Naota. All of those things are great but they hit you at a sprinter’s pace until the episode ends and you’re left scratching your head like Krusty the Clown declaring “What the hell was that?!”
FLCL: Progressive is the long-awaited second season to all the aforementioned above. And while it had a more focused feel to the storyline, one thing was for certain: this is still a very weird and sexually charged world.
The episode opens with a mysterious girl walking thru a tattered landscape. Everything is in black and white with the exception of a sharp horn growing from the girl’s forehead. She somehow finds herself in front of a giant red eyeball before waking up. Thru the course of her day, we learn that her name is Hidomi and she spends the bulk of her time ignoring the waking world whenever possible. Her neon blue cat ear headphones (which are always affixed to her head) represent her refusal to acknowledge anyone before they have a chance to get to know and subsequently reject her for whatever reason. We meet a few of her classmates, who are obviously part of the sexual overtone of the show, her mom and a brand new guitar wielding alien who rides in the back of a self-driving low rider instead of a bright yellow Vespa. Like Naota in the first series, Hidomi gets struck by the self-driving car and before the end of episode one, finds herself in the exact area where her dream took place.
Before the new alien with a guitar parts ways with Hidomi, she remarks “It looks good on you.” referring to the bright red horn growing from Hidomi’s forehead. The next day in school, Hidomi is left reflecting out the window as it’s revealed that her teacher is actually the original alien with a guitar from the first series. The class cheers, Hidomi looks hesitant and I feel a lot less confused by this FLCL than the one that came out over a decade ago.
The hallmark of this series is the music. The Pillows are the original J-rock band who composed an entire album just for FLCL 1 and it’s safe to say that they have done it again! One of my favorite parts of this show is the song “Little Busters”, a song that when it starts playing, signals to the audience that the episode is almost over. Every other track is brand new just for FLCL: Progressive and it feels like The Pillows never fell out of love with the series (Although I really wish “Ride on Shooting Star” was still the ending credits theme). Hopefully as the show goes on there will be more to enjoy, but for now, I am sated, mainly because we have new The Pillows to look forward to but partly because I know exactly what the hell is going on this time around.