FLCL (or FuriKuri, pronounced something like "flea-klee") is six episode/six DVD OAV masterminded by Studio Gainax, based on the manga by Ueda Hajime. Gainax, of course, are the anime heroes known best for their ability to blow away both convention and viewer's minds in
a matter of seconds, proven by their previous works such as sci-fi fave Shinseiki (Neon Genesis) Evangelion and the too-beautiful-for-TV
high school romance show Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou (His and Her Circumstances).
Like the jumpy progression from Eva to Kare Kano, FLCL is a wholly different concept than anything Gainax has done before. The story revolves around a 12 year old boy named Naota (Ta-kun), his older brother's girlfriend Mamimi, and self-proclaimed alien on a mission (and style queen, complete with pink hair,
Vespa, and Rickenbacker bass), Haruhara Haruko. And a Medical Mechanica robot that pops out from where Naota's brain used to be, nicknamed Kanchi (for Kantide, a black angel/pyromaniac from Mamimi's favorite video game), though Naota's father prefers to call him "terebi-kun" (TV boy) because his head looks like a portable TV set.
The story starts with Haruko running Naota over with her Vespa, whacking him in the head with her Rick. From that, Naota starts growing horns, his brain disappears, and Kanchi pops out. After that it just gets weird ^_^ The show pulls the viewers along by leaving us hanging with all these questions (I.E., what's Haruko after, how does Medical Mechanica fit in and how did one of their robots get in Naota's head, are Naota and Mamimi going to.., et cetera). With that in mind, I don't want to spill any more spoilers than I've already dropped. FLCL hasn't been completely released yet as of this noding, either.
Stylistically, this is very much a "typical" Gainax museum piece (as "typical" as it can be). Full
of beautiful, delicate stillframe shots woven with plenty of spastic, seizure-inducing sequences. Charcoal drawings a la Kare Kano, occasional well-blended CG, a little live-action stop motion sequence at the end - there's no media left unused, and it all flows together seamlessly into what's been called "the future of anime" (deservedly so).
The show's main staff consists of the Gainax standby crew, all of them with either Eva or KKNJ on their
individual resumes. Hideaki Anno (the "most known" of the Eva staff) is not a part of FLCL, but after watching the first few minutes, he's hardly missed. Eva's assistant director, Tsurumaki Kazuya, takes the director's chair for his first time. Even though he's been quoted saying that he really doesn't care for the story and "I'm only doing it because I was told to" (Jan 2000 Newtype interview), he, with the rest of the FLCL staff, have (IMO) surpassed themselves. Everything flows perfectly, keeps the viewer's heart racing for the end, and (unlike Eva ^^;) pulls together at the end like a fireworks exhibition.
FLCL Producer Sato Hiroki:
I used to dream about the future.
A future called the 21st Century.
But the 21st Century will be here next year.
I had thought that I would be an adult by the time that happened.
But I am still terribly childish.
Today, I have my hands full just with my own personal affairs. But what of tomorrow, or next year, in fact?
It is my hope that, even though this is anime,
it will communicate our feelings
about the things from this century
which need to be dealt with in this, its final year.
(taken from Studio Gainax, http://www.gainax.co.jp)
Screenwriter Enomoto Yooji (also of Utena fame):
Should we be telling kids that, because they're kids, they shouldn't try to exceed their grasp?
Or should we be telling them instead that they need to reach high if they're to grow?
(also from www.gainax.co.jp and Magazine Z)
One of the most intriguing aspects of FLCL is that the 2nd and 3rd DVD episode come subtitled in English. This is a new thing for anime DVD, and it effectively cuts out the concept of fansubbing here in the US. The subs aren't visually the best quality, but the translation is almost perfect (save for a couple warp speed dialogue segments). Those episodes seem to be the only ones subbed as yet (4-6 aren't released yet, no confirmation). Gainax intends to keep FLCL in distribution only
throughout the year 2000 (sort of a millenium present), and that may include any overseas sales as well. So subtitling the episodes would allow them to continue their plan of cutting sales at the end of this year. It's also a really effective piracy control (most "bootleg" anime is created from fansub scripts, then sold for profit) - they deter the fansub community from releasing it, and
retain distribution control world-wide (not having a domestic company license and do as they will).
Another thing about FLCL - the soundtrack. It's all performed by the pillows, a long-lived band that adds only more energy and hipness to the whole package. The music runs perfect alongside the show's indie-hipster style, with a sort of Superchunk vs. Rocket From the Crypt sound throughout (much fuzz). Indie might be the best way to describe the show. It's got that indescribable beauty of watching a basement band playing their first live show and coming off like veterans. That's a horrible
comparison, gomen... But it's got a sense of something close to that in there that makes me feel comfortable (strange, i know).
Ah - since this has turned out to be something of a review (a lame review, but still a review): 5 out of 5,
10 out of 7, and two thumbs up, sticking sheets of big gold star stickers on Gainax' refrigerator.
As for what "FLCL"/"Furikuri" means: It's mentioned several times throughout the show, but with different meanings each time (an abbreviation for a childhood disease, a certain noise made during make-out sessions, etc). The best definition i can come up with right now is - a nonsense word that sounds cool when you say it out loud.