FLCL: A Recollection

A post in The Epic Journey. Contains major FLCL spoilers.

Ride on, shooting star...

Ride on, shooting star...

FLCL is one of the anime I’ve watched the most times in full, probably second only to Cowboy Bebop. When the show first aired on Cartoon Network, I had the good sense to record it on VHS, so I was able to watch it extra times outside the Adult Swim replays. Since I’ve seen it so many times, I can remember it pretty easily. That’s why, unlike Evangelion which I only watched once, I don’t question it as one of my favorites. However, it’s nonetheless been about 3 years since I last watched it, so I really don’t have a sense of just how much I like it.

Being that this is a show I know has potential to be one of my top 5, I knew I had to rewatch it for a while. I could never find streams that weren’t the dub, so now I finally downloaded it. I never had bought the DVDs since they were 2 eps per DVD and always sold for 30 bucks, and now the company that had them out has gone out of business, which is all just too complicated.

One of the problems with my memory of FLCL is that I’ve seen a lot of the episodes individually rather than all together. When I was 13, I found anything that directly involved sex and perversion embarassing, so I would never watch episode 4 (and only later, upon maturing, realized that all the other episodes were pretty much just as sexual, just less outright about it.) I also lost the tape that episode 1 was on, so it got left out of my rewatches continually. I’m looking forward to seeing the show all in proper order. I’m also looking forward to hearing the original vocal cast, since I’ve only seen the show dubbed.


FLCL is a joint production of GAINAX, the gods of style, and Production I.G., the gods of quality, so it’s no surprise that the show is gorgeous, crazy, and stylish beyond all reason. It also probably helps that it’s an OVA, and as usual, GAINAX shows that with a pproper budget they can actually create some really high-quality work.

As always from Gainax, there is plenty of high-speed, spazzy animation and sketchy line usage in the show, but other cool techniques are also used that you won’t see anywhere else. There are a couple of segments where the story is told through manga panels, a scene that parodies South Park by using their cut-out style, and other little weird things sprouting up about.


FLCL is directed primarily by Kazuya Tsurumaki (Diebuster, Kare Kano after Anno left, helping on the new Eva movies) who is known for being Hideaki Anno’s protege. He wasn’t quite ready for directing yet in ’99 when Anno left Gainax and Kare Kano was left in his hands, as evidenced by most of the episodes he directed sucking (exceptions of 19 and 25) but when he got to handle his own production the next year, he showed that he knew his shit. FLCL is one of those shows that immediately has you going to read the staff after seeing just how perfectly the whole thing is put together. It’s also no surprise at all when you see the animation that the show was storyboarded in parts by Hiroyuki Imaishi (director of Gurren Lagann and Dead Leaves, and storyboarder/animator for all the craziest scenes in anime.)

Fan-fucking-tastic Soundtrack

The FLCL soundtrack is comprised of all songs by the japanese punk-rock band The Pillows. It is a completely fucking amazing soundtrack. The Pillows are awesome and have a very definitive and unique edge to their style that seperates them a bit from the rest of their genre. I often feel tempted to compare them to Green Day, but I think a lot of people underestimate Green Day and I’d hate for them to underestimate the Pillows. Anyway the soundtrack is one of the show’s most notable and defining features that make it legendary. It also contains one of my alltime favorite songs, Hybrid Rainbow. Also, I THINK I CAN, I THINK I CAN, I THINK I CAN!!!!!!!!

Decent Dub

I was scared for a while to even watch FLCL in Japanese because I am so used to the English voices, all of which had always seemed to fit the chracters so well. Especially (holy shit I didn’t know it was a woman) Barbara Goodson (Laharl in Disgaea) as Naota who had been one of my favorite VAs at some point (alongside Spike and DAN GREEN of course.) However, it’s been long enough now that I can get past it, especially since I’m so insanely fucking elitist about dubs now, lol.


What I always really loved about FLCL, and I continue to love about any show that is this way, is how it was so silly and crazy and stupid on the surface, but beneath that was a ton of meaning behind every little thing that happened, emotions all over the place, and een some symbolism. I’ve always appreciated a show that can be deep without forcing it on you and never sacrifice entertainment. Back when I was younger, I would read tons of things that people had writen about the show’s deeper meanings and was proud to be one of those that saw this show as something deep, unlike idiots who would bitch that it was ‘stupid and mindless’ and such things.

I should also mention here the show’s whole theme of growing up. Even though I think I kind of missed a lot of my chances to really understand this part of the story and have it resonate with me like it did with Evangelion when I first watched it, I always love a story with the theme of growing up – made obvious by Eureka Seven being my favorite anime.

Awesome References

FLCL is a definite parody show at a lot of times with plenty of great references. One of the most mentioned ones is when Haruka takes out a Gundam model kit that turns into a wrench for her to repair her bike with. My favorite was always when Naota explained that his dad had ‘written a book on the deep secrets of Eva.’ And of course there was that immense South Park reference.

Epic Moments and Action

FLCL has fucking awesome fight scenes. The zany shit from ep 5 (titled ‘GUNS’ for a good reason), the usual epic final battle from GAINAX, and when I was young I had always loved the moment in episode 2 where Canti stops a giant hand just before it hits then does a crazy spin kick attack thing and knocks the enemy robot flying. The show’s imagery is intense, grandiose, and unforgettable. There are so many scenes that are etched into my mind eternally just because the imagery was so awesome. I picked one of my classic favorites for the top of this post.

Memorable Characters

Every damn character in FLCL is memorable! Haruka is one of the outright coolest female characters ever, Mamimi is fucking hot, Naota is the spirit of all youth’s growing up, the club president is also fucking hot in a different way, and there’s also CANTI! He’s a TV-headed robot! There’s alo the awesome eyebrow dude, Amuro (who I always loved when I was younger), his hot assistant, Naota’s hilarious pervert dad and retarded friends (SMOOOOOOOCH! SMOOOOCH!) it’s a truly and utterly unforgettable cast. Love em’ all.


I really can’t wait to rewatch this! It’s been waaaay too long! All of my memories are filling my head with sweetness and anxiousness, and I’m now almost totally sure that this show is going back into my top 5 where it probably always belonged. I’ve been long fed up with it fumbling around my favorites list with me unsure what to do with it. Okay! LETS ROCK! RIDE ON SHOOTING STAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

11 thoughts on “FLCL: A Recollection

  1. You left out Ninamori (or is she “the club president”?) — the episode that centered on her has always been my favorite. I think it helps to give a glimpse of a young woman’s journey to adulthood, too.

    I go back and forth on whether I think the meaning we find in this show isn’t mostly our own imagining — that it’s really just one lone Pillows music video with pretensions — or whether the meaning is really there. I think, sometimes that GAINAX puts a gloss of meaning on their work, lots of randomness, and leaves it to the audience to find, or imagine, meaning.

    The thing I remember most are the games the animators played — like the Matrix motion-stopped-circling-camera thing (when Naota hurtles toward Ninamori’s lips, and I think while Mamimi watches Naota’s first encounter with Haruka’s guitar). I could just see the animators opening the boxes from the computer store and crying out: “let’ see what we can make these things do!” Plus, I think Production IG deserves more credit than they’re usually given (I notice that you at least bring them up). Look at Diebuster: in many ways a similar look (clean lines and bright palette), but I don’t remember it being as experimental and playful — no manga pages, no South Park.

    But you’re right — it’s a damned fine show. And I think it stands up well, nine years on.

  2. @dm: Meaning is there. I’m very sure of that having just rewatched it. however, I’m only now really understanding it. As for the experimentation, well Diebuster isn’t really the kind of show I’d expect it from. And yeah, Ninamori’s ep was excellent.

    @super rats: God damn that scene gave me chills. I would have hoped Hybrid Rainbow would show up more times, but it was really pretty perfect there.

    I am probably going to watch te show with commentary before doing my conclusive post.

  3. @animek: It’s ALL about who worked on it. Also, while they released a lot of shit in the past 5 years, there was also Diesbuster in 04 and Gurren Fucking Lagann in 07 so I think they’ve covered their losses. And all of their shitty stuff is adaption work, whereas all the good stuff is original.

  4. FLCL is a show I haven’t seen in quite a while. I too would like to revisit is sometime, but I didn’t have the foresight to record all the good anime on Cartoon Network back in the day, and I sure don’t feel like cashing out ~$80 online for a six episode set. Torrent hunting it is!

  5. @schneider: never realized you were a lolicon

    @kadian: the DVDs are worth owning just for the commentary I’m now convinced

    by the way, 7 FLCL posts incoming

  6. Pingback: Fuzakenna! » Blog Archive » An Epic Journey: Introduction

  7. Pingback: 100 Characters For 100 Otaku (Part Six: 75-71) « Fuzakenna!

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