In the world of anime; new concepts and ideas being tested and as a result of this interesting and experimental anime tend to be produced, fooly cooly or FLCL is one of those experimental anime. Created by studio Gainax the studio behind Neon Genesis Evangelion. FLCL is a series of 6 OVA’s that aired during 2000 to 2001, these were definitely different for there time and now stands up as a benchmark for how experimental and weird anime could potential get.
FLCL is a coming of age story that stars main character Naota who lives in a boring town where nothing really happens, that is until he runs into the Vespa riding guitar slinging Haruko who changes his life for the better. Throughout FLCL, weird events start occurring in a seemingly boring town and the story follows how these two people navigate these strange events.
Although the story is rather short, it does a great job in following the characters and illustrating their progression because of these events. Anything and everything can and does occur in FLCL, from episodes in which guitars become superpowers to giant robot coming out of someone’s head. The story can seem random at first, but after you come to grips with the fact that this is an experimental anime the story quickly becomes enjoyable. Following all the different and diverse aspects that the show tries to explore in its short run time is remarkable, as the story is going at 100% from start to finish.
FLCL does not have a huge cast of characters, the main characters that are present for a majority of the shows run time include: the aforementioned Naota and Haruka, along with Naota’s father; and Mamimi who was Naota’s brothers ex girlfriend but now serves as a stabilizer for Naota. The cast of characters are great in their own right and do provide interesting dialogue, but the true star of the series is without a doubt Haruka. Haruka adds the energy that the series needs, and without her mysterious and quirky nature the show would lose its soul.
This plot is driven by its characters and the whole cast adds something varied throughout the series. The supporting characters that only appear in specific episodes are amazing, as the writing takes advantage of their limited appearance. There isn’t too much that can be said about the characters in fooly cooly as the show is only 6 episodes, but the series utilizes every minute onscreen with its characters. That being said I would have preferred some of the characters to be more fleshed out as besides the main duo, as a lot of the supporting cast don’t have much development.
The art is amazing, this is one of the best looking and most unique art styles of the 2000s, studio Gainax did an amazing job by creating a vivid world that feels very different to any other anime. The animation here is just as good as the art style, very fluid animation was used for a majority of the heavy action scenes. The animation isn’t great all the time, but more so used well to maximize its efforts.
This soundtrack is one of the best in anime period. The band behind the soundtrack: The Pillow made an outstanding OST to accompany the series. Everything from the music played in the background for ambiance to the ED is original and spectacular in every way. The sound design isn’t the best in anime, but the soundtrack itself is one of the best and quickly makes up for the areas that sound design lack.
FLCL is a great example of experimental anime done right, not too many ideas are thrown into it to cover every single genre like other series. The show is balls-to-the-wall insanity from start to end. The characters are great and the cast feel realistic with Haruko being the standout. The animation is amazing as well as the expressive art style, and the soundtrack is god-tier. Fooly Cooly is everything that original anime should strive to be, it excels in all departments and should be watched by everyone that is an anime fan, it is only 6 episodes which helps.
Another original anime created by the same studio as fooly cooly that has as much expression from them as FLCL, with more insanity in its premise would be: Tengan Toppa Gurren Lagann. TTGL is the crowing jewel for most people when talking about original anime. Plus it has even greater character progress from its main character than FLCL.
And since we’re talking about studio Gainax, another great anime and different anime that they have done would be: Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt. This anime is Japanese attempt at western cartoons, with crude and crass humor, great action and really likable characters that grow on you throughout the series.