The early 2000s were an interesting period for anime. On the back of Evangelion, the anime scene was starting to slowly grow in Australia. Madman started to release a bunch of different anime series on DVD, with names like Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040, Martian Successor Nadesico and RahXephon. To keep up with all these series (on our severely limited budgets), my circle of friends would pick a series to buy and then share the DVDs amongst ourselves. A lot of anime back then was either those sci-fi psychological thrillers or harem, slapstick comedies, and it was all starting to seem similar and boring. Then one afternoon, a friend dropped off the first DVD of FLCL for me to watch.
Woah. That was something different.
It has been 10 years since FLCL was first released and time hasn’t touched it all. In the very first episode, you have Vespas, Rickenbacker Bass Guitars, school girls, aliens, giant robots, cats, big fights and a love triangle all wrapped up in a school days/coming of age anime. Attempting to describe what goes on in FLCL would do it a disservice. It’ll seem too whacky, hyperactive, over-the-top and just plain strange. And sure, a lot of people who watch it will take it for its face value and have that opinion, which is a shame. Despite all the exaggerations and excess, the series is a coming-of-age story at heart and it never loses sight of that. In fact, its probably the best coming-of-age anime there is.
The soundtrack to FLCL is amazing, rivaling that of Yoko Kanno’s work on Cowboy Bebop (and pretty much any other series she works on). The majority of the music for the series comes from the Japanese J-rock band, the pillows, who have a special spot in the playlists of all those who have watched the series. Their songs compliment the anime perfectly, adding the emphasis on the slow, nostalgic moments and adding brilliance to the high, emotional moments.
But probably the best aspect of FLCL is its pacing. Most people remember it for the wild, whacky action that happens at a million miles a minute that can keep even those of us with the worst ADD entertained for hours. But these scenes are contrasted with slow (almost snail) scenes that really bring out the emotions of the characters. When you watch it first, you’ll remember the crazy moments. When you watch it again, you’ll remember the subtle moments.
And that’s what’s truly great about FLCL. Even if its only 6 episodes long, you’ll find yourself rewatching it over and over again to find the little nuances of the series. After about the third re-watching, I knew FLCL was probably my favourite anime, and it still is.