"Nothing amazing happens here." —Naota Nandaba
I just needed a thread for FLCL. The review is simple enough: The show makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.
That's all you need to know. Beyond that, it's a matter of taste. And I adore it.
FLCL, for those unfamiliar, is a seinen anime, targeting males in their late teens and into middle age; it is all of six episodes long. In truth, I don't think they could have made it much longer. While other projects have suffered for trying to cram massive stories into a limited number of episodes (e.g., Vision of Escaflowne, which needed thirty-nine or fifty-two episodes instead of the twenty-six they made), FLCL probably could not have made it to seven without actually having a plot.
The cast includes all of one sane character, our hero Naota, a twelve year-old boy who can't seem to find anything fascinating in life despite the weirdness constantly occurring around him. We might be able to stretch that number to two if we include Kitsurubami, or two and a half if we count Ninamori.
Don't worry; if you've seen it, you know what I mean. If not, well ... er ... yeah.
The plot, such as it is, revolves around a strange industrial conglomerate, an alien cop in the guise of a hot twenty-something female with pink hair, and a cosmic war in which one side bashes the hell out of the other with vintage electric guitars. Haruko, for instance, rides a Vespa SS 180 and swings a Rickenbacker 4001 bass that doubles as an automatic rifle. Yeah. Don't ask.
I actually saw the series finale a while back; it's only recently I've managed to sit down and watch all six episodes in sequence. In truth, I think the appeal is not so much the story or lack thereof, but, rather, the humanity. There may be only one sane character, but through Naota's eyes, we see the others for what they are. His father is a fading, nearly useless, wannabe hipster; his grandfather, even as comic relief, is an annoying version of how many old men in anime. Naota himself is incredibly repressed, beyond the unconsciously nihilistic bitterness of being twelve. He cannot deal with his own feelings toward his older brother's ex-girlfriend, and he certainly has no idea what to make of Haruko.
Strangely, the attraction of the series seems to be a sexual tension that is, largely, understated. There is, after all, only so much one can get around to when minors are involved. But that tension at once awakens the little boy inside—snigger all you want—and leaves one wanting for the general lack of gratification and explicitness. It is also through that tension that the characters are humanized. Naota, as a character, inherently challenges the underlying sexist myth of studly demand. He ducks childish crushes and mature advances alike, tying himself in knots over how he feels about the people around him.
And if this seems like over-analysis, well, it is hard to do anything else with the series. As suggested, it makes absolutely no sense in terms of plot. Yet it is nearly hypnotic. Perhaps this is a matter of stylistics; maybe it has to do with its refined expression of sexual neuroses often associated with manga, anime, and urban Japanese culture. In the end, though, FLCL seems a puzzle yearning for psychoanalysis. And that alone makes it worth the three hours of your life you might spend watching it.
Comment, rant, and add to as you see appropriate.
"You smell like cigarettes": Mamimi and Naota.