FLCL, The Complete Series – Blu-ray Review

Review by: Faith McAdams

Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $44.98 US (Blu-ray), $39.98 (DVD)
Running Time: 150 minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi
Rating: TV 14
Release Date: Available Now

This is definitely not your typical boy-meets-girl anime series.

You know you’re watching an extraordinary anime series when a lump on the head becomes a protruding horn that turns out to be part of a robot that pushes its way out of said forehead. As crazy as that sounds, you will find yourself dazzled and impressed by the original nature of The Complete Series of FLCL (or Fooly Cooly). After all, it comes from the two studios that brought us Eden of the East, Evangelion and Gurren Lagann just to name a few.

FLCL begins innocently enough as we meet a sulky grade school boy named Naota Nandaba who happens to hang out with a slightly older girl named Samejima Mamimi who affectionately calls him “Takkun” and flirtatiously fools around with him. While Mamimi happens to be his older brother’s ex-girlfriend who he left to play baseball in the U.S., Naota isn’t exactly fighting off her playful advances. What else is there to do in this sleepy little city where the main attraction was the Medical Mechanica plant (that looks like a massive iron) setting up shop outside the city? Then, one day, Naota’s life – as well as this series – gets a shot of quirky insanity.

Naota, you see, is run over by a pink-haired girl riding a Vespa scooter and – after seeing that he’s still alive after administering mouth-to-mouth – she bashes him over the head with her blue bass guitar. It is a little later that Naota realizes that his bump in the middle of his forehead isn’t exactly normal since the “bump” in question looks like a rectangular-shaped horn. He conceals the horn with a bandage but something isn’t right.

Unfortunately for him, the girl who ran him over keeps following him and ends up staying in his house after having convinced her father that she’s a traveling housekeeper looking for work. She is Haruko Haruhara, a very fetching but offbeat girl who is even flirtier than Mamimi and makes it clear that the bump is special. Naota sees just how special when said bump turns out to be a robot that pulls itself out of the boy’s forehead. Thus is born TV-boy … a robot who ends up being a servant to Naota’s father and grandfather and the boy’s ally.

Strange things continue to happen to Naota and all around him as Haruko continues to get even stranger as she reveals herself to be an alien from another universe and a Galaxy Patrol Officer searching for something in the city. As it turns out, she has a keen interest in the Medical Mechanica plant and it isn’t until later that we learn that the men inside have something she desperately wants.

Of course, in middle of all of this she makes Naota’s life even more insane as she injects herself into his life including becoming his rival on his baseball team, making Mamimi jealous of their sudden close relationship and even giving his friends something to talk about in class. Naota makes some crazy discoveries that include his father and his Class President, Eri Ninamori.

Naota must also deal with other threatening robots that keep coming out of his forehead as he gets help from Haruko and her crazy bass guitar. Along the way he meets a bushy browed Commander and his sniper babe subordinate and the truth behind Haruko and Medical Mechanica.

FLCL certainly throws a lot at its viewers for a series that is only six-episodes long but in the span of those six episodes the series never sweeps the story under the rug to concentrate on its craziness. Haruko is certainly a high-energy character and watching her turn Naota’s life upside down and more interesting is a highlight. The animation is also fast, fluid and crazy as it flashes between several styles and tipping its hat to manga, Lupin the Third and even South Park. This series was certainly made to be seen on Blu-ray.

The series is also saturated in sexual innuendo that proves that a series doesn’t have to have excessive or even a little fan service to be sexy. Then there are the voice acting performances that make the original Japanese cast turn out great performances and the English dub that does a rather good job as well. Add a perfect score and soundtrack by The Pillows and you have a series you need to watch with a great sound system hooked up.

A crazy-wonderful and outrageously original anime series that sets the bar high for anime like it, The Complete Series of FLCL is a classic that you need to buy right away and more so on Blu-ray. With delightfully insane animation, an awesome soundtrack and a story that you won’t forget anytime soon, this one-of-a-kind series is Required Viewing for all anime fans. Even if you own this series when it was released a long while back, this Blu-ray release certainly has a lot to offer.

BLU-RAY REVIEW BREAKDOWN

MOVIE/EPISODES: A+
Naota is a grade school student who doesn’t care about much and finds himself dealing with some feelings for his older brother’s ex-girlfriend when a very strange pink-haired girl runs him over and slams him over the head with her bass guitar. As a result, Naota is not only dealing with his everyday life but a string of offbeat events that result from objects that sprout from his head wound. Who is Haruko and what exactly is happening to his town?

VIDEO QUALITY: A+
This is one of these series that was truly meant for the Blu-ray format seeing as the visual style of the animation and the unique (read crazy) effects are simply stunning. FUNimation certainly did a great job cleaning up the picture to make the colors all the more vibrant. FLCL fans, Blu-ray is definitely the way to go.

AUDIO QUALITY: A
The first thing you’ll notice is how amazing the soundtrack to this series is and even more so if you have a good sound system hooked up to your HD setup that takes advantage of the Blu-ray version’s Dolby TrueHD. On top of the great score and closing tune by The Pillows, the Japanese voice acting is topnotch. Then again, Kari Wahlgren (Haruko) and Barbara Goodson (Naota) pull off some amazing performances.

EXTRAS: A
The single disc comes with a number of extras that include three separate collection of Outtakes (worth watching) as well as six music videos from The Pillows including the music video for the closing theme song “Ride on Shooting Star” and the awesome tune “One Life” (worth watching if you’re a big fan of The Pillows like us).

There are also the usual assortment of extras like some trailers and the textless closing song but then again you just have to love a collection that includes Director Commentary tracks for all six episodes of the series by Director Tsurumaki himself (subtitled, of course). His comments are actually very informative and interesting when he really gets rolling. Plus, there are some trailers and the textless closing theme song.

OVERALL: A+
A bona fide classic in very sense of the word, The Complete Series of FLCL is one of those rare artistic masterpieces that show up in anime ever so often as proof that anime can be different and significant. Sure, it’s only six-episodes long but it makes up for it with quality and enough craziness to put a smile on anyone’s face. It really is that good.

Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment

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