When The Ordinary Is Not Enough: The Fooly Cooly Anime Series

Copyright © 2000 by Gainax and Production I.G.

Fooly Cooly–also known as FLCL–is perhaps one of the strangest anime shows ever conceived.  And at six episodes, it’s also one of the shortest.

The Story The Plot What Happens In The Anime

Calling it “fantasy” or “magic realism” doesn’t even come close to capturing the flavor of the series.  The very basic plot is about a young kid named Naota Nandaba, who hangs out with Mamimi, a teenage girl who was his brother’s girlfriend before he left to play baseball in the US.  Their ordinary life is interrupted when a fast-talking girl named Haruko Haruhara shows up on a Vespa and whacks Naota in the head with her super-powered Rickenbacker 4001 bass guitar.  Since then, Naota has to deal with his gossiping classmates, the twisted affections of both Mamimi and Haruko, and the occasional strange bumps on his forehead that unleash giant robots to terrorize the city.

With a plot like that, I ask, how could this story not be cool?

Editing And Elements What You Can Expect To See

It’s a story that moves a mile a minute, assaulting the audience with fast-paced editing, fantastically bizarre imagery, and even the occasional shift in animation.  The English dub is loaded with so many pop culture references that you can’t stop paying attention lest you miss what’s going on.  The fourth wall’s broken repeatedly, and there’s hardly an important scene with some awesome rock music in the background.  And since there are only six episodes, it seems like this show is determined to feature every major anime trope ever made: giant robotsgenki girlscomplex relationshipsgiant eyebrowspanty shotsnosebleeds, and dark-skinned blondes.

The story does delve into some strange phenomenon related to aliens and giant robots, especially once the characters of Commander Amarao and Lieutenant Kitsurubami are introduced.  They realize the connection between Haruko’s powers and the vague menace of the space pirate Atomsk, and try to protect Naota from taking collateral damage.  Even so, Naota still has to deal with school, social pressures, family issues, and trying to figure out what to do with his life.

The Overall Theme What You Might Take Away From The Show

What really shows–in spite of all the crazy robots, alien superpowers, and over-the-top imagery–is that, deep down, FLCL is really a coming-of-age story for young Naota.  He’s just a kid trying to accept the extraordinary colliding with his ordinary world, forced to confront the life he’s been leading and stepping up to each challenge on his path to maturity.  It’s a little ironic in that he’s more of an adult than most of the city’s adults, so his maturation is really about accepting that he’s still a kid and can be grown up later.

Final Verdict How I Feel About This Series

FLCL is just awesome.  It’s the beauty of sheer chaos.  It’s rock-n’-roll passion in cartoon form.  Many have cited its similarity on other popular shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender and Neon Genesis Evangelion (which I’ll probably be reviewing at some later date). It is worth checking out, even if you’ve never gotten into anime before.  Just one word of advice: don’t try to analyze what’s happening as it happens.  Try to relax and ride this strange beast out as far as you can…

Copyright © 2000 by Gainax and Production I.G.

Bibliography: Fooly Cooly.  Directed by Kazuya Tsurumaki.  Produced by Hiroki Sato and Nishizawa Masatomo.  Written by Yoji Enokido.  Gainax, Production I.G.  Funimation Entertainment.  April 26, 2000 – March 16, 2001.

2 thoughts on “When The Ordinary Is Not Enough: The Fooly Cooly Anime Series

  1. Pingback: Clearing Out A Little Space: “Planetes” « The Rhapsodist

  2. Pingback: Get Your Head Wired: “Serial Experiments Lain” « The Rhapsodist

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