Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
FLCL (Japanese フリクリ Furi Kuri, pronounced and sometimes romanized as Fooly Cooly) is a six-episode direct-to-video Japanese animated series (anime), the brainchild of director Kazuya Tsurumaki of Gainax and released by Gainax and Production I.G..
FLCL is unusual because it is fast paced and can be confusing at first. Its hyperactive, occasionally juvenile, and illogical style can be misinterpreted, generally causing strong opposing opinions of its value. There are many hints and hidden meanings underneath its surface. FLCL could be categorized as a comedy, drama, soap opera, science fiction, or horror story. Its comedic side is most noticeable, as it satirizes pop culture icons such as John Woo and South Park, not to mention other anime such as Neon Genesis Evangelion and Lupin III. Puns and suggestive metaphors fly freely. However, its comedic elements at times overshadow what is, at its core, a coming of age story. The stranger elements often reflect the confusion and awkwardness of puberty (or possibly of mankind in general).
FLCL is an exercise in unconventional, self-referential anime. It is somewhat inaccessible to most viewers on all but the most superficial level. To appreciate the series, one has to first become acquainted with many anime conventions, and be able to see a second layer in the production. Otherwise, a viewer who is new to anime will simply be overwhelmed with the amount of unfamiliar content that the series presents in the very limited timeframe of three hours. The whole thing is quite surreal.
A significant element of FLCL's appeal is its music. Most of the background music was written and produced by the band "the pillows," which has generated mass success and appreciation since the anime's release abroad. Two soundtrack compact discs were released in Japan. There is also a signifigant amount of reference to guitars, probably to complement the music.
The series focuses on Naota, a twelve-year-old boy on the verge of puberty living in the fictional, strange, and yet ordinary Japanese suburb of Mabase. Particularly, activities which start when a strange energetic girl named Haruko Haruhara drives up on a Vespa and whacks him in the forehead with a heavily-modified left-handed Rickenbacker bass guitar with a chainsaw start motor.
It is gradually revealed that Haruko is fighting a company named Medical Mechanica (whose building looks like a giant clothes iron) in Mabase.
Naota lives with his lecherous father Kamon and his baseball-coaching grandfather Shigekuni at their family bakery. Naota greatly admired his older brother Tasuku, a baseball phenomenon who has gone to United States to play baseball, but now resents that he has gone. Note that Tasuku, though often referenced, only appears in the series through flashback scenes. As the series progresses, it is apparent that Naota has grown up without a maternal figure. In addition to being hounded by Haruko, who uses a portal in his head to transport objects over long distances, he is being watched by a man named Commander Amarao, who with his assistant, Lt. Kitsurubami, have become involved with Haruko and Medical Mechanica for intergalactic legal reasons, and are attempting to save the earth by stopping both Haruko and Medical Mechanica (M.M.).
The plot also involves Mamimi, a socially delinquent girl who used to be Tasuku's girlfriend. Alone and friendless, she leans on other things, such as Naota or her pet cat, all of whom she calls "Ta-kun."
The power of N.O is what lets items be pulled out of characters' foreheads. N.O. comes from the co-operation of the right and left sections of the brain. When it is activated (usually from extreme scenarios including stress and duty) things can be pulled from anywhere in the universe. Naota's N.O. is responsible for the appearance of; Canti, Naota's Guitar, Atomsk's Gibson, three M.M. robots, and in the end, Atomsk himself.
- Naota Nandaba, 12, is the main character. Unbeknownst to him, he has huge N.O. powers.
- Tasuku Nandaba is Naota's older brother who moved to America to play baseball. Mamimi believes that since Tasuku saved her from the fire at their old elementary school, that he likes her. From context and the fact that he gets a another girlfriend in America, it is apparent that he has no real love for her.
- Mamimi Samejima, 17, believed herself to be Tasuku's girlfriend, but since he has gone away she dotes on Naota. She attends school infrequently, smokes and has pyromaniacal tendencies, and spends most of her time under a bridge. It is likely that her parents are separated.
- Haruko Haruhara, 19 (or so she claims), is a pink-haired girl from outer space. Her real name is Raharu Haruha. She rides a yellow Vespa and wields a left-handed Rickenbacker bass guitar. She is the Nandaba household's maid and plays on a rival team of the Mabase Martians for extra money. Has apparently had past relations with Amarao.
- Kamon Nandaba is Naota's father. A former pop culture journalist, and currently a freelance writer.
- Shigekuni Nandaba is Naota's grandfather. He owns the family bakery and coaches the local baseball team, the Mabase Martians. Because Mamimi was with Tasuku, he despises her.
- Eri Ninamori, 12, is Naota's classmate. She is the daughter of the mayor of Mabase and class president. She is interested in Naota.
- Junko Miyaji, Naota's eccentric grade 6 teacher. Her students have given her the nickname "Miya-Jun".
- Canti (in Japanese Kanchi) is a robot with a television set for a head. He was manufactured by M.M. It is later revealed that Atomsk was contained inside him. Atomsk's symbol appears on Canti's screen in Episode 6.
- Commander Amarao works for the secret part of the Immigration department of the government. This group knows that aliens exist, and try to keep them from the public. Thus, Haruko/Raharu is a big problem for them. Amarao has fake eyebrows made of nori which he believes make him look more mature and protect him from N.O. In the past Amarao has had a relationship with Haruko similar to Naota's.
- Lieutenant Kitsurubami is a buxom young woman and Amarao's assistant.
- Atomsk, also known as the Pirate King (海賊王), is the most powerful space pirate in the galaxy. His N.O. power is great enough to steal planets, and when he uses his power in Episode 6, the ground and items on it are moved by his power. He is a bird-like creature, resembling a phoenix. Amarao is portrayed inaccurately imagining Atomsk's appearance as humanoid when he describes him to Naota before he appears. In an interview, the director clarifies that Atomsk's true form is indeed the bird, and Amarao's mental image was of a man because he believed that Atomsk and Haruko were lovers.
The total run-time for this show is three hours with commercials. The IMDb has actually classified it as a movie.
The episodes are:
- Fooly Cooly (Japanese title: Furi Kuri (フリクリ))
- FireStarter (Japanese title: Fai Suta (ファイスタ))
- Marquis de Carabas (Japanese title: Maru Raba (マルラバ))
- Full Swing (Japanese title: Furi Kiri (フリキリ))
- Brittle Bullet (Japanese title: Bura Bure (ブラブレ))
- FLCLimax (Japanese title: Furi Kura (フリクラ))
The episodes were originally released in Japan on 6 DVDs. It was also released as a two-volume manga by artist Hajime Ueda , and a three-volume novel serialization by Enokido Yoji . All were released in Japan starting in 2000. The anime has subsequently been released to DVD in North America on 3 volumes by Synch-Point . The manga was released by TokyoPop in two volumes. Both soundtrack discs, "Addict" and "King of Pirates," were released by Geneon Entertainment. FLCL was also seen on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block in North America starting in August 2003 and occasionally aired throughout 2003 and 2004.
- The name of the company Haruko is fighting is spelled Medical Mechanica. It was misspelled in a scene in episode 2.
- Most of the vehicles in the series (such as Haruko's Vespa, Miya-Jun's Volkswagen Beetle and Amarao's Volkswagen Rabbit) are European.
- Many of the important characters are left-handed due to the director's belief that southpaws have more outgoing personalities than right-handed individuals. The same distiction is shown in the difference between those charaters who enjoy spicy food or sour drinks, and those who don't.
- To try to make the dialogue easier to understand in the English translation, there are some places where dialogue is different from the Japanese version. For example, in the Japanese third episode, a boy dressed like a mouse keeps asking Naota about the "chu-lady"; in Japanese, chu is the onomatopoeia for both a kiss and a mouse's squeak. Also, in Episode 5, Kitsurubami yells about the similarity between the kanjis for Mackerel and Blue in the Japanese version, rather than Cyborg and Robot as in the English version.
- It was rumored that the whole series was merely an experiment by Gainax to test out new techniques, and they used a 26-episodes worth of budget to produce the high quality animation. More information can be found on the Director's Cut audio track and subtitles on the DVDs.
- Production I.G's English FLCL site
- Gainax's English FLCL site
- Synch-Point: Production - FLCL
- GAINAX's JP Furi Kuri site
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