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FLCL - F U R I K U R I
Reviewed in May, 2001 by Mark Vallen, Jeannine Thorpe, and John Lentini . Screen shots generously provided by John Lentini.

(Comments by Jeannine Thorpe) Within four minutes of the beginning of the first episode, FLCL (pronounced Furikuri) revealed itself to be the weirdest, wackiest, completely insane and absolutely wonderful anime I've seen to date. Furikuri was made for those people who, once Neon Genesis Evangelion and Revolutionary Girl Utena started to get "experimental", were glued to the screen just waiting to see just how far they would go. This show is so out there that it is very hard to even set down a plot. One could say "It's about a 12 year old boy, Naota, his older brother's girlfriend, Mamimi, and their adventures once a pink haired newcomer, Haruko, comes to town on an orange scooter." But the series just can't be simplified that much.... Furikuri just has to be seen to be believed.

This six episode OVA series is a kaleidoscope of modern life and pop images. It's what the artist sees as they purvey the world around them and set no limits to their imagination. It captures the stagnation of adolescence, the excesses of adulthood, the ugliness of the modern city, and humanity's dreams of salvation. And it does it in a completely Japanese, completely anime way, taking all of the world in and keeping only what they like the best. The animation, like life, ranges from completely course and simplistic, to beautifully detailed realism. Furikuri reaches quite far, across time and space really, in its search for references and meaning... fans of the quintessential British rock band The Who will be pleasantly surprised when the Vespa scooter rides in and the guitar-smashing begins.

After watching an episode of Furikuri, you will find yourself asking outloud, "What was that? What did I just see? Did that actually happen?!" I was particularly intrigued with the character of Mamimi (directly below), who looks normal at first, but in fact is quite a troubled teen.

Seemingly incapable of dealing with the prospects of impending adulthood, Mamimi is quick to hide from it all and look for spiritual guidance in the oddest of places. Furikuri is a comment on the current state of the world, how we are affected by the images we see and the environments we are raised in, how things are moving at a constantly faster and faster pace, and how a lonely human can find comfort in it all. It's also an excellent example of how Western Pop culture is influencing Japan. And if the anime doesn't make any sense to you, well, that's because the world doesn't make much sense right now. I give FLCL my highest recommendation.

(Comments by Mark Vallen) If you've ever seen the insanely frenetic energy and slapstick comedy of the anime, Kodomo no Omocha (Child's Toy)... and can imagine that level of lunacy turned up by quite a few notches... then you'll have some inkling of the delirium Studio Gainax dumps in our laps with their latest offering, Furikuri. I watched the entire six episodes of this show in it's original Japanese language format... but concluded that an English translation wouldn't make things any clearer. Watching this show is like having a vivid hallucination, and much of the plot and the actions of the characters simply cannot be understood. This anime moves at such breakneck speed that after five minutes you give up trying to figure things out and are content just to hang on for the wild ride.

The fantastic and impossible images of Furikuri sweep over and engulf you like a potent dream. A colossus steam hand Iron that sits atop a mountain overlooking a city. Gigantic and contorted robotic assemblages that spring without warning from people's foreheads. A friendly but enigmatic robot with a television-like head that does housework... and a pink haired girl named Haruko who rides a motor scooter and will at the drop of a hat bash friends or enemies over the head with her ever present electric guitar.

Though Furikuri has a fairly incomprehensible storyline it is far from being boring and unwatchable. One is overwhelmed with the show's visual richness and experimentation, and the Gainax touch is evident in the lavish and detailed background paintings and cityscapes. A particularly impressive episode showed characters suddenly transported onto the pages of a manga. The transition was carried off without any break in the story's narrative... the full color anime became at the blink of an eye a series of black and white manga drawings... and all without the slightest acknowledgment that anything out of the ordinary had occurred. That type of self-aware, mocking humor is what makes Furikuri so entertaining. One episode even had the major characters briefly morph into the South Park crew! As previously mentioned... little of the show makes sense, but I'm not complaining, no more than I do after having had a rather vidid dream that was profound yet unfathomable.

If you don't care for this anime, you're still sure to love it's soundtrack. The Rock group The Pillows provide much of the sensational score for the series, and their Power Pop sound is all jangly guitars with a Punk edge. Their closing theme for Furikuri, Ride on Shooting Star, will have you bouncing off the walls with delight! Many of those who worked on past efforts from Gainax worked on Furikuri. Director Tsurumaki Kazuya and Character Designer Sadamoto Yoshiyuki both previously worked on Evangelion, and the scriptwriter for Furikuri, Enokito Youji, wrote screenplays for none other than Revolutionary Girl Utena. All in all, this is one bizarre series you should try to catch.

(Comments by John Lentini) Did you ever wake up from a very strange dream and wonder what it was all about? Well with Furi Kuri, take that same feeling and multiply it by at least ten. Only then will you get an idea of how wacky and wild the world of Furi Kuri can be. Gainax in the past has been known for a twisted series or three, but this one really goes over the edge. If you think you've seen a strange anime series to this point, then you really haven't seen anything yet. To accompany you on your journey to the unknown are The Pillows, and what better group to have for this unique trip. Most anime series will lean towards J-Pop, but in this hard edge series, we'll need some equally hard edge J-Rock music, and The Pillows certainly provide. The music here really keeps the storyline going throughout this six part OAV. Don't feel bad if you turn away from this series either, Furi Kuri isn't for everyone, or the weak of heart.

However if you really want to open your mind to something new and hear some good cuts along the way, than Furi Kuri is definitely for you.This show will also hit the shelves of America sometime in the future which is indeed a shock given the confusing concept of the show, but we're glad to see someone get their feet wet with this one, and don't worry, you will get soaked. In the meantime you may want to check out the region two DVDs which feature amazingly good English subtitles, but don't worry... it's still the deep end of the pool.

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