Definitions

FLCL No. 3

FLCL

is an original video animation series written by Yōji Enokido, directed by Kazuya Tsurumaki and produced by the FLCL Production Committee, which included Gainax, Production I.G, and Starchild Records.

FLCL follows Naota Nandaba, a twelve-year-old boy living in the fictional Japanese suburb of Mabase, and his interactions with Haruko Haruhara, who arrives in the quiet suburb, drawn by the industrial town houses and the Medical Mechanica building.

The English adaptation of the series is licensed by Synch-Point and Geneon Entertainment, which released the DVDs and soundtrack respectively.

Plot

Naota's life is confined to going to school and living with his father and grandfather. The usually boring life in Mabase is rudely interrupted by the arrival of Haruhara Haruko, who bursts on the scene by running Naota over with her Vespa scooter and hitting him on the head with a guitar. Later, Naota is shocked to find Haruko working in his house as a live-in maid.

Haruko's search for the alien being Atomsk puts her at odds with Medical Mechanica. At the same time, Naota is being watched by Commander Amarao. The Commander believes Haruko is in love with Atomsk and Medical Mechanica is out to conquer the galaxy. The fortuitous circumstances get Naota involved in a three-way battle between Haruko, Amarao and Medical Meccanica.

Characters

Naota Nandaba is the protagonist of the series, obsessed with appearing mature and attempts to act nonchalant. He idolizes his older brother Tasuku, who represents for Naota what it means to be an "adult". Tasuku lives in the United States and plays professional baseball -- he is never shown in the anime, except for in a flashback (however only his silhouette is shown) and a picture in which Tasuku is holding his "American girlfriend".

Haruko Haruhara is Mabase's newest resident, an extraterrestrial investigator for the Galactic Space Police Brotherhood. She becomes the Nandaba household maid while working to find Atomsk, the most powerful space pirate in the galaxy. She uses her guitar to create an N.O. portal in Naota's head and once on Amarao in the episode Brittle Bullet, through which comes several Medical Mechanica robots.

Canti is a Medical Mechanica robot. He was manufactured by Medical Mechanica and was used by MM to capture Atomsk. It is later revealed that Atomsk can manifest through Canti, with Naota being the catalyst.

Mamimi Samejima is a high school truant. She is lonely and depressed, adopting several pets and naming them all "Takkun" as a replacement for Naota's brother, and develops arsonistic tendencies. She thinks of Naota as a replacement for Tasuku, befriending him, but later grows disinterested when Naota begins to show independence.

Eri Ninamori is the daughter of the mayor of Mabase and the president of Naota's sixth grade class. Ninamori is a complex character- like Naota she is obsessed with acting grown-up but she often loses her composure in anger or excitement. Ninamori is so concerned with her public image that she hides her frustrations over her father's sex scandal and the fact that she rigged elections for a class play so that she and Naota would get the lead roles.

Production

FLCL is directed by Kazuya Tsurumaki and produced by the FLCL Production Committee, which included Gainax, Production I.G, and Starchild Records.

Six pieces of theme music are used for the episodes; five opening themes and one closing theme. All the theme songs are by the Japanese rock band The Pillows, whose music is featured in the series. The battle theme is "Little Busters". The opening themes are: "One Life", used in episode one, "Instant Music" in episode two and three, "Happy Bivouac" for episode four, "Runners High", utilized in episode five, and "Carnival" in episode six. The closing theme is "Ride on Shooting Star", used for all of the episodes. Geneon Entertainment has released three original soundtracks encompassing the aforementioned songs, with the soundtracks titled Addict, released on January 20, 2004, King of Pirates, released on September 7, 2004, and FLCL No. 3, released on June 7, 2005.

Design

FLCL's odd style, hyperactive pace, convoluted, esoteric plot, and tendency to break the fourth wall sets it apart from other contemporary anime. It can be categorized as a work of comedy, drama, science fiction, romance, philosophy, and a parody of contemporary culture in general. It has an abstractly designed storyline about growing up and losing the childish viewpoint of life that all people once had, and seeing the true reality of the world.

Style

Although most of the series is done in a standard "anime" style, the animation frequently veers off into other realms, including bullet time, black and white, stills, two elaborate sequences drawn as semi-animated manga and a couple of shots in episode five that recreate the look of South Park, or mosaic.

Cultural references

Haruko flying on her Guitar in a bunny outfit and wearing earrings is a reference to the promotional video of Daicon IV (an anime convention that took place in Osaka in the 80's). Haruko announces, "Daicon Five!" as she rides in, in a satirical reference to the show. This animation, along with the promo video for Daicon III, were some of Gainax's very first works.

The series also references such pop culture icons as Anna Nicole Smith, John Woo and South Park, not to mention Neon Genesis Evangelion (Gainax's most famous production), Pepsi, Lupin III, Initial D, Gundam, Tank Girl, Doraemon, and Ashita No Joe. As well as showing reference to popular Japanese anime shows such as in Haruko's eyeless smiles (a subtle nod to the way the titular character of the anime Crayon Shin-chan smiles), the English-dubbed FLCL also shows references to The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Rage Against the Machine, Filter, Slash, Naked Lunch, Paul McCartney, Van Halen, Richard Cheese, Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Hitler, the USSR, Hamtaro, and Tom & Jerry.

Language

There are some places where dialogue of the English translation is different from the Japanese version, an attempt to make the dialogue easier to understand in the English translation. (Example: Haruko uses the term "mouth to mouth" repeatedly throughout the series, though the "Th" sound does not exist in Japanese, making it sound like "mouse to mouse". This is used in a pun in "Full Swing," when she crawls out of the Kamon puppet's mouth wearing a mouse suit.).

Further comments in the booklets discuss the severe loss in translation of the plays made in Japanese via homonyms, synonyms, and so on. One example of trying to preserve this in English is the "empty", "MTV" and various homonyms in English during the Kamon/Haruko manga sequence.Meaning of "Furi Kuri" A common mistake by English-speaking fans is to say that the meaning of "Furi Kuri" in Japanese is "Breast Fondling." This mistake arises from the fact that "kuri kuri" is occasionally used by manga artists as a sound effect for breast fondling. In the anime itself, they make references to "kuri kuri" during the first manga scene, when Shigekuni describes kneading bread by making hand gestures that unmistakably resemble groping motions. Due to incredibly fast pacing of the scene, many fans mistake his statement as referring to "furi kuri" instead of "kuri kuri." Much Japanese onomatopoeia follows a pattern of being four kana long and having a sound repeated. "Furi furi" is also used as a sound effect in a later episode when Haruko is petting Naota's cat ears. FLCL's direct Japanese to English translation is: A Pretend Chestnut. Kuri or chestnut can also mean to twist. It would seem the best translation might be pretend twisted (distort, pervert) or pretend disarrangement (disturb the operation or functions [as in twisting]; also to make insane).

Regarding the Japanese that is left in and often misunderstood, the above case is further clarified by referring to the translation notes for episode one from the 25 page book with DVD one released by Synch-Point:

9. Chi-chi o kuri-kuri - Chi-chi means "breasts" or "boobs" in Japanese. Kuri-kuri is a twisting noise. Chi-chi also means "father."

12. Kuri - A homonym for a twisting noise and "chestnut". Kamon says "Like twisting..." Haruko hears, "like chestnuts".

Another theory is from Episode One, when Haruko diagnosed Naota with FLlctonic KLlpple Waver Syndrome, which the first two letters from the first two words would be the Japanese term Furi Kuri, which the first four letters of the first word to English would be Furi Curi.

Adaptations

FLCL has been released as a two-volume manga by artist Hajime Ueda, and a three-volume novel serialization by screenwriter Yoji Enokido.

Manga

The manga interprets the series with all of the key elements intact, but loses some details and changes the dialogue (One being that Canti is Atomsk). It is a much darker and more graphic take on the story, highlighting the sex and violence (Naota intentionally kills his father with the baseball bat in a rather grisly scene because he thought Haruko and his father were sleeping together; Shinguki and an unnamed war buddy later suicide-bomb the Medical Mechanica building).

The manga has also been mildly controversial for its unique art style, especially the uses of ink to roughly outline objects and shade areas. Volume 1 is more like the first two episodes while Volume 2 is more like episodes 3 through 6. One major change to a character is Ninamori, as her robot becomes an ally and is not destroyed. Its design is also different, being a large octopus like robot attached to her head that enables her to fly. The ending is also quite different from the anime; unlike the anime where Naota goes on to bigger and better things, the manga ending leaves much more uncertainty as to Naota's fate after Haruko leaves Earth.

The English language edition of the manga was released by TOKYOPOP in two volumes (ISBN 1-59182-396-X and ISBN 1-59182-397-8)

Novels

The first of the three novels was released in America on March 11, 2008. All were released in Japan starting in 2000, and in 2008 in the United States.

Distribution

Six DVD compilations, each containing one episode, have been released in Japan by Gainax. In addition, a DVD collection box, containing all six DVD compilations, was released in Japan on August 13, 2005. Three DVD compilations were released by Synch-Point in North America. A DVD collection box, containing all the DVD compilations of the English episodes, was released on January 23, 2007, but have since gone out of print with plans for a re-release of the series at a future date, to be determined.

Reception

The American reception for the series, although not widespread, has been enthusiastic following its release on Adult Swim in the summer of 2003. Anime.com also gave the series an enthusiastic review in October of that year, although there was also a minor reference to it in the September "issue". In 2003, it also went on to win third place for Best Animation Film at the Fantasia Festival.

FLCL has garnered both positive and negative reception among reviewers, sometimes diverging to extremes in both directions. Adult Swim occasionally refers to FLCL as "The greatest show we have ever aired". Christopher McDonald of Anime News Network called it "downright hilarious" and "visually superb" with great music, citing the packaging of 2 episodes per DVD as the only weakness of Synch-Point's original release.

It was also a success from a corporate standpoint. A Time Warner press release from August 12, 2003 lauds the success of Cartoon Network, and mentions FLCL:

series FLCL (Monday-Thursday, 12 a.m.) premiered with impressive numbers. [...] The Monday, Aug. 4 telecast of FLCL'' ranked #42 among all shows on ad-supported cable among adults 18-34.

On February 24, 2007, FLCL was nominated for "Best Cast", and won "Best Comedy Series" and "Best Short Series" at the first American Anime Awards show.

In the November 2007 issue of Anime Insider, FLCL was ranked 4th in their list of the best English-licensed anime of all time.

The directors of Avatar: The Last Airbender, an American animated television series, claim inspiration from FLCL. Avatar director Giancarlo Volpe says the staff "were all ordered to buy FLCL and watch every single episode of it.

References

External links

  • FLCL Synch-Point's official site

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