FLCL (フリクリ Furi Kuri?, pronounced in English as Fooly Cooly) 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 was first licensed by Synch-Point and Geneon Entertainment, which released the DVDs and soundtrack respectively, but then went out of print in 2006. In January 2010, however, Funimation Entertainment announced that they would be re-releasing the series on DVD and releasing for the first time on Blu-ray. In addition, the series aired on TV in America on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim several times.
FLCL revolves around Naota. His life is interrupted by the arrival of Haruko Haruhara, who bursts on the scene by running Naota over with her Vespa scooter, then giving him CPR and hitting him on the head with a blue vintage Rickenbacker 4001 left-handed electric bass guitar. Later, Naota is shocked to find Haruko working in his house as a live-in maid.
Since then, Giant Robots from Medical Mechanica have been coming out of Naota's head and cause more problems for Naota and Haruko. Haruko is using Naota for her search for the Pirate King, Atomsk, which puts her at odds with Medical Mechanica, the monolithic industrial corporation. At the same time, Naota is being watched by Commander Amarao, who believes that Medical Mechanica is out to conquer the galaxy. The combination of circumstances gets Naota involved in a three-way battle between Haruko, Amarao and Medical Mechanica. The underlying theme is Naota's coming of age as he becomes more mature and learns to express his feelings.
- Naota Nandaba (ナンダバ・ナオ太 Nandaba Naota?)
- Voiced by: Jun Mizuki (Japanese), Barbara Goodson (English)
- The protagonist of the series, obsessed with appearing mature and nonchalant. He idolizes his older brother Tasuku, who represents for Naota what it means to be an "adult". He also has a crush on Haruko but tries never to admit it.
- Haruko Haruhara (ハルハラ・ハル子 Haruhara Haruko?)
- Voiced by: Mayumi Shintani (Japanese), Kari Wahlgren (English)
- 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 bass guitar to create an N.O. portal in Naota's head, through which various objects periodically appear, including Medical Mechanica robots and Naota's guitar, among others. Amarao states in episode 4 and episode 6 that Haruko's real name is "Raharu Haruha" (ハルハ・ラハル Haruha Raharu?).
- Canti (カンチ Kanchi?)
- The first robot to emerge from Naota's head. It was manufactured by Medical Mechanica, and had been used by them to capture Atomsk. It is later revealed that Atomsk can manifest through Canti, with Naota being the catalyst.
- Mamimi Samejima (サメジマ・マミ美 Samejima Mamimi?)
- Voiced by: Izumi Kasagi (Japanese), Stephanie Sheh (English)
- A high school truant, and Tasuku's ex-girlfriend. She is a lonely and depressed heavy-smoker, and a possible pyromaniac. She adopts several pets and names them all "Ta-kun" (タッくん Takkun?) as a replacement for Naota's brother, including Naota himself, but later grows uninterested when Naota exhibits independence. She has also shown interest in photography and at the end leaves the city to become a photojournalist.
- (Eri) Ninamori (ニナモリ・エリ Ninamori Eri?)
- Voiced by: Mika Itō (Japanese), Melissa Fahn (English)
- 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 when angry or excited. Ninamori hides her frustration with her father's sex scandal, and rigs an election for the school play so that she gets the lead role while Naota gets cast opposite her, hinting that she has a crush on him.
- Kamon Nandaba (ナンダバ・カモン Nandaba Kamon?)
- Voiced by: Suzuki Matsuo (Japanese), Joe Martin (English)
- A would-be editor and Naota's father. Unlike his son, he is clearly outgoing and does what he pleases. Naota often reprimands his father for not acting like an adult.
- Shigekuni Nandaba (ナンダバ・シゲクニ Nandaba Shigekuni?)
- Voiced by: Hiroshi Ito (Japanese), Steve Kramer (English)
- Naota's grandfather, a retired baker and current manager of Tasuku's former baseball team. He doesn't like Mamimi.
- Amarao (アマラオ?)
- Voiced by: Kōichi Ōkura (Japanese), Dave Mallow (English)
- A special agent of the Bureau of Interstellar Immigration. He apparently has some past with Haruko and claims to know who or what she really is. Amarao's childhood also seems to mirror Naota's. Amarao wears fake eyebrows made of nori to keep Haruko from using his head as a portal.
- Kitsurubami (キツルバミ?)
- Voiced by: Chiemi Chiba (Japanese), L. Villa (English)
- An agent of Commander Amarao, a healthy young woman who worries about her boss's eyebrows. She is generally repulsed by him, especially by his occasional advances toward her. It can be said throughout the series that she is the only character that can be considered mature by any means.
- Tasuku Nandaba (ナンダバ・タスク Nandaba Tasuku?)
- Naota's brother who lives in the United States and plays minor-league baseball. He is never shown in the anime except in a flashback as a silhouette and in a photo of Tasuku and his "American girlfriend".
- Atomsk (アトムスク Atomusuku?)
- The most powerful space pirate in the galaxy, also known as the Pirate King (海賊王 Kaizoku-Ō?). An enigmatic character, all that is known for certain about him is that he can manefest entire galaxies through his body with N.O. power, which Haruko desires. He takes on the form of a massive phoenix-like creature. Amarao erroneously believes him to be Haruko's lover, and imagines him in a more humanoid form.
Six pieces of theme music are used for the episodes; five opening themes and one closing theme. All the theme songs are by The Pillows, a Japanese rock band. The battle themes are "Advice" and "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.
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.
The manga interprets the series with all of the key elements intact, but loses some details and changes the dialogue. 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; Shigekuni and an unnamed war buddy later suicide-bomb the Medical Mechanica building).
The manga is stylistically unique due to its use 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.
The first of the three novels was released in America on March 11, 2008, the second on September 9, 2008, and the final on March 10, 2009. All were released in Japan starting in 2000, and in 2008 in the United States.
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. In January 2010, Funimation Entertainment announced that they had acquired the license for the series and would be releasing it on DVD and Blu-ray Disc. The series is also often aired on TV in America on Adult Swim.
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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 mostly positive reception among reviewers; 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:
- Animé [sic] 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.
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."
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- Mell, Tory Ireland (July 26, 2008). "Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko talk Airbender". IGN. Retrieved July 28, 2008.
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- FLCL (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- FLCL at the Internet Movie Database
- FLCL at TV.com