As the 20th century drew to a close, the tide of anime fans was on the rise. The gateway drug of Dragonball Z and other syndicated dubbed classics was on a constant loop in the hearts and minds of a generation of new fans. There were epic mecha battles, planet-shaking brawls and galaxy-hopping ne’er-do-wells.
The success of the Matrix had brought the aesthetics of anime to a much larger Western audience, and the Wachowskis would double down on this by releasing the Animatrix, a series of short films set in the world of the Matrix, but each exhibiting their own style. Countless other shows would soon follow, further fleshing out the categories and styles of the new and exciting televised delights.
One show announced with its 2000 debut in Japan in 2000 (it dropped in the US in 2003), that it refused to be placed gently into a box. Nearly twenty years later, it still confounds as much as it entertains. FLCL, or Fooly Cooly, was Anime meets Dada. The name of the show is itself nonsense, and the frames of animation never stayed in any single style for long. It was a compilation of aesthetics and techniques, even borrowing from South Park for a moment or two. The storyline was a collage of love triangles, evil corporations, aliens, robots, guitars and a kid trying to make his way in an increasingly nonsensical world. The show also sported a great soundtrack by Japanese rockers The Pillows.
Then, just as suddenly as it had appeared on our radars, it was over, after six dizzying episodes.
But FLCL, that garden of animated delights, is returning to Earth. As Haruko, the star-hopping, guitar-wielding hero of the first season intones in the new trailer for two (!) new seasons, “It takes an idiot to do cool things … and that’s why it’s cool!”
FLCL makes sense as if by accident, and many of the visuals and gags put the idiot in idiot box, but that’s why it’s cool. With plot lines like a Jackson Pollock painting and heart the size of a blue whale’s, FLCL is a call to arms to the backyard adventurers of our inner child.
From the brief glimpse of new material, the doldrums of the suburbs are again at center stage, with a whole new batch of teens about to have their lives thrown into disarray by giant robots and full-contact metaphysics. “They have no idea what’s inside of them,” says Haruko.
The show’s return has some big shoes to fill, but they’re packing some big guns; Production I.G. (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex) and Studio Bones (Fullmetal Alchemist) are on deck to produce the new episodes. Character director Yoshiyuki Sadamoto returns to his duties, along with the Pillows on music and Haruko’s iconic yellow Vespa.
FLCL will be landing planetside in two waves on Cartoon Network’s Toonami block; FLCL Progressive drops June 2nd, followed by Alternative in September. Each season will feature six episodes, rounding this mischievous series out to the number of the beast.