(via The Pillows – “Ride on Shooting Star”)

Year: 2003

Album: FLCL Original Soundtrack

Last month, the news broke that FLCL, an anime that found cult fame in the United States during its lone 6-episode season in 2003, was getting two more seasons. This was a good time for me to sit down and watch the entire series, because FLCL (pronounced in English “Fooly Cooly”) is, like The Sopranos or The Wire, a show you talk about more than you watch. Upon my first full viewing and following another binge watch through the series, I could confirm that the show’s zany animation and surprisingly thoughtful plot lived up to its own growing hype.

FLCL is a coming of age story following 12-year-old Naota Nandaba living peacefully in a quiet Japanese suburb until an alien, riding a yellow vespa, crashes down to earth and hits Naota on the head with a bass guitar that opens up a magical portal in which giant robots come out and try to destroy the town. But of course it’s all an analogy for growing up and dealing with the awkward stages of puberty while juggling friends, family, and romance. Duh.

Like Neon Genesis Evangelion, the point of watching is not to understand the plot but to watch the interactions between all these characters, all of whom reveal plenty of emotional baggage that isn’t too far off from real life. It’s a lively and often surreal trip that may be too much for someone not familiar with anime (Cowboy Bebop might be more your speed), but the gonzo humor blended with a compelling and relatable plot makes FLCL a rewarding viewing. The fighting robots are fun to watch too.

Most of the show’s music, including its closing theme “Ride on Shooting Star,” was recorded by Japanese rock band The Pillows, and their guitar-driven J-Pop is a lot of fun to listen to, and it perfectly matches the animation. Now that Grimes has made J-Pop, or at least her interpretation of it, somewhat more popular among the hipsters, it’d be a good idea to get on top of FLCL now before it blows up in America.