HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Thunderclap
Zeiram
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Kimi
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Promare
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Winterhawk
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
B.N.A.
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Snatchers
Imperial Swordsman
Foxtrap
   
 
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
   
 
  FLCL Fooly Cooly!
Year: 2000
Director: Kazuya Tsurumaki
Stars: Jun Mizuki, Mayumi Shintani, Izumi Kasagi, Akira Miyajima, Chiemi Chiba, Hideaki Anno, Hiroshi Ito, Jun Mizuki, Kazuhito Suzuki, Koji Okura, Mika Itou, Suzuki Matsuo, Yukari Fukui
Genre: Comedy, Animated, Science Fiction, Weirdo, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  10 (from 1 vote)
Review: 21st Century anime kicked off with an almighty bang, thanks to FLCL, a surreal six episode sci-fi rom-com from those geniuses at Studio Gainax. It’s title is a nonsensical acronym, variously described as “Fooly Cooly”, “Flictonic Cipple” or “Foolish Cleverness.” That doesn’t matter. What matters unfolds over the course of one-hundred and fifty unforgettable minutes. Cynical sixth grade boy Naota Nandaba (voiced by Jun Mizuki) feels empty inside since his baseball-playing big brother left for America. Abandoned by her boyfriend, gorgeous, 17 year old Mamimi (Izumi Kasagi) cuddles Naota for comfort, but freaks the kid whenever her hands wander south. His father, Kamon (Suzuki Matsuo) is an ageing hipster otaku who embarrasses Naota with everything he says or does.

Everything changes the day pink-haired, 19 year old, alien space-babe Haruko (Mayumi Shintani) rides up on her mod Vespa scooter and whacks Naota over the head with her Rickenbacker bass guitar. A bizarre growth erupts from Naota’s head and out springs Kanchi a.k.a. Cantide the Black Angel, Lord of Terror. This bio-mechanical monster with a TV set for a head goes on a Tokyo-wide rampage until subdued by Haruko, whose super-strength and weird powers mark her as out of this world. Appointing herself housekeeper, Haruko and the now-tamed Kanchi move in with Naota’s family, where monsters erupting from his head and trying to take over the world becomes a bizarre daily occurrence. Soon Naota, his school friends and family are swept up in a zany stream-of-consciousness odyssey involving intergalactic prophecies, adolescent angst, inter-species romance, life, the universe and everything. Oh, and maybe saving the world.

A synopsis doesn’t really do this justice, but take it from someone who knows. FLCL is punk rock genius. Hip, sexy, hilarious and profound. To better understand its cultural relevance, one needs to place it in context. Studio Gainax’s generation-defining anime phenomenon Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995) ended in tragedy, with traditional values deconstructed to shreds and school-age heroes left floundering amidst a nightmarish apocalypse. They followed it up with His and Her Circumstances (1998), a beautifully observed and experimental romantic comedy that put Japanese social mores underneath a microscope. The overriding question in both these classics, alternately posed pessimistically and optimistically, was “what matters?” FLCL gives navel-gazing a kick up the ass and shouts: “This matters!” Get busy living kids. Seize the day. No-one else can do it for you.

Here robots pop out of a twelve year old’s head like uncontrollable zits. Creator Kazuya Tsurumaki and the Gainax/Studio I.G. crew subvert the oldest genre in anime, the giant robot show, into a parable about adolescence, contemporary Japanese society and life in the 21st Century. Most of the older characters are buffoons: Kamon is a pathetic manga obsessive - allegedly caricaturing Gainax writer-director Hideaki Anno - and lecher, forever leering at his son’s nubile school friends and oblivious to how ridiculous he looks. Secret agent Amarao (Koji Okura) is part of a government organisation fighting the alien menace, but is preoccupied pasting fake eyebrows on his face - bushy eyebrows being an emblem of masculinity in Japan - in a bid to steal Haruko away from Naota. Naota’s classmate Eri Ninamori (Mika Itou) - who may just be the girl for him - finds her father involved in a sex and bribes scandal. He literally hides in a sewer, leaving his daughter to cope as best she can.

Each of the kids goes on a voyage of self-discovery that, at the serial’s end, leaves them with greater self-awareness. Mamimi, whose pillowy lips mark her as a pouting poster-child for teenage kicks, flirts with pyromania, art photography and visions of the apocalypse (albeit filtered through the typically Japanese schoolgirl culture of cute) as dreams of getting her out of this dirt water burb. She even straps herself to a bridge during one robo-monster rampage, cheering on Armageddon. By series end, you suspect she might grow up to be some kind of artist. Sort of a twisted fusion of Sam Taylor Wood, Lolita and Angelina Jolie. Elsewhere, stridently self-conscious Eri - a wise beyond her years teenager surrounded by grownups who behave like spoiled brats - stops caring what these clods think about her and lives for today.

Haruko, one of the most compellingly ambiguous characters in anime, comes across like a fusion of Supergirl and a female Peter Pan. The spirit of youthful rebellion incarnate. Both Naota and the viewers can never guess what she’ll do next, or whether she’ll smack him or plant a smacker on him. As for Naota, he learns to take life as it comes - good or bad - and seizes the day in the mind-blowing, series-capping sci-fi guitar battle that must be seen to be believed.

On both visual and scripted levels this is a tour-de-force. Episodes rocket from slam-bang action to head-spinning romance, mind-melting weirdness to hilarious pastiche, with nary a frame passing by without some form of animated wizardry. A Playboy bunny surfs atop a flying robot to fight bio-mechanical monsters that need toilet breaks. Romantic disputes turn into John Woo shootouts wherein all the cast miraculously wield guns. The Matrix (1999) and its infamous “bullet-time” stunt is reworked into a teenage kiss.

There are digs at South Park (whose fart-laden bleakness is the polar opposite to this outwardly crude, inwardly warm-hearted masterpiece), wacky metaphorical allusions to Godzilla movies, Lupin III, Hong Kong flicks and countless manga, shojo and sci-fi references. All in the service of a sassy, witty, profoundly moving script. Plus if celebrated character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto drew sexier characters than heart-melting Mamimi and the alluring Haruko, I’d sure like to see them. Kudos also to the kickass soundtrack that goes from the epic orchestral stylings of Nobuyoshi Mitsumune to the pulse-pounding indie rock of The Boredoms. Love that theme tune (“Ride on shooting star…”).


Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 4129 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Enoch Sneed
  Louise Hackett
Darren Jones
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: