Furi Kuri FLCL anime review

Furi Kuri FLCL anime review
Naota is a normal Japanese 6th grade boy (although a little cynical), but when his older brother leaves for America to play baseball, his brother leaves his homeless 17 year old girlfriend Mamimi behind. Mamimi is sending mixed signals and advances to Naota, and he doesn't know what to do about her. But to make matters worse, Naota's world is totally turned upside down when he is run over by a woman on a Vespa. During their first encounter, she hits him over the head with her guitar, which then causes a horn to grow out of his forehead. She calls herself "Haruko" and her presence changes Naota's life to even further insanity.

There are many kinds of humor: puns, sarcasm, visual humor, cute humor. But in my humble opinion, both as an otaku and as a bad Jew, I would have to say that the hardest to pull off is random humor. It seems easy--guy walks down the street, gets hit by a bat. While he bleeds to death, the audience is laughing in the aisles, right? No. Random humor is very hard to pull off correctly; when overdone it takes away any chance of character development, when underdone it's just a guy getting hit by a bat. In order to make random humor work, you need to find a good medium between too much of it and too little. The good people at Gainax (have I mentioned that they are godlike in their abilities?) have found this happy medium in Furi Kuri. 

There is, I believe, a special spot in heaven for those who understand the plot of Furi Kuri. Like enlightenment, once one understands the convoluted plot of this show, they are immediately taken from this Earth and installed in this place where they talk about things such as Jungian archetypes and Japanese coming of age rituals. Do not believe anyone who says that they understand this show (unless, of course, they come to you while you're dreaming) because they're just dirty liars; kill them for their sins. 

Meet Naota, an elementary school student with a small problem: after being hit in the head with a guitar by the pink-haired, Vespa-riding Haruko, reality flips and his standard angst (dealing with his feelings toward his brother's former girlfriend) pales in comparison with the perplexing, robot-involving insanity he is now a key member of. And that's all I can give away without spoiling everything, believe it or not. The show does make a valiant attempt to try and explain the plot, but Gainax has fallen to the same demons as *shudder* X: The Movie and Akira--it has far too many storylines and tries to explain them all in far too little time. The entire series is just 6 episodes, people. When I watch Furi Kuri with others I simply tell them to ask no questions, as I have no answers.

"But Bad Jew," you might ask, "if it's so confusing, what's the point of watching it? Won't I just be left a blithering idiot?" I would then strike you down for daring to question the gods of Gainax, and in your dying moments as you choke on your own tongue I would explain that this show is not about plot. It's about damn good animation, kickass music, great voice acting, fantastic visual jokes, parodies, and simple insanity. If you want a plot that you can wrap your mind around, check out Escaflowne or Kenshin, but never, ever look to Gainax.

Gainax is not particularly known for their high-quality animation. This is, I believe, due to their inability to employ an accountant who would keep them from spending all their animation budget on catering and resin Rei dolls by the 10th episode. Luckily, Furi Kuri is a scant 6 episodes, so the animation staff finally gets to show their stuff. The fight scenes (remembers those robots mentioned? Well, they're not peaceniks if you catch my drift) are excellent. The effects are amazing, and the animation team certainly picked up a few hints from the battle scenes Gainax did earlier in Neon Genesis Evangelion. And the monsters share the same odd designs as the angels from Eva (oh dear God, a giant Octagon is destroying Tokyo! Where's Raymond Burr when you need him?). Two of the featured Furi Kuri robots are a giant hand wearing a poncho, and a small metal dog that grows quite large.
Don't touch me, you have leprosy.

The visual humor is the meat and potatoes of this show, and they are extremely well done. "Matrix Shots," where time slows down and the camera pans around the subject, are used twice. The Guy With The Eyebrows (more people should be given names relating only to their freakish appearance) suddenly turns into a "South Park" parody for a few seconds. And let's not forget the manga scenes ... ah, the manga scenes, when the action suddenly switches to a ridiculously fast, 2D comic visual for no apparent reason. The first such manga scene, which appears in the first episode, is basically an extended Japanese pun on the name of the show; somehow the words Furi Kuri are connected to bread, breasts, feeling of said breasts, and for some reason, Gundam. I cringe to imagine what the dub of that scene will be like. And, by the way, congratulations to the original fansubtitlers for dealing with those scenes--and this entire show--in the first place.

However, I cannot stress enough that you should not watch this show if you want any semblance of an understandable plot. Behind all the great jokes, great animation, and great scripting, there is the hubris of the director thinking that he could adequately explain all the multiple plot lines in 6 short episodes. It would take a good 2 seasons of episodes to even scratch the surface, but the show acts as if it plans to explain everything the next episode, so it's okay that it just introduced 2 new characters. And on a cultural level, this show will be very hard for American audiences to understand; Synch-Point is planning (if the rumors are correct) to bundle 20 pages of translators' notes with the first disk. That's all well and good, but the first disk covers only 2 episodes. Entire disks of other anime, containing almost triple the number of episodes, get maybe a page of notes if they're lucky. I can understand the importance of these notes, as the uncultured American audience might even miss the references to Gundam and Lupin if they blink for a second, and they have no chance, unless they are native Japanese speakers, of getting the bakery-related puns. While the story of this show doesn't demand thought, in fact it actively attempts to avoid it, the subtler points of the show (which are many) require a very good knowledge of the Japanese culture to get--which might detract from its widespread adoption.

I just finished watching the first American DVD of Furi Kuri, and I take back every death threat and mail bomb that I sent to Synch-Point for their delay of the DVD. The dub is great, it makes the insane pun scenes actually make sense, and unlike the fan subs that I have, the subtitles are readable and aren't confusing. My hat is off to Synch-Point, and even though I am now a pennyless college student, I will be buying the rest of the series as it comes out. 

Better than review, is a Trailer video of: Furi Kuri FLCL. Watch it now:
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