English Dub Review: FLCL Alternative “Freestyle Collection”

The Alien Housekeeper Wears Prada.

OVERVIEW (SPOILERS)

As Haruko makes an…odd phone call while surrounded by dogs, Mossan works her early morning construction job that is clearly running her ragged. Between that, school, and her secret project in her sketchbook, she’s almost always completely drained. Said project are surprisingly good-looking designs for dresses that she’s entered in a contest, even though she’s pretty insecure about the whole thing. Soon enough, she passes out from overworking, forcing her friends to take her to Doctor Haruko. That’s right, DOCTOR. It’s 2018 now, and the gender barrier for what occupation she can impersonate is no more!

Kana talks to Mossan’s mother (and her apparently also artistically gifted younger siblings), who reveals that Mossan is doing all this work in order to get into a Design School. In order to take some of the load off, Kana, her friends, and even Haruko pitch in at her work for a day. Though Mossan arrives soon after to tell them that her dreams don’t mean anything unless she does the work herself and that the rest should just butt out. On her way home with her head down in shame, Kana finds the countryside covered in Google Maps pins from the first episode…but finds nothing wrong with it. Instead, she kicks one until a robot with a screen head pops out of her head and tells her to leave “her” alone. Haruko jumps in and disposes of it, apparently letting the audience know that this has happened before? She and Kana have a somewhat touching moment about not having a life dream and then she…raps. Yeah…

Kana comes by Mossan’s place to apologize but is still determined to help, so she acts as her design assistant before the big contest. The day arrives soon enough and finishes in the blink of an eye, but Mossan is not the winner. She seems content with this…and then Haruko sneaks on stage with her dress before getting attacked by security. This finally gets Mossan the spotlight, which she uses to tell everyone she’ll be the world’s top model! Did she mean the designer?

OUR TAKE

You know, I was starting to get the feeling from the last two episodes that the robot fights were being treated more like an obligation than something the director wanted in this season, and now they’ve just opted to simply not have one this time. I mean, we had a robot pop out of a head and had Haruko “defeat” it, but even that seemed like it was more about setting up stuff for future episodes. I mean, the third episode of FLCL “Classic” definitely felt more like downtime, but even that remembered to have a fight. It’s just really odd to have an FLCL episode without this, is all.

Though I did actually like the character focus with Mossan this week considerably more than last week with Hijiri. I already noted how she’s a notable improvement on the typical “fat” anime character, being a lot more developed and complex than you would usually find in an archetype that is generally delegated to having most of their dialogue be about food…but that isn’t to say she isn’t guilty of falling into those clichés from time to time. I AM a bit perplexed by her (seeming) change from wanting to be a designer to being a model herself, but that may have been her finally overcoming some part of her insecurities regarding her body type. Which is all well and good, but…when can we get some more robots to beat with guitars?

I guess these two pieces were meant to take note of answers Kana is lacking in her own maturity, since Hijiri is already practically an adult in relationships and Mossan has big plans for her own career while Kana is and has neither (and who knows what issues Pets has), but it seems like she’s still getting sidelined for other characters’ stories when this season should be more closely centered on her. We’re halfway through now and I don’t get the feeling that’s going to change, which is a bit of an issue.

And that’s not even mentioning all the other burning questions I have that I still don’t know whether to think as an intentional mystery or just shoddy story structure. Like, what is it with all the giant pins in the ground? The first one dropping was a big deal in the first episode, but now they’re just a part of normal life? How often have robots been coming out of Kana’s head that we aren’t aware of to make Haruko act like there have been at least a few? For that matter, what even is Haruko’s plan this time, and how does “steal your target’s friend’s boyfriend” and “sneak into local fashion show” contribute to that? Three more episodes aren’t enough to make me quit the show in frustration at this rate, but I am hoping we end up with something more solid than Progressive when all’s said and done.

Score
7/10

David Kaldor

Green Lynx (David Kaldor): Aimless 20-something given a paid outlet for his thoughts on cartoons. Fears being boring slightly more than being outright disliked.

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