English Dub Review: FLCL Alternative “Grown-Up Wannabe”

Someone call Shia Lebouf!

OVERVIEW (SPOILERS)

Hijiri is having a fun time with her college-age photographer boyfriend Toshio, which blows the mind of the emotionally immature Kana. Word also spreads fast throughout their high school, especially the boys, who stage a protest over it, on top of all the gossip that’ll probably get started. But Hijiri doesn’t really seem to mind as long as things are going well, and they do…until she and her friends run into Haruko at a kebab truck. Toshio’s pretty swiftly smitten with her, even dumping Hijiri the next day.

She takes it in stride at first, but it turns out to have hit her pretty hard, especially when he texts later asking for a necklace back that he gave her. Things get worse when Kana sees Toshio with Haruko, not knowing he’s already broken up with Hijiri! OH MY GOOOOOOOOOD. Going with the most logical option, she rounds up her other friends to confront him, though not before Hijiri ALSO planned to meet him to give back the necklace, which sends Kana into a mental breakdown because she can’t comprehend the idea of a friend being overall okay with a breakup.

Somehow, this causes Toshio’s car to turn into a giant robot which looks suspiciously like Bumblebee from Transformers AND Kana to grow horns. Seizing the opportunity, Haruko smacks her in the head with the guitar, and out pops Haruko’s kebab truck. The scene goes from 0 to 100 as Kana now has to deal with a car chase while Haruko calls shotgun (shot guitar?). Her laser shooting ends up brings down a lamp post that almost crushes Toshio, but instead only smushes his camera. One kebab smack to the head and Bumblebee goes down, and this is enough to snap Hijiri out of her brief depression. Toshio tries to use this as an excuse to start over, which pisses the other girls off, but Hijiri just admits that she’s just as bad for pretending to be mature when she really isn’t. She’s passed all that now and gives back the necklace.

And then Haruko smacks Toshio in the head with her guitar and a little car pops out of his head. She then gives everyone snacks and drives off. As a sign of character development, Hijiri admits it’s spicy.

OUR TAKE

And THERE goes a fat portion of that goodwill from last week. I had my hopes for this season based on how different it was setting itself from Progressive, and those are still there somewhat, but I think we might have dipped a bit too far in the other direction. I certainly don’t want a bunch of weirdness and callbacks just for their own sake, and more focus on the humanity behind said weirdness is right up my alley, but I feel like (with this episode at least) we may have forgotten to have that balance that was so significant about the original series. FLCL, as I interpret it, is a story about maturity and the awkwardness and freakiness of that manifesting in physical ways, but while we had a lot of maturity talk this week, it didn’t seem to lead to much in the way of the other half.

I guess there’s no set formula for how a series like this should go, and I could almost argue there shouldn’t be, but I figured this second episode would be about further developing on Kana adjusting to these weird mishaps dropping into her life at such a formative time. She’s basically an anti-Naota from the first season, wanting to maintain her youthful childish days till their last, and now has a perfect excuse to feel that as validated now that Haruko’s around to make things all sci-fi. Yet it looks like things have just carried on as normal for her after almost getting killed by a giant robot and I get the sense she and Haruko barely talk. For Naota, and even Hijiri, pretending to ignore that sort of thing makes sense if you won’t be “the mature one”, but I thought Kana would be making her own guitar themed superhero costume by now. Alas, nothing, and no sign of it coming in the future. I guess even Haruko is taking the hands-off approach with her targets this time around, which I fear might make her less of a character and more a walking plot device that spouts crazy one-liners…though we still have a few episodes left to make up for that, I guess.

The other big thing of note is probably the utilization of NO as it seems to be written in this series. Again, I guess there wasn’t any set rule that you could only pull out either robots or guitars, so motor vehicles aren’t THAT much weirder, but I do wonder how exactly THIS enemy robot manifested and how it may or may not be similar to how the last one did. This time felt pretty reminiscent of robot appearances in the first season, specifically in how they came about due to an emotional breaking point on the part of whoever had the portal in their head. In this episode’s case, it was Kana being sad her friend was going through something tough while pretending to be fine, which I joked about, but can’t deny I’ve felt for a friend during similar experiences. But in this case, the robot suddenly appeared in the car, and what came out of her head was Haruko’s truck. This is only the first third, but I do hope they figure out some ground rules for this stuff.

And next week seems to be a Mossan episode, so that’s…fine. Here’s hoping Kana doesn’t get lost in her own show like Hidomi.

Score
6/10

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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