English Dub Review: FLCL Progressive “Fool on the Planet”

Did they even bother making these titles have a connection to the story?

OVERVIEW (SPOILERS)

Hidomi awakens from another dream about a desolate and empty town. Everyone seems at least a little unnerved by upright iron, including Masurao and Eye Patch, who go to the base of the Immigration Center (maybe the same as the Bureau of Interstellar Immigration that Amarao worked for?) with Canti’s body and report into their colleague Tonkichi at the amusement park. At school, the newly pink-haired Haruko charges in with a gut that would make Gaz Digzy from Ballmastrz 9009 blush. She declares she will no longer be a teacher and sends the students off to the park, but Hidomi and Ide stay put, with Ide confronting Haruko alone about not involving Hidomi in whatever she has planned next. He then starts swinging Jinyu’s guitar at her and only barely manages to land a hit, though it’s clear she’s just toying with him. She regrets that everything she “taught” him went to waste, though he mockingly tells her she doesn’t “satisfy” him. This seems good timing for Hidomi to walk in on them talking, which triggers her NO to suck Ide into her. Or at least…his skin, leaving a black bodysuit with a couple tiny speakers attached…?

At the amusement park, the students start pairing off (leaving Mori sadly alone), and some even begin to manifest NO power because of weird adolescent shenanigans. This turns out to be the plan of Tonkichi to harvest this energy to power a carnival ride giant robot to attack the upright Medical Mechanica Iron, which retaliates with its own laser defenses.

Meanwhile, Hidomi remembers earlier that morning as she found out that her mother is shutting down the café and supports her kinda sorta relationship with Ide. As she remembers this, she washes Ide’s weird new body, which then floats into space and is caught by an Immigration Center satellite, which is itself run by a weird old lady who is taking care of Canti’s head, which is now dog-like and sporting the Atomsk symbol, and is fed Ide’s body. Hidomi reacts to this by gathering junk and seemingly becoming part robot and then goes to confront Haruko about how her plan to lure back Atomsk has only messed with their lives. As they fight, the sky turns a deep red, signifying the Pirate King’s arrival.

OUR TAKE

First, let’s talk about the most apparent change from the last episode, the animation style. It wasn’t exactly out of left field for the old show to do this from time to time (or at least not as out of left field as everything else), so that they did it here isn’t too surprising. What makes it stand out is that this the only time they’ve done it for something that wasn’t one of Hidomi’s dreams, and it looks like they’re going back to the usual style for the finale next week. Whether they this was intentional or a way to speed up production or some other odd artistic is anyone’s guess right now.

Though I will say that this episode definitely felt the most like the old show than any other episode so far, and in a way that I was starting to guess they’d forgotten how to do: making the town feel weirdly normal. There are only a few shots that do this, but they’re definitely there and they definitely help, such as Haruko watching the day begin from the roller coaster or the foggy morning Masurao and Eye Patch drive through. It was something that helped contrast the real from the surreal before and this season could’ve used more of it, but this is fine for now.

There are also ways this season, and this episode, attempt to make things from the old show its own in surprising ways, though not always to great effect. Their version of the manga scene feels more like it has a place as Hidomi’s recalling an uncomfortable memory, whereas the original series used it as a way to be original and wacky and did just that (twice!). On the other end is the reusing of Pillows’ songs like “I Think I Can” and “Last Dinosaur”, both played in the last episode of the previous season at key moments, though seemingly just tossed out in this one with very little apparent reason. They almost seem like they’re there to invoke a comparison between the scenes that used these songs before, but aside from some superficial similarities, I can’t see why they’d want to do that other than to make themselves look worse.

Weird food baby bump (that’s weirdly shown prominently and then completely discarded) aside, Haruko’s big plan of luring Atomsk back seems to have worked, though now she’s back to having kids she’s manipulated calling her out, and I don’t think any of them are going to settle for a kiss this time. Still, poor Jinyu, who barely gets even a mention this episode after sacrificing herself for all this. Although I guess it’s better than suddenly becoming part robot or turning into a balloon that floats into space and gets eating by a robot head dog. And that’s not even mentioning what the heck, the “Immigration Center” wants with all this NO besides fight MM, whom I can’t figure out as to why they’d still even be here after all the hoopla that happened with Atomsk last time. I do remember Amarao mention he wanted to get rid of all the “outsiders”, and that included Haruko and MM, so that sentiment probably continued into this iteration of the organization, but what the end game is would be anyone’s guess at this point.

I’m confused, kinda disappointed, and even more intrigued as to how this season wraps up, and you could do worse for a penultimate episode. Still, I’m honestly pretty worried that there’s so much they won’t fully explain that needs it. I look forward to what they can pull off next week as we wrap up Progressive, and maybe Alternative can tie it all together in the end.

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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