FLCL: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)
March 1, 2011 by Dennis Amith
The classic anime OVA series “FLCL” from the creators of “Neon Genesis Evangelion”, “Gurren Lagann” and “Eden of the East” receives an upscale HD treatment! A worthwhile upgrade over its DVD counterpart and if you have never watched this series before, definitely check this Blu-ray out!
Images courtesy of © 1999 GAINAX/KGI. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: FLCL: The Complete Series
DURATION: 6 OAV’s (150 Minutes)
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition 4×3, Dolby True HD English 2.0 and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English
RATED: TV 14
COMPANY: FUNimation Entertainment
RELEASE DATE: February 22, 2011
Originally Concept by Kazuya Tsurumaki
Original Character Designs by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto
Script by Yoji Enokido
Art Director: Hiromasa Ogura
Anime Production by GAINAX, Production I.G.
Production by FLCL Prodution Committee, GAINAX, Production I.G., Starchild Records
Featuring the voices of:
Jun Mizuki as Naota Nandaba
Mayumi Shintani as Haruko Haruhara
Izumi Kasagi as Mamimi Samejima
Akira Miyajima as Gaku
Chiemi Chiba as Kiturubami
Hideaki Anno as Miyu Miyu
Hiroshi Ito as Shigekuni Nandaba
Yukari Fukui as Junko Miyaji
Kazuhito Suzuki as Masashi
Naota is a detached sixth grader afflicted by the pangs of puberty. He’s fooling around with his brother’s ex-girlfriend when a crazed girl on a motor scooter runs him over, brains him with a bass guitar, and moves into his house. She says she’s an alien, and hurls Naota into the middle of a mega-corporation’s secret agenda. Now giant battling robots shoot from his skull when he has naughty thoughts.
Back in 2000-2001, the six-episode OVA anime series “FLCL” (or Furi Kuri) was released in Japan and followed by a novel and manga series.
Directed by Kazuya Tsurumaki (“Gunbuster”, “His and Her Circumstances”, “Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth”) and a screenplay written by Yoji Enokido (“Gunbuster 2”, “RahXephon”, “Revolutionary Girl Utena”, “Sailor Moon SuperS”), the series would feature original character designs by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (“Neon Genesis Evangelion”, “.Hack/Sign”, “Summer Wars”) and art direction by Hiromasa Ogura (“Ghost Hound”, “Spirited Away”, “Last Exile”, “Jon-Roh – The Wolf Brigade”).
Needless to say, the anime series featured Japan’s most revered talents in the anime industry and when word of the creators of “Neon Genesis Evangelion” would be involved in the series, anime fans worldwide would pay attention.
The anime series debuted in the U.S. courtesy of Adult Swim and would receive an enthusiastic response from American fans.
Upon release on DVD from Synch-Point and Geneon Entertainment (featuring two episodes per DVD), the series will now be released in HD on Blu-ray courtesy of FUNimation Entertainment.
“FLCL” revolves around a boy named Naota Nandaba. A young kid who is mature for his age, Naota has always looked up and idolized his brother Tasuku, who has moved to the United States to play in minor-league baseball. He often is seen hanging around Tasuku’s ex-girlfriend Mamimi Samejima, a teenager who is always a loner, never goes to school and is usually seen hanging out under the bridge, smoking, playing video games and taking pictures.
She has been calling Naota names such as “Takkun” including animals and other objects as a replacement for Naota.
One day, while both were hanging out, a young woman named Haruko Haruhara runs over Naota with her Vespa scooter. Seeing what she has done, she gives Naota CPR and for some reason, hits him on the head with her blue vintage Rickenbacker 4001 electric bass guitar.
The following day, Naota notices that the bump on his forehead has gotten quite large and to make things even more interesting, his father has hired a live-in maid, who happens to be Haruko.
As Naota hopes that the big bump on his head will go down, somehow giant robots from Medical Mechanica are coming out of his head and causing devastation which Haruko takes on. Meanwhile, for Naota, when he bonds with a robot, he becomes Atomsk, the most powerful space pirate in the galaxy.
Why is Naota having these strange occurrences? Why is Haruko living with the Nandaba family? And with fires occurring around the city, is Mamimi responsible for them?
“FLCL” features the following characters:
- Naota Nandaba – The main protagonist who is a kid but acts mature. He finds himself falling for both Haruko Haruhara and his brother’s ex-girlfriend Mamimi Samejima. He has a problem of having robots coming out of his head ever since Haruko ran over him with a Vespa.
- Haruko Haruhara – The Nandaba’s live-in maid but in truth, she is an extraterrestrial investigator for the Galactic Space Police Brotherhood who is in search of Atomsk, the most powerful space pirate in the galaxy. Atomsk seems to show up with Naota bonds with a robot. She is seen riding a Vespa and carrying a Rickenbacker 4001 bass guitar.
- Mamimi Samejima – The ex-girlfriend of Tasuku Nandaba, older brother of Naota. Mamimi has been moping around since Tasuku had left for the United States to pursue his baseball career. She is now a loner and is often playing video games, smoking or taking pictures near a bridge. She tends to call things around her “Tasuku” including Naota. She is not very bright and she may be responsible for causing fires throughout the city.
- Canti – The first robot to come out of Naota’s head. He is literally a medical robot or Haruko or the Nandaba family’s slave. Somehow, Naota is able to connect to Canti and turn into Atomsk.
- Kamon Nandaba – Naota’s father who tends to act like a young-kid and is often seen trying to get some love from Haruko.
- Shigekuni Nandaba – Naota’s grandfather who is a manager of Tasuku’s former baseball team. Because he disproves Mamimi and her relationship with Tasuku, she was forbidden to come into to the house.
- Amarao – A commander and special agent of the Bureau of Interstellar immigration who doesn’t get along with Haruko. He is also seen wearing big, fake eyebrows and is constantly hitting on his agent Kitsurubami.
- Kitsurubami – An agent of Commander Amarao who loves shooting guns and is also repulsed by her boss, who is always trying to hit on her.
“FLCL” is presented in 1080p High Definition (4×3, SD Remaster). And when it comes to older series, it’s always important for me to re-emphasize that for series created 2008 and up, we can really see how the anime series looks great in HD but for “FLCL”, considering this series was released back in 2000, while groundbreaking for its time, I was not expecting anything tremendous in picture quality. What I did expect was a major upgrade from its DVD counterpart and with that being said, that is what you’re going to get. And it’s important that FUNimation Entertainment did mention on the packaging that this older series on Blu-ray is an Standard Definition remaster.
With that being said, there is shimmering, edge enhancement and haloing in this series. But considering it is an upscale and it’s an older series, I will say that there are times where the anime series looked great and the colors were vibrant.
But it all comes down to how much of a videophile you are. How large your screen is? How far you are watching? And how much you nitpick upscaled anime series? If you are the type who is very critical, upscaled anime series on Blu-ray may not be for you. But I will say, considering its price and the fact that the series has been upscaled to 1080p and it has a lossless soundtrack with special features, for me, it’s worth the upgrade.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“FLCL” is presented in Dolby TrueHD English 2.0 and Dolby TrueHD Japanese 2.0. In some way, I was hoping that FUNimation Entertainment would have redubbed the OVA series in order to get a better lossless soundtrack. There’s no doubt that “FLCL” could have had a solid 5.1 or 7.2 lossless soundtrack.
I just felt that the English dub and the sound seemed off. So, after testing the first episode and a few other episodes on English, I decided to keep it on the Japanese soundtrack which sounds a lot better. Dialogue and music come clear through the front channels but while watching “FLCL”, I just felt that this was one series that could have really had audio potential for a more immersive soundscape but considering it’s a “classic” series, I suppose that the lossless 2.0 soundtrack is fine.
Subtitles are only in English.
“FLCL: The Complete Series” comes with the following special features presented in 480p (outtakes) and 1080i (music videos):
- Audio Commentary For Each Episode 1-6 – Featuring audio commentary by director Kazuya Tsuramaki and voice talent.
- Videos with Music by The Pillows – Featuring anime clips from “FLCL” to the music by the Pillows such as “Ride on Shooting Star” (2:22), “Come Down” (2:13), “One Life” (4:14), “Little Busters” (3:10) and “Last Dinosaur” (3:54).
- Ride on Star Music Video – (2:34) “Ride On Star” by The Pillows
- Outtakes – Featuring a total of three English voice talent outtakes: Part 1 (1:12), Part 2 (3:03) and Part 3 (2:31)
- Textless Closing Song – Closing theme “Ride on Shooting Star” by The Pillows
For many Americans, the airing of “FLCL” on the Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim” was their first taste of a non-TV anime series and also their introduction to the anime production work for Production I.G. Of course, it also helps with the buzz that the creators of “Neon Genesis Evangelion” was involved that got people going crazy at the time.
For me, “FLCL” is a bit special for me because it was one of the first anime series I premiered for an anime con I started and also because of the written work and coverage that I have done on The Pillows and receiving the actual Japanese DVD releases from the company, I look at “FLCL” more like nostalgia of an anime series that attracted a demographic who would have usually never tuned into anime.
Considering at the time that people were going crazy for “Naruto”, “Bleach” and other TV series, it’s amazing how many people I talked to, who were introduced to anime because of “FLCL” and also introduced to Japanese music because of The Pillows through “FLCL”.
But for me, what I loved about the OVA series was that it didn’t follow the banality of other anime series. I felt that with each episode, there was something new, something fresh, creative and artistic about the series. I loved how the integrated music and felt the animation and artistic backgrounds were fantastic.
But here we are with a Blu-ray release that is an upscale of an older series. If you are very critical towards upscaled anime series, then “FLCL” is not for you. You’re best sticking with a modern anime series that was released within the last four years as opposed to nearly eleven years ago. Personally, since I have the 2008 rule when it comes to anime on Blu-ray and the fact that this series was released from 2000-2001, I was not going to be picky or overly critical. What I was looking for is a series that is an upgrade to its DVD counterpart. And this latest release from FUNimation Entertainment was just that.
For anime fans who have been good with upscaled releases thus far and newer anime fans who have never watched “FLCL” before, I can easily recommend this anime OVA classic.
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