Anime Review: Fooly Cooly (2000)
Director: Kazuya Tsurumaki
Distributor: Synch-Point/Funimation Entertainment
Release Date: February 22, 2011
Runtime: 150 minutes
Availability: on DVD and Blu-Ray, buy on Amazon or RightStuf
Fooly Cooly, known as FLCL, there is a hard anime to describe. It’s just too weird, you look up weird in this dictionary, a picture from this anime would be there. It’s the much-beloved cult classic anime. And after 17 years, it’s finally getting a sequel, so in order to prepare you for the sequel airing on Adult Swim on Toonami, I will review the first season of Fooly Cooly.
How do I describe this story? A young boy named Nandaba Naota is run over by a mysterious girl on a vesper who beats him over the head with a guitar, and then weird stuff happens and things from another dimension are being pulled through Noata’s head. Haruhara Haurko is a strange girl and Noata is trying to figure it out.
This anime is so Weird:
Good Lordy, this anime is weird. I’ve watched this anime multiple times, and I still don’t understand what I watched or even what the story plot is about. While on the surface, it’s about puberty and a coming of age story, it’s also an interesting story because you can’t really figure it out or understand everything about it.
Fooly Cooly is an anime that you’ll either love it or hate it. It can be polarizing because it’s such a strange and unique anime. Not everyone likes it because it’s just too odd and some people prefer straight forward stories that are easy to understand and follow. Fooly Cooly isn’t either of those things.
The Animation is Great:
The animation is really good, it was made by Production IG but Gainax planned and designed the anime. It’s a mixture of all sorts of animation styles and that’s what makes it interesting. They’ve always done interesting things with their animation, coming up with over-the-top fight scenes or interesting character designs.
I love how unique everything looks, anime designs start to look similar after you watch a lot of anime, but Fooly Cooly stands out because their character designs are different from everyone else’s.
The fight scenes are also interesting because they’re weird. The fights are between giant robots with unconventional weapons like guitars, it’s just one of those things you have to see to believe it.
There are a lot of References:
There are a lot of references in this anime from music references to TV show references and all sorts of anime references too. There are a ton of Japanese and American pop culture reference and breaking the fourth wall as well. It’s a lot of fun to watch the anime to find them all. Although some people might get offended by Noata’s dad dressing up as a Nazi during a mock battle with Noata, they could only get away with it because this is an OVA, Original Video Animation.
Fooly Cooly Trailer:
Audio and Subtitles:
English (reviewed) (FunimationNow)
This English dub is Fantastic, and that’s not easy to say for old English dubs:
The voice acting is terrific, and it’s easy to say that as anime fan nowadays because English dubbing has come a long way from sounding forced back in the ‘90s. Anime dubs were just either very bad or just okay. Cowboy Bebop set the bar for English dubbing and Fooly Cooly came out shortly after that. The English dub was exactly like the Japanese dub, they didn’t change the dialogue to match mouth-flaps, which is something they do for dubs today. The ADR director had the English dub cast give their performances exactly like the Japanese cast. It was the only way this anime could work, and it did.
Barbara Goodson does a really great job as Nandaba Naota, conveying all his emotions and his difficult struggle with growing up. She gave an emotional performance and this is one of the characters that she’s still well known for playing. She was fantastic and did an excellent job in this role. I have no idea if Noata will show up in the sequel, but I hope he will.
Kari Wahlgren is fantastic as Haruhara Haruko, considering the fact that this is her first anime role, she got thrown into a crazy one. She does a great job too. Usually, when new English voice actors start anime they do small bit part roles and background characters. Kari Wahlgren showed fans that she could play this role, and considering that she’s such a staple of English dubbing in Los Angeles you can see why she keeps getting anime roles, although newer fans are used to hearing her normal voice in Fate/Zero (2011), Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works (2014) to Durarara!! (2010), it’s nice to see her use her vocal range.
Jennifer Sekiguchi does a good job as Mamimi Samejima, but her role is very different, but she made her character interesting. She captured how odd and eccentric she is. She was fantastic and even though I haven’t heard her in a lot of anime, she gave a great performance in this role.
Dave Mallow was funny and hilarious as Amarao, the government agent trying to stop Haruhara Haruko. He can be serious at times and then turn on a dime and be hilarious all in the same episode. He was fantastic, and I spotted him in the new Fooly Cooly trailer so it’s nice to know that he’s back.
Will you watch Fooy Cooly?
"Little Busters" by The Pillows:
The Music is So Good:
The music is very well done and all the songs are performed by the Japanese band The Pillows. It all fits the OVA and it sounds fantastic. All the songs are interesting and in decent Engrish. The Pillows have such a unique sound that they stand out as a Japanese band. They are also returning to do songs for the new Fooly Cooly seasons Production I.G. is making for Toonami/Adult Swim.
The soundtrack is great, and not just for the vocal songs, the instrumental tracks are also very well done. This series has fantastic music and the sequel season have to be just as good to match it, but I’ll have to watch the new season for myself to see if the music will still be as great as this series’ soundtrack.
FLCL Behind the Scenes: The Pillows | Toonami | adult swim
You’ll Either Love it or Hate It:
Fooly Cooly is such a strange anime that audiences either love it or hate it. Mainly because it’s just so weird and not easy to understand besides the surface coming of age story. Because it’s so weird it already has a reputation, so whether you like it depends on how much weirdness you can tolerate.
I really enjoyed it, but I know not everyone else will. It’s just one of those things you’ll have to watch for yourself to see if you’ll like it or not. It is worth a watch because of its cultural significance for anime fans too.
This anime is rated TV-14 for adult situations, language, violence and fanservice.
What Doesn't Work:
Excellent story, characters, and world-building
Can be confusing for audiences
Quirky, experimental animation that stands out
You'll either love it or hate it
Amazing English dub, especially when it came out
Final Grade: A+:
Fooly Cooly is just too unique to describe, it’s one of those anime you just have to see to understand what people are talking about when they say how weird it is. I recommend it if you like different and unique, crazy things, but I will warn readers that this anime can be just too weird for some people.
I enjoyed watching Fooly Cooly and it does belong in your anime collection because of its unique story, animation, and music. It’s well worth buying especially since it’s very cheap and you can pick it up on Amazon and RightStufAnime.
The Toonami block airs this every so often so you can see it on TV, it’s up subtitled on YouTube and Hulu, if you have an Elite Video Subscription on Funimation’s website, you can watch the dub. You don’t have to buy it if you don’t want to, but you should see it before buying to make your own decisions about it. It’s worth your time, but whether it’s worth the money is up to you.
The second season will start airing on Toonami in June with the subtitled version airing on Adult Swim’s website.
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