FLictonic CLipple Weber Syndrome


In this day in age, a majority of us have that one series that speaks to us on an almost spiritual level. It’s not even necessarily our favorite series, just the one that we come back to time and time again.

It’s the type of series that you watch when you can’t think of what else to put on Netflix, or the one that you leave on in the background for the umpteenth time, just to have some noise while you work on practically anything else.

It’s the series you might know by heart, the one that puts a smile on your face as you remember what you were going through when you watched it, or the one that brought you and your friends closer during late night premieres or events.

So when the series finally ends, it’s almost like saying goodbye to a great friend, one you have invested so much time into, but was always there for you and almost grew up alongside you.

And as heartbreaking as losing that friend might’ve been, when networks announce a new season, which means a chance to see your friend again, it can still feel downright terrifying.

I first fell in love with “FLCL,” pronounced Fooly Cooly outside Japan, in the summer of 2005. It was a summer where I spent most of my vacation at my cousin’s house. We would stay up late into the night every day, playing with the neighborhood kids in the afternoons, then playing video games well into the early mornings of the following day.

On the rare occasion we weren’t playing Halo 1 and 2, we would watch a multitude of cartoons, especially those late night shows on Adult Swim.

Looking back, those were the nights that really embedded my love for anime.

And it was an such amazing time to get into anime in the first place, with shows like “Cowboy Bebop,” “Fullmetal Alchemist,” “Ghost in the Shell,” “Paranoia Agent,” “s-CRY-ed,” “Trigun,” “Wolf’s Rain,” and of course, “FLCL” being run almost every night.

That very first episode of “FLCL,” I must have watched it over a million times since that summer. The animation, the music, the original characters, that first scene involving the infamous yellow vespa and bass guitar, and when the robot Canti first came out of 12-year-old Naota’s forehead, got me immediately hooked.

Quite frankly, little me had no idea what the show was about, at least not really. All I knew was that it spoke to me in a way no other show had before, and that I needed more.

For those of you who haven’t had the chance to see the craziness that is “FLCL,” the show revolves around a coming-of-age story of Naoto Nandaba, who one day meets the alien Haruko Haruhara, who is in search of the being known only as Atomsk. This chance encounter is what basically kickstarts Naota’s puberty.

Things only and quickly get weirder from there.

Each episode shows as weird things protrude out of Naota’s head, which at the climax of the episode, turns out to be a Medical Mechanica robot sent after Canti.

Yet no matter what shenanigans Naota finds himself at the center of, at the start and end of each episode, he always states how nothing amazing ever happens, even after half his town is destroyed in the most bizarre and surreal of ways.

As quickly as the anime began, spanning across just six episodes, the story ends. But those original six episodes was enough to garner such a huge cult following.

Adult Swim proceeded to show reruns of those episodes starting from 2003, on and off through the years, and in 2016, fans were rewarded, or cursed depending on your viewpoint, with the announcement of two brand new seasons, six episodes each, for a total of 12 new episodes.

I was excited, terrified, and filled with a multitude of emotions when I first heard the news, as I’m sure many other fans were.

Would they be able to really give us what made us fall for “FLCL” in the first place, or was this going to be just another greedy attempt at making money by pulling at our nostalgia strings?

Regardless, I watched every episode as it aired on Adult Swim, and discussed each episode at length with my friends, raving about the parts we enjoyed, and debating on the parts that we hated and why.

The second season, “FLCL: Progressive,” introduced new characters, with few of the original members, namely Haruko, being referenced here and there.

This time, the story revolved around 14-year-old Hidomi Hibajiri, along with potential love interest, Ko Ide, and their middle school friends, all while Haruko drags them along in her craziness as she continues her search for Atomsk.

That search, of course, involves more Medical Mechanica robots coming out of people’s foreheads. Meanwhile, the mysterious Jinyu who shares some similarities to Haruko, is constantly on her trail.

While Naota’s story revolved around him maturing and growing out from his older brother’s shadow, Hidomi’s story showcased how her life was at a standstill of sorts, and concludes with how that’s perfectly fine sometimes.

Let’s be real though, her character changed just as much as Naota did, just in more subtle ways.

Amazingly enough, it just so happened that the second season premiered in the weeks leading up to Anime Expo 2018, with its finale being during the expo’s weekend.

With “FLCL” being what was on a lot of anime fans’ minds, this year’s expo had a panel where the cast talked about their experience while making the second and third season, and fans could ask the cast any questions they might’ve had. I was lucky enough to be able to attend as press along with our amazing Pop Editor Angelica Cruz.

To be honest, as I’m sure is the same with a lot of you, I think that the sequel couldn’t live up to the original series.

There were a few times in the second season where I felt the show was simply another cash grab, though I admit there were a few scenes where the show flushed me with the same emotions I felt while watching the original.

Attending that “FLCL” panel, however, created a new emotion in me, one I’m sure those that were lucky to attend can attest to.

I loved every moment of listening to Xanthe Huynh (Hidomi), Robbie Daymond (Ide), and the rest of the cast talk about the different emotions they felt watching the original. I envied their sheer joy and excitement when years later they were working alongside Kari Wahlgren (Haruko) as part of the team that brought more of the anime to other fans. I understood what they meant as they talked about challenges they faced as they realized they were their characters.

It all made me realize that the series was in great hands, regardless of how some of us might feel about certain parts or all of it.

And listening to Allegra Clark (Jinyu) failing to pronounce Haruko Haruhara for nearly two minutes straight, was just icing on the cake.

Because at the end of the day, even if you loved or hated it, it was fans who brought it back and gave fans a new chapter, or two, of our favorite series.

And quite frankly, I’m excited to see where this bizarre, yet strangely enticing series will take us next.

Catch the third season of “FLCL: Alternative,” which premiered its first episode during Adult Swim’s April Fools Day. It will be regularly broadcasting starting Sept. 7.