FLCL simulwatch [complete]

WMD

Cardcaptor
Oh my god, that must've been horrendous to sit through. 😬
Now that I've got a set up working its alright but trying to get epsiode 1 to play was a real chore! As obviously the ads would play at the start fine then the epsiode wouldnt!


Talking about the ads generally, is it worth maybe trying to hit up some kind forum user for a guest pass or two?
If I'd been binge watching over the weekend then would have but as were doing this over 12 days and I'm mostly playing Command & Conquer in my free time at the moment I decided it would be a bit of a waste.
 

Neil.T

Titan
Apologies for biting @Professor Irony's style and all, but his comment...
The original series, for all its flights of fancy, had a definite narrative logic. Progressive has almost felt like it was being generated by AI at times, such is its non-sequitor approach to storytelling
... gave me ideas. 😅
I hope he can approve. (Forgive the dream logic.)

What would happen if you showed the original FLCL to an AI and then had it write an episode for itself? Probably something like in this excerpt:


PROLOGUE scene 1

Naota is alone in his bedroom. The setting sun of the midsummer evening casts a warm yet melancholy glow inside. He lies listlessly on one side on his bed, clutching a lonely banjo. Crows caw somewhere off in the distance. He wears a pair of Amarao's souvenir eyebrows. They are knitted, both from wool and from being deep in thought.

Amarao is seated at Naota's desk, one leg crossed over the other. He looks across the room at Naota with a judgemental expression, squinting in the harsh morning light that leaks in from between the curtains. He wears his regular eyebrows. Saying nothing, he taps the ash from his cigarette into an ashtray. He has decided to give smoking a try. Finally he breaks the silence.

"It couldn't be helped, you know," Amarao says, his tone seemingly at the exact midpoint between antagonism and sympathy.

"What's that supposed to mean?" splutters Naota, suddenly rising bolt upright to fire a look of overflowing anger back across the room.

"It'll be fine," his father, Kamon, belligerently reassures him with a sarcastic shrug before getting up to leave the room. He stubs his cigarette out in the old ashtray on Naota's desk. He does not even smoke.


PROLOGUE scene 2

It is Naota's dream. He is trapped within a world inside the fuel tank of Haruko's Vespa. Everything is pitch dark as far as the eye can see. All around him are humanoid robots with 4:3 television sets in place of heads. Their static-filled screens emit a relentless din of white noise. Naota feels cornered. He wants to cover his ears, but as he looks down at his hands he is forced to accept that he has no choice but to fight them with no more than a well-worn Roland AX-Edge keytar to use as a weapon.

Suddenly, Naota snaps awake [Close-up of Naota's eyes snapping open] and jerks upright as he is torn away from his nightmare. His room is dark. He gets up and switches on the light. He can see that Haruko's Vespa is still recharging in the corner where she parked it. Hanging on the adjacent wall is the very keytar from his dream yesterday, scuffed and scratched in all the same places. Taped to it is a note from Haruko. "Come down to breakfast," it reads. "There's toast and a manga skit waiting."

Naota looks wearily at the viewer. He feels like he wants to try breaking the fourth wall but is unable to muster a suitable quip. Hanging his head in resignment, he heads downstairs for breakfast.

TITLE CARD: FLCL Regressive
 
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WMD

Cardcaptor
Progressive episode 4

Hands down the best episode of Progressive yet. Mostly because this epsiode really felt like FLCL. The intro with the main character acting weird but also the way she was drawn and animated and then later the mission briefing in the cafe with the band playing behind them just felt like the sort of things the original would do.

Also the action in the final sequence was really excellent in this epsiode. There were so many disparate moving parts that all came together for the show down.

I know you guys dont think much of Jinyru (sp?) But I really like her and as a voice of reason and a defender of the kids against Harukos selfishness I think she worked well. Especially as the kids to begin with were not equipped to stand against Haruko. I really sad she got defeated and eaten by Haruko who finally showed the monster she is underneath. I was however delighted that the main character was then able to shoot her down immediately!

It'll be interesting to see what happens with the friend who had the adventure on the hilarious Vikong boat ride. He has feelings for the main character so will presumably be pretty jealous or was he only interested in her due to the personality change?
 

WMD

Cardcaptor
Some thoughts about the themes of Progressive 4 episodes in. (I realise the next 2 episodes could undo everything I'm saying here)

So these ideas have been born from the video
I posted above where the original FLCL was examined from the point of view of toxic relationships. So as a comparison I'm looking at Progressive as an examination of self worth and how we portray ourselves to others:

So firstly Goro Mori. Although we havent seen him vocalise this I think we are meant to understand that he has issues do to with his weight. As many people do. This manifests in his crossdressing as a way to distract everyone. The irony being that he has friend and they neither care about his weight or his dress sense. They are happy to accept him. This is further brought to light in the beach epsiode where he can no longer hide in clothing and has to be exposed on the beach so he goes to the extreme of paying a girl to pretend to be his girlfriend.

Then we have Ko Ide who hides his life of poverty from most of the class and the girl he likes which is ironically hiding some of best qualities. The fact he his hard working, stoic, determined but he hides it to appear a normal slightly moron boy. His facade is quickly shattered and he even, quite literally, throws himself into danger to protect her showing ones honest self is always preferable.

Then we have Marco Nogata whose heritage and appearance makes him an outsider, something he can't avoid, but again its something no one cares about. And yet hes the quiet one who wont rock the boat. And only takes risks when no one he knows is watching and he literally gets on a rocking a boat that flips his world upside down again first literally and then emotionally when he see Ide holding the girl hes started liking.

Now we get onto Haruko a person who has become so inward in their outlook that they are completely obsessed over their own self image and selfish desires that she has literally thrown the good parts of herself away so she can literally fight and destroy them (Jinyu).

And then theres Hidomi Hibajiri. The person so uninterested in others opinions of her that she forms the ice queen person which in her case ironically draws more people to her. But is she really uninterested or this an element of social anxiety? The headphones unlock a subconscious part of her that desires social interactions and causes her to become overly bubbly and chatty. Though it may be a part of her subconscious it's still not a true reflection of her and Ide is the one person who sees that. At the end of episode 4 we see these parts of her resolve somewhat and she is able to stare down Haruko and refuse her.

Anyway I realise this was quite long and that the last 2 episodes may make a mockery of me but at this point it felt like an interesting discussion point.
 

WMD

Cardcaptor
Looks like I'm triple posting but oh well.

Episode 5

One of those epsiodes that feel like a lot happened but also that nothing happened. Visually it was incredible. The painted looking dyspotic intro especially. And the final battle was all great.

So it seems that's theres space immigration and aliens are totally normal and I don't fully understand why the conspirators were taking Canti there. Though I get their plot is to foil the flattening and save the town. Why they think starting a fight that could annihilate everyone is the best way to achieve that is beyond me.

I guess ultimately the epsiode felt like it was just moving characters around for the finale rather than telling a story of it's own.
 

ActionFaust

Combat Butler
One of those epsiodes that feel like a lot happened but also that nothing happened. Visually it was incredible. The painted looking dyspotic intro especially. And the final battle was all great.
Popping in to say that intro was drawn by the animation god Kou Yoshinari! Here's some examples of his work from Dorohedoro, We Never Learn, and Kizumonogatari. One of my favourite animators.
 

Professor Irony

CYBER FUNKER
Moderator
Progressive ep4-5


LooPQR-Crucified-Canti.png


Something something lance of longinus something something.

It definitely feels like the show is hitting its stride a lot more now, I just wish the storytelling was on a par with the visuals. Ep5 switching to the scratchier lineart was a surprise, but it's definitely not unwelcome - it feels a bit closer to the freewheeling quality of the original show. The return of the manga panel storytelling in ep5 was nice too.

I know you guys dont think much of Jinyru (sp?) But I really like her and as a voice of reason and a defender of the kids against Harukos selfishness I think she worked well.

I actually do like Jinyu, I just wish she were more developed as a character. I genuinely fely bad for her as well, when she gets swallowed up by Haruko. I suppose it was maybe inevitable, given how much Jinyu insists that they're the same person, but it's still sad to see the fallout from it, with Ide desperately trying to fight Haruko with Jinyu's guitar, in her absence.

Speaking of Haruko, I think she's never really risen above being a one-note character in this series, but it's interesting that she still dons Jinyu's sunglasses on occasion, despite repeatedly telling her how stupid they are - perhaps a slight concession that she's not as awful as she frequently seems to be.

In fact, she's apparently played by Megumi Hayashibara (Rei in Evangelion)!

I would completely never have guessed that (she really does do an excellent job of mimicing the original VA) and I'm actually surprised I'd never heard this before. My understanding is that Megumi Hayashibara is in semi-retirement and generally only comes out for cameo appearances or to reprise her previous characters, so it's a shame this wasn't a meatier role for her.

I hope he can approve. (Forgive the dream logic.)

Hah! I did wonder if I ought to try making one of these after you mentioned it, but you beat me to it :p I think I'd have struggled anyway - FLCL is already quite absurd, I'd probably find it difficult to riff on.

So these ideas have been born from the video

I enjoyed that video (subscribed to the guy now) and I think it kind of underlines for me how FLCL has a kind of unifying theme running through it, while with Progressive, it feels difficult to get a handle on what they were aiming for. What you're saying about the characters' self-worth absolutely makes sense though. If anything, I just wish they'd leaned into that a bit more right from the start. FLCL felt assured in what it was doing right away; Progressive only seems to be solidifying who its characters are now that we're closing in on the finale.

Lastly, it's not easy to find an isolated clip in good quality, but something I had either forgotten about or not picked up on previously is that the ED sequence seems to fill in some of the events from between the first series and Progressive. Most notably, Haruko tries to grasp Atomsk and ends up splitting into two people, but there's also a blink-and-you'll-miss-it shot of a short-haired woman smoking while sitting on a scooter - presumably the adult Mamimi.
 

WMD

Cardcaptor
something I had either forgotten about or not picked up on previously is that the ED sequence seems to fill in some of the events from between the first series and Progressive
Embarrassingly I dont think I've watched the ending properly now I think about it. The credits roll and while the music is playing I start typing my post for here. Will have to fix that!
 

WMD

Cardcaptor
Progressive 6

Phew that was busy! On balance I enjoyed the finale and the series as a whole. The series maybe suffered from being too normal at times and too chaotic at others that makes it feel pretty unbalanced. But it was still a fun ride.

Hidomi punching Haruko and giving her a bloody nose was probably the most satisfying moment of all FLCL. For me at least. It was very telling that for all her protests of being an adult Haruko is often (and in progressive certainly is) the most childish character. The moment she finds out she cant have Atomsk she just resorts to violence against him and has a temper tantrum. The fact he then hugged her really annoyed me. She desevered much worse.

In my discussion on self worth it was really interesting to see Hidomis mother suddenly be given an arc in that theme as well. It turns out she wants to be a mother but feels like shes been faking it this whole time. And only when she and her daughter are finally honest with themselves and have a proper conversation are they able to build a real relationship with each other.

It was a nice moment that lead to Hidomi letting go of the constraints she placed on herself symbolised by the headphones and by being true to herself was able to finally fight for what she wanted and have the strength for that fight.

Also Aiko who never felt she had a proper home or place to exist due to just being another's creation, not a being in her own right. That's why she sells herself for money. To find a sense of value and to try and and then buy an identity. In the end by sacrificing herself for the town she is reborn and free for the first time.
 

Professor Irony

CYBER FUNKER
Moderator
Progressive ep6

I actually watched this one last night - always a good sign if you really want to know how it ends. It’s a good conclusion to the series, it’s just a shame that it seemed to be trying to pack such a lot in at the last minute, some of the late game character development (such as for Hidomi’s mother, as WMD mentioned) was well done and it’s a shame we didn’t explore that sooner.

The fact he then hugged her really annoyed me.

I kind of wonder if that particular red figure was supposed to be Jinyu at this point; it’d be kind of a nice way to tie things up if the only person who really cared for Haruko was Jinyu all along.

It’s also kind of neat that the elderly immigration bureau chief mentions how much Masurao resembles his father, presumably confirming that he is (as his appearance implies) Amarao’ s son. If that was the intent, I suppose we can assume at least 30 years have passed since the first series, although I don’t feel like this is the sort of show that‘s too much bothered about details like that.

Overall, I think my opinion of Progressive is about the same as the last time I saw it. It feels a bit like the work of someone who knew all the important things an FLCL sequel needed to have, but couldn’t quite bring them all together as successfully as the original did. That said, taken on its own terms, it’s still a fairly successful series with some particularly good cuts of animation, even if it takes a while to get going.

It would be interesting to know what someone who’d never seen the original FLCL would make of Progressive, as, barring a couple of throwbacks, I don’t think there’s actually all that much that ties it into its predecessor.

In any case, I’ve never seen Alternative, so everything from here on in will be brand new to me.
 

WMD

Cardcaptor
I kind of wonder if that particular red figure was supposed to be Jinyu at this point; it’d be kind of a nice way to tie things up if the only person who really cared for Haruko was Jinyu all along.
That makes sense actually. And makes that moment more meaningful.

confirming that he is (as his appearance implies) Amarao’ s son.
I had wondered why his resemblance to his father was being mentioned. It hadn't occurred to me but I like it as a link.
 

Professor Irony

CYBER FUNKER
Moderator
Alternative ep1

Funnily enough, I watched another of Hiding in Public's videos about FLCL the other night, which mentioned that an idea the producers considered, but discarded for the ending was that Haruko would feel like she had grown up, but the idea of that would terrify her. Alternative almost seems like it takes place in that version - Haruko doesn't have a lot of screentime, but she seems more... mature? Aside from the fact that she's now a cop of some description (maybe?), she generally comes across as far less manic than she usually is. Even her appearance, with the plain gillet and her hair tied back appears to reflect that. In spite of this, she's clearly still hunting for the N.O. energy, so obviously hasn't changed too much.

'Far less manic' also seems like a fair description for Alternative in general at this stage, although it's clearly a very polished production (perhaps more so than the Progressive), with that vaguely kyoani-esque sheen to it. I'm not sure it's quite so recognisably FLCL as yet though. Progressive, I think, did feel like FLCL straight from the start; Alternative seems more like a 'girls in a club' show with some FLCL bleeding into it.

I am interested to see where they'll take this though. It does feel like a kind of logical expansion from the original's themes that we now seem to have moved on to a group of older teenagers, who are perhaps on the cusp of going their separate ways. The looming monolith of the shopping centre also intrigues me - is that going to replace the Medical Mechanica factory in this season?
 

Neil.T

Titan
Sorry for my absence from the chat these last few days, guys. (Too much other stuff going on, and work has an annoying habit of getting in the way of simulwatch fun. 😛)

The Prof's seeing already that Alternative is living up to its name as quite a different kettle of fish, so it'll be interesting to see how you both think it stacks up against its predecessor.

I've yet to watch the video that @WMD dropped in, but I will absolutely do that because it sounds very interesting indeed.

I'll just chime in with a couple of bits and bobs for the moment:
I can promise another winning line in the last episode of Progressive.
And here it is:

"Medical Mechanica plans to capture that monster using this mochi, but I don't think it's possible. And the flower pot is missing."

That if nothing else feels like it lives up to the original. That's pure FLCL, isn't it? 😄

Episode 5
. . .
Visually it was incredible.
Ep5 switching to the scratchier lineart was a surprise, but it's definitely not unwelcome - it feels a bit closer to the freewheeling quality of the original show.
Absolutely this. I was really glad when I watched Progressive that episode 5 did what it did. For me, it needed to do something unexpected to shake itself up a bit, and I loved the art style in that episode.

Moving on to the finale...
I kind of wonder if that particular red figure was supposed to be Jinyu at this point; it’d be kind of a nice way to tie things up if the only person who really cared for Haruko was Jinyu all along.
I distinctly remember a scene of a disconsolate Haruko being comforted by Jinyu, so that was definitely my take on it as well.

The looming monolith of the shopping centre also intrigues me - is that going to replace the Medical Mechanica factory in this season?
That, too, was one of the things I took from the first episode of Alternative. Watch this space...
 

Neil.T

Titan
Uh-oh, the AI's been writing again... 😅


A-part, scene 1

Naota descends the stairs rubbing his eyes, already dreading breakfast turning into another manga strip as he veers left into the dining room. On the table, though, is Haruko's Vespa. Littered about the place are various torque wrenches and sockets, as well as springs, dampers and other mechanical entrails. Haruko sits barefoot and cross-legged on the table, her face smeared with spots of grease. Tongue poking out to one side in concentration, she is tinkering with the bike's front suspension.

Canti is in the kitchen, vigorously chopping away at an impressively long and thick daikon radish with metronomic rhythm. Kamon is standing there too, leaning with his back against the counter and watching Haruko at work. The whole scene is laden with some kind of subtext.

The TV is on in the background. The programme appears to be an episode of an anime called Top Team Epic. The characters on screen act out a thinly veiled parody sketch of FLCL that is apparently taking place within an episode of FLCL. Nobody seems quite sure where the meta-humour ends and the real world begins, but there are pop culture references for everyone.

[NOTE: Beyond this point, the AI's work becomes pretty standard fanfiction fare. Though there is one notable exchange where Kamon starts boring Naota about the Eva book he once wrote. "Did you know that the father never actually said 'Get in the f**king robot' in the first place?" Kamon muses. "All he did was psychologically bully his son; that's a completely different matter, you know."

This is shortly followed by Kamon producing a dobro from out of nowhere and walloping Naota across the forehead with it. The impact sends Naota flying towards Canti, who swallows him whole before turning red. The following scene begins with Red Canti/Naota eating breakfast with Kamon and Haruko while wearing Amarao's woollen eyebrows. They had been dislodged from Naota's face by the sheer force of the blow.]
 

Professor Irony

CYBER FUNKER
Moderator
Alternative ep2

Feeling a little bit neither here nor there on this one. In a longer series, I think it would be fair enough, but in such a short run, it feels rather inconsequential? Hijiri’s ’mature’ boyfriend turning out to be a fickle manchild gives her the experience to grow as a character, but this is FLCL - why isn't he a two headed alien or something? It all seems a bit serious and low key. I did enjoy Haruko fighting a literal Michael Bay Transformer with a giant spit of kebab meat though, and the characters varied responses to spicy food is a nice callback to the original series.

It's interesting that Alternative seems to be a lot more sympathetic towards Haruko as a character. So far at least, she hasn't been framed as such an antagonist as she was previously, and I kind of read her stealing the photographer from Hijiri as an attempt to protect her, rather than an act of nastiness. She hasn't had all that much screentime though, so it's hard to determine what her intentions are really.

Naota descends the stairs rubbing his eyes, already dreading breakfast turning into another manga strip

Bad times when you can't even get your breakfast without ending up in a 4koma.
 

Neil.T

Titan
Bad times when you can't even get your breakfast without ending up in a 4koma.
#4KomaBlues. 😛

It's interesting that Alternative seems to be a lot more sympathetic towards Haruko as a character. So far at least, she hasn't been framed as such an antagonist as she was previously
Fwiw, this is exactly what I was noticing about Haruko's actions by this early stage as well.


Just to say also that I watched the video that @WMD dropped in. It was excellent. The maker's take on the original's characters and how they each relate to Naota was absolutely spot-on for me.
 
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Professor Irony

CYBER FUNKER
Moderator
Alternative ep3

This is another okay episode, but it's hitting quite similar beats to the previous one, considering Mossan's reaction to the others attempting to cover for her at work. Her sudden determination to become a model feels a little bit out of nowhere, but score one up for body positivity, I suppose. It definitely seems like Haruko has turned from a heel into a face though - her skeezy (yet surprisingly chaste) medical exam notwithstanding, she clearly goes out of her way to help Mossan in this one.

It's also nice to see the appearance of a familiarly Canti-esque robot from Kana's forehead; it feels like the weirder elements of FLCL have been so dialled back in Alternative that you could almost forget what you're watching at times.
 

WMD

Cardcaptor
Sorry for being a bit late on this one got to actually leave the house and see people Saturday and was pretty hungover sunday and not really in the mood to watch something critically.

Anyway I've now watched Alternative episodes 1-3

This show is so aggressively mundane. I dont entirely mean that as a criticism. If this wasnt FLCL and was a gentle slice of life drama comedy about these exact 4 girls I'd be super into it. In fact these 4 girls and their relationships are by far the best thing about this show. It's just that the stuff that makes it FLCL feels so tacked on almost as an afterthought.

Dont get me wrong there are the occasional flourish that I really like such as the extra sparkle animation in the 1st epsiode intro and the bit where the MC is freaking out in her bedroom thinking her friend is being cheated on.

I think a part of the issue is that the crazy rarely feels related to the plot. Like we have this drama about this couple breaking up and then out of nowhere the car becomes a transformer and it's time for an action scene. Dont get me wrong the action scenes look great and are really fun to watch but so far feel like they are from a different show to the rest of it.

So far I'm generally enjoying this version of Haruko but we know from experience that she only helps people to get what she wants so waiting to see what they do with her. Interestingly I get this vibe of this show being a prequel to the original like we might see Haruko become the Haruko we know by the end. Also has there ever been a clue in the show or a comment from the creators about the time spans between series? If you told me Haruko is 2000 years old and there are several hundred year gaps between series I'd believe you.
 
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