FLCL simulwatch [complete]

WMD

Stand User
Alternative 4

So Haruko is back to being the worst and theres nothing nice this time. Just being mean to get what she wants. Even getting shown with the snakey slithery arms.

I did enjoy the shojo (I think) style change for the MC with the flowers round her when shes talking to the guy she likes. Also her brothers gf being a 2D game character was pretty funny.

Again though the episodes big bad turns up out of nowhere, with no context for a random and brief fight. I did enjoy the basketball match though and the animation was great during the sequence but cant these bits be more woven into the story?

Also the cliffhanger reveal of the mall just hiding an iron was so obvious as to be a little disappointing. Although this episode had some really nice touches and flourishes overall it wasnt that great.

And I'm still undecided about the expectation subversion of having the MC realise she doesnt actually want to data the guy she likes. It's like the message of the show is a group of friends realise they are a group of a friends. It's no message or realisation at all.
 

Professor Irony

CYBER FUNKER
Moderator
Alternative ep4

I'm pretty much in complete agreement with WMD on this. Alternative is fine, but it feels a bit like they had an outline for a show already mapped out, then when the FLCL project came up, someone said 'could this be FLCL?'

The basketball scene was neat (was that rotoscoping?) but it doesn't seem to have much bearing on anything. I'd also rather hoped they might be building up to something cool with the shopping centre being owned by Medical Mechanica (shops full of irons and Canti clones, surely), so the reveal that it's just a shell over the familiar big iron is kind of a let down.

I recently mentioned in conversation that I was watching the FLCL sequels and it surprises me that one person said that, of the two, they liked Alternative more as it tried to do something different. I take their point, but even if Progressive did kind of rehash the original series for its overall arc, it felt a lot more like FLCL than Alternative does.

Can the last two episodes pull something together?
 

Neil.T

Time-Traveller
I recently mentioned in conversation that I was watching the FLCL sequels and it surprises me that one person said that, of the two, they liked Alternative more as it tried to do something different.
I can totally agree with that, personally. I dug out my post on both series from last year in the Viewing Journal thread:
I like both series, but, on first watch of each, I liked Alternative that little bit more, even though it didn't "do" as much story-wise. Perhaps on repeat viewings, though, the more ambitious Progressive might overtake its sibling.
I'm not quite so sure on that last bit now, but I would need another watch.

I still don't think I liked either series as much as I would've liked to, though, being such a fan of the original. But then I also think that there's probably a bit of a built-in upper limit on how much it's realistically possible to.

In fact, there's an exceptionally well written MAL review I read that I'll drop in a link for after the simulwatch. I found myself unable to really disagree with any of it.
 

WMD

Stand User
Alternative 5

No one does anything for anyone else. It's all just for yourself.
I've paraphrased it from memory but Haruko really laid out the thesis of her character there.

It felt very meta when the crazy started and the guy said he could only hold it back for a couple of seconds and admitted there was no point to it but he was gona do it anyway. It very much felt like the creators of this series acknowledging how badly written the show is. That the crazy is always forced in with no relevance but its FLCL so needs to have it.

This was by far the weakest epsiode for me. I wish we couldve spent more time with Pets and getting to know/understand her and thought we were going to but no, a random mechanical monster of the week shows up to devour her.

I was also about to flip tables at the ending tying everything up way too neat and happy so I was glad the show then went the other way with it even if it then feels unresolved.

One thing I will say is that I have no idea what's going to happen in the finale. Though in a way I feel know more about the frustrated, panicked government lady than the main cast.
 

WMD

Stand User
Its occured to me that this show is a bit like magical index/scientific railgun but we're missing the main show and are just watching the spin off slice of life drama that sometimes connects back to main show. But instead of going "oh cool I see how that ties in" we dont have the context of the main show.

At least that's how it feels to me.
 

Professor Irony

CYBER FUNKER
Moderator
Alternative ep5

Don't like to say too much on this one as I ended up watching both it and 6 in one sitting, and the two have kind of run together in my mind, but yeah. It didn't frustrate me as much as WMD, but I'm still a bit ambivalent about it. Would agree that the happy ending being a fake out was a nice touch though.

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.
I missed this comment before, but funnily enough, I've just now read that one of the staff from Toonami allegedly did describe this as a prequel. It might make sense in a way, given that Neil mentioned the original plan for Haruko to be a police officer, but if not for that, I don't think I would ever have made that connection. I'll come back to this when we're discussing ep6.
 
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WMD

Stand User
Alternative 6

Hands down the best epsiode of Alternative. It had theme, it pulled the story together, had a cathartic release, the animation was spectacular. The ending was a bit nonsensical and dont know what to make of it exactly but it was a great ride.

Slowing the first half right down so we could actually get characters proper feelings out was great and the way it emotionally built to the finale was great. It was a shame that the only way to get the main character to have agency was to have Haruko smack her and tell to have some but it was nice to finally see Haruko do the right thing just because it was the right thing.

And the finale seems to be full if references. Like the evil Cantis being like the dummy plug Eva's, Harukos Akira bike slide, Kana going super sayan.

So the theme seems to be centred around selfishness with Haruko stating it last epsiode and the government guy this time and I guess epsiodes 2, 3 and 4 fit that with hot girl accepting she like shallow relationships after Haruko stole hers, Mossan wanting to be a model after Haruko stole her limelight and Kana rejecting romance after thinking Haruko was trying to steal hers. Pets is a bit of an enigma here. It seems she left an item with each friend so didnt want to leave them but decided she valued her own life more and so she left.

At the end I'm not really sure what the show was trying to say about any of this really. We have to do what's best for ourselves but the day was saved because the main character cared enough about her friends to accept their selfishness. Maybe it's as simple as saying life is complicated and you figure it out as you go.

Overall Alternative had the best group of kids but I dont think it did anything else better than the 2 other shows and in it's own way was the most basic. Progressive had the best animation (those dream sequences were a cut above) and for me had the most interesting character arcs. It had complex ideas but didnt always articulate them the best. The original was and still is the most original and had the best blend of weird and normal, something neither of the 2 newer shows ever quite got a grip on and in ita own way feels the most complete.

I feels theres a enough in the original and Progressive to make rewatches valuable but with Alternative I'd rather watch the gentle SOL show about the girls with all the FLCL stuff stripped out altogether.
 

Professor Irony

CYBER FUNKER
Moderator
Alternative ep6

Wrote most of this out before WMD's post, but I don't think we're overlapping too much. Anyway, this episode, I think, throws new light on what the series has been doing up til now - it's certainly a meatier instalment than anything we've had so far. I particularly like that the low-key apocalypse has now set in, and the variety of different reactions to that. There's something quite Evangelion-esque about how the world has suddenly become that much hotter, but it also feels like there's a bit of Devilman in how Kana and her friends are trying to cling on to any remnant of normality, in the face of what seems to be impending, unavoidable doom.

Looking back over the earlier episodes, perhaps at least some, if not all, of the adults had realised there was nothing they could do against Medical Mechanica. I'd originally assumed Kanda's grim-faced willingness to accept his noodles however they come was just the salaryman mindset, but it now seems more as if he knew everything was going to end and that the prime minister was planning her escape, but could do nothing about it. The haunted demeanour of Pets's mother suggested an unhappy (possibly abusive?) marriage before, but now it could also read as panic seeping out at a much greater threat, upon realising Pets is absent.

Now that we can see the series as a whole, I think it makes some clever choices thematically. Rather than rework Naota's story of experiencing romance as this apparent gateway to adulthood, as Progressive arguably did, it's good to see them attempt something different by focusing on the importance of friendship, and the inevitability of losing touch with friends as we grow and our circumstances unavoidably change. I also like that it avoids sugar coating anything at the very end. Kana hurt her friends, even if she wasn't trying to. Pets does leave and Kana, presumably, does not see her again. It be like that sometimes. We also get a much greater emphasis on Medica Mechanica as an antagonist, with them having always seemed kind of vague and unthreatening before; just something that was happening in the background.

That said, on an episode by episode basis, I still don't feel like I was as much engaged by the show or the characters as I'd like to have been. Kana and her friends largely overcome their struggles with ease, and I don't feel like there's any great depth to them individually. Until we reach the end, the episodes all follow much the same formula too. Character experiences a problem, Haruko meddles, character overflows, Haruko bops something with her guitar, everything is fine again. I think we either needed to spend more time with them to see the characters develop, or maybe the show would have worked better as a one off film with a tighter focus.

Bizarrely, I also find myself wondering if Haruko was really necessary in this series at all. Although it's interesting that she appears as this recurring symbol of pressure on team Kana, and also has the robots to fight, her presence feels kind of superfluous. I was a bit irked that the Prime Minister seemed to escape from Earth scot free, so it might have been nice if we could have closed on Haruko giving her a well deserved smack with the guitar.

Lastly, I'm not sure I really buy into the series as a prequel, if indeed it was intended as such - some descriptions do mention this, others don't, so it's unclear. There's really nothing definite that would suggest it's about to or will ever lead into the original FLCL timeline; Atmosk is barely mentioned (if at all) and there's no suggestion that Haruko is obsessed with finding him, not to mention that you'd need to excuse the differences in technology, both small (such as phones) and large (commercial space flight anyone?). The reference to 2001's star gate sequence at the end does reuse footage of Haruko and Naota from the original series, but overall I thought this one felt more like an alternative timeline than anything directly related and, hey, maybe the clue is in the title.

Progressive had the best animation (those dream sequences were a cut above) and for me had the most interesting character arcs. It had complex ideas but didnt always articulate them the best. The original was and still is the most original and had the best blend of weird and normal, something neither of the 2 newer shows ever quite got a grip on and in ita own way feels the most complete.

I feels theres a enough in the original and Progressive to make rewatches valuable but with Alternative I'd rather watch the gentle SOL show about the girls with all the FLCL stuff stripped out altogether.
Again, would agree. Alternative has some good ideas in the mix, but it feels like the elements that most obviously tie it in with FLCL are a bit of a token effort, and it would probably work just as well, if not better, without them. I feel like maybe somewhere between Progressive and Alternative there was one really good series, and if they could have somehow married the best aspects of the two, we could have had a truly worthy sequel. As it is, we have two that are interesting in their own right, but will always be overshadowed by the original.

I am glad to have watched them though. Even if they were never really necessary, I think there is enough in the sequels that they deserve to find an audience, rather than being unfairly ignored.
 

WMD

Stand User
I am glad to have watched them though. Even if they were never really necessary, I think there is enough in the sequels that they deserve to find an audience, rather than being unfairly ignored.
Indeed me too. I realise it must have seemed like I wasn't enjoying Alternative but it was more a frustration that there was a lot I was enjoying but it didnt quite bring the 2 sides of the show together.

The basketball episode was the epitome of this where Kana has her realisation she doesnt want a relationship yet before the crazy starts. Emotionally that's the end of the epsiode but we have this amazingly animated but utterly pointless basketball action sequence to watch first.

I was a very happy the finale stepped up and was able to tell its story through the action scene. The action unfolded and the characters emotional catharsis happened in tandem and it made for a much more satisfying experience.
 

Neil.T

Time-Traveller
I promised earlier in the thread a link to a review on MAL of Progressive, and here it is:
dontcome's Profile - Reviews - MyAnimeList.net

It's a long review, very critical and very intelligently written. Reading it, I found myself in a position of not really being able to disagree with any of it, as much as I'd like to like the show probably more than I do right now.

It's been really interesting reading your take on the two sequel series, guys. I think we have some similar opinions about aspects of them, but also some interesting differences as well. For example, I feel like I got on with Alternative pretty well from the outset, and it never felt to me like it did for WMD that the FLCL weirdness was tacked on.

I was really interested as well in the Prof's idea of part of the script for Alternative perhaps having already existed in some form before being adapted into an installment of FLCL. It makes me wonder again as I did when I watched Prog and Alt last year what the exact origin of their creation is. It seems logical that as most modern anime series are around 12 episodes, and the original FLCL was six, that two separate series were likely commissioned from the outset, but might there instead be the possibility that writer Hideto Iwai wrote two very different script ideas and the decision was made to make both?

The big surprise upon watching the two sequels, for me, was the fact that they're both written by the same person. As I wrote in the Viewing Journal thread at the time:
Progressive feels like something written by a focus group as they brainstormed the minutiae of the FLCL "formula" and wrote a story according to that template. Alternative, by contrast, comes off as the brainchild of an ordinary fan of the original who's turning their hand to writing something inspired by the FLCL universe. It could almost have begun life as a doujinshi.
Again, I wonder how that difference came about.
 

WMD

Stand User
I started reading that review but quickly gave up. That guy clearly decided before watching that they didn't want to like it and would look for reasons to hate it. Attacking the animation of Progressive is laughable when it's one of the absolute highlights of it.

It's actually really surprising that both were written by the same person. I would never have guessed that. In fact I think that's probably why the good and bad points of each show are so obvious. The writer has clearly tried to distinguish each version as much a possible but that's allowed a certain amount of incoherence to set in as some differences are probably there just to be different rather than because that version really called for it.

In fact Progressive being about people worried about how they are seen and putting on a front for others vs Alternative being about letting go of the past and pushing forward into a new world is essentially what both those shows are to the original. Which tie back to you comment about Progressive having that made by committe feel and Alternative having that made by a fan in their own world vibe.
 

WMD

Stand User
It occurs to me that had I watched these normally, rather than as part of a simulwatch I might have enjoyed Alternative more. For starters I'd have binged all 6 episodes in one sitting so wouldnt have had time to think about stuff so much between epsiodes. But also the way I watch something as part of a simulwatch is definitely different to normal. Normally I switch off a bit and just go along for the ride and see where we go. In a simulwatch I'm always aware of looking for things to talk about and being more critical generally.

For a show like Evangelion it was a benefit as I enjoyed it more that I ever had before but I think with FLCL, because its 3 shows that can be directly compared and pulled apart, it probably had a negative effect on my enjoyment. I still had a lot of fun doing it as a simulwatch, I'm not trying to moan, just another observation. I just have a feeling that I'll rewatch all 3 in a few years and find I enjoy both sequels more.
 

Professor Irony

CYBER FUNKER
Moderator
Finally got around to reading that review Neil linked and uh, yeah... I do agree with them on a couple of points, but it also sounds a lot like they‘re personally insulted by the idea of an inferior sequel existing, and largely blinded to its positive qualities. I’m maybe a bit inclined to sneer at that sort of attitude, but I’ll happily put the boot into that CGI Dominion OVA to anyone who’ll listen, so fair play I suppose.
 
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