FLCL 1 Light Novel Review
^This image isn’t in the actual light novel, but it depicts a scene from it, of which there is a picture in the LN.
I’ll be posting on a much more often than once a month basis from now on, at least until I run out of books to review.
Title: フルクリ / FLCL; “Fooly Cooly” and “Fire Starter”
Volume: 1 (of 3)
Author: Enokido Yoji
Original Concept and Plot: Tsurumaki Kazuya
Illustrator: Tsurumaki Kazuya
Licensed by: TokyoPop
Translated by: Gemma Collinge / Laura Wyrick (Adapter)
Review By: Kafkafuura
The Akihabara district populace demanded, “Please, make it all GAINAX-weird so that the old men who follow subcultures, all the Shibuya teenagers, and the girls who read cute comics won’t get it.” I kept my end of the deal – but just this once. -Sato Hiroki (FLCL Producer)
Now, if you are of my generation, I’m apt to make the perhaps haphazard assumption that if you are into Japanese anime/manga sub-culture you’ve seen, or at the very least heard of FLCL, also known as “FooLy CooLy”. It’s known for being ridiculously confusing and nonsensical, with explosions, robots and great indy music – all part of the charm. It’s a cult classic, in other words.
First off, the FLCL light novels are a novelization of the 6 episode anime series, started a few months after its completion in 2000, not “source material”, but it was planned at the same time. This lends itself to a different sort of atmosphere: the FLCL light novels can be best described as: an explanation to “what the hell did I just see?”. But this doesn’t mean that it’s unsuitable if you haven’t seen the series, they’re perfectly enjoyable on their own; it also means that if you’ve seen the FLCL anime already the light novels give you the benefit of “knowing what you actually just saw.” (People who have seen will understand).
Now for the specific source material. What you actually want to know. FLCL Vol. 1 comprises of the first two arcs of FLCL: “Fooly Cooly” and “Fire Starter”. (Basic plot summary follows.)
Enter Nandaba Naota “cool sixth-grade junior high hero”, Samejima Mamimi “high school student and girlfriend to Naota’s brother”, and Haruhara Haruko “dangerous alien who rides a Vespa”. Can’t you already see the makings of a story? “Fooly Cooly” sets up the introduction, and has the scene that really defines FLCL in general, Naota – in an very awkward situation with his brother (who left for America)’s girlfriend is alerted to the sound of a raging enging whereupon this crazy woman attempts and eventually succeeds in whacking him on the head with a bass guitar that seems to have an engine in it. Naota eventually grows a horn, and at a critical moment, a robot and another robot’s arm come out of his head (emptied of its brains) and fight. The battle concludes and life returns to what Naota tells himself is normal.
“I can’t hardly tell anymore where the truth ends and the lies begin.”
The robot, Canti, becomes part of the family, Haruhara Haruko too. More horns start growing out of Naota’s head. Fires are sprouting up all over the place. Mamimi thinks Canti’s a god, and you’re introduced to a few of Naota’s classmates on the side, including the generic “class president” character (she’ll show up later). What is medical mechanica really all about? Naota finds the fire-starter, and robot warfare sprouts from his head again. Wha~T? Naota’s relationship with Mamimi develops. Confused? Good. Read!
I’m a fan of it. It targets a sort of niche, but light novels are a niche – it’s something to appreciate. It makes much more sense than the wild ride the anime throws at you, but it certainly doesn’t leave behind the craziness. So the story is great; the added internal dialogue and exposition helps explain a lot about the series and the world it’s set in in general. The translation is very good; the illustrations are done by the creator so they can’t be any more accurate; the length is good, great for bus-ride reading. The one thing I hear complaints about the most is the price tag. It’s short, 122 pages, but $9.99. There are three of them, so you’re going to be spending ~$30 if you want all of them. You might say it has a high price tag because they think they can hook fans regardless, but if you compare the book itself to other books, it’s really not that expensive. I see where the complaints are coming from, but I personally don’t see it as a problem. As a side note, if you like this kinda stuff – go find Cencoroll, it has a similar feel.
This is a part 1/3
I’ll review the other books soon enough.
Comments? I’m not going to attempt an indepth discussion of possible meanings and stuff, that’s not a review; but feel free to discuss what you think.