By: Zero Omega
Spoilers for episode one below!
At last the day is finally upon us, a little over two years after the initial announcement from the Toonami crew the very first episode of FLCL Progressive hit the air waves and it is good. Months of speculation, hype, and intrigue has followed in the wake of the announcement and teasers and it seems to have paid off incredibly well if this first episode is anything to go by. FLCL Progressive is the first six-episode season of the follow up to the cult classic FLCL that aired in the US in 2003 that at first left everyone who watched it a little confused until they dissected the deeper meaning behind the story and FLCL Progressive seems to follow in its predecessor’s footsteps.
Step aside Darling in the Franxx, the horned mecha has come back to take its throne.
We are introduced to Hidomi, a reserved young girl whose most stand out feature is her cat ear headphones that she essentially has affixed to her head at all times. Headphones that we find out don’t actually play any music, it’s just her way of shutting out the rest of the world. She lives with her mother, Hinae who owns Cafe Hibajiri in a town that features a very prominent and familiar looking building.
Hidomi attends school with her fellow classmates and its here we get introduced to another character who is also going to be an essential character going forward, Ide, who sports a very mysterious looking bandage on his forehead. Ide is very much the opposite of Hidomi, where she is reserved and stand offish, Ide is boisterous and likes to brag about his accomplishments (most recently, apparently having the teacher stay with him at his place to which he teases classmates of something… Fooly cooly going on). At this point we are then introduced to the teacher of the class, a very familiar sounding, hyper active, and eccentric young woman.
On her way back from school we get to see another very familiar scene from the very first FLCL as Hidomi is struck by a car driven by a woman wielding a guitar, as the car strikes we are given a quick freeze frame of the action in manga form, something all too familiar for those who have seen the original series. After apologizing to Hidomi’s mother for not actually killing Hidomi, the mysterious woman flees the scene, but not before warning Hidomi to “beware of the woman on the Vespa.” Hidomi and Hinae are left figuring out who that crazy woman was.
Later that night as Hidomi watches YouTube (which is a great Easter egg, if you type in the link you’ll be taken to a teaser trailer for the show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ix7mDEclKxU) and contemplates how she wants to do nothing, is nothing, and wants to achieve nothing she decides to look out she has flashbacks to her dream last night about her turning into a mech and then hears the Medical Mechanica building siren go off. She approaches her window only to see a massive clam shell robot creature with tentacles attack her. She begins to flee when she is interrupted by a missile launched Ide crashing in front of her. They flee onto a bridge where Ide explains that the creature came from his… Head.
The beast goes to target Hidomi and Ide intercepts, getting injured in the process and it is here that Hidomi’s forehead (and head phones) begin to react in another very familiar manner. We cut quickly to a scene of Haruko, who has suddenly returned to Earth, overlooking the situation and then panning over to see that previous mysterious woman racing to the scene. Our mysterious guitar wielding female makes it to the scene of the action, rips the cord on her guitar and slams it down into the beast and destroying it. She then makes her way to Ide, demanding he tell her the location of the woman on the Vespa who hit him and pulled the beast out of his head. A very confused and injured Ide is unable to answer, so the guitar-wielding mystery woman takes Ide to be healed and lets Hidomi know that “it looks good on you.” It… Being the brand new horn that she is spouting.
Hidomi wakes up in the morning, Hinae reminding her that if she wants to run away from home, then to do it in a more flashy manner, and don’t break the house. Speaking of breaking, there is a breaking of dishes going on in the background and Hidomi goes to check it out where she finds the mysterious woman, in a maid outfit, breaking said dishes. She introduces herself as Jinyu and is around to take responsibility for yesterday’s activities. Back at school, the teacher returns and starts rambling about… How she is going to prepare her students for their upcoming adolescence but not by traditional questions and answers, especially for those who “by only jerking your animalistic sexual urges to fulfillment” and in short wants her students to become adults on a cosmological scale and that they do not need to become adults who need four-wheels, only two. As she continues to ramble, the students, sans Ide and Hidomi, find themselves hypnotized and as the teacher finishes off with “born to be mild!” She tears off her mask, revealing herself to be the one and only Haruko Haruhara and ending the episode with, “That’s right, the real one’s finally appearing.”
Wow what a ride of a first episode, I found myself immediately hyped by the very sequence being this very strange, surreal, world with the pillows’ Thank you, my twilight blasting in the background. If Production I.G., wanted to remind everyone that this is an FLCL anime this was absolutely the way to pull it off. All told the episode is an incredible trip filled with a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle references to the first season (or maybe “series” is a more proper term) of FLCL. It’s pulled off in such a way though that even if you hadn’t seen the first you wouldn’t be missing anything. That may not hold as true as the series goes on, but you could definitely enjoy the first episode without that prior knowledge.
The story thus far has been a little more direct with its theme of child adolescence and growing up compared to how it was presented in the first episode, however that isn’t a bad thing. The pacing is slightly more subdued as not as completely off the rails as the previous installment of the series, but again, that isn’t a bad thing either. By the end of the episode I found myself sitting here thinking, “… Wait what did I just watch? I think I need to go through that one more time.” which was the same reaction I had to FLCL episode 1.
The music is all supplied by the pillows and it is an absolute treat to ear them grace this anime once again, everything is on point and fits so well to what is going on. My only real gripe is that the animation is not as detailed and clean as its predecessor, however if that is the only thing wrong with it then I’ll take it in order to be back on Ms. Haruko’s Wild Ride. FLCL Progressive episode 1 was a great RE: Start (the name of the episode) to what is to come and I absolutely cannot wait for next week. FLCL Progressive is slated for six episodes and airs on Adult Swim/Toonami Sundays at 12:00am (show up Saturday at 11:59pm if you want to be on time).
FLCL Progressive: Episode 1
- Keeps the same FLCL charm
- Feels new and fresh, but still very familiar
- Characters are being set up very well
- Music is absolutely on point as expected
- Animation quality does suffer a bit compared to the original