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Book Review < Back

FLCL vol. 1

Credits: Written by Gainax and Illustrated by Hajime Ueda
Publisher: TokyoPop


FLCL (or, depending on who you ask, Furi Kuri or Fooly Cooly) is pretty much the only anime piece I've seen that hasn't made me want to slap somebody halfway through the watching. I am not anime's target audience, apparently, as I have little to no tolerance for the Neurotic Boy Outsider-archetype, don't really give a shit about robots, and tend to like stuff like plot and character over design, style, musical numbers, or schoolgirl tentacle rape.

Seeing FLCL, then, was a blast of fresh air; it's a weird polyglot mainline of teen angst and rapid-fire verbal puns framed by the whole of pop culture, a dada singalong rumination on turning the corner from kid to adult, hitting all the verses from hot older girls smoking cigarettes with NEVER KNOWS BEST written on them, to giant robots exploding out of a boy's head as a metaphor for hard-ons and ejaculation.

It's pretty fun.

Keeping the velocity, if not some of the clarity, of the anime, Tokyopop's first volume of FLCL still rings familiar to reckless adolescence. Adapting the story straight from the anime, Hajime Ueda's drawing style feels almost more akin to someone like Jim Mahfood or Chynna Clugston-Major, almost, with a kinetic, hyper-cartoony cute sketch line that vibrates out of its panels. Sometimes too obfuscated for its own good, the FLCL manga at least gets the vibe right. It's anxious, sweaty, confused and a little dirty; the volume's turned all the way up and there's little sneer on its lips. I'm half-surprised that it wasn't drawn furtively on notebook paper, in the margins, while the teacher had her back turned.

-- Matt Fraction

Matt Fraction splits his time between motion graphics and design house MK12, writing comics, and reading comics. He is the author of the graphic novels The Annotated Mantooth and Last of the Independents, both available from AiT/Planet Lar. He can be found on the web at mattfraction.com. His wife is hot.


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