FLCL, FLCL Progressive focuses on middle-school student Hidomi dealing with growing pains, while becoming entangled in a conflict between Haruko and a new alien named Jinyu as the two seek out the great power coming from Hidomi for their own differing reasons.
Set an unknown number of years following
Being connected to the original FLCL, Progressive certainly had some big shoes to fill in trying to make as much of a strong impression as the classic series did in mixing up manic comedy with exploring coming-of-age themes. I was initially cautious hearing news of the series having new seasons made as I felt the original series told all it needed to with Naota's story and was concerned if it could explore any further with the franchise, especially with the number of recent titles based on older properties that I've had an underwhelming response to. Fortunately, my concerns were expunged when I got a chance to watch through Progressive as it actually does quite a bit to establish its own identity over the original FLCL.
The coming-of-age focus found with FLCL is still retained in Progressive with its exploration on new character Hidomi. Being in middle school, Hidomi is at a different point in life compared to Naota as she copes with her own growing pains and her perspective is a bit more darker compared. She prefers to disconnect her from her surroundings by regularly wearing a pair of headphones and she has some rather dark dreams showing her feelings on reality due to some family troubles. Throughout the series, Hidomi is shown to gradually change her personality throughout the series thanks to the chaotic adventure she is roped into from Haruko and Jinyu's conflict with one another, demonstrating changes to her personality and becoming more active at engaging with others.
As for the trademark comedy of FLCL, it is still there albeit not as over-the-top and a little more subdued within Progressive. Haruko still displays her nuttier side as a front to mask her true motives and the show has its bizarre moments pop up, but it is nowhere as absurd as the original series where you have the infamous animated manga sequences or breaking of the fourth wall. I've seen some fans of the original FLCL criticize this quite a bit in Progressive considering the manic comedy of the original series was a trademark for it. But considering the somewhat more darker and serious feel of Progressive compared to the original series, I felt the more subdued humor worked appropriately for Progressive considering the show's focus being more on how overwhelming a teenager's mind can be coping with growing up, compared to approaching adolescence within the original FLCL.
As for the major plot, the crux of it involves Haruko and Jinyu's conflict over Atomsk's power, with the latter trying to prevent Haruko from using Hidomi as a means to lure the Pirate Lord out. In a unique instance for an anime, FLCL Progressive makes use of its ED sequence to show the rather unique connection that Haruko and Jinyu have with one another and I'd at least implore folks to watch it at least once since it offers some major fleshing out of what led to Jinyu being a relevant character within Progressive. Anyway, Progressive's plot is fairly straightforward with Hidomi's growing pains and Haruko and Jinyu's conflict, until the anime's second half when factions from the original series like Medical Mechanica and the Bureau of Interstellar Communication make their presence felt. This is where FLCL Progressive's comedy is at its most manic with the many events being played out with character and faction conflicts. While it may be a treat for fans of the original series, this can make the plot convoluted at points for newer fans of FLCL to approach since they may not be as familiar with events from the original series considering the 15-plus year divide between both titles debuting.
Presentation wise, FLCL Progressive retains the artwork style of the original OVA series albeit with a bit more polish and detail with Production I.G. at the helm of animating it. It still makes use of a number of different animation styles at points to hammer in the show's themes, this notably shown in Hidomi's dreams that can be quite dark and macabre due to reflecting the grim view Hidomi has on confronting reality. The Pillows return to provide music for FLCL Progressive's soundtrack as a mix of new and old songs are provided as insert tracks for the series that still work nicely to accompany the anime's key scenes and are still memorable to listen to over 15 years after the original FLCL.
Overall, I would say FLCL Progressive certainly defied whatever concerns I had going into it as a follow-up to an older anime title. The series is able to establish its own unique identity in exploring a teenager's perspective to growing up, while retaining the themes and comedy of the original FLCL and further exploring the franchise's world. If you were a fan of the original FLCL OVA series, I would strongly recommend giving this series a look.
Last updated Sunday, July 08 2018. Created Sunday, July 08 2018.
|Official Japanese Series Web Site