It's A Mad World

Mabase Massive!
MILD SPOILERS for FLCL Progressive, MAYBE SPOILERS for FLCL Alternative and you should have watched FLCL by now. Shame on you!

FLCL Progressive was different than what I was expecting to see. It possess the look and bizarre nature of the original series but was lacking in an element that made those first episodes fully engaging.

Progressive features the return to the city of Mabase with the giant iron of Medical Mechanica looming in the background. Haruko Haruhara is also back to search for a N.O. channel that will allow her to access the powers of the space pirate Atomsk. Canti, or at least initially pieces of Canti, is also around in the background and weird robots continue to erupt from the foreheads of children.

But something was off.

Mabase seemed like a weird alien human colony somewhere. In the original FLCL, I felt like I was in a weird place on Earth that could be real. This Mabase seemed off or in a weird future that had too many things going on at once.

Ide and Hidomi
The main character of Hidomi Hibajiri had potential but the plot of the show had her locked in this self-imposed exile state. Her friend and maybe love interest Ide had an interesting back story but not one that could developed in this mini-series. I really liked Julia Jinyu as an offshoot personality of Haruhara trying to stop her from getting in contact with Atomsk again. She is the slightly more responsible adult to Haruhara's manic adult. There were positive aspects of this show but it definitely requires even more focus that the first FLCL run.

I do appreciates the possible connection between Progressive and the original FLCL. Commander Amarao with his crazy eye brows aren't around but his son and granddaughter play key parts in the finale. Canti reappears to tie everything together and gets back his robot form. He is key to helping Hidomi come into her full power. Also, is the first series protagonist Naota the missing father in Hidomi's life? It's never revealed.

I didn't like this run as much as the original but I also suspect that it was made this way as part of a process, especially after seeing the first episode of FLCL Alternative. Alternative will premiere in a couple of months and is the third part of the FLCL story. The first season was about a 12 year old boy being bored in his town and he has a fantastical experience with a wild woman from space. His family life is in a state of flux and he is beginning to live the life of a middle school student with all that entails. Alternative will follow a 17 year old girl named Kana Koumoto with her friends getting ready to move on to the next step in life. She seems confident but not exactly sure where she is headed and is enjoying her final bit of time with her close high school friends.

Knowing these two series bookend this series then FLCL Progresive makes more sense. It's the story of a 14 year old girl figuring out who she likes, who to talk to and how to relate to her mother. Hidomi has to go through all this while weird stuff is happening to her body and the body of the other teens around her. They also have to deal with adults using them and also protecting them perhaps too much, with the example of Hidomi's headphones keeping her N.O. potential in check.

Not that successfully.
With all this in mind, FLCL Progressive gains another layer as part of a bigger story of going from the last bit of time as a child to the beginning of entering the world of young adulthood. Additionally, much like the Hulk arc in Ragnarok, Infinity War and the next Avengers film, Alternative might continue Haruhara's growth. In the first series, she is super focused on getting Atomsk's power. In Progressive, she has the same goal but has part of her split off in the form of Julia Jinyu to act as the voice of reason to make her rethink her actions. This ultimately ends when Julia is absorbed back into Haruhara at the finale. Alternative might be the final step where Haruhara finally either comes to some agreement with Atomsk or realizes she doesn't need it's power. Maybe not, knowing Haruhara.

FLCL Progressive deserves a rewatch from me but my initial opinion is good but not as great as the original FLCL series. The animation techniques they use are awesome in Progressive and the character and creature design has progressed from the first series in a positive way. FLCL Progressive should be watch if just to enjoy the oddity of the original and prepare us for what I think may be an amazing animated adventure in FLCL Alternative.

Sean Fields is an aspiring writer and has been in the education field for more than a decade. He works mostly with teenagers nowadays which both keeps him well informed on pop culture and makes his hair turn grayer daily. He has a few blogs but is currently focused on this one and this other one. You can also find him on TumblrTwitter and Instagram, if you want to be entertained or infuriated.
It's A Mad World It's A Mad World Reviewed by SeanFields on Thursday, July 12, 2018 Rating: 5
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