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FLCL Progressive

FLCL Progressive (2018) Movie Poster
Japan / USA  •    •    •  Directed by: Kazuto Arai, Yoshihide Ibata, Hiroshi Ikehata, Toshihisa Kaiya, Katsuyuki Motohiro, Yuki Ogawa, Kei Suezawa..  •  Music by: R.O.N..
Many years have passed since Naota and Haruhara Haruko shared their adventure together. Meanwhile, the war between the two entities known as Medical Mechanica and Fraternity rages across the galaxy. Enter Hidomi, a young teenaged girl who believes there is nothing amazing to expect from her average life, until one day when a new teacher named Haruko arrives at her school. Soon enough, Medical Mechanica is attacking her town and Hidomi discovers a secret within her that could save everyone, a secret that only Haruko can unlock.


Image from: FLCL Progressive (2018)
Unfortunately, this sequel of a personally beloved work has met my negative expectations. I find it hard to interpret the validity of the critiques I have with FLCL Progressive due to measuring it up to the original series in my mind. With that said, I really don't see much value to this franchise installment that makes it stand out on its own. Where FLCL Progressive stands out is on some of the animation sequences and its quirky personality; unfortunately, I can't say either of these qualities are outstanding enough to outright recommend it.

While some sequences of animation were spectacular, the animation typically ranged from ok to lazily inoffensive most of the time. Reception of this quality of Progressive is going to be a bit mixed among viewers. I can understand why anyone else may praise the animation of Progressive, however, due to my indifference of the subjective quality of most of the animation in Progressive I find myself needing to look elsewhere for the worth of this series.

To me, the personality of the show comes off as a straight attempt to replicate the chaotic tone of Haruko's presence from the original FLCL series. To be fair, Progressive does have a different tone when Haruko is not in or influencing a scene, but these moments tend to be more intermediate than anything. FLCL Progressive's personality is a mere shadow of the tone and themes of the original FLCL series for the sake of its appeal. As harsh and dismissive as that sounds, the coming of age metaphors and additions to the "lore" and world-building seem to lose all meaning when the story of FLCL itself was always self-aware that it never really mattered. Judging from the credits sequence of episodes 1-5 and the way Haruko is presented throughout the series, FLCL Progressive seems to expect viewers to have already have watched the original series. This is where the problem with tone and narrative arises, in my opinion. When continuing a story that acknowledges that it doesn't matter in a literal sense, you create a purposeful progression of pointlessness. FLCL Progressive's narrative may not always be clear, similarly to the original series, but interest to understand and create one's own meaning from it all isn't something that could be maintained through replication. The main times I found interest in Progressive's narrative is during the dream sequences that prologue episodes 1-5. Despite any value those sequences may have, they're mostly inconsequential to the rest of the Progressive series.

Trope attributes aside, the characters of Progressive are more or less un-offensive. Although, a concerning problem is if any interesting or even significant character growth happens in Progressive at all. It's a somewhat debatable topic and honestly, it's more at the back of the mind rather than a major issue. Main characters Hidomi Hibajiri and Ko Ide are presented with plenty of depth to work with; however, with a narrative that expresses coming of age themes, there's still much to be desired when it comes to challenging their mindsets. While I may not be bothered by the characters, I do see a huge missed opportunity in having audiences connect with Progressive's rehashed tones and themes through the characters. Relatable or simply memorable characters can have a huge impression on viewers just as much as much as the quality of the story. With an uninspired tone, FLCL Progressive gains little from the way it portrays its cast of characters.

I want to say The Pillows did a fantastic job with the music again, but there were a few tracks I found there were utterly forgettable and wondered to myself if they were done by The Pillows in the first place. The noticeable new tracks were phenomenal and the usage of old tracks from the original series is pretty nostalgic. However, some of the old tracks from the original series did feel very out of place in certain scenes. While these tracks may be out of place, I'm unsure how much this critique is overemphasized due to how well the original series uses its music in comparisons.

As much as I want to ridicule Progressive for trying to mimic the tone of the original FLCL series, I don't want to demonize it for being not as good as something else I love. It is possible to appreciate the animation that I said I was indifferent about. This is also the case for the tone and narrative that I said was pointless. Unfortunately due to this series being a "progressive" continuation of the original series, FLCL Progressive asks to be directly compared to a work that it never had a chance to compete with, as far as most of the fans are concerned. FLCL Progressive sets itself up for failure, so I can't recommend it.

Fortunately, the series is short and the urge to satiate one's curiosity shouldn't be too cumbersome to those who are still interested in checking it out. I don't know if being a more unique work from its predecessor would make FLCL Progressive a more enjoyable experience, but that approach may have been less self-defeating. If that is indeed the approach the future FLCL Alternative will take, then the reception will hopefully be more positive.

Review by voidthedark from the Internet Movie Database.