FLCL Vol. #2 (of 3) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, February 21, 2003
Release Date: Tuesday, February 25, 2003
What They Say
Episode 3 – Marquis de Carabas
Naota is tired of being harassed to star in the school play, Puss and Boots, by that obnoxious class president Ninamori, but when she gets hurt in an accident with that violent alien Haruko, Ninamori is stranded at Naota’s house for the night. Soon, Naota finds out that Ninamori has more personal reasons for wanting him in the play….
Episode 4 – Full Swing
Naota feels bad enough that he can’t live up to his brother’s reputation as a star baseball player, but when Haruko - who’s been shamelessly flirting with his father - presumes to take him under her wing and teach him a thing or two about baseball…well, it’s the last straw.
But things take a strange turn after Naota confronts his Dad about Haruko: Who is that weird guy with the eyebrows searching for Haruko, anyway? And if Haruko doesn’t stop a runaway satellite from hitting the town, who will?
This volume couldn’t come soon enough, but much like the first volume, it’s worth every minute of waiting as it shines beautifully.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. It’s presented in a pro-logic mix but there’s nothing really noticeable going on in the rear speakers (and since the original Japanese DVD release was in gorgeous PCM stereo, there shouldn’t be anything going there either). The track sounds solid with no noticeable dropouts or distortions throughout it. We also took in both the English track and the Commentary track and had no issues there either, other than there being something like three different levels of microphones being used.
FLCL marked the move to serious digital work for Gainax, and it shows with a stunning piece of work that utilizes colors masterly. The transfer here appears to be just as gorgeous as my imports, and at places seems to be even better as there doesn’t seem to be any cross coloration at all. At most, there’s some slight rolling in some line work during slow zooms, but that’s attributable to its source. Colors are simply lush in many sequences, such as when Canti the red robot shows up or in many of the backgrounds, particularly of setting skies.
Continuing again with the dual sided covers, providing two of the Japanese ones once again, things look great here. This one has the red facing out with Mamimi and her camera and really tiny skirt there amongst the ruins. The reverse cover goes blue for Ninamori’s piece and she stares into a reflection of herself. The back covers are similar, with the red side providing story and then staff listings. The Blue side has the chapter stops for each episode as well the story summaries. The booklet included, which provides the red cover, is once again a fantastic piece that goes into a lot of detail. There’s translation notes, bgm info, character profiles and artwork, a text interview with Imaishi and Hiramatsu as well as a couple of pages on the Pillows and their involvement early on with the project.
The menus are all solid static pieces, with the opening menu having a good image of Naota being squeezed by Mamimi in a cat-ear hat while you have Haruko in the background set against the grass while a brief piece of instrumental Pillows material plays. Moving about the menus is a breeze and it’s laid out just right. It’s as if they read my list of how I like menus and followed it to the letter.
In addition to considering the aforementioned booklet as an extra, there’s a few on-disc extras included here. There’s a decent if short image gallery and there’s also two still screens that provide detailed translations of what’s in the background, something that would have been rather messy to do during the show itself. There’s also a brief segment of dub outtakes. The other extra is among the best kind of extra that can be produced, and that’s the director’s commentary. For both of the episodes here, we get to listen to Kazuya Tsurumaki talk about this show from some of the planning concepts to how they changed, to the actors involved and how they were cast and all sorts of other things about it, right down to his cat fetish.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The center two episodes of the FLCL OVA series are the transitional pieces, as we get the final of the female episodes and then start moving firmly into the Naota arc itself as he becomes more of the focus of things.
With this release, Ninamori gets her time to shine as she ends up being pivotal to Naota’s life. His father is starting to be the cause of trouble with his community zine and there’s all kinds of scandal about Ninamori’s father the mayor having an affair with his secretary and the potential of a divorce and general scandal about it. To compensate, Ninamori is really pushing the Puss ‘n Boots play that the school class is putting on, so much so that this normally straight laced class president rigged the casting so that she’d have the lead and Naota would play the cat. There’s a budding relationship there.
Naota, unfortunately, has cat ears going on as the latest thing to grow out of his head.
After that, the show then turns towards Naota actually taking on the lead role in things and focusing more on him. He’s initially all closed up as he’s been brought onto his brothers baseball team but has a general lack of belief in his abilities, so he’s never swung his bat. What makes it worse is that the opposing team now has Haruko as their pitcher, which brings their relationship to a whole new level of competition and distrust.
Naota ends up being approached by someone who seems to have a clue about what’s going on as well as being involved in some sort of very powerful organization that’s monitoring what’s happening with Haruko and the things that come from space. With his large eyebrows, Nato has instant distrust of him and it feels fully justified as they continue to talk. He keeps warning Naota away from her and in general being very cryptic. But in the end, Naota doesn’t really care much about what he says.
Between the mix of the baseball game and the things the Eyebrow man brings to the game, Naota’s continually told that all he has to do in life is to swing the bat, but also given the impression that you can get by without doing that. This all leads up to a very big picture dramatic moment, but one that plays out in a hilarious way when it’s all said and done. But the important thing is that Naota’s beginning to change and take charge of his life and his situation. Maybe his saving his father from near death had something to do with it as well.
Things in these episodes seem weird for weirds at times, but it is all building towards something and setting the stage for others. While there is enough weird for weirds sake as the director wanted to squeeze in what he could into this kind of show, it all manages to flow very well. Still, this show with its rhythm and style has me smiling almost 99% of the time I’m watching it. The wacky moments to the serious ones, I’ve just got a big grin as I enjoy the ride and wait to see how it all plays out again. I love this show the first time I saw the imports and that love is still strong.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Translation notes,Bonus Booklet,Image Gallery,Commentary by Original Japanese Creator/Director,Dub Outtakes
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: A-
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Synch-Point
Running time: 60
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2