FLCL Vol. #3 (also w/box) - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: A-

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Info:

  • 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
  • MSRP: 29.95/34.95
  • Running time: 60
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: FLCL

FLCL Vol. #3 (also w/box)

By Chris Beveridge     June 28, 2003
Release Date: July 22, 2003


FLCL Vol. #3 (also w/box)
© Synch-Point


What They Say
Contains:
Episode 5: Brittle Bullet
Naota doesn’t really want to fight his Dad over Haruko’s affections, but somehow he always gets caught up in these things, right? But as romantic tensions mount, something’s gotta break – this episode is a loaded gun waiting to go off! What? Haruko’s actually in love with some space pirate?

Episode 6: FLCLimax
Haruko and Canti have vanished off the face of the planet, leaving a surprisingly large void in Naota’s now very normal life. So what did happen to Atomsk and his fantastic powers? Is the giant hand going to grab the iron?

DVD Features: Commentary by Original Japanese Creator/Director Kazuya Tsurumaki, Gallery, 20 page booklet with extensive translation notes, Reversible cover, Outtakes Trailers, and more

The Review!
The final two chapters in one of the strangest OVA series to come down the road in a long time provide an amusing and probably frustrating ending for some.

Audio:
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. 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.

Video:
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 shows up in red mode or in many of the backgrounds, particularly of setting skies.

Packaging:
Closing out the dual sided covers, this release provides two of the Japanese ones once again. This one has the white facing out with Naota holding a guitar amidst all the destruction. The reverse cover goes purple. The back covers are similar, with the white side providing story and then staff listings. The purple side has the chapter stops for each episode as well the story summaries. The booklet included, which provides the white cover, is once again a fantastic piece that goes into a lot of detail. There’s translation notes, bgm info, a look into the mechanical side of the show as well as a couple of amusing letters between characters. The really nice extra here is the inclusion of the manga section from the episode on this volume. Some of it goes by so fast in the show that you can’t see how detailed it is and all the amusing little bits to it.

Menu:
The menus are all solid static pieces, with the opening menu having a good image of Naota with his chopsticks with a slotted background image of him and Haruko on the Vespa riding towards Medical Mechanica 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.

Extras:
To close out the extras, Synch-Point managed to make me quite the happy person. In addition to providing two more episodes of commentary from the director, something that by itself I would have been ecstatic to have, they also managed to get the Pillows video for “Ride on Shooting Star” and have done it up with selectable romaji or English lyrics. This was a really hard piece to get due to who owns it, but I’m thrilled to have it here at last. And not to be outdone, there’s also three textless ending sequences and an image gallery that has some really great looking shots. Add in the dub outtakes and you have a great way to finish out things after the show finishes.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After taking in just the first few minutes of episode five, I came to realize just how big a difference a few scant years between the original Japanese release and this release can change things. And it also manages to really provide this series with a high rewatchability factor.

The show opens with Naota and his father engaged in mock war over Haruko’s heart. She’s been caught trying to play up to Naota, though his father only sees Naota in Haruko’s arms, and he challenges his son to wargames. This is all initially setup with some very amusing battles between the two men throughout the house as well as Haruko getting involved. The part that just floored me is how much of it was pure beautiful Lupin homages, including a sequence from the 2nd TV series opening. I never caught that during the first time I saw this since I hadn’t seen any Lupin TV.

Much like Otaku no Video, FLCL has so much inside it that the more anime you see, the more jokes you get and the higher the value of watching it again after some time.

The opening episode here is a pretty action filled one, since we are close to the end of the series and things are usually wrapped up by providing fast paced and tense action. A lot of it centers on Amarao and his attempts to get Haruko to stop what she’s doing. Between sending his assistant to try and take Canti down to badgering Naota, he tries everything. What does become apparent though is that he definitely knows more than is letting on, even some amount of jealousy over Naota’s relationship with Haruko. Then again, most adult males in this series seem to have that problem.

One aspect of episode five that plays out great and floored us the first time is the use of the South Park method of animation as we see Amarao going into that mode as well as other characters during a few early scenes. It becomes a touch more subtle in the same area when we have regular anime style back but you have Naota pulling his hood tighter, to the point where his eyes bulge, and we get a Kenny. I just thought the entire way it played out was perfect, letting the show really cross a few boundaries that are normally never crossed in the anime world.

The show then starts barreling towards its conclusion, as we get the honest revelation about why Haruko is here on Earth and why she really needs Naota. The concept for it, bringing the Medical Mechanica folks into play, is amusing and almost cartoony enough to be right at the edge of ideas. Amarao’s reactions to it all when it starts is hilarious, combined with the massive hand that had recently been placed by the main Mechanica complex. All in all though, this show continues to be rather hard to describe. I know I like it since I spent sixty minutes sitting there with a goofy grin on my face.

FLCL is something that allowed those involved to try a wide variety of styles and techniques and does come off as quite experimental. But nearly everything worked in their favor, especially in my own view, and I ended up with three hours of nearly breakneck speed action, comedy and commentary on modern life. FLCL is a show that for all its comical trappings, provides a number of interesting topics for discussion. But much like at the end of the sixth Japanese volume, I find myself unable to really find the right words to describe why this show resonates with me so well.

So, in the end, I’ll simply watch the music video, bob my head back and forth and smile.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Director's Commentary,Pillows Music Video,Textless Endings (3),Image Gallery,Outtakes

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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