FLCL, also known as Fooly Cooly is a 2000s classic OVA that was released at the turn of the millennium. It was produced by the FLCL production committee, which consisted of studios Gainax and Production I.G., as well as King Records. The series was well-regarded for its surrealist and bizarre plot and characters, and has inspired various kinds of animation from Avatar: The Last Airbender (and The Legend of Korra) to Tatsuki Fujimoto's CHAINSAW MAN.
Despite the massive impact FLCL has had on the anime medium, its sequels, which were announced in March 2016 after various twists and turns leading up to Production I.G.'s acquisition of the series' rights to produce the series in collaboration with Toonami. Here's all you need to know about the FLCL sequels, including the one set to arrive sometime in 2023.
Their Production Wasn't Always Set
As mentioned before, FLCL was an anime original produced through collaboration between Gainax, Production I.G. and King Records. 2015 marked the beginning of the circulation of news stories concerned with Production I.G., more specifically concerned with the studio's reported interest in producing some kind of new FLCL project after the company announced plans to purchase the series' rights from Gainax, which also led some to believe that a remake was in the works. Prior to Production I.G.'s eventual acquisition of the rights to produce FLCL, Hideaki Anno, director of Neon Genesis Evangelion and his Studio Khara were interested in purchasing the rights from Gainax; however, the deal fell through after the latter raised the asking price.
Toonami went on to announce its joint effort with Production I.G. in March 2016 – the production of 12 episodes split into two parts titled FLCL Progressive and FLCL Alternative. Original series character designer and character designer for Neon Genesis Evangelion, Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, was replaced with Chikashi Kubota for Progressive, with Yūichi Takahashi taking over the role in Alternative. Each subsequent sequel was handled by a different team, and directors changed with each successive installment in the FLCL franchise. The original FLCL was directed by Neon Genesis Evangelion assistant director Kazuya Tsurumaki, who was also the director of the Neon Genesis Evangelion films; while Progressive and Alternative were directed by a team led by Katsuyuki Motohiro.
FLCL Progressive and Alternative
FLCL Progressive was first released in June 2018, while FLCL Alternative came out three months later in September that year. Progressive follows 14-year-old Hidomi Hibajiri, a disillusioned young girl who can't escape the monotony of her life which only consists of going to school, helping out at her mother's café and listening to music; at least until one fateful day when she is run over by guitar-wielding woman on a Vespa. Much like Jinta in the original FLCL OVA, Hidomi ends up with a strange horn growing from her forehead, and robots coming out of nowhere to threaten her and her classmate, Kō Ide.
FLCL Alternative follows a similar formula to Progressive, with the story following Kana Kōmoto, a young girl living in a small town where nothing happens and nothing ever changes. Kana goes to school, hangs out with friends, paints her nails and listens to music, but it never feels like anything of true significance will happen, until one fateful day. Kana and her friends decide to try to send a bottle rocket to space just for fun, but their downtempo lives change forever when an actual robot crashes into the bottle rocket, and a pink-haired woman claiming to be a "Galactic Investigator" appears. It is evident that the narrative choices for FLCL Progressive and Alternative are meant to create some kind of continuation of the original OVA's atmosphere, feel and impact; with the "Vespa Woman", Haruko Haruhara at the centre of it all each time.
The Reception Wasn't Great
Perhaps the biggest reason why there hasn't been more noise about the FLCL sequels, especially the ones set to drop sometime in 2023, is the fact that FLCL Progressive and Alternative simply weren't as well received as expected.
While fan nostalgia is invariably a factor in situations like this, one of the biggest qualities of FLCL has been its short yet highly significant impact on the medium – sequels, while seeming to be a no-brainer when it comes to figuring out what would go down well with fans, FLCL occupies a special place in the history of anime – especially in the context of its emergence in the west. As a result, many weren't impressed by the concept of a sequel, while others tried them and found that they paled too much in comparison to the original FLCL OVA. With two sequels that didn't go down too well, FLCL sequels in general seem to have been relegated to the permanent position of "not as good as the original".
There Are Two Coming In 2023
In total, there are four sequels to FLCL – two are the ones mentioned above, FLCL Progressive and FLCL Alternative, produced through collaboration between Production I.G. and Toonami; and, there are two more sequels announced for release sometime in 2023: FLCL: Grunge and FLCL: Shoegaze. These titles were announced in March 2022, and are coming courtesy of Adult Swim, in honour of the 25th anniversary of the Toonami programming block. What's known about Grunge and Shoegaze at this point is that the Pillows, the band whose music lit up the very first FLCL and its sequels, will be back with more music for the franchise.
Interestingly, Shoegaze and Grunge will be produced by two separate teams, with the former being produced by Japanese companies NUT and Production I.G., with Yutaka Uemura, an assistant director in the production of Alternative, in the director's seat; and the latter being directed by Hitoshi Takekiyo at MontBlanc Pictures (Kanye West, Kid Cudi and Takashi Murakami "Kids See Ghosts" animated preview). This production at MontBlanc Pictures will be stylistically different from the original FLCL OVA and its sequels Progressive and Alternative, sporting a 3D look and feel judging from the ten-second teaser. English staff for the upcoming FLCL: Shoegaze and FLCL: Grunge includes Jason DeMarco (Executive Producer, FLCL Alternative and Progressive) and Maki Terashima-Furuta, President of Production I.G. USA. No cast members have been announced for either project just yet.
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