Here’s a simple piece of advice for when the enthusiasm for one of your hobbies or interests starts to wane: seek out something that represents why you were a fan in the first place. The time I could spend grumbling about how everything’s moeshit, or watching stuff just because other people are watching it, could instead be spent watching something different and enjoyable. Which is what I did.
I’ve not been following much anime at all lately. I’ve watched a few films and TV shows, I’ve recorded some music and I’ve been busy with real life things. As for the last season or two of animu broadcasts, I’ve seen precious little. To break the cycle I idly turned to my backlog. First up, chosen more or less at random, was Nadia: Secret of Blue Water.
Way back when, I watched the first season of Mahoromatic because I’m a Gainax completist and later made a mental note to pick up the second season when time and finances allowed. Even then, Something More Beautiful sat on my backlog shelf for months. The fact that I have an entire DVD shelf dedicated to my backlog might explain why that happened, but Mahoromatic‘s second half wasn’t something I was in a hurry for in the first place.
I found myself compelled to see it through to the notorious end, but I can think of so many reasons why I perhaps shouldn’t have bothered. My lasting impression is that it really wasn’t bad; ignoring the waste of time that is the Summer Special (a course of action I thoroughly recommend, by the way) it still had its fair share of problems.
I guess films are like the studios that create them: some are still going strong year after year, some enjoy a resurgence in popularity long after their big break, some fade into obscurity while others try to last out on reputation alone. Although I’m a Gainax fanboy I wondered how the their debut production, Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise, had stood the test of time.
Is its reputation deserved? Old-school fans can be fiercely loyal to the stuff they hold dear after all, especially when it’s seen through the soft-focus rose tint of nostalgia. Some titles are popular for popularity’s sake but others, such as this one, are enduring simply because they’re good.
In my first post on FLCL I stuck to a general impression-style approach because, quite honestly, there’s too much to say about it in one go. Given the fact that it’s easy for the colourful and frenetic nature of the series to obscure the really clever things it does, I felt the need to concentrate on the characterisation. So here it is: the second half of my assessment of why FLCL is pure win, even now.
In most cases the point that stories are always about the characters is fundamental and obvious: remove that and all you’re left with is a cool-looking music video or experiment in artistic techniques at best, and a meaningless mess at worst. There’s more to FLCL than just the superficial coolness so the usual rules apply: when the after-effects of the explosions and WTF moments subside this series stays with you. Important things happen to those involved and, are meaningful because you care about what happens. The crazy stuff really just serves to emphasise why certain things are significant, albeit conveying the said significance of the feelings and events in an innovative and memorable way.
Another post inspired by a group viewing of an entire series, but this time prompted by a challenge to write about the one show I never actually thought I’d ever be able to write about. The series’ very nature had me lost for words for years: how the hell can I possibly put my thoughts on FLCL into one article? I can get around part of the challenge by leaving the character study segments for a second half, but even so…
My thoughts exactly
The problem with FLCL is that it’s heavily reliant on the reaction of the viewer for its impact: when I try to rationalise the events and themes I worry that the essence of what it’s trying to say will be lost. My love for it can perhaps be explained by the fact that I marathoned all six episodes every time because quite honestly I don’t think you can appreciate it any other way: instead of getting bogged down in the details you have to throw yourself into the thick of it with a very, very open mind to appreciate its twisted genius. Even better still, take some friends and a few cold ‘uns for the ride.