“In this world, only my body is rotting away…”
That’s not all that’s rotting away.
All eyes are on this sequel series
FLCL Progressive is a show for no one. It’s a pale shadow that exists for no other reason than to attempt to appeal to delusional fans of the original.
It’s definitely not forging its own path for a new audience. There are way too many nods and nudges and full on dead-arm punches reminding you that the old series existed. One after the next, the moments come. “Remember when they did this in the old one?” “Hey, remember when this scene happened in the old one?” “Remember this string of dialog from the old one?” “Hey hey hey, remember this kind of character from the old one?” It’s maddening and cringe-worthy.
Pretty sure we’ve seen this before
The first episode of FLCL Progressive hits the same story beats, but it’s like watching a child stretch their legs to try to match the strides of a giant: cute to watch its first attempts, but more embarrassing as it makes the same futile efforts well into its teen years.
Hidomi is our new protagonist, a soulless carbon copy of Naota. There was so much potential to make Hidomi into someone unique and original. She could have been an angsty teenager in her own way, but instead she’s just a female Naota. Nothing more, nothing less, and it’s insulting.
As mentioned, familiar story beats pop up all over the place. A mysterious female (who is not Haruko) runs over Hidomi. There’s a shot of watching someone through binoculars. Long strands of innocuous, ranting dialog (that is much less interesting, because the writers are amateurs). Just pick a scene from the first episode of FLCL, and more than likely there’s a poorly executed facsimile in the first episode of Progressive.
It follows the rules of bad sequels to a disgusting degree: don’t color outside of the lines and give the viewers what you think they want. All of this completely undermines the spirit of the original FLCL. It was a series that broke narrative conventions and confounded expectations. The plot itself was inconsequential, really. It was first and foremost an animator’s anime and a practice in experimental storytelling.
FLCL Progressive hits the same story beats, but it’s like watching a child stretch their legs to try to match the strides of a giant.
Progressive plays it safe, and by doing so it can’t help but feel anything like a cheap imitation. Some people may be happy with this, cheering like the faceless, brainwashed, dead-eyed students in the incredibly forced meta-conclusion of the episode when a familiar face is reintroduced.
It would have been interesting to see this series spin off in its own direction and take creative leaps. It has the FLCL name. That pretty much gives it free license to go absolutely anywhere it wants. Maybe there’s still time for that. If they’re setting us up to pull the rug out from under us, they did a good job. But by the look of this first episode, all that can be said is, “Nothing amazing happens here.”