FLCL: Grunge music has caused a lot of controversy among fans due to its divisive 3D animation art style that many feel bears no resemblance to the original series. The introduction of Shin, the grunge protagonist, was criticized as being weaker than previous installments, lacking personality, and similar to past characters. Despite its animation and character flaws, grunge has potential in storytelling and a deeper exploration of a dying Earth, but whether it can overcome its cartoonish style remains uncertain. .
Sequel to the third FLCL, FLCL: Grunge musicbegan airing on Adult Swim’s Toonami block, but the series premiere left many fans questioning the creative decisions behind the series.
FLCL is an OVA series that was originally released in the 1990s and achieved success as a cult classic on Adult Swim’s late-night anime circuit in the mid-2000s. It was originally created by Gainax and is An immediate sequel to Neon Genesis Evangelion, this one goes a long way in explaining the overall strangeness of the series. Primarily a comedy, the six-episode series is also a coming-of-age story, introducing how Naota and the other characters adapt to the changes that life brings. FLCL revived after nearly 20 years when Adult Swim announced two new sequel series, FLCL: Progressive and FLCL: Alternative, to premiere in 2018.
The FLCL sequel is causing controversy among fans
Progressive and Alternative remain relatively close to the original style, but the series is sometimes criticized as “unnecessary,” with the only returning character being Haruko, the manic alien dream girl from the original. The two sequels cover similar ground, revisiting the coming-of-age storyline with new characters dealing with new situations. While controversial among fans of the original, the two sequels were so successful that two sequels were ordered, grunge and Shoegaze, with grunge being the first to be released. FLCL: However, grunge surprised fans with its new and divisive style.
Previously in 2023, grunge was revealed to have a 3D cartoon art style, which was met with some very negative reactions from fans. FLCL’s animation was a big part of its early success, as it often used jokes about its art style and tended not to shy away from cartoon physics if it served a joke. As a result, the original’s animation style is quite fluid, and for many fans, there’s no way 3D animation can capture the feel of the original.
FLCL: grunge is off to a rough start
The first episode of grunge begins with Shin, a boy left on a dying Earth with a few friends and very little guidance from anyone. What was once a foundational element in Alternative, abandoning Earth for Mars, has now become the main focus of the story, as Shin and his friends could never even dream of being able to buy a ticket to Mars. Of course, Shin meets Haruko, who is as provocative as ever, causing Shin to grow a protrusion from his head, proving he has the ability to open NO passages. Haruko steals some cards for the final flight to Mars and distributes them to some of her friends, making the Mayor angry that she stole them. Shin is caught up in Haruko’s epic action scene and finds himself invigorated for the first time.
Compared to previous FLCL seasons, Shin’s introduction is one of the weaker ones; he doesn’t have much of a personality, possibly due to the widespread hopelessness that seems to have engulfed what’s left of Earth’s society. His friends aren’t very prominent either, aside from the “Rockians,” some kind of alien species that has come to live on Earth, but are not present in any of the other FLCL series. At least, Haruko is still herself, overcoming impossible odds just for fun. She also seems to maintain her original goal: to be reunited with Pirate King Atomsk.
Even though I’ve only watched one episode, grunge already feels a bit familiar. Shin is working at a sushi shop, just like Alternative’s main character Kana is working at a ramen shop. Shin’s indifferent attitude is sometimes reminiscent of Naota. However, the biggest problem with the series is definitely its art style. The 3D models feel rigid in their movements and often don’t seem to fit very well with the background they’re placed on. It makes the kind of snappy, frenetic action that FLCL is famous for very difficult to pull off, and the first episode fails to impress in that regard. Occasionally, grunge also continues to use 2D animation, which can be quite a jarring change when it changes from one to another.
All is not lost for FLCL: grunge
What grunge is doing at the moment is essentially the larger story being told in this next series. Alternative also has this “leaving Earth for Mars” plot, although it has very little to do with the setting and not much to do with the main characters, at least until the end. Starting from that point and entering a world where Earth is basically dead and everyone left there knows it, is a very interesting proposition, and grunge can do some very interesting things with that. The series has potential, but the question is whether it can live up to it despite the animation style.
The change in animation is certainly the biggest obstacle facing FLCL: grunge, but the animation style does not dictate the story and it’s entirely possible that grunge will have an interesting story to tell. Whether fans will be willing to accept the new animated film to enjoy that story is a big question, and that leaves FLCL: Grunge musiclike its characters, with an uncertain future.
FLCL: Grunge music airs at midnight Saturday on Adult Swim and is available to stream the next day on MAX.