FLCL is the formula

 

FLCL Vol. 1. Directed by Kazuya Tsurumaki. Released on "hybrid" (English-dubbed, Japanese with English subtitles) DVD by Synch-Point March 2002, $29.98.

 

1. cool as a fool

2. the set-up

3. from the cast

4. emerging from the head of gainax

5. and so the pulp interview

1. cool as a fool

Kazuya Tsurumaki is slumming—and it's not because he's hanging at an anime con. He already knows from hell and apocalypse, ever since Studio Gainax made their scanless 1995-96 TV series Neon Genesis Evangelion, when he was the red right hand of its director, Hideaki Anno. And then, see, Anno his damned self gave Tsurumaki the job of personally directing the 1997 movie conclusion, The End of Evangelion, whose lobby poster showed the whole ensemble cast upside down in a sea of blood and whose trailer tagline was "Wouldn't it be nice if everyone would just die."

End of Evangelion scooped a cool twelve mil at the box office, several times its budget—an indie smash that snatched the Japan Academy Award for "Biggest Public Sensation" on its way out, having given the mass audiences that had come to slum the otaku scene the finger, twice, in both eyes.

Four years since, and Tsurumaki has at last come to America, land of soda and pie, for Otakon 2001. Meanwhile, blind scratches from the Académie fançaise still etch the secret message that Evangelion was very disappointing: white canes and dark glasses and frantic motions of questing hands, fantasies of being able to take Asuka away from those bastards who ruined her, Anno and Tsurumaki. TokyoScope's Patrick Macias found them magnificent bastards, actually, judging The End of Evangelion the most important anime film of the past decade and a considerably more progressive work than that year's other cel-phenom, Princess Mononoke.

The End's director, Kazuya Tsurumaki, has asked to be whisked from the touristy realm of Baltimore's Inner Harbor to see its inner city instead. This day he's truant from his guest appearance at the largest anime convention on the East Coast to see the bad people and the bad places.

"Cool as a fool" was the old darktown expression, and we are told by Tsurumaki that his new anime—he is both its director and creator of the original story concept—has a name, FLCL, that is an invert sugar of the subvert slogan "fooly coolly." Pederantic essays on the misuse of the English language in anime often seem blind, too, to the possibilities of fresh jive, for surely there is a ghetto of the mind called otakuland, where our gaijin words can pick up a high yellow. And as it should, FLCL gives the would-be hipsters the runaround. FLCL means "fooly coolly" only when we're not being told it stands for "fury curry," "flip clock," "foolish cleverness," "flimsy claim," or simply a Japanese sound effect for frotterism.

All of which and all other explanations are also given during the course of FLCL, a six-episode direct-to-video anime series, now being released, by personal request of its co-producer Mitsuhisa Ishikawa (for on whom more, see PULP 5.9's "Jin-Roh: At The Carpenter Center") through Synch-Point, a new anime company in Los Angeles. Not only will the original sharp two-color Japanese package design not be monkeyed with (as often happens with what Macias calls "the white man's DVDs"), but Synch-Point will offer even better value than the Japanese original release. Their "hybrid" (English-dubbed and/or Japanese with English subtitles) release of FLCL will offer two episodes on each DVD instead of the original one per and add an exclusive bonus not available to the original Japanese edition—extensive and translated director's commentary from Tsurumaki recorded especially for this English-language edition. FLCL Vol. 1 hits March 2002 for $29.98; the second and third volumes to follow in May and July.

 

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