FLCL: Progressive Episode 1 Review

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Does Progressive have what it takes to follow up a classic?

This is a spoiler-free review. FLCL: Progressive airs on Adult Swim’s Toonami on Saturday, June 2 at midnight ET/PT.

FLCL: Progressive wastes no time making parallels to the first season. Certain familiar quotes and references are sure to please any fan of FLCL, but they also had me a little worried Progressive might rely too much on its predecessor instead of developing an identity for itself. However, this premiere managed to twist these series conventions in unexpected ways, giving me faith in this sequel series’ to potentially live up to the original.

Progressive stars Hidomi, a high schooler who sums herself up by telling us “there is nothing I want to be. There is nothing I want to do. All that exists is zero.” Her actions (or lack of reactions to the strange people around her) reflect this indifference. She simply keeps hear headphones on and her thoughts to herself. On the other hand we have Ide, a boisterous boy who brags about is romantic conquests. The series jumps between the two over the course of the episode, and I found both of them to be incredibly endearing after just a few short scenes. Knowing FLCL’s past history with examining the difficulties of youth, I’m already interested to see how the show will dissect their contrasting personalities.

Exit Theatre Mode

Hidomi and Ide don’t seem to have much in common, but we quickly learn they are both harboring some special powers that have caught the attention of Haruko (the returning heroine from the original series if you somehow forgot) and another mysterious woman named Jinyu. Unlike the carefree Haruko, Jinyu is gravely serious with a militant attitude, yet they both carry similar items that hint at some shared history. Her scenes are the highlight of the episode, not only because of their over the top nature, but also because of the hints she drops about whats in store for the young protagonists. With another Haruko-esque figure in the mix I’m hopeful that Progressive has plans to shed more light on FLCL’s enigmatic universe.

I’m hopeful that Progressive has plans to shed more light on FLCL’s enigmatic universe.

It’s clear from this first episode that Progressive has kept its predecessor’s penchant for comedy and sexual innuendo, serving it up as overt as possible. A conversation about fashion trends and the double standards for revealing clothes on men and women provides a good laugh, and other jokes about society and “animalistic sexual urges” gives me an idea of exactly what kind of material Progressive plans to tackle. I still worry Progressive might retread the “difficulties of youth” storyline tackled by the original series, but with so little revealed in this first episode, I am willing to trust it has something new up their sleeves.

Which brings me to the point that had me most conflicted watching Progressive: can it stand on its own merits? No doubt this first episode leaned a little heavily on references to the first season, but it also manages to match its predecessor’s unique sense of humor and atmosphere. Progressive may be a sequel, but there’s a lot to love for new viewers as well (and one could argue any confusion about the plot is just part of the FLCL experience). Progressive will have to make some big moves to totally break free from any dependency on the original FLCL, and based on this first episode I’m convinced that it can pull it off.

The Verdict

Weaponized guitars and horny teenagers return in FLCL: Progressive, which carries the series’ signature weirdness into a new, yet familiar world. Fresh characters open up new chances to investigate the trials and tribulations that come with growing up, and though that’s done well in this first episode, I hope Progressive can craft its own memorable story without leaning too heavily on the original series.

SOURCE: IGN.com

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