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Anime is quite well-known for its whacky tropes and animation styles. However, there’s a certain anime that went so over the top that it create universe upon universe for you to escape to. If for some reason you are unfamiliar with the early 2000’s hit Fooly Cooly, then let’s get you acquainted with its style, plot, and humor so you have an idea of what you’re in for.
First off, FLCL depicts the people and events that cling themselves to Naota Nandaba after he meets the zany but beautiful Haruko. His forehead becomes an interdimensional portal, Haruko moves into his house causing the testosterone level of the all-male household to go off the charts, and galactic police are stopping by. Those are just a few of the maddening things happening to Naota. Miraculously through all its oddities and quirks, FLCL is still able to pull off a believable and heartwarming coming of age story. It’s this delectable combination of off-the-wall humor, like when Haruko runs over Naota, and respectable underlying narrative that creates such a classic. It’s also that mix that defines the following recommendations, so without further ado, let’s get to the most current shows that mirror FLCL’s awesomeness.
Similar Anime to FLCL
1. Kill la Kill
- Episodes: 24
- Aired: Oct. 2013 – Mar. 2014
Ryuuko Matoi is pissed off about a lot of things, particularly the fact that her father was killed by someone wielding half a scissors blade. After years of trying to chase down the murderer, she finds herself at Honnouji Academy, a high school that is quite unlike any other. Here she wants to challenge and defeat the student council president, Satsuki Kiryuuin, in order to find some answers. However, the entire school possesses superhuman powers due to their Goku uniforms, and Ryuuko is only able to successfully take them on after donning the rather revealing and talkative Senketsu.
Kill la Kill is a madhouse for the visual, which happens to be a recurring aspect of most of the shows on this list. It is wacky, over-the-top and yet extremely fluid as characters clash in battle. There’s just an overall exaggeration of color and movement that few shows would even be able to handle. What did you expect though? Though Kill la Kill is from Trigger, a good chunk of its crew were from Gainax, which clearly showed its taste for decadent illustrations from Fooly Cooly to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann to Panty & Stocking. It’s what’s they are known for and rightfully so as few creators can capture such a visual overload and make it comprehensible to the viewer.
On top of the eye-popping animation, Kill la Kill takes quite a few narrative cues from FLCL. To begin, its narrative, which does exist in both, is heavily hidden under symbolism and random sequences of insanity. In fact, both heavily articulate through their wacky events and simply inane moments a critical portrait of anime culture and its obsession with sex and violence. However, underneath the barrage of images is an impressive coming-of-age story.
Kill la Kill Trailer
2. Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei (The Tatami Galaxy)
- Episodes: 11
- Aired: Apr. 2010 – Jul. 2010
In his third year of college, our protagonist finds himself at a mysterious ramen stand that possibly sells actual cat soup, and meets a man claiming to be a god of matrimony. After this strange meeting and reflecting upon his past years in college, our young hero is suddenly flung back into time to his first year of college. So begins this repeating time loop as he attempts to make the most of the years he missed out. A task that is heavily focused on getting together with his crush, Akashi.
Much more direct and focused on its storytelling, The Tatami Galaxy is interspersed with symbolism and metaphors as we follow the growth and maturing process of the main character. Complex and dense, the storyline touches upon our desires for love, relationships, and excitement and the inability to achieve such things when we’re focused on having an experience. It goes along the lines of you can’t experience something fully if you’re too focused on having an experience and in this The Tatami Galaxy’s guy and Naota discover quite similar truths. Action is required for things to come to fruition.
Despite this anime being more focused on the plot, the devices it uses to tell its story rely heavily on the visual aspect of the show, which is mind bending, if not just strange. Everything seems to just be floating around, temporary without any roots. It’s this distance that actually let’s us draw so many connections to characters and events. Rather than simply being carried along from one scenario to the next, we are forced to analyze each scene.
3. Mob Psycho 100
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jul. 2016 – Sep. 2016
Mob, whose real name is Kageyama Shigeo, is an eighth grader with incredibly powerful psychic abilities. However, his powers garnered him a lot of unwanted attention and now all he wants is to get to know one of the girls in his class, Tsubomi. Things are never simple though in middle school and Mob Psycho 100 explores all the layers that define male adolescence.
Mob and Naota are very similar. They both have a certain unimaginable power (albeit Naota’s isn’t really on display until the end) and both really could care less about being special. They just want the girl and they want to figure out what’s the best path to get that. In fact, at times, both see their powers as limitations to getting the girl. These similarities lead both shows down identical themes that happen to be deposited through rather insane metaphors and allegories. Nonetheless, they both really are just about the struggles of growing up, dealing with your desires, and figuring out where you’re going in life.
Outside of being imparted with humorous gags/references on a consistent basis and a playful art style, Mob Psycho 100 and FLCL both share a cast with true purpose. Each character in the show, has a certain individuality about him/her that really pushes the plot or main character in some dimension. There really aren’t any sideline characters with generic attitudes in either of these and that allows for a much more convincing world to jump into and enjoy.
Mob Psycho 100 Trailer
Any Anime Like FLCL?
4. Kyousou Giga
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: Oct. 2013 – Dec. 2013
Hidden in Kyoto there is a place known as the Mirror Capital where both demons and human live together as immortals. This sanctuary of sorts is protected by three individuals – Kurama, Yase, and Myoue – as they wait for their parents to return. However, one day a girl with red eyes by the name of Koto and her two younger brothers suddenly appear in the Mirror City. Their presence unsettles the long peace that characterized this mini utopia.
Kyousou Giga does a fantastic job meshing together colorful settings, eccentric characters, and hints of Japanese folklore. It mixes the supernatural with the mundane in a way that is both shocking and yet totally believable as we enter a city that was created by one monk’s ability to make his drawings come to life. The visuals match this artistic pre-narrative as the colors and characters tie together in perfect degrees. In other words, it’s really hard to look away from this anime as its style is unbelievably appealing to the eye.
Though the beginning seems to be simply a hot mess more than anything else as Koto wreaks havoc across Mirror City, it soon enough hits its stride detailing not only Koto’s development but the growth of Kurama, Yase, and Myoue. Mirror City mainly acts as a symbolic family bubble, which has kept everything at peace, if not perhaps stale. However, when Koto enters the city in her search for the Black Rabbit, her actions affect the three protectors as they learn to adapt and appropriately respond to stimuli that they are unused to. In this regard, the show becomes heavily one about identity, on an individual and family scale.
5. Punch Line
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr. 2015 – Jun. 2015
Punch Line focuses in on Yuuta Iridatsu and the two things that happen whenever he sees a girl’s panties. Just to be clear from the get go, Punch Line is more of an ecchi than any of the shows on this list. Yes, Kill la Kill definitely has its fan service, but that serves as a topic for critique and conversation, while Punch Line’s upshots are simply tended for testosterone-fueled viewers. Now where were we, oh yes, when Yuuta sees panties, his soul tends to leave his body (so he has free range to do what he wants) and an asteroid hits Earth. If it weren’t for the asteroid correlation then he’d probably be free to just enjoy himself, but now he sort of needs to figure out why his panty viewing threatens the world.
Wild and non-sequitur, Punch Line and Fooly Cooly share a penchant for insane storylines and mind blowing visuals. In both, it’s extremely easy to lose sight of the actual plot line. This honestly goes double for Punch Line, because it’s episode count doubles that of FLCL and has about a quarter of its episodes rambling down completely unimportant moments for cheap laughs. That’s part of the ecchi element of the show and it really is one of the few drawbacks as it’s easy to feel like you are either completely lost or wasting your time. That aside it does tie together a lot of its wackiness by the end, which is rather impressive considering the first episode has a lot of loose ends that need to be weaved together.
Thankfully, the animation covers some of the narrative’s shortcomings. Energetic, bursting, and colorful are just a few of the words you could use to describe this show’s style. It really feels like you’re diving straight into someone’s imagination with the wild blend of movement and colors and just overall great character designs. It’s fluid and its action packed to an extent that arguably surpasses that of FLCL. There’s a certain fluidity and fullness to the colors that make FLCL at times appear slightly dull.
Punch Line Trailer
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Apr. 2012 – Jun. 2012
Tsuritama follow Yuki Sanada around as he attempts to make friends and fit into the social hierarchy of Enoshima. Despite his social awkwardness, which causes him to freeze when he’s giving introductions, Yuki finds himself in league with his eccentric classmate Haru. Now, Haru claims to be an alien and wields a strange water gun that seems capable of hypnosis if not mind control. With Haru attaching himself to Yuki, in the face of Yuki’s many protests, we are taken on a journey of self-discovery that propels itself towards mythological proportions.
Not as flashy as Fooly Cooly nor as action packed/filled to the brim with insanity, Tsuritama still shares a lot of the plot elements of Fooly Cooly. It focuses on the social anxieties of a young boy as he tries to figure out where he belongs. From that point his personal identity begins to grow and take shape due to the appearance of a being that isn’t from this world. They both also end in a rather fantastical fashion that exceeds the bounds of what the show offered earlier on.
The main difference is simply the degree of craziness that each show is willing to go to. Tsuritama is much more tame and takes its time going from scene to scene. Nothing happens too suddenly or out of the blue. Despite having a much slower story, Tsuritama’s visuals definitely take certain cues from FLCL with their vivid color palette and overall range of expression for the characters.
These shows are the crème de la crème of style. Each show exploits stylistic decisions and eye-popping visuals to the point of such artistic maneuvering being a two-sided sword. In some instances, you’ll find yourself completely distracted or lost in the amount of imagery and symbolism and allusions. It’s just a constant barrage and the only thing you can really do is sit back and be entertained. At other moments, all of these little extravagances propel you further into the plot and bring about a vast new outlook on the anime as a whole.