Review
FLCL: The Ultimate Collection
With the large amount of goodies available in this collection, it seems clearly intended for fans that have already seen the series, and possibly those that already have the DVDs from earlier releases and want a little something extra with this latest edition. Materially, there are plenty of reasons to buy this release, especially if one is a fan of the series. And at this point, fans might wonder why I have prattled on at such length about the bonus features within the Ultimate Collection without singing the praises of the series contained therein.

There is very little that one can say about FLCL that has not been said already. Like that other gem from Gainax, Neon Genesis Evangelion, FLCL takes the best-known of standard anime conventions and subtly undermines them by pointing out the utter absurdity (and painful humanity) involved. Does FLCL have gratuitous panty-shots? Yes. Do they serve a purpose? Yes. In fact, they highlight the way those characters have been degraded in other ways (both of the upskirted girls have been betrayed or neglected in some way). The same goes for the giant mecha trope. The series is replete with jokes about Evangelion and the Gundam series. The series frequently breaks the fourth wall and makes inside jokes about the industry. It possesses a degree of self-awareness that few other series have about their own genre. Like Evangelion, it's meta-mecha, much in the same way that Ouran High School Host Club is meta-shojo. And at the core of all those clever in-jokes, great songs, and eye-popping animation is a sometimes-heartbreaking story. FLCL reminds the viewer of everything that is awkward about adolescence, and the story occasionally slows down to focus on a single frame that communicates volumes: the much-beleaguered robot Canti quietly washing dishes, or a girl washing her hair. Despite incorporating aliens and robots and random insertions of manga panels, the series takes the time for human moments.

However, FLCL is not for everyone. Despite the series' short length, it's very dense, and can often leave the viewer feeling a little dizzy. The series also refuses to shy away from the grotesquerie of its genre—be prepared for plenty of bodily fluids from humans and aliens. And due to the series' partly cloudy plot, viewers can sometimes feel as alienated and confused as Naota. (Some might consider this a point in the series' favour, but others might find it simply condescending.) On the one hand, this could push viewers away from purchasing the Ultimate Collection. On the other, the Ultimate Collection contains so much extra information that it might be worth it just to gain more insight on the series.

DVD Features: 4:3 aspect ratio; English and Japanese audio tracks; English subtitles; Region 1.

DVD Extras: Director's commentary; storyboard comparison, image gallery, FLCL Test Type (animation from FLCL, music by the Pillows); t-shirt postcard (redeemable for one t-shirt), FLCL logo sticker sheet; FLCL robot a postcard set; FLCL Ultimate Book, containing translation notes, English voice actor interviews and manga scenes.
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