“Though a good deal is too strange to be believed, nothing is too strange to have happened.” – Thomas Hardy.
If you are into your anime and manga then you will no doubt have come across the sheer complete lunacy that is FLCL. One of the most praised anime around, most people will be aware of the show’s mixture of sci-fi, comedy and surrealism.
While the anime is well known, the manga adaptation of it is not given so much attention. However, Dark Horse has now published the manga version in a single volume for everyone to read.
For those who have yet to come across the series, FLCL is set in the fictional Japanese suburb of Mabase, which is dominated by a building which is shaped like a steam iron that blows out white smoke every day. 12-year-old Naota Nandaba is bored of the town as little happens in it, but things change when he encounters alien girl Haruko Haruhara. The encounter is a strange one, given that she introduces herself to Naota by riding a Vespa motorbike towards him and hitting him over the head with an electric guitar. The oddity just gets stranger from there, as we get to see phallic lumps growing out of heads, robotic maids, and some rough-and-ready croquet.
Those familiar with the plot will find nothing surprising in terms of the dialogue. However, the artwork by Hajime Ueda is something to behold, as it is so different from just about all the other manga you see. For starters, throughout most of the book there are no backgrounds. You just see the characters, the things near them, the speech bubbles, and that is it.
Also, for much of the time there may be only a few panels in a page, sometimes there is only the one. One page (p. 49) has a huge blank space with one small caption in it, with two thin panels taking up only the bottom third of said page.
The drawing is also very rough. If elegance is your thing then this will not be the manga for you. It is full of jagged lines. Even the outlines on most of the panels are not drawn in perfectly straight lines. Shading tends to come in three forms: solid lumps of one colour such as black or grey, close-up-spots, or sometimes light pencil shading.
There are also quite a lot of extras in this book. There are several colour pages, featuring both normal paper art and some 3D work. In the back of the book there is a bonus story.
Yes, sometimes the plot is hard to follow, and the rough artwork can make it at times difficult to read, but this is a manga that I feel should be thoroughly recommended for anyone’s collection.