One of the most beloved and critically acclaimed anime of the early 2000's was Fooly Cooly (FLCL), directed by Kazuya Tsurumaki and produced by a combination of Studios Gainax and Production I.G. FLCL garnered praise for its incredibly weird nature, coupled with the deeper undertones of maturity which resonated with many audience members at the time of release. Now, almost 18 years later, two sequels titled FLCL 2 & 3 are slated to release, with the premiere being shown off at Anime Expo. Joined by Mitsuhisa Ishikawa and Maki Terashima-Furuta, Presidents of Production I.G, as well as Jason DeMarco and Gill Austin, creative directors of Adult Swim, they talked about and answered a few questions about the production of FLCL 2 & 3.
FLCL 2 & 3 Reveal Trailer
The very first thing shown off in the panel, was the trailer which premiered FLCL 2 to the public (at first extremely fast-forwarded, which could be taken as either a technical difficulty or a legitimate gag on the part of the panelists). FLCL 2 had been announced in 2016, but this was the first anyone had seen of the show, and the general reveal was about as exciting as one could expect for a fan of FLCL. While short, the teaser gave brief glimpses into who the main characters of the story would be, as well as potentially the biggest reveal of all - renowned band "The Pillows" will be working on FLCL 2 and you can hear a brief snippet of their brand new track. Other bits of info include the fact that Kazuya Tsurumaki, director of the original FLCL, shall be supervising the project, as well as character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto. Along with these familiar faces, it was later revealed that Production I.G will also be pulling in other former Gainax employees to assist in directing and writing a couple of episodes, as well as any other assistance they may need in order to ensure that FLCL 2 & 3 live up to the original. The trailer also shows off a couple of unannounced characters - including a bounty hunter-esque girl rocking a guitar of her own, a blonde adult (who appears to be a teacher), and a couple of new robot designs, one of which may be the new replacement for Canti from the original.
After playing the trailer (and playing it again after the audience asked for an encore), there was a brief summary of what the story is about - FLCL 2 staring "Hidomi, who is a school girl living a quiet life, when suddenly she runs into a new substitute teacher that looks a lot like Haruko... Through a series of events, she, and a boy in her class that she likes named Ide, end up in a sort of battle between Medical Mechanica and Atomsk." DeMarco was interrupted shortly after in order to avoid any more potential spoilers, and Maki mentions how much of the staff is comprised of new members simply because of how old FLCL actually is. She also reveals that the Pillows will not only be doing music for FLCL 2, but season 3 as well! Ishikawa then took to the mic to briefly explain that FLCL 2 & 3 are a collaborative effort to see what Production I.G and Studio Bones could pull off when working together. Jason also emphasizes the importance of the new seasons being able to stand on their own as new projects, while still retaining what made the original such a masterpiece in the eyes of the fans. Both seasons are slated to come out in 2018, with Toonami offering simulcast on the Adult Swim late-night block for western fans, and produced by TOHO in Japan.
Following a brief history of both the collaboration between Adult Swim and Production I.G, as well as some encouraging words on the effort put into the new seasons, the panelists began to take questions from the audience. A few of the questions were either yes-or-no, but most of them offered some insight as to either the production of the show moving forward or general information that any fan of FLCL is sure to appreciate!
Q: Are the Pillows making new tracks for FLCL 2 & 3, or will it be the old score?
A: They are making all new music for the new seasons
Q: Will FLCL 3 carry out the story of FLCL 2?
A: They are two separate series entirely.
Q: Will FLCL get a simuldub, as well as the broadcast airing in Japan?
A: The plan currently is to have the dub premiere on Adult Swim, and the simuldub will be put up on [Adult Swim's] streaming channel as well.
Q: Will former Gainax employees from Studio Trigger and Studio Khara who worked on the original also work on FLCL 2 & 3?
A: Yes, we have some episodic directors who used to work for Gainax. The original character designer, Sadamoto, is also working on it.
Q: How many episodes per season?
A: 6 episodes per season (12 overall)
Q: What is it like working with The Pillows/How do they work with you?
A: Working with the Pillows forms such a great synergy between the band and the show. If you look at FLCL and listen to their music, all you can imagine is FLCL so it's been wonderful working with them. They were very excited to work on the sequels as well!
Q: Can any details be shared about the vocal cast, either Japanese or English?
A: No, that can't be talked about at the moment.
Q: Are the themes of the original FLCL (growing up, sexuality, etc.) being carried over into the new series?
A: The broad themes are similar. They are about dealing with adolescence, sexuality, and growing up.
This particular question leads into a question for the audience from Maki as to whether or not nudity should be implemented in the new seasons (with Maki in particular constantly asking whether or not it would be allowed by Adult Swim). With the thematic symbols of FLCL, it would be no surprise if nudity did make its way into the brand new seasons in some way, but certain things are allowed to be broadcast in Japan that aren't allowed in America and vice versa.
Q: Why wait 18 years before releasing the new seasons? After the original, was there plans for a sequel that fell through?
A: We were waiting for all of you guys to no longer be minors.
Q: Is Studio I.G or Adult Swim having a new tour of the Pillows in the US or Japan? Might they come to Anime Expo?
A: We will let them know that you guys want to see them.
Q: Is there plans for any characters returning from the original, and will they have the same voice actors as before?
A: We'll definitely consider that.
Q: How do you intend to keep the spirit of the original with the wildly different staff, who has wildly different experiences?
A: There's going to be episodic directors, and they have a supervisor on top of that to make sure that it all goes as intended.
Q: Will there be any sorts of artbooks or compilations of concept art for FLCL 2 & 3?
A: It depends on how well the project does, but hopefully. (Ishikawa then says yes immediately afterwards)
Q: Is there going to be a graphic novel to go along with the second season?
Q: Will both FLCL 2 & 3 be released together, or will they be separated like a traditional anime?
A: Current plan is for there to be two separate, distinct seasons. Season 2 will have a break in between season 3, and both will definitely come out in 2018.
Q: Will we find out what Fooly Cooly actually is?
Q: How were the new animators chosen, based on popularity or whether or not the staff liked their previous work?
A: Creators that are involved in the sequel are the ones that grew up with FLCL. They were inspired by it, so they wanted to see a sequel as well.
For any fans of FLCL, this panel was fantastic due to both the reveal and the amount of information about the projects was told. Hearing about how passionate the staff behind the two seasons is also instills hope that they may be able to at least come close to or live up to the original series. The crew behind the project is also incredibly talented, so there is quite a bit of optimism as to what Production I.G, Bones, and any additional staff will be able to pull off. If the previous two years are any indicator, then it would be no surprise if the FLCL staff came around once again next year, and we can't wait to see what they have in store come 2018 (hopefully the Pillows)! If you're as excited as we are for FLCL 2 & 3, then be sure to tell us in the comments section, and come back to Honey's Anime for any Fooly Cooly and other anime news!