Anime Fans Need To Give Sequel Series A Second Chance

By Jacob VanGundy | Published

flcl alternative

In 2018 FLCL Progressive and FLCL Alternative were released as sequels to the beloved original anime series. Fans of the original rejected these follow-ups, writing them off as mediocre imitations. While Progressive is unremarkable, Alternative has become one of my favorite anime series and fans missed out on how great it is by comparing it too closely to the original. 

Similar Themes

The original FLCL was released in Japan in 2000 by the legendary anime studio Gainax. It followed the twelve-year-old Naota whose head is used by an alien woman named Haruko as a dimensional portal. This draws Naota and those around him into sci-fi battles involving space police and giant robots. 

In all of its iterations, FLCL is a coming-of-age story with the original show being about the experience of puberty. Those themes coupled with fantastic animation and a whacky sense of humor, I fell in love with the original series as a teenager watching it on Adult Swim.

FLCL Alternative keeps the coming-of-age theme, but with older characters, it’s about the end of childhood and takes an appropriately more subdued approach. 

Kana And Her Friends

flcl alternative

The protagonist of FLCL Alternative is high school senior Kana Kuomoto, who is worried about what she’ll do after graduating and what will happen to her friend group. Like Naota, her life is thrown into chaos by the appearance of Haruko, accompanied by the franchise staple of robots emerging from Kana’s head.

However, the series uses less slapstick humor than the original and dials back its chaotic style to focus on Kana and her friends

Slice Of Life

The result of its more subdued style, grounded humor, and focus on Kana and her friends is that FLCL Alternative is that it’s as much a slice-of-life story as it is sci-fi. While some fans may have found that approach disappointing it’s what I love about it.

While the original was pure chaos intercut with moments of sincerity, Alternative is a heartfelt but mundane story intercut with moments of sci-fi chaos. 

FLCL Alternative’s core group of teen characters are well-written, likable, and funny with interesting relationship dynamics. Kana’s friend group of Pets, Hijiri, and Mossan all feel distinct and believable with relatable problems like listlessness, break ups turning toxic, underlying class division, and stress eating.

Seeing those fun, but very believable characters thrown into manifestations of those problems makes for an incredibly compelling show. 


As the teen drama of FLCL Alternative plays out, the more epic sci-fi plot happens in the background as the sinister company, Medical Mechanica, prepares to flatten the Earth. This plot ties into Kana’s story eventually it’s mostly used as a background threat looming over the characters.

It’s a clear metaphor for the anxiety over global warming, handled with surprising nuance, the kind of subject anime tends to handle ham-handedly and the original couldn’t have addressed meaningfully. 

Stream It Now

FLCL Alternative is a beautiful, heartfelt, show that takes the themes and motifs of the original and does something very different with them. It’s not the madcap whirlwind of the original series, but if you approach it without that expectation it’s a wonderful, subdued story that blends genres beautifully.

While the tonal shift of FLCL Alternative initially put me off, I grew to love the show once I stopped expecting it to be like the original and I encourage fans to revisit it on Crunchyroll with that mindset.