|Artwork by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto|
Recently, Adult Swim announced brand new episodes of FLCL (pronounced Fooly Cooly or Furi Kuri). Back in the early 2000s, FLCL was one of the major anime on the Adult Swim viewing block, along with the likes of the original Fullmetal Alchemist and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Though FLCL was over the top and wacky, the coming of age story of a young boy trying to figure out what to do with his life really struck me, seeing as I was a young teenager at the time. Needless to say, it’s one of my personal favorite anime. The fact that the show was only six episodes was bitter sweet; it did what it sent out to do and did so in a way that didn’t feel rushed.
Not to worry, FLCLis coming back! Just like Trigun, Evangelion, Dragon Ball Z before it, more content is being pumped out for a show that came out over a decade ago. Not only anime, but Star Wars, X-Files, Prison Break and a large chunk of other Hollywood movies and TV shows are being resurrected as well. True, these movies, TV shows, etc. never really went anywhere but within the confines of our fond memories, but here they are again, resurfacing like one of the undead.
But is it a good thing that our favorite shows and movies are coming back? Like with zombies, these reboots/sequels bring back things we once loved with the possibility of turning them into something vile. Personally, I did not care for the six part revival of The X-Files (kind of like how I didn’t care for the last few seasons in general). Even my favorite anime of all time, Neon Genesis Evangelion, returned over a decade later as a something with great potential but became an awkward mess by the third movie. These revivals are banking on our beloved memories – our nostalgia – to win over what might otherwise be a terribly written plot.
In terms of video games, Square Enix is pretty much a peddler of nostalgia these days. Whether it’s the myriad of Dragon Quest remakes, the highly anticipated Final Fantasy VII remake, or the plethora of nostalgia focused Final Fantasy games (Dissidia, Record Keeper, World, etc.), their Eastern games are nothing but ghosts of the past. To be fair, you do get the occasional Nier, the promising I am Setsuna (though even it is banking on nostalgia) or the ever illusive Final Fantasy XV (granted, its long development time could make someone nostalgic for its first reveal nearly a decade ago). The company’s Western developed games aren’t too much different, with entries in the Tomb Raider and Hitmanfranchises coming out pretty regularly, though we do sometimes get gems like Life is Strange.
Is this constant cycle of death and rebirth a good or bad thing? It certainly isn’t anything new. Remakes and adaptations have been part of our world for many decades. Sometimes, remakes can even surpass the scope and themes of its original source. An example of this would be Battlestar Galactica. Taking a silly, sci-fi romp and turning it into an epic space opera that delves into what it means to be human was truly brilliant. And it won’t even be the last time we’ll see a remake of Battlestar Galactica.
Of course, you can’t please everybody; the power of nostalgia goggles can be overwhelming. Some people just want the original, but prettier or with a new feature or two. If we wanted to see a regurgitation of what we’ve seen already, we can easily go back to the shows and movies that meant so much to us. I guess what I’m getting at is that it’s fine to revisit a story and its characters as long as it builds upon the source. You can be pessimistic and assume all remakes, reboots, sequels, etc. are quick cash grabs, but sometimes you have to have faith. Or you can clutch onto that pessimism with the secret hope that you will be pleasantly surprised. But if a remake exists exclusively to be a shallow version of the original, what’s the point of it existing? Besides, if a remake/sequel/reboot/etc. truly does suck, it by no means disqualify the existence of the original by any means. It will always be there.
With all that being said, I’m still going to watch FLCL when it finally returns, though I categorize myself as cautiously optimistic. And while we’re bringing franchises back from the dead, can we cast revive on Xenosaga? Pretty please? At least just give me Evangelion 4.0 already.