A new Toonami interview about FLCL Season 2 and FLCL Season 3 (FLCL Progressive and FLCL Alternative) has some anime fans irate because they believe Kazuya Tsurumaki, the original creator of FLCL, was essentially forced by Cartoon Network to create the new FLCL anime series against his wishes. On the other hand, some fans claim that the new video clip is being taken out of context.
The release dates for FLCL Season 2 and 3 are edging closer and closer, with FLCL Progressive set to premiere on June 2 at 11:30 p.m. EDT on Cartoon Network’s Toonami, while FLCL Alternative is slated for a September 2018 release. In Japan, the anime will premiere in movie theaters.
The directors of FLCL Season 2 and FLCL Season 3 are young, but they’re both experienced in the anime industry. The original FLCL character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto is returning. Tsurumaki is listed as a “supervisor” in the credits.
Ahead of the launch, an FLCL Toonami interview released on Facebook ignited controversy because it discusses how FLCL Seasons 2 and 3 came to be created by Production IG after so many years of waiting. The video provides a behind-the-scenes insight into the minds of Production IG CEO Mitsuhisa Ishikawa and Production IG USA President Maki Terashima-Furuta, as well as several members of the production team.
The Production IG leaders talked openly about how the original FLCL anime went largely unnoticed in Japan but became very popular in the United States. So, when talks about doing FLCL Season 2 began, the idea apparently originated with Cartoon Network.
“I believe it was 10 years ago when Jason DeMarco and Sean Akins from of Cartoon Network back then came to Japan to talk to Gainax to see if it’s even possible to do a sequel to FLCL,” Terashima-Furuta explained. “We met with the original creator of FLCL, Tsurumaki-san, and all they said was, ‘No, it was not possible.’ And we asked them why and creatively Tsurumaki said that he’s already done what he wanted to achieve in FLCL.”
The original FLCL anime was a co-production between Production IG and Gainax. However, Gainax “held the rights to the original story.” Terashima-Furuta said she did not want to give up because FLCL was an anime she was “very passionate about,” and she knew this was something that “Cartoon Network really wanted to do, too.” She kept trying until one day the rights for the FLCL intellectual property became available, and she told the head of Production IG to buy the rights because she knew she’d be able to find a business partner to co-produce FLCL Seasons 2 and 3.
“I did want to see more FLCL, but I was [not] sure we could make any more,” Production IG CEO Ishikawa also admitted (note: the subtitles provided in the video are apparently missing the word “not”). “I would constantly bring it up with Mr. Tsurumaki, and Mr. [Yoji] Enokido the screenwriter, in our conversations. I’d tell Mr. Tsurumaki, ‘Come on, make a sequel,’ every time we meet. But what he says is, he was able to make FLCL because of the era he was in. You see, at that time, he had all these desires that had built up inside of him, and he wanted to get them out, so he threw them all at FLCL. So in a sense, that show is a depiction of Mr. Trurumaki’s youth.”
The idea that the creators of the FLCL anime should be young is apparently one of the main foundations for the series. Back during Anime Expo 2016, Tsurumaki explained how FLCL Seasons 2 and 3 came to be from his perspective.
“It sort of just happened. They’ve been asking me for a very long time. I’ve been saying no for over 10 years,” Tsurumaki said, according to Lost In Anime. “I’ve been very busy working on Evangelion Rebuild (which of course is still not finished). This time, Production IG almost insisted, I agreed, as long as I didn’t have to direct it. I was interested in seeing how a young staff would take the material.”
When the rights to FLCL were secured, Terashima-Furuta said she spoke with everyone to make sure “everything was going to be legit and fine.” Originally, the plan was to attach the names of “well-known creators” to the project, but eventually they decided to bring in a new and younger group of anime creators who were “passionate” like when the original FLCL was made. A lot of people turned Production IG’s leaders down because they believed they couldn’t aspire to match Tsurumaki’s vision. Because people were “feeling pressured” to work on FLCL Seasons 2 and 3, Tsurumaki told Production IG to choose somebody “who doesn’t even know FLCL, who doesn’t even know me, and give them as much freedom.”
The FLCL interview video resulted in some members of 4Chan claiming that “FLCL was bought out against the wishes of the creators.” Others called it a “cash grab” by Cartoon Network. The fact that Tsurumaki is returning only as a supervisor was even upsetting to some fans.
On Twitter, some fans confronted Cartoon Network’s Jason DeMarco and said, “‘Supervisor’ means we slapped [Tsurumaki’s] name on the project so you think it’s more legit.” In response, DeMarco said, “Or, or, it means he’s been intimately involved and will continue to be because we love him.”
DeMarco believes that people “seem to be making up their own narrative from this behind the scenes piece” so he shared a lengthier response to someone who claimed that DeMarco “and [Production] IG basically forced FLCL from Gainax and created a sequel against their will.”
— DUKE TOGO DEMARCO (@Clarknova1) April 29, 2018
The FLCL interview continues to be hotly discussed on Twitter, with some people mad at the “revelation that Tsurumaki didn’t want to make a new FLCL” while others are urging critics to “stop clipping interviews out of context.” The debate over FLCL Seasons 2 and 3 will probably continue for a time since some say, “People are trying to say the full FLCL interview is less bad but it really isn’t.”