Ah the tragedy as old as time. A popular piece of media comes out and proves to be a hit both critically and financially. Some odd years later a sequel is made that exists solely because the first one was popular rather than because there was something to add. It gets panned financial success or no. FLCL Progressive is yet another example of this tale. Its what would happen if they tried to make FLCL in the current day as of writing of course without any of the charm or passion that went into the original. Love it or hate it FLCL is a distinct piece of work one filled with little references and neat temporary artstyle shakeups to add flavor to an already eccentric and visually stunning take on the coming of age story. Progressive is milquetoast at the best of times and downright broken at the worst of times. Theres no flavor outside of moments that already take cues from its predecessor and perhaps a few bits in the latter half. It doesnt have anything worth covering let alone worth bringing to the table. It would be one thing if in spite of this this sequel worked as a functioning tale with the audiovisual mastery that exemplifies the best of the current age. It would simply be an unnecessary addition but a harmless one at best. However we instead get a mess that decides to pander. Think about it. Why else does the main character wear headphones that have cat ears? Why else do we have a loli and a beach episode? Why else do they just randomly include smartphones without having anything be done with them? Why else does this shows equivalent to Haruko wear a sexy maid outfit? Simply because its hip with the current otaku crowd. The real origins of Haruko and her Progressive counterpart Jinyu are not only stupid but also somewhat contradictory to FLCL 1 and raise some questions the original was never equipped to answer. The things they try to add about the universe of the franchise are absurd and even inconsistent even by the conventions of the franchise as well. Its already aggravating that its all in service to a show that has nothing new or interesting to comment on in any meaningful way and that the finale is this dumb mess that abruptly wraps itself up. The characters make it even worse. Hidomi is a nothing character. There is nothing consistent to her other than having a secret want to reset the world for particularly incongruous and asinine reasons. The show even claims she is going for a tsundere angle as god awful as that observation is and its as inaccurate as a blind man shooting in the dark. Even Haruko largely just an adult brat rather than the quirky ambitious and amoral vixen from the original. Her counterpart Jinyu is bland like Hidomi but at least she is the least obnoxious character of the entire cast. The male students in the show are also nothing characters with no chemistry even though the main guy of that trio Lide acts infinitely more like an active protagonist than Hidomi ever does. The loli character also isnt any better shes as unremarkable and annoying as the rest. No one has any chemistry to speak of adding insult to injury. Outside of the ending credits and the 5th episode the shows visuals are rather dull and even a tad unappealing to look at. Production I.G honestly did a poor job outside of the hit and miss new character designs as the animation was incredibly stilted and choppy even in the more kinetic action scenes and the color pallet was not to my taste at all Some scenes look downright terrible even if thats counterbalanced by a few scenes looking pretty evocative. Even in the art style shift in the 5th episode that actually made Haruko look more similar to how she was in FLCL than in the episodes preceding it its arguable if the more purposely rough visuals worked. The music is as much to my uninterest as ever with several songs by The Pillows both new and old and largely forgettable background music outside of that which is barely any more memorable than the original. The only song of any note here is Thank You my Twilight which is one of my favorites in the franchise believe it or not. Thats not enough to save anything though. At least the dub was nice given the awful material I suppose. In essence FLCL 2 is your typical underwhelming sequel. Ive seen worse in this regard even in terms of sequels to Gainax shows but damning with faint praise doesnt excuse how pointless shallow and lifeless this installment really is. Sadly its existence also slightly nullifies some of the uniqueness of the original so doing nothing substantial to help make up for that is arguably one of the biggest crimes this sequel could have committed under these circumstances. At least it doesnt use that show as a crutch but again it does that anime and several of its fans no favors either. FLCL 3 please be a proper alternative to this mess?