As an adolescent, I would stay up to watch Cartoon Network’s late-night, “big kid” block, Adult Swim. In a streaming era, admitting this fact makes me feel 100 years old, but to my generation, Adult Swim was important—its esoteric, low-as-highbrow programming made you feel like you belonged to an exclusive club, even if all it really meant was that your parents paid for cable.
There have been many excellent (and terrible) shows on Adult Swim, but the channel’s biggest contribution is the role it played in popularizing anime in America. Cowboy Bebop debuted in the United States on Adult Swim, and close behind it was FLCL—pronounced “Fooly Cooly”—a similarly beloved series that aired on Adult Swim in 2003.
But unlike Cowboy Bebop—which is a beautiful albeit staid take on the cyberspace western—FLCL is impossible to put in a box. At its heart, the original, six-episode series is a melancholic coming-of-age tale: Precocious Naota Nandaba has his life upended when a Vespa-riding alien named Haruko arrives on Earth and smashes him in the face with a bass guitar.
The resultant bump on Naota’s head becomes a portal that robots start popping out of. Giving away anything else would do a disservice to this insane, mile-a-minute show; the only other thing you need to know is that much of FLCL is scored by Japanese band the Pillows, one of the best guitar-pop bands of the last three decades.
And now, 15 years after Americans first saw FLCL, the show’s second season, FLCL: Progressive, starts this Saturday, June 2, on Adult Swim, with another season, FLCL: Alternative scheduled for the fall. For a series known for its succinctness, that’s a suspiciously ample amount of new content all at once—but not only are the Pillows back to score this new season, the footage so far looks fucking gorgeous. I’ll be staying up late for this one, too.