Welcome and thanks for check out today’s Anime Rant. This is part 2 of a blog series examining my interpretations of FLCL. It’s not a standard review and does explain the plot or discuss the animation or OST. Rather, it’s about the themes and meaning within the story, as well as notes on character psychology. In part 1, we looked at episode 1-3 and analyzed them. For this part 2, episodes 4-6 will be examined. Part 3 will contain any additional notes and an overall look at FLCL’s themes. Without further ado, let’s begin!
“At any rate, nothing will happen if you don’t swing the bat.”
~Haruka, FLCL episode 4
FLCL Episode 4
Jealousy is another common adolescent emotion, and Naota is jealous and annoyed with Haruka being physical with his dad. When he played baseball, he didn’t even swing the bat. This suggests he’s not taking action in his life. When the eyebrows guy appears, he says there’s lots of new and unnecessary things these days, and Naota agrees. He’s still uncomfortable with change. The not taking action part doesn’t just mean in his emotional and every day life. It is also very sexual. Naota has no sexual/ physical confidence. As Mamimi says, “He’s not the type to swing the bat.”
About the weird visions and dementia that Naota is experiencing, like hitting his dad with the baseball bat, it shows just how upset and confused he is with all this. It’s also very much about anger issues. Naota doesn’t know what to do with so much aggravation. He first hits a vending machine with his bat. He later breaks the TV wih it. Then he hits his father in the head. (It was actually a fake, and not his real dad.) Raging emotions– including anger– are prevalent and difficult to control in preteen and teenage years.
Also on the subject of Naota’s psychology, it’s again apparent that he misses and wishes for his brother. When Naota swings the bat to knock back the falling satellite, he first calls for his brother. That seemed to give him the extra courage. And he finally swung. On his own wasn’t enough, though. It also took Haruka’s swing to knock back the satellite and save Naota and Mabase.
Concerning Haruka, she continues to make chaos for everyone without giving a damn. Because of her, the satelitte bomb almost destroys the whole city. She also did something (I’m not exactly sure what) to Naota’s father. Now, though Haruka represents change and the absurdity of life, she is also her own character. But it’s difficult to gather meaningful insights about her beyond her pure insanity. At this point, I don’t know what Haruka’s thoughts, motivations, or feelings are like at all. The only thing we know is that she is very dangerous.
Overall, episode 4 served to provide insights into Naota’s character psychology and continue the theme of the hardships of adolescence.
FLCL Episode 5
Episode 5 was all action and some plot progression. There was little character psychology or hidden meaning relative to the other episodes. Mainly, what we saw was Naota dealing with romantic and sexual feelings. He won’t admit that he’s attracted to Haruka, but he hates that she and his dad mess around sometimes. Naota’s mind is like a warzone, with bullets flying just like in the mock shoot-outs they engage in.
However, Naota does know that he’s attracted to Mamimi, and he now has the confidence to do something about it. As for Mamimi, she isn’t pleased about little Takkun growing up so much so fast. She also doesn’t love him the way he loves her. When Naota sees this, another monster emerges from his head. After a lot of action, Naota defeats it. The epic guitar that he pulled out to deliver the final blows symbolizes his resolve to be respected by Mamimi.
As usual, this episode of FLCL was full of sexual innuendos and jokes. Those are both for comedy and for showing the powerful presence of sexuality in Naota’s life as he awakens to it. He even tried to kiss Mamimi, but she rejected it. All in all, the main theme was sexual and emotional frustration.
FLCL Episode 6
“When you live in a town covered in smoke, you forget there’s an outside world.
Nothing unusual happens here. So we get used to a world where everything is ordinary.
Every day spent here is like a whole lifetime of dying slowly.
But Haruka is here. That’s how I know there really is a world outside.”
~Naota, FLCL episode 6
In the final episode of FLCL, there are plenty of good themes and bits of character psychology. Let’s talk about Mamimi first. “The Core” (that robotic dog-like thing) could be symbolic for Mamimi’s growing unrest. Takkun has left her. She doesn’t know what to do. So once again, she’s depending on something strange. The mechanical creature starts getting out of Mamimi’s control. After all the chaos, Mamimi finds sudden inspiration to become photographer. It’s unclear what led to it, but this girl is finally letting go of “Takkun” and pursuing positive change.
When Amarao lectures Naota about rejoining Haruka, the boy must make a choice. On one side is the man telling him to be normal and saying he would understand if he was an adult. On the other side is pure insanity in the form of a woman, asking for his help on some crazy quest. This is a metaphor for Naota choosing between status quo and change, dependence and independence, swinging or not winging.
Naota chooses Haruka, but her plan was endangering the planet. Once that became clear, Naota fought Haruka. What this says is that Naota can deal with the results of his decisions, even when they are bad. It reminds me of what Haruka said earlier in the episode: “Sometimes eating bad ramen can be fun, too.”
It’s revealed that the giant Irons of Medical Mechanica are flattening planets all across the universe. In other words, normalizing them. The enemy, Medical Mechanica, represents forced uniformity and mundane life. By using the power of Atomsk and destroying the Iron, Naota stopped Medical Mechanica. Ironically, he also ended up making Mabase normal again. Haruka left. Mamimi too. Naota finally had the confidence to make his own decisions, and even to fight Haruka. With that, he conquered the worst of the chaotic emotions of his adolescence.
The series ending suggests that Naota is doing fine, hanging out with Ninamori and others from school. But now that Haruka is gone, one must wonder if the boy can be happy. What if it goes back to every day being like a lifetime of slowly dying? I think it’s fitting that the series ends here, without a clear resolution for Naota. That’s because adolescence is just a starting line, and soon will be the next step of chaotic change in growing up. I think that by keeping Haruka’s guitar, he reminds himself of the vast world out there, and the possibilities to come.
I’ll summarize a bit to help me keep things straight. Adolescence with its wild emotions and sexual awakening continues to be the main theme in the second half of FLCL. Episode 4 was an intense and packed episode dealing with Naota’s negative emotions of jealousy and anger. It also focuses on his lack of confidence, including his sexual confidence. Naota still depends on the memories of his brother and the help from Haruka, but in the end, he made his decision and swung his bat to save the city.
Episode 5 was mainly about sexual and emotional frustration, as Naota suddenly confesses to Mamimi and is rudely awakened to the fact that she doesn’t return his feelings. As for episode 6, it contained themes of choosing one’s path in life, dealing with the consequences confidently, and rejecting forced uniformity. Clearly, there’s a lot packed into this little OVA series. Join me next week for part 3, a broader discussion of all the topics so far. Thanks so much for reading and enjoy your day!