FLCL 1-3

1 Fooly Cooly

What the hell. I’ve seen a lot of strange things, but this is pretty high up there. I’m not even sure how to describe this episode. A boy named Naota (Jun Mizuki) is hit by a woman, Haruko (Mayumi Shintani), on a Vespa scooter and the bump he gets from the accident grows into two robots that fight each other. Haruko claims to be an alien of some sort and fights the robots with a chainsaw electric guitar. On top of that Naota hangs out with Mamimi (Izumi Kasagi) who is his brother’s girlfriend, but gives him a lot of inappropriate attention, including giving him hickies since his brother is over in America.

And while the plot is crazy, the animation style is even crazier. While the general look is this nice thin, pop look, the show often on a whim shifts into all kinds of other styles. There’s the sketchbook look that pops up from time to time in moments of surprise, there’s also the sharp, flashy look of intense action. At one point, a scene is rendered like the pages of a manga book as the camera pans from frame to frame. And everything is done in this frantic, rapid style with a lot of rapid editing and quick pans.

After the first episode, I’m really not sure what to make of all this. It does have this wild rock and roll vibe: a complete breakaway from the rules and the idea of order and consistency in favor of something frantic and loud. There’s a bold enthusiasm on display, but I’m not sure if I think its brash noise or righteous music at this point.

2 Fire Starter

Haruko turns one of the robots into a servant and also takes up residence in Naota’s home as the housekeeper. Somehow his dad and grandfather have no problem with a teenaged woman sharing a room with Haruko and generally bumming off of them. Meanwhile, Mamimi becomes obsessed with this game about starting fires to the point that she ends up believing the robot is some sort of deity of black flames and ends up worshiping him. Haruko also is suffering another growth after the last robot attack and it too eventually turns into a robot that Naota fights. However, this time Naota is able to go inside the robot and become a superior version of the robot with insane firepower. Which means one thing: explosions that would make Michael Bay cry tears of wonder.

With a second episode, I’m getting a better feel of the tone. This one isn’t quite as wild with the animation style but still has that intense energy and abandonment of logic and cohesion for the sake of doing something crazy, hilarious or awesome. There’s also a bit of a structure emerging with another abnormal growth leading towards another bad robot being born and another epic robot fight to cap off the episode.

The show is also starting to flesh out the world. Naota claims nothing interesting happens even amid all the spectacular events of his life, but there’s clearly something at work here being teased. Perhaps the central mystery is the medical plant in town that emits a mist each day. Haruko tries to investigate and comes up empty.

3 Marquis de Carabas

Naota finds himself the unwanted center of attention of Ninamori (Mika Itô), a classmate who is playing lead opposite of him in a version of Puss in Boots. Ninamori also finds herself caught up in unwanted attention as the pending separation between her father (the town mayor) and mother creates a scandal. Naota’s growth this time takes on the form of cat ears, oddly paralleling his school life in a strange way and in an accident with Haruko, Ninamori discovers his secret. Ninamori eventually makes an advance on Naota and he goes ballistic. Later at school they have a fight that results in Naota’s growth being passed to Ninamori somehow moments before a robot spawns and another epic robot fight happens.

This episode makes me wonder a bit if the conceit of the show is a metaphor of sorts for teenage angst and romance. I’m still not sure what growths that turn into giant robots might say about the process of adolescence, but there seems to be some sort of connection. Or maybe I’m thinking way too hard about something that’s slightly controlled insanity. In any case, the robot fight here is awesome, which might be all that matters.