4 Full Swing
For whatever reason, Haruko takes up baseball and ends up being amazing. She also decides to play for the opposing town’s team, irking Naota. One of Haruko’s home run balls ends up hitting a satellite in space which comes hurling down towards the town. Naota also meets Commander Amarao (Kôichi Ôkura) who claims that Haruko is dangerous and simply using him for her own ends.
This episode begins to give us a bit more context into who Haruko is and what is to be made about some of this stuff. There’s still a crazy amount of unexplained weirdness, for instance the Gibson Flying V that grows out of Naota’s head which he can use similarly to Haruko’s own instrument weapon. Oh yea, and for some reason Naota’s dad was being impersonated by a robot and the body of his real father is revived by hot water. Wut?
5 Brittle Bullet
This episode is all about sexual jealousy. Both father and son have a thing for Haruko and when Kamona finds Naota and Haruko making out he decides that this can only be resolved in the manliest of fashion: airsoft fight. For a show that’s already over the top, this feels like the show’s high in terms of bonkers action and downright absurdity. It culminates in the coolest fight of the show.
For a setup as creepy as this, FLCL’s refusal to take any of this seriously makes it work. It’s far more about the payoff of insane, silly action and having Haruko make Naota as nervous as possible. The show’s dealt a lot in sexual content, but with such a sense of irreverence that it’s far more silly than creepy.
Commander Amarao gives the show that much needed context to make the absurdity feel like it actually was building to something instead of simply being all non-sequitors (althought, the shows still has plenty of those). All in all, this is probably the best episode of the show in terms of variety of animation, the general conceit, and the final, dramatic reveal.
I’ll avoid discussing any of the plot of this episode because I think part of the enjoyment of this series is unraveling some sort of meaning from the craziness that is FLCL. In spite of the overwhelming absurdity, it’s worth mentioning that this episode does give some dramatic weight to the relationships in the episode. Mamimi’s decision in this episode makes sense after being marginalized in the last episode. The moment where the show resolves Naota and Haruko’s relationship has a weight even amid how dismissive Haruko is in general. There’s a softness to it that isn’t expected.
As it all comes to a close, I’m still left wondering what I think of FLCL. It’s such a unique, bizarre experience that I think I can recommend it to fans of the genre solely because it’s a memorable ride. The intensity and frequency of the bizarreness leaves the whole experience a bit disorienting, but there’s something wonderful about that. I’m left with more admiration than affection for the show. Its ability to find enough order in the randomness while fully committing to absurdity is impressive, but it fails to win over my heart.
© 2015 James Blake Ewing