This is the page for Fooly Cooly, or FLCL by Gainax Studios.
Fooly Cooly, or FLCL, is an anime that starts with a bizarre concept, and then gleefully turns the bizarre plot and imagery into one of the most brilliant shows of recent years. Naota Nandaba’s life is turned upside down one day as Haruko Haruhara crashes into him on her Vespa. Over the next six episodes, the bizarre consequences cascading out from this event are explored, as is the growth of Naota. In a mix of a metaphor about the evils of large corporations, Naota’s growth, and maturity the series is able to tell an engaging story with interesting characters in only 6 episodes.
The evils of large corporations are very well explored by the series. From the beginning of the first episode, Naota talks about how the adults in the town were so excited by the Medical Mechanica plant being built in the town. The plant, shaped like a giant clothes iron, regularly spews out white steam, blotting out the sky when it does. By blotting out the sky, it’s blocking out the light and the life from the town. Haruko breaks into the plant later in the episode, and it’s revealed the plant has no doors, that it’s not even a place where humans work. It’s a corporation, humans don’t matter to them.
As the series continues, Medical Mechanica robots begin to pour out the portal Haruko created in Naota’s head, each one larger and more dangerous than the last, until the series conclusion, where a giant hand comes out of Naota’s head and takes up the Medical Mechanica plant, which is spewing steam. It is shouted that they want to iron out the wrinkles of your brain, the things that allow you to think, to grow, to make decisions. Medical Mechanica would prefer it if humans were mindless drones that did what they wanted instead of having impulses and their own ideas. This is the ultimate evil of the corporations, stopping us from thinking.
Naota’s growth is a primary concern of the series. He changes from being a whiny young boy whom idolizes his brother, to a confident young man, more mature in many ways than the adults in his life. This is mainly symbolized through drinks. Naota only likes sweet drinks at the beginning of the movie, like any child, we would rather focus on the sweet parts of life, rather than the bitter ones. As the series continues, and he learns more about himself and Haruko, he begins to grow up. One of the big examples of this is when we first meet Commander Amarao, whom was like Naota, used by Haruko at one point. He encourages Naota to keep drinking sweet things, not sour things, and he is a frequently impulsive and rather childish character, he has yet to grow up in the series. By the last episode, Naota willingly and happily drinks a bitter drink, showing he was willing to accept the bitter parts of life, as well as the sweet ones.
Guitars are a frequently used metaphor in the series. Haruko’s guitar is both weapon and companion to her, nearly always with her or slung over her back, she can use it to fight the robots sent by Medical Mechanica. In episode 4, we get to see Naota’s guitar for the first time, as a giant baseball shaped bomb hurtles towards the earth, threatening to destroy it. Naota must *‘*swing the bat’, using his new maturity to keep small things like baseball from ruining his life. Naota’s guitar is an example of his maturity, when Commander Amarao’s guitar is pulled out of his head; it’s much tinier, reflecting his childlike nature. At the end of the series, Haruko and Naota trade guitars, it’s both a commitment to eachother to meet again and gesture of respect, they see each other as equals.
FLCL is a series that is both eclectic and brilliant in its odd view of reality. Its mutable and changing, just like the character’s lives. Naota changes from episode to episode, becoming a bit more jaded, but also more adult. He learns of his strengths and is willing to use them. As much as it is a story of him growing up, it’s a story of his maturity, wanting to be out of the shadow of his baseball playing brother, to be more than ‘that guy’s brother’ in his life, he wants to be a strong person all on his own. His maturity and growth, represented with his guitar, shows that by the end of the series, he is mentally an adult, even if he isn’t physically one.