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Entry updated 23 August 2021. Tagged: TV.

Japanese animated OVA (2000-2001). Gainax / Production I.G / Star Child Recording. Producers: Masatoshi Nishizawa, Hiroki Sato and Masanobu Sato. Writers: Yoji Enokido and Kazuya Tsurumaki. Directors include Kazuya Tsurumaki. Voice cast includes Izumi Kasagi, Jun Mizuki and Mayumi Shintani. Six episodes of approximately 25 minutes. Colour.

Twelve year old Naota Nandaba (Mizuki) lives in the town of Mabase, whose skyline is dominated by the giant Medical Mechanica factory, shaped like a clothes iron. FLCL (pronounced Fooly Cooly) is Naota's coming-of-age story, commencing with a giant Robot growing out of his head. This happens after he has been run down by a Vespa scooter driven by Haruko Haruhara (Shintani), a bass-playing Alien and First Class Space Control Officer: she is a bringer of chaos who takes up residence in Naota's home. The robot, called Canti, also moves in, and is mistaken for a god by Mamimi Samejima (Kasagi), the (probably homeless) girlfriend of Naota's brother (who has moved to the USA to play baseball); to his indignation, Mamimi treats Naota as his brother's surrogate. Naota is annoyed by the childishness of adults and likes to think himself mature.

Because of Haruko, Naota now has a N.O. Matter Transmission portal in his head, which can transport items from lightyears away (thus the robot). These portals were used by Pirate King Atomsk (named after Atomsk: A Novel of Suspense [1949] by Cordwainer Smith writing as Carmichael Smith); Atomsk could summon entire solar systems using N.O. but was captured by Medical Mechanica, enabling them to use his power to conquer planets via Invasion: the irons represent their intention of smoothing out peoples' brains to destroy thought. Haruko is planning to rescue Atomsk so she can absorb his power; instead, in the climax, it is Naota who does so: he begins to fight Haruko, but stops and declares his love for her – and Atomsk escapes. Naota now accepts he is still a child; whilst Haruko, who has used him as selfishly as she has used others, is stirred to responsibility and withdraws her offer for him to join her adventuring, acknowledging he's "just a kid".

If the above sounds even loosely straightforward, its telling is not. Director and writer Tsurumaki has explained that "comprehension should not be an important factor in FLCL". The show is surreal, hyperactive and stylistically fluid, occasionally crashing through the fourth wall (for example by going Manga for a while, then having Naota's father discuss the prohibitive expense and artistic complications of having done so), with some odd symbolism such as false eyebrows. Given the themes of adolescence and maturity, the series use of sexual imagery is unsurprising, but sometimes slips into Fan Service; however, we do get the boxing glove on a spring released from Haruko's vagina, which wallops Naota's creepy father.

FLCL is an entertaining and influential Anime, which keeps the viewer interested though puzzled. A novel and manga accompanied the original series. Two sequels, FLCL Progressive and FLCL Alternative, were broadcast in 2018 with six episodes apiece. [SP]


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