Thursday, January 2, 2014


"I saw God the other day. By the river, on a rainy afternoon. He helped a kitten that was left all alone. It's a God that only I can see. A black-winged angel that came down from the heavens just for me." From Mamimi's opening monologue (poem?) we can kind of see what direction Firestarter is going to take. Episodes 2, 3, and 4 of FLCL all focus on one of the three women in our main character Naota's life. While Naota is still the heart of the show, this episode turns its primary focus to Mamimi. She is perhaps the most troubled and disturbed character in the entire series and that is never more immediately apparent than in this episode.

I chose to review episodes 2, 4, and 6 for two reasons. Number One: They are my favorites. Number Two: They are much less accessible and take a much harder look at the characters. These episodes are a lot heavier on character and pretty light on the wackiness (understatement) the series is known for. Firestarter beings with Mamimi's aforementioned Rei Ayanimi-esque monologue, and we then start to get a picture of how people perceive her character. Naota seems to care about her and value her friendship, other people seem to reject her and make fun of her. There are several mentions of Mamimi being bullied and ostracized by other characters throughout the episode. It's easy to see why she chooses to skip school and isolate herself from everybody just from Ninamori's initial assessment of her. However, it's is also kind of easy to see why other people dislike Mamimi. She is WEIRD. She continuously sexually assaults Naota and doesn't seem to have any connection to reality (which, to be fair, is sort of subjective in this show).

We then shift to Haruko X-raying Naota's head via Canti (we will call the robot Canti). The verdict is not good. His brain is gone and has been replaced by a swirling black vortex of what is presumably N.O. Naota has once again sprouted large, suggestive horns from his head. We learn a little more about Haruko in this episode as well. She tells the audience that she is 19 years old and is a first-class space officer. The former statement is most likely not at all accurate, at least not by human measurement. Also, Kamon wrote a book on the deep mysteries of Neon Genesis Evangelion. I could go on about how that is supposed to represent his immaturity and blah blah blah but I actually think that's kind of rad. So moving on.

Mamimi's questionable mental status is further alluded to after she loses her shoes in the river and Naota brings her some replacements. She first meets the cat that is referred to in the opening. Then she begins to ramble about how she is like a god and about how she is obsessed with the Firestarter video game. Naota doesn't seem to pay much heed to it at this point. After some hijinks involving Haruko and the Medical Mechanica offices, we cut back to Mamimi, who has discovered a mysterious halo and pair of black wings out in the grass near her favorite bridge. We then see that Canti is the owner of said angelic apparel, and Mamimi takes him for a god, specifically Canti, God of Black Flames. Then one of the best parts of the whole series happens. Mamimi follows Canti to an old burned down school house. Canti climbs atop of it and scares all of the birds, causing them to fly away around him, before flying off himself. This scene is set to The Pillows' Hybrid Rainbow. It is one of the iconic images from the series and is just a really powerful scene.

Mamimi begins openly worshipping Canti the robot as a god, to the surprise of nobody, oddly enough. Nobody seems to really care about what she is going through, even Naota. Naota begins to put two and two together in a stunning montage explaining the Firestarter video game. Eventually, he loses Mamimi just as a massive fire starts and it is implied that she not only started the recent string of fires, but the one at their school a few years prior. He finds Mamimi surrounded by a circle of her "Never Knows Best" cigarettes. She then attempts to kiss Canti which sets off Naota's N.O. channel. The N.O. seems to be set off by some sort of arousal on Naota's part. A large, robot with a massive hand comes through this time. Oddly enough, it looks like the original owner of the hand Canti fought in the previous episode. What follows is easily the least ridiculous action scene is the series. It's pretty kinetic and straightforward. Haruko and Canti appear to be losing until Canti fuses with Naota and gains a mysterious power. Naonti makes short work of the hand 'bot and they all live happily ever after. Until next episode at least. Actually that really never happens at all.

What is so interesting about this episode is that it develops a character in a way nobody really would have seen coming. Mamimi certainly came off as odd in Episode 1, but nowhere near this degree. There have been psycho girls in anime before, but you would be hard pressed to find one as immediately likeable as Mamimi. I will state time and time again in these reviews that the characters are the real strength of this show. The fact that the creators care so much about them really shows. Even when they do horrible things (and Jesus, do they), you still care about them. THAT'S the power of Fooly Cooly. That's the lasting impression.


* The letters of the title are made of matches. That's pretty dope.

* Superb storytelling.

* Canti reads Hustler.

* Kinetic/Frantic action sequences.

* The scene where Canti is on top of the school house.

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