Thursday, January 2, 2014


Episode 1 of FLCL (Fooly Cooly) opens with Naota and the first of three girls, Mamimi, hanging out under the bridge. She is talking about baseball, and Naota is doing his best to give her as little attention as possible. Upon asking why she stays there, she begins to get affectionate with Naota, to his displeasure. She says she does that to him because she will overflow, and doesn't imply what that means (but it could be amazing). This glimpse into the sexual tensions of the early teenage years and puberty is a lot of what FLCL is about. The story revolves around Naota, a 12 year old boy and his interactions with women, aliens, and giant robots (and the crazy events that ensue).

In a monologue, Naoto stresses how nothing interesting happens in the area where he lives, and begins to talk about the strange factory that ominously lets out steam at the same time every day. As he and Mamimi walk over the bridge they were under, a strange girl with pink hair zooms in on a Vespa and runs Naota over. This is Haruko. The zaniness the series is known for begins here. The strange, spastic Haruko is in hysterics after hitting Naota, and to Mamimi's displeasure, kisses Naota to revive him. The animation for the entire scene varies greatly. It goes from a traditional anime style to slow-mo CGI. They even break the fourth wall and cutaway to a bus, where the characters are actors and talk about how they have to hold their breath for slow motion scenes. The varying styles of animation make this show fun to watch, and this scene offers a prime example of it. After Noata wakes up, Haruko hits him in the head with her guitar, leaving a large red bump. She speeds off. Haruko's entrance in the series signifies the beginning of Naota's interest in girls, a feeling he has been repressing for a while. He is hit without knowing when it would have happened, just as it would anyone in their teen years.

Hours later, Naota is concerned with a large bump on his forehead, and decides it is too ridiculous to take to the hospital. The next day, his classmate Ninamori is teasing him about the large bandage he has used to cover the bump on his forehead. One of his friends rushes in, yelling at him about the appearance of a "Vespa Woman" (Wasp/Hornet Woman) who stings people and "shows who does naughty things and never goes away!" Obviously this is a metaphor for the bane of male puberty existence: a large, phallic bump that one is forced to hide. They all immediately get suspicious of Naota's bandage, to which he denies everything. Again, Naota reminds the audience that nothing strange happens in this place, and it's all ordinary.

After school, Naota decides to go get his bump checked out at the hospital. As he is waiting for a train to pass by, Haruko (or the Vespa Woman) shows up and begins to question him about his bump, to where he again denies everything and runs away. Naota is now in the hospital, being examined by a female nurse. She said it is "Adolescent psychological skin hardening syndrome". Naota calls crap, and the nurse is revealed to be Haruko. She attacks him, and Naota narrowly escapes.

Naota goes home, yells over the phone at Mamimi to hang out with her friends and to leave him alone, and goes to his room and goes to sleep. There, he dreams of his brother and his perfect baseball swing. He cannot understand how anything can look so perfect. When he awakens, he goes downstairs to see Haruko eating lunch with his father and grandfather. In a manga format (which I did not care for), Naota yells about his confusion as to why she is in his house. The grandfather says he was hit by her bike, buts it's ok since they got a housekeeper out of it. Haruko reveals to them that she has met Naota while he was making out with a girl. He denies this as his father, Kamon, attacks him, questioning him about "fondling her cupcakes". They decide that since his brother isn't around, Mamimi is fooling around with Naota. That's where the name of the show is revealed, as slang talk for "fooling around". Kamon tries to explain this concept to Haruko, who playfully acts confused. When she understands, she tells them she is already in that kind of relationship with Naota.

Later on, as Naota is in the bath, Haruko appears to be talking to the household cat in Naota's room. When Naota enters, Haruko claims the top bunk. Naoto, in his consistent attitude, questions who exactly she is. She replies that she is a wandering housekeeper. Unsatisfied, he continues his intense line of questioning, and she reveals that she is an alien. Haruko switches the topic to question what is under the bandage to which, Naota, ashamed, refuses to talk about it. Naota blames Haruko and lashes out at her, telling her that since she came with his father, to go stay with him. An awkward silence passes. Naota goes to lay down in his bunk, and tells Haruko she can't have the top bunk because that is his brother's, and no one else can have it. She asks where he is and why, and Naota replies he is in America because of baseball. She lays down next to him, and he freaks out and says that she can't sleep there. He gives up and goes downstairs. Kamon stops him, and shows him the photos of Naota getting hit with the Vespa.

Naota runs away to Mamimi, who is on the bridge smoking a cigarette with "NEVER KNOWS BEST" written on it. He asks her if his brother has contacted her and how much she likes him. She talks about the hard bread given to her, instead. She walks over and puts her arm around Naota, and says that she likes him more than hard bread. He begins to tell her that his brother has found a girlfriend in America, when the scene cuts away to Haruko finding a picture of Naota's brother with a blond girlfriend. A link in Haruko's bracelet begins to move, and she is alarmed. It cuts back to Naota and Mamimi, and she begins to complain that she is about to overflow. At that instant, Naota's bump begins to escape its bandage. Haruko is seen rushing off on her bike. The factory lights up and a siren begins to wail. The bump grows into a large robot and a larger mechanical hand, and they fight. Naota is attached by the shirt to the back of the robot, and Haruko rushes in and hits the robot with her guitar. The robot turns from red to blue, and Naota realizes that Haruko looks like her brother (with a perfect swing). The robotic hand escapes. The fight scene is brilliant, and reminds me a lot of one of my favorite series, Neon Genesis Evangelion. The action is fluid and as badass as possible, making it an exhilarating experience.

The next day, we see the now blue robot being instructed by Haruko on how to make bread, and Naota tells the audience how only the ordinary happens there, and how it isn't amazing how the band aid and horn have left. The episode ends with Naota accepting a drink he dislikes from Mamimi, and drinking it.

The first episode of FLCL, or Fooly Cooly, offers us all that we can expect from the series. It offers a fun ride as we journey through the ordinary craziness of Naota's transition into maturity. With its fun presentation of its story and characters, this short series is one of my favorite to watch.

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