FLCL (pronounced ''Fooly Cooly,''not "Eff-ell-see-ell") is a 6-episode OVA, following the story of Naota, a young Japanese boy who lives with his father and grandfather, has become the object of inappropriate attention from his brother's ex-girlfriend, and generally thinks of his life and town as boring. That "boring" life of his changes when he gets run over by Haruko Haruhara, a manic older girl who rides a Vespa, identifies herself as an intergalactic police officer, wields a Rickenbacker bass guitar with a chainsaw-like pullstring motor on the back as a blunt instrument, and has no qualms about harassing Naota both physically and sexually. After his initial contact with Haruko, Naota's forehead starts to spawn giant robots — and the wackiness grows exponentially from there.While a galaxy-spanning Space Opera plot sits somewhere in the background of everything that goes on in FLCL, its real appeal lies in one of two places: as the story of a young boy coming of age filled with allegorical and symbolism-soaked writing and imagery that ranges from clever to truly brilliant (along with strong characterization and goofy, off-the-wall humor) — or as a bunch of insane almost-nonsense strung together by other insane almost-nonsense to form a big ball of crazy that fascinates viewers while it brings loads of laughs between the cartoonish antics and the hilariouslybrokenfourthwall.FLCL features gorgeous animation, excellent voice acting, and a rocking soundtrack (the majority of which is comprised of songs from Japanese alternative rock band The Pillows) — all of which fans have come to expect from Studio Gainax. Fans of its English dub will hold it up as one of the Gold Standards of Superlative Dubbing.A long-standing rumor says numerous artists, writers, and voice actors who worked on FLCL had just finished working on The End of Evangelion; since this crew felt emotionally drained due to the latter project's bleak tone, Gainax envisioned FLCL as a way for them to unwind.One school of thought says that when you get some of the best storytellers Gainax has, put them in a room, and give them The Good Drugs, you get FLCL (give them all the drugs, and you get Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt). * And Dead Leaves is what happens when someone at I.G. slips them the brown acid.This axiom sums up how numerous fans feel about FLCL: "If you wish to understand FLCL, watch the series from beginning to end, and the desirewill pass."[adult swim] has stated numerous times that of all the anime the network has ever aired, it considers FLCL as its favorite.The original Synch-Point DVD release of the OVA fell out of print, but Funimation re-released the series on DVD and Blu-ray in February 2011 (with the original dub included). You can also legally watch the show (in the United States) on Hulu, Netflix, and YouTube.
Accidental Misnaming: Haruko and Mamimi both call Naota "Takkun" (Or do you spell it "Ta-kun"?). It doesn't translate well, but it's an affectionate diminutive, like "Jimmy" or "Billy". Naota, with all his hangups about being a grownup, hates being addressed as such.
Accidental Pervert: In episode 4, Mamimi startles Naota by jumping up in a flash and he ends up reaching for her... only to end up holding her panties.
Anime First: The series was later adapted into a two-volume manga, which was less comedic and even more of a Mind Screw than the original series. An omnibus edition of the manga was released in 2012, featuring an additional story and lots of artwork and character designs.
Arc Words: The title itself, appearing at least Once an Episode, although it's never really explained to either the viewer or the characters. Kamon later lampshades this, asking Naota just what the hell it means. Supposedly, "furi kuri" is a covert way of saying "sex," but used here, it also has a deeper meaning—the way an adolescent would picture thoughts of sexual encounters and eventually maturing to understand them when they come of age. This is the underlying development Naota's character undertakes.
Art Shift: Frequently throughout the series. There are two different sequences done to look like a manga, and at one point, it even goes South Park for a few scenes.
Badass Longcoat: A Humongous Mecha Badass Longcoat, complete with revolvers, a shotgun, a lever action rifle (which it twirled with awesome cowboy-badassery when it needed to chamber another round) and a Luger with an extended magazine, first appearing as a crotch gun.
Badass Normal: Amarao bikes 80 kilometers in an afternoon on his exercise bike and can last longer against the inhumanly powerful Haruko as long as he has bullets in his gun (as opposed to The Men in Blackred shirts that fall in the dozens to her). In addition, Amarao and his MIB red shirts work for the government in the Immigration Department. Said Immigration Department outfits all of its agents with guns, has access to high-powered anti-tank rifles, and sports a high-tech NASA-esque Central Command Center which can monitor intruders IN SPACE. note He might not be all that normal. Haruko uses his head to open an N.O. channel, much as she uses Naota (though less successfully), and Naota gets run over by scooters, shot out of cannons, chewed up by... whatever that is in Canti's chest.
Becoming the Mask: Ninamori tries very hard to be more mature than she is actually is, to the point that she goes on a rant about how she idealizes Puss in Boots for transcending the mask and becoming what he is pretending to be.
What happened to Ninamori in episode 3; doesn't Haruko have to smack her with the bat for that to happen? Justified in this case. There's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment where Ninamori and Naota knock heads at the subway. For a second you see both of their heads light up red, like Ninamori just briefly picked up Naota's N.O. potential.
Canti flying with the fake wings.
The fact that this series isn't defined as hentai or ecchi despite all its sexual imagery.
The Big Damn Kiss: Final episode, epic battle, then it happens with our protagonist. Also happens in the manga.
The "Behind the Scenes" aside for the Bullet Time scene in Episode 1.
In the fourth episode Haruko talks to the viewers while riding her Vespa down the Medical Mechanica building.
In episode five Naota actually gives the audience an Aside Glance and asks "Do you find this difficult to understand?"
"Let's just stay with anime. It's hard to be in manga form. Takes time and it's a lot of work. After the first episode they said not to do the manga thing again, but then we get accused of being lazy." The best part is that Naota apparently isn't in on the break. When Kamon mentions anime, he responds, "anime?"
Coming of Age Story: A really, really weird one, but still. It comes to its ultimate conclusion when Naota grows out of his "all-consuming desire to be an adult" phase and matures to realize that he still needs to be a kid while he is one.
Contemplate Our Navels: In "Fire Starter," Naota yells at Kamon not to let Canti be seen in public, only for Kamon to counter with a long-winded discourse on the implications of such an advanced piece of technology being introduced to an otherwise normal family.
Cool Bike: Haruko's yellow Vespa, which is apparently sentient, and can be repaired with toy Gundam parts.
Covert Pervert: Canti, of all characters. Those novels he's seen reading? Porno.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Many of the fights are noticeably one-sided. The most prominent ones include almost all of Canti's fights against the robots that spout out of Naota's head. They usually knock Canti around for a little while, until Naota merges, or something, with it and the one-sided fight gets turned to their favor. Another is Haruko against The Men in Black agents, who all go down without too much of a fight. The last is Haruko against a Naota fused with Atomsk's power. The only thing that stopped him from finishing her off her was his love for her.
Darker and Edgier: The manga takes a very different approach to the story, including Naota actually killing his father over Haruko, a full-on assault on the Medical Mechanica factory, and Haruko's feelings for Naota being more oblique. Rather than leaving him on the notion that he should grow up as a regular child, she leaves him with a Vespa he can use to pursue her, which he desperately tries to work to the point of making his hands bleed.
Haruko: What's he talking about? Naota: He wrote a whole book on the deep mysteries of Eva.
Everyone Lives: Barring mass destruction of property and the destruction of a bunch of robots, total death: 0 (in the anime, anyhow).
Technically, Kamon is dead for part of episode 4, but he got better inexplicably.
Evil Inc.: Medical Mechanica. Very few details are given about them, other than that they produce robots (possibly with medical functions, since Canti is capable of taking x-rays,) have imprisoned Atomsk for some unspecified reason, and built a giant clothing iron to iron out all human thought.
The giant iron is suggested to be a back-up plan by Medical Mechanica in case Atomsk got free, so that he wouldn't have access to N.O. fields.
Evil Plan: Several. Haruko wants to capture the Pirate King for his power, who wants to escape Medical Mechanica to do more stealing, who in in turn want to 'iron out the wrinkles in human brains'. And that's just the evil plans; the Gambit Pile Up is one reason why this show is so confusing.
Extraordinarily Empowered Girl: Haruko, though it becomes apparent by the end that she needs Naota because he has an even greater (if untapped) power potential.
Eye Scream: Naota controls Canti by having the robot plug into him via a sharp syringe-like plug that goes right into his eye. Naota understandably screams horrifically when it happens.
Fake-Out Opening: The series begins as your typical Slice of Life story... for the first few seconds, that is, until Haruko comes charging in out of nowhere on her moped, runs Naota over and beans him on the head with her guitar and a giant horn spontaneously sprouts out of his head. Then things manage to briefly return to yet anotherFake-Out Opening, until Haruko shows up at his home, giant robots start shooting out of his skull, and all hell breaks loose.
Foreshadowing: During Kamon's "electric chin massage", there's a brief shot with a plug in the foreground with the cord leading up to Kamon hinting that he's a robotic body double.
Genius Ditz: Naota's dad, Kamon, can seem very moronic, childish, and perverted at times, but can also be very astute and wise in the next second. For example when Naota runs away from home, his teacher questions where he went and Kamon goes off on a random tangent about when he failed to take care of the class hamster it died, only to swing back around and say "Unlike that hamster, Naota's enjoying his freedom."
Episode 4 shows that the female officers are turned on to near-orgasmic levels by Haruko tugging a naughty tentacle out of Naota's head (which soon turns into a guitar) when they break out in massive nosebleeds.
In one scene, Haruko starts kicking Naota repeatedly in the crotch, and Naota acts like he's getting a foot job.
"No! Don't noogie noogie there! Or you'll... aaaahh!!"
The Ghost: Tasuku Nandaba, Naota's older brother. We only catch a very brief and vague, envelope-obscured profile of him on a postcard in Episode 6, with his American girlfriend (to Mamimi's utter despair), Worse yet, the postcard has writing scribbled all over it.
Going Commando: Mamimi does in "Full Swing," though it's because she fails to notice that her panties have been accidentally pulled off... by Naota.
Gratuitous English: Not so much in the show, but various songs on the show's soundtrack - including the ending theme, "Ride on Shooting Star" - are filled with it. Though we still have to point out Ninamori's red "USSR" t-shirt in Episode 3.
Gratuitous Japanese: The dub often doesn't translate things like sound effects (Mamimi says "kakiiii~n!" while describing how to hit a baseball to Naota), grunts (Americans don't say "yoisho" when picking up heavy things, Haruko), that kind of thing.
Gretzky Has the Ball: Naota is shown striking out looking every inning against Haruko's pitching. The problem is that Mabase isn't scoring any runs, and a given player can only bat at most twice every three innings if the team doesn't score, because the maximum number of batters you can send to the plate without scoring is six, while there are nine in a lineup, and everyone (or their substitutes) must bat once before anyone can bat twice.
The Bigger Bads, presumably Haruko's superiors in the Space Police Brotherhood.
Naota's brother Tasuku is never fully shown on-screen.
Other than the killer robots that come out of Naota's head, Medical Mechanica, whether it be an individual or an organization, is never seen.
Honorifics: Many of them get left in the dub, especially from Kamon and Mamimi.
Humongous Mecha: The biggest one of them actually manages to be even more bizarre than Neon Genesis Evangelion. It's a giant skyscraper-sized hand dressed as a cowboy with a hand at the end of each digit. In each finger-hand is a gun.
Hurricane of Puns: The series is loaded with wordplay, but the beginning of episode 5 has something like a dozen Japanese puns back-to-back, none of which translate to English. The dubbers, who had done a fantastic job up to that point, pretty much had to throw their hands in the air for this scene, which meant English viewers got a bizarre caption about the correct way to spell "mackerel." Instead of a joke about confusing the kanji for "blue" and "mackerel" (which the dubbers obviously couldn't work with, as noted), they tried to find another joke that fit the formula and ended up with a relatively obscure joke about how "if Seven of Nine heaves a sigh" you get a "sigh-borg," referring to Canti. Mamimi points out that "confusing robots with cyborgs is a common mistake."
Implausible Deniability: Naota's father tries to pass off Canti as the TV. When Ninamori asks why it's walking around, he says it's a TV Walkman.
Mamimi's apparent pyromania is never questioned. While there is no concrete evidence that she was the one who started the fire at her elementary school, it is very heavily implied, and no one ever thinks to ask about it. In the manga, she tells Haruko that she's been too busy setting fires to hang out with them.
Haruko too. Though Naota cost her her best possible chance of capturing and consuming Atomsk, she still got arguably the most powerful "axe" in the Universe as consolation, and is free to keep pursuing her target.
Keep Circulating the Tapes: Not the case anymore, but the show fell into this in North America for a few years due to a combination of its continuing popularity and the licensor (Synch-Point) folding not long after releasing a complete boxset with additional extras. In the months before Funimation rescued the license, copies of the original DVDs (to say nothing of the boxset) were going on eBay for ridiculously high prices.
Kiss of Life: Haruko reviving Naoto via CPR naturally plays this trope for all it's worth.
Last Girl Wins: Ninamori is the last one of Naota's Love Interests introduced in the show, but by the end of the show, it's clear she has the purest affection for him, and will probably be with him when they're both older. However, Yoji Enokido's novelization of this episode has a much older Ninamori narrating it as a frame story, and she says that she didn't see Naota again after high school.
Les Yay: invoked Haruko talks Mamimi into pretending to make out to tease Naota. It's Himamori who sees them, ruining the gag.
Let Him Choose: In the final episode, Commander Amarao attempts to talk Naota out of helping Haruko. Naota ignores him, turns around, and walks to Haruko.
Let's Get Dangerous: In the final episode, Haruko goes absolutely berserk after finding out Naota absorbed Atomsk's power. She'd shown plenty of skill before, but this time she's able to fly under her own power and clash guitars with Naota hard enough to part the clouds.
Loophole Abuse: Ain't No Rule says you can't put a robot on your baseball team roster. Not that it does them any good against Haruko, apparently.
Man Child: Nearly every adult on the show, to some extent. It really irritates Naota, and ends up being a major plot point as it leads him to try to act older than he is. His father Kamon is the most obvious example, being an unemployed, lecherous anime freak who makes scant money selling a self-published tabloid to convenience stores. In the anime, Naota seems to make some peace with his father, who hints at being a little more intelligent than he first appears. In the manga, their relationship gets ugly.
Master of Disguise: Haruko, in a goofy, seemingly incompetent way. On both occasions where she fully disguised herself, her victims were completely fooled until she decided to drop the act. Hell, her entire goofy personality is an act, she acts like this to lower everyone's guard. Her actions in the final episode reveals her true agenda, and her true personality.
Medium Shift Gag: In two of the anime episodes, the art suddenly changes to manga style for a while. It also shifts to South Park-style animation for Amarao's haircut.
Mega Neko: Naota's cat, who's apparently also used as a medium by Haruko to talk to her superiors. He also seems to be capable of tightly-controlled, high-speed, inertia-lacking flight that can be used as a form of attack in case Haruko has screwed up some how. It's a bit odd the first time you see it. His being voiced by
The fight at the end of episode 2, where Canti taps into Atomsk's power via Naota and what appears to be a literal Mind Screw◊.
The first half of episode 4, where an increasingly stressed Naota begins to suffer hallucinations of murdering both his father and Haruko when he suspects they're sleeping together. Eventually he gets better after working out his frustrations on a vending machine, his TV, a robot of his father, and a baseball-shaped satellite bomb about twice the size of a tank.
Missing Mom: Naota's mom gets only one blink-and-you-miss-it mention, indirectly referred to as deceased by Amarao while he's giving a quick rundown of Naota's family situation. There's also the implication in said rundown that this may be related to Kamon's bizarre personality in the series - he had been an assistant editor at a counter-culture magazine before suddenly quitting to... open up a bakery (or move in with his father who might have already owned the bakery), write about the deep mysteries of EVA, and publish a trashy tabloid 'zine. Perhaps the death of his wife precipitated the dramatic change in lifestyle.
Mood Whiplash: Proving that even this Gainax production can't be completely free of angst. It's only briefly touched for a few characters before the show goes back to the gags.
More Dakka: Episode 5 contains nearly too much dakka to comprehend.
Mugged for Disguise: In episode 1 Haruko overpowers a hospital nurse and steals her uniform to gain access to Naota.
Murderous Thighs: Ninamori pulls this in episode 3 when a robot emerges from her head and temporarily takes control of her, first attacking Naota then Canti in this fashion. Neither one are seriously harmed though.
Nice Hat: Actually, nobody likes Naota's hat. Not even Naota, really. He's wearing it to hide the cat ears.
Mabase's residents find the weird situations and events in the plot somewhat weird, but not nearly enough so. For example, they seem more interested in the mayor's sexual escapades than in the massive robot battle that happens in the elementary school.
Ninamori's response to all the crazy stuff happening to her. In fact, "It's no big deal" is something of a Survival Mantra that she uses when she spends the night at Naota's house, especially in response to everything Kamon has to say about the scandals.
No Swastikas: Somehow averted in Episode 5, when Kamon is seen wearing a Nazi officer's uniform with a legitimate swastika on the sash.
Nosebleed: In "Full Swing," after seeing the guitar pulled by Haruko from Naota's head, all of the female officers at the Bureau of Interstellar Immigration command center break out into these - profuse ones. Kitsurubami herself goes weak at the knees.
Amarao is an inversion of this. In the beginning, he shows up and nonchalantly explains the mechanics and goings-on of all the events in Mabase and with Haruko. However, when put to task to actually confront and put a stop to these things, he's shown to be weak-willed and ineffectual. This is symbolized by his nori eyebrows. When they're in place, he has an air of authority and almost sagely knowledge about him, but when this façade is broken and he's shown to still be the scared child he always has been, they fall off.
Possibly Kamon/ Or Obfuscating Silliness.
Ocular Gushers: Commander Amarao during the final confrontation in "FLClimax".
Once per Episode: Every episode ends with Little Busters playing in the background.
Panty Shot: Mamimi provides plenty of these. Episode 4 is the piece de resistance - Mamimi leaps up from beside Naota so fast, in a startled reflex, he grabs ahold of her and unintentionally pulls Mamimi's panties clean off - andshe doesn't even notice.
Physical God: The Pirate Lord Atomsk is a being capable of stealing solar systems. His mere physical presence on Earth weakens gravity for miles in all directions as everything is pulled into his N.O. channel.
Pragmatic Adaptation: The manga adaptation isn't so much a retelling of the anime as it is a completely different story with the same premise and characters.
Prayer Pose: Episode 2, "Firestarter". After Canti the robot floats into the sky, he assumes a kneeling position with his hands clasped in prayer.
Notice in the third episode that the drink pouches are rendered very realistically; a planned product placement deal fell through, but the producers decided to leave it in, mostly because they'd already spent the time and money to render them.
The guitars featured in the show are real guitars. Haruko's is a Rickenbacker bass guitar model 4001, Naota gets a Gibson Flying V, and Atomsk's is a 1961 Gibson EB-0.
Haruko's scooter is a real Vespa as well, the mid-1960s 180 Super Sport model.
When Naota finds his dad in the fifth episode, if you look closely at the shots of a ticking clock, you can see it's a Seiko, although it's so brief that's it's probably not intended to be an advertisement.
Pun: The extremely complex airsoft fight scene was complicated even for this series; mixed into the fray was musing on the Japanese word saba (the Japanese name for the mackerel) and its kanji that is pretty tough to wrap your head around without an appreciation of the Japanese Language, both written and spoken. What you might appreciate without it is that they are participating in a "survival game", or saba-gē.
Rays from Heaven: Episode 2 "Fire Starter". As Kanit rises into the sky, rays of sunlight stream down through the clouds as he assumes a prayer pose.
Real Name as an Alias: Amarao reveals Haruhara Haruko's (Western style: "Haruko Haruhara") real name to be "Haruha Raharu" (Western order: "Raharu Haruha"). She moves a syllable over and adds "-ko". On the other hand, we have no idea which, if either, is actually her real name.
Red Eyes, Take Warning: Ninamori in "Marquis de Carabas", the hand monster in "Brittle Bullet" and Mamimi in "FLCLimax".
Red Herring: Amaro claims in the final episode that Haruko is chasing after Atomsk because she's in love with him (a theory supported by Haruko swooning over Canti after he gains Atomsk's Gibson EB-0 and calling out his name). Turns out that she just wants his power instead.
Scars Are Forever: The ferocious hit Canti takes from being whacked on the head by Haruko's guitar leaves the poor 'bot trying to salvage the back panels she obliterated. By the end of the series, he still hasn't succeeded in piecing his head back together again.
Scooby Stack: Haruko, Naota's father and Canti in "Full Swing".
Second Love: Haruko for Naota because he did have feelings for Mamimi at first.
Seiza Squirm: A typically bizarre subversion - after Haruko runs over Naota in the first episode, while freaking out about what to do she seemingly rolls and slides around at random, while staying in seiza.
Serial Escalation: How weird and surreal can this episode be? How many puns and Double Entendres can we fit into this episode? How many guns can one giant robot hold at one time?
Shotacon: Eventually subverted. Mamimi gets over Naota as a sign of both her maturation, as she no longer needs to rely on her perceived relationship with Tasuku, and his maturity, as he no longer wants to be in what seems to him an adult relationship with her to express that he isn't just a kid. She sums this up by calling him "Naota" instead of "Ta-kun" at the end of the series, recognizing his independence and individuality. Haruko leaves Naota behind after telling him he's still only a kid in the last episode, admitting that as he has begun to grow as his own person, she can no longer use him as an N.O. channel. This is a certain kind of series, after all, so nothing really comes across as Fanservice.
Shout-Out: To lots and lots of other anime, with references ranging from sly and subtle to blatant ripoffs.
Stepford Smiler: Ah, Ninamori, trying so hard to pretend not to be a twelve-year-old girl with a twelve-year-old girl's desires. She even goes off on a fairly unsettling rant about how she idealizes Puss in Boots because he represents her desire to Become the Mask.
Stock Footage: Some. You can see they've reused sequences here and there; Ninamori's "'It's no big deal.' (eats a spoonful of curry)" sequence is the most obvious.
Title Drop: They happen often, and the earliest one happens in Episode 1:
Kamon: Ah, your brother is away, so she's sinking her fangs into YOU, Naota! Fondling around! FOOLING around! FOOLY COOLY!!!
The characters also have several conversations about the meaning of the words "Fooly Cooly". In the manga, when Haruko gives a weird explanation for the growths on his head that FLCL is an acronym for, Naota responds "Fuli? Culi?"
Ultra Super Death Gore Fest Chainsawer 3000: In Episode 2, a fairly tame monochrome handheld video game about burning down a city inspires Mamimi to go on an arson rampage — but then again, she already had a few screws loose to begin with...
Unreliable Narrator: When Amarao is explaining Haruko's relationship with Atomsk, he claims that Haruko's trying to free him because she's in love with him, and during the explanation the viewer is shown a rather psychedelic-looking humanoid from behind, suggesting it's him. Atomsk is actually a giant bird monster, and Haruko wants to steal his power instead.
Verbal Tic: Haruko adds "nya" and "pyon" at times, especially during Naota's nekomimi incident in Episode 3, to come across as manic and mischievous. The English dub worked in said tic and others like it — which helped to make it better.
Villainous Breakdown: Haruko becomes absolutely livid after Naota absorbs Atomsk's power. But then he kisses her, she forgives him, and then offers him to come with her into space. Just like she had asked him before the previous night to continue their relationship. But she and he both realized that he was still a kid and wasn't ready to leave everything and go with her.
Word Salad Lyrics: The ending theme, "Ride On Shooting Star", which is about...I dunno, orange slides and revenge lobsters?
Wheel of Feet: The mayor's secretary and Haruko both do this in Episode 3.