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This is a "Wild Mass Guess" entry, where we pull out all the sanity stops on theorizing. The regular entry on this topic is elsewhere. Please see this programme note.
FLCL
...A post WW2 Series cleverly disguised as a coming of age story.
FLCL is a post world war two series in which post atom bomb Japan (Naota) had to come into terms with one major decision, accept the intruding American culture (Haruko), accept tradition and hold a chance that another atom bomb might hit (Mamimi) or come into terms that something must be changed but without giving up their roots (ERI) while attempting to fend off the influence that the American army bases and intruding Industrial America, (Medical Mechanica) held within Japan.At first it is a grudgeful acceptance of American culture for new japan is unaware of America's intentions as they help selling them things required in order for them to rebuild while all the adults can do is complain that America is intruding in their territory (Adults complaining about Medical Mechanica in Episode 1). Episode 6 is actually the industrial battle between America and Japan which had managed to get back up on its feet and be able to compete in such markets as the car industry (glowing Naota), until post atom bomb Japan realizes that without the American culture egging them on to "swing the bat" and give it another go then they wouldn't have gotten so far so therefore they proclaim in a non homosexual way, I LOVE YOU, basically a I LOVE YOU for getting me this far.... American Culture soon realizes its not needed anymore and Japan realizes that a relationship between countries can be formed.
  • This is supported by the fact that kids (and apparently some adults too) don't even know how to use chopsticks. They use sporks. Not even a spoon or a fork, but a spork.
  • Canti's cannon is nothing but a HUGE PENIS metaphor for the industrial power Japan could have become, the hidden symbolism was that in order for Japan (the EXTREMELY PARANOID AGENT GUY and the whole government service thing that constantly said that the AMERICANS CANT BE TRUSTED) to survive, they would have to "incorporate" the post atom bomb generation which had been gaining ideals that were against the japanese way of life. (The very first few sentences muttered by Naota about the town being EXTREMELY BORING and him wishing for some change can be noted as a reference to a rebellion phase against the system, one of the things that clearly displayed this was Naota at first being FREAKED THE HELL OUT by Haruka and the way she looked before being drawn in by her personality and her "pink hair") Once the realization was made that they could become an industrial power in technology that towered over America's industry of technology.(Super ATOMSK, red version, which ironically had a television which was one of the main industrial battles Japan had with America for QUITE A WHILE) Post Atom Bomb Japan had to decide whether to repel the americans and refuse to change any of their ways that got them bombed in the first place (Creepy school girl that symbolized traditional japanese culture "mamimi" was it?) Or become complacent to the intruding culture and allow them to gain the industrial power that america was secretly after? (Haruko) Or realize that things NEEDED to change and that ACTIONS MUST BE TAKEN in order for Japan to survive, sure tradition and religious values were completely alright but a system of progress was needed if the country was ever to move forward and so they were set into the system ( ERI was a big hint at this plus the fact that Naota wearing an EXTREMELY traditional japanese school outfit shown at the very end of the series).

...is a sequel to Neon Genesis Evangelion taking place entirely within Instrumentality.
Even though FLCL is supposed to be a comedy, the environment is way too similar to the gloomy After the End setting of Neon Genesis Evangelion, Studio Gainax's previous project. In fact, despite the "weird" elements like the iron-shaped factory, it's even darker at times. The surreal art resembles, at least to this editor, Shinji's Instrumentality-induced visions in episodes 25-26.

FLCL is a sequel to Serial Experiments Lain
Things all seem relatively normal at the end of Lain, however Lain, forever failing to set things exactly right, set off a butterfly effect reaction when she talked with Alice on the bridge in the final episode, which eventually led to components of a video game in The Wired, specifically the one Mamimi is shown playing, to escape from The Wired into "the real world" and cause chaos and insanity for Naoto.

...is taking place entirely inside Naota's brain.
This theory is little more than the wildest of wild mass guessing, but there is reasoning behind it. Sometimes the dialogue points to something psychological (including the iron-shaped factory appearing like it is about to "iron out the wrinkles in the brain"). Every adult in the world is crazy (Naota's father and child-like teacher being the best examples), and none of the other kids are anywhere near as stable as Naota. Sounds like the interior of a conceited kid's mind here.

... Is Naota coming to grips with his Godhood.
A similar theory to the one above, only it's Naota making things physically manifest with his mind, since he's a sibling of Haruhi Suzumiya. Haruka? His repressed wild side, the side of his personality he keeps under wraps to appear "mature". Mamimi? Represents his attachment to his brother. (Note how she wanders off once Naota starts to get over his hero worship of his brother). The insanity around him? That's his subconscious trying to figure out what he wants out of life. The giant iron is him literally "blowing off steam". Atomisk? That's Naota's unrestrained "God" side, his Id manifest. When Naota comes to grips with what he wants (to be his own man and not just a clone of his brother), the weirdness stops, and everything drops back into a normal "psycho chick on a Vespa"-free world.

... is Naota suffering from a psychotic reaction because of an unhealthy relationship with Mamimi
Similar to the others, but this shows special archetypes. Canti and Medical Mechanica are his Shadow, Haruko is his Anima, and Amarao and Atomsk represent his Self. He seems to have entered a relationship with Ninamori after the events of the story are over.

Naota's brother is dead
Although they refer to him as having "gone to America", they talk about him not as somebody who's simply away for a while and capable of returning, but as if he was gone permanently. Clearly, Naota's brother is dead, and "gone to America" is just a euphemism to make it hurt less. Or, both are correct, which means... Aw, crap.
  • So did he go to America and die, or did he die and go to America?
    • If I'm not mistaken, doesn't his brother call them? Or is that just the manga?
      • In the anime, he sent a picture with his (American) girlfriend (with him bragging about it). One part of the first episode is him trying to work up enough nerve to tell Mamimi about it.
  • Naota's brother is Haruko.
    • Alternately, Canti is Naota's brother, ot at least a representation of him. The giant robot seems to protect Naota, easily becomes a member of the household and takes on a position of responsibility that both Naota and his father seem to reject. (Canti cooks, cleans, and runs runs errands). Canti is a baseball prodigy. Canti also impresses Mamimi an awful lot.
Naota is some sort of alternate version of Ness
Naota's mother is never seen in the series because she is another version of Ness's father, who is never seen in EarthBound. Haruko is a personification of the meteorite from Earthbound: Naota's life appears normal until she shows up, just as Ness's was until the meteorite landed near his house. The portal in Naota's head. All the robots appearing are caused by Giygas, who has power over all universes, not just the EarthBound one. Giygas's defeat in the EarthBound universe causes things to stop coming out of Naota's head. Also, Naota wields a baseball bat at some point.

FLCL is either a sequel or an alternate universe to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
They're both by Studio Gainax, and they're both anti-Evangelions, so why not? They even have a lot of parallels, particularly since Naota and Simon are less-scrappy expies of Shinji. FLCL could be what TTGL would've been had Gunmen never been invented: the anti-Spirals come in the form of Medical Mechanical, and it's up to Haruko and her concentrated Spiral Energy to free Atomsk, who is pretty much pure Spiral Energy. Or, alternatively, FLCL takes place sometime in the future after the Anti-Spirals are defeated; they try again, this time in a different manner to get past the radar. No Beastmen are there because they either all died out (save for Viral, who's off in space anyway) or simply don't get any screen time. And yes, this came from the TTGL page.
  • This is helped by the fact that the Anti-Spiral's dub voice is the same as Amarao's.
  • How about if FLCL was a prequel to TTGL? The Anti-Spirals are just starting up as Medical Mechanica, trying to iron out all of the spiral existence. N.O. energy= Spiral Energy.
  • Watch episode 5, around 16:40-17:10, give or take. Tell me what it looks like.
  • FLCL takes place between the very beginning of episode 1 of TTGL and the opening. The Space Pirate Atomsk is the leader of the Spiral Fleet that was wiped out. Medical Mechanica is a gatekeeper race created by the anti spirals used to keep that paralell earths spiral energy down.

Atomsk is Nagare Ryoma from Getter Robo
Atomsk's identity and background are kept vague, but the evidence is all there. Ryoma's Marked Change and flaming red hair when he overdoses on Getter Energy match up too well with the back shot we see of Atomsk to be a coincidence [1]. Of course, there's then the issue that Atomsk's true form is a giant red bird and not a human, but that also has an explanation. Ryoma's jet (one of the components of the titular Humongous Mecha) is called the Eagle, and it happens to be red. When Ryoma is eventually absorbed by the machine in the manga, he and "the Eagle" become one and the same; he can presumably still manifest as a human like other characters have been shown to do. Atomsk is said to be capable of stealing entire star systems, and this is exactly what Ryoma does in later parts of the manga. And they both love using axes.

The entire thing is a Mind Screw by Gainax. "They" want us to try to find a deeper meaning in it, but none exists. The entire purpose of the series is to confuse us tropers. "They" derive sadistic pleasure out of confusing people who regularly try to find deeper meaning in everything. "Everything is ordinary." ... Or, for a slightly less paranoid explanation, the entire thing is a parody of Anime. It's a Coming of Age Story, possibly the single most overused trope in anime, turned on its head. There being so much unexplained "symbolism" is itself a parody of the excessive (possibly meaningless) symbolism in anime.
  • ...Nah.
  • I will counter the above person by agreeing that people read entirely too much into an anime about a coming of age story with random crazy things thrown in to amuse us. :) Sometimes a giant iron is just a giant iron.
  • Actually Kazuya Tsurumaki himself aimed to give the giant iron a symbolical meaning... which is blatantly obvious too. Go check the DVD commentary.

...is Neon Genesis Evangelion for people who don't like Neon Genesis Evangelion
Gainax clearly caught wind that some people didn't like NGE and thought it was a bit pretentious and silly, so they cleverly decided to beat them to the punch by taking NGE, compressing the whole plot as much as possible, playing the Mind Screwy symbolism for laughs and generally creating the ultimate NGE parody.
  • A parody so well-designed that nobody even realised it was a parody.

Naota and Haruko are a previous iteration of Kyon and Haruhi Suzumiya
Yes, I had to do it.
  • But THIS TIME Kyon is the one with god-like powers, attracting UNWANTED weirdness towards him.
    • Go to Haruhi WMG and you'll see people who believe this is happening in Haruhi canon.

FLCL explained (anime only):
Naota is a larval dimensional wasp (you know, the kind that when they lay their eggs in people, the eggs turn into universes?). Vespa-girl is a mature specimen of the species, and Naota's brother is (or was, assuming Haruko is his mature form and the reminiscence was something spiritual rather than similar) the thing under the steam iron (he was taken away two years ago, and they told Naota that he was going to America to be baseball player to keep him from trying to uncover the conspiracy). Since Haruko was trying to create a portal instread of a universe, she had to lay her egg in one of the larvae of her own species (due to the formation of the brain, and its ability to cogitate without one), since it would have just killed a human or made a new universe all folded in on itself if laid in the larva of a universe moth.
Mamimi is a Priestess of the Black Flame, inducted by Naota's brother and given instructions for when he's gone in the form of the Firestarter game. She has to do the fooly-cooly with him to keep him from reaching his full form, and in the event that it doesn't work, the fires have to be set on dimensional leylines around the town to block his eventual mature form from escaping. Naota's brother originally set the fires for himself, until he was captured. The medibot from Naota's head really is the Lord of the Black Flame, but the stray cat is just a cat, although a really cute, scraggly one (however, "just a cat" may be an understatement, since Cats Are Mystical, especially black cats). Ninamori in episode 3 was a deconstruction of the human love interest who is scarred by her induction into the world of the paranormal and is either traumatized or realizes to forsake her flaws and be true to herself and others- also subverted in that she wore empty glasses frames anyway and hadn't really learned anything. The Commander is the Cool Military Guy who runs on Rule of Cool (I'm not sure why people keep asking about his eyebrows, must just be some in-joke by the translator team), and his assistant is the requisite Sexy Female Lieutenant- also required to make the Nosebleed gag work.
There are a couple of significant running themes through the series. Baseball, and Naota's mental batting block, is a recurring theme throughout the series about how if one does nothing for fear of striking out, one can do nothing but strike out except when life (or a baseball, or a girl on a vespa) hits said person in the face, and finally Naota's acceptance of what he is and that he's more than his brother's shadow (both in baseball and in life), as exemplified by the upper bunk thing. The other main running theme is that all portrayed nudity is metaphorical as well as literal- the less clothing a character wears onscreen during a given scene, the less they are hiding their True Self (the inverse is also true). Examples include Naota's cat-ear hat, Ninamori's glasses frames. Any time a character is in the shower, their True Self is presented directly to the viewer via Inner Monologue.
The manga, though... That stuff's just a Mind Screw that takes the randomness and sexual subtext Up to Eleven.

Atomsk is a title, not a being
Much similar to Dread Pirate Roberts, Atomsk isn't a signle person/entity thingie, but a title for whoever possess the huge reserves of N.O power that amongst others Canti taps into whenever he goes all red. In the final episode, Naota manages to pull all of it, and as a result becomes the next Atomsk untill he releases it. The "atomsk" that emerges from his forehead in this episode isn't an energy bird of gigantic proportions, but rather an anthropomorphic personification (Aviamorphic personification?) of that power, alternatively the only way humans can percieve such awesome power without going Your Head A Splode
  • Or maybe, for the first time, that power has no wielder, and becomes self-aware, changing Atomsk from a title to a being.

Naota's mother is Atomsk
I read this one in a fanfic. Basically, it explains why he's the one with the big N.O. channels.

Haruko is a Time Lord
. Aside from being compulsory, this makes more sense than most other claims of Time Lordship. Near-instant transportation thanks to an odd means of conveyance, improbable mechanical feats accomplished with mundane items, implied superhuman longevity, reality-warping powers, a direct involvement in the grand schemes of the universe at large, and extreme competence when it comes to survival- all of these things scream "Time Lord," and all of them are expressed by Haruko.

  • I am now totally behind this theory. She must be one of the ones who stared into the void and went crazy. Bet she'd get along great with the Master.
  • Thus her Vespa is her TARDIS. As for being crazy? I'm pretty sure you can't aquire that kind of empathic sociopathy.
  • Haruko was hunting Atomsk—a Gallifreyan fugitive—before she was called to fight the Daleks during the Time War. Unexpectedly, she was saved from the destruction of Gallifrey by Atomsk before the Doctor's delta wave consumed the Daleks and the Time Lords alike. Unfortunately, her previous form was mortally wounded by a Dalek's parting shot, and she was forced to regenerate into the Haruko we know now. This current regeneration is her 12th incarnation—the antithesis Haruko—which explains her apparent insanity and infatuation with Atomsk, as well as her total lack of empathy. Her true motives are to become one with Atomsk and gain his power, then find the Doctor and kill him out of a lust for revenge for the destruction of Gallifrey.
The Iron building is a fail safe device
]. So think about it. There is a war going on between Atomsk and Medical Mechanica. It is said that Atomsk is capable of stealing whole solar systems, which he does in order to gain enough power to defeat his rivals. But when you think about it, stealing a solar system cant really make a being any more powerful, what really is important is the N.O energy that's on each solar systems. Apparently one source of such N.O power are human beings. Nonetheless, such power needs a catalyst to come into view. Everytime there is a sudden discharge of N.O in Mabase, for reasons I haven't thought about, the sirens of the Medical Mechanica building go off. Theres also the steam thing but I haven't bother thinking about it either. Atomsk and the command of Medical Mechanica probably exists in a higher level of existence, both being some sort of integrated data entities. So to act in the physical world they need to use proxies. Such as aliens like Haruko, humans like Naota, or robots like Canti. So what I am driving at is that, basically Medical Machina has black mailed every planet under its control to build or host the iron building. Every time a planet is about to be lost to Atomsk, in order to stop him from becoming more powerful, the iron building activate destroying complete worlds (which to some may seem like a random act), completely flattening their surfaces. This is done because, according to the universal law of cool, its the only way to safeguard (or destroy) the N.O away from The Pirate King.

...is actually a coming of age story about baseball
There are numerous references to baseball at the beginning of episodes (not to mention the episode that starts with the baseball game and ends with an atom bomb shaped like a baseball). The series starts with Mamimi giving instructions on how to hit a ball. Every guitar is an exaggerated baseball bat and the heads of people who are hit are exaggerated baseballs. At its base core, Fooly Cooly IS a coming of age story as stated above (although not turned on its head but incredibly twisted and screwed with), but removing all of the imagery has Naota growing up in a story heavily revolving around baseball. There is also the heavy emphasis on hands, which anyone can tell you is important in baseball, and when Canti shoots in his cannon form, the shot is perfectly round, red and white, and seems to act like a solid instead of the typical "energy ball" seen in most anime.
  • Actually, take some time to think about how Canti's 'cannon' form looks - The legs, the big box-like things pointing up and back, the long muzzle, the spherical projectile...What has containers on top, stands on legs, has a narrow muzzle, and fires spherical projectiles...? Exactly. That projectile doesn't look like a baseball - It is a baseball, made from Naota's N.O. energies. Canti's weapon form is a pitching machine!

FLCL Does not exist.
It's merely what happens when Anime fans take copious amounts of LSD and forget they did.

You're not seeing any of it, none of it is real.

Atmosk s related to the Anti-Spiral
Atmosk is a being that seems completely made up of N.O. energy (read: spiral energy). Perhaps this was the Anti-Spiral's first form, before he pictured the Spiral Nemesisand saw what spiral energy was capable of and wanted to destroy it.

Alternatively, Atmosk is the complete opposite of the Anti-Spiral, even more so than team Dai-Gurren.

Finally, perhaps FLCL is an alternate of TTGL, where the Anti-Spiral won. If that's the case, then Atmosk is all of the spiral energy in the universe, and he's either running from the Anti-spirals or he's part of a rebellion (Haruko would also probably be part of this rebellion).

FLCL is so short because if they were to make it 12, 13 or 26 episodes, the whole thing would explode.
TVs would literally explode trying to contain the sheer awesomeness and insanity of a full length series.
  • Or the staff saw how badly Excel♥Saga fizzled out by being stretched to 26 episodes and decided brevity was wiser.

Amarao was telling the truth...
... but his information is out of date. He hasn't seen Haruko in over a decade, and in that time, her motives and plans have changed considerably.

If the genders were switched...
FLCL would be considerably darker, more sinister, and the meanings behind it (if any) would be more obvious...

Anime segments in the manga
In the future, when holograms have been perfected, there will be sudden, unexpected 3D animated scenes inside of the printed pages. They could already put anime scenes in an e-book.

Mamoru Oshii would have directed the series if he had any any involvement
Given that Production I.G had involvement with it's animation, as well as its really underground and bizarre style, this looks like something that Mamoru Oshii would have directed. [[WMG: FLCL stands for...] Flame. Liquor. with Coke. and LSD. It's what the creators were drinking when making the series and thought it would sound cool.

Ninamori's parents will have more problems in a few years, causing Ninamori to run away and spend the night at Noata's place.
Ninamori is exactly the sort of girl who would run away and seek solace in her boyfriend because of her issues with her parents, even to the point of having sex to seek affection. Now, Naota's too kind to take advantage of Ninamori that way, but considering how much Naota hates Mabase, promising to elope with her and never return to Mabase once they graduate sounds exactly like something Naota would suggest and Ninamori would agree to. What effect Haruko returning would have on that scenario is not clear.
Flame of ReccaWMG/Anime & MangaFractale

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