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Anime / FLCL

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"Nothing amazing happens here. Everything is ordinary."

FLCL (pronounced "Fooly Cooly" (or "Flee Klee" if you're feeling silly), but never "Eff-ell-see-ell") is a 6-episode OVA, released intermittently between 2000 and 2001.

It follows the story of Naota, a Japanese twelve-year-old who lives with his father and grandfather. Naota has become annoyed at the inappropriate attention from his brother's ex-girlfriend Mamimi, and he thinks his life and his hometown are boring. His entire life changes when Haruko Haruhara, a manic older girl, runs over Naota with her Vespa.

Haruko claims she's an intergalactic police officer, but she wields a Rickenbacker bass guitar with a chainsaw-like pullstring motor on the back as a blunt instrument and physically and sexually harasses Naota, making it clear something is weird about her. After his initial contact with Haruko, Naota's forehead begins spawning giant robots, and the insanity increases exponentially from there.


While FLCL's literal "plot" resembles something of a Space Opera, its real appeal lies in one of two places: as a Coming-of-Age Story filled with allegorical and symbolism-soaked writing, off-the-wall humor, and imagery that ranges from obvious to clever to brilliant... or as a bunch of insane almost-nonsense strung together to form a big ball of crazy that fascinates viewers as it offers loads of laughs and plays fast and loose with the fourth wall.

A manga version of the story was later released. Created by Hajime Ueda, the manga's story differs heavily from the anime as it goes on, sticking with a darker and less over-the-top tone (though it still has some comedic parts) while keeping the frenetic and confusing nature of the OVA.

In September 2015, Studio Gainax announced that the property was for sale; Production I.G, a longtime Gainax partner and the other entity credited for FLCL's animation, subsequently purchased the rights. In March 2016 — six months after the purchase and over fifteen years after the original series ended — [adult swim] announced they would collaborate with Production I.G to create two new six-episode seasons for its Toonami block titled FLCL Progressive & Alternative.


FLCL contains examples of the following tropes:

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    A - I 
  • Abnormal Ammo: Guess what Canti's gun uses as ammo? Naota himself, of course because he fits so well. Naota thought he was piloting Canti when in fact he was cannon fodder the whole time.
  • Accidental Misnaming: Haruko and Mamimi both call Naota "Takkun" (or "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.
    • It could also be that Mamimi is attached to the name Takkun because it is a shortening of Tasuku, her ex-boyfriend. She calls Naota the same nickname because it fits for both (TA-suku and Nao-TA), and because she's still fixated on Tasuku.
  • 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.
  • Action Insurance Gag: In Episode 3, Canti falls off the roof of the school building and smashes into the car belonging to Naota's teacher, wrecking it. One of the other students leaning out a window says the teacher was still paying off the car's loan.
  • Adaptation Distillation: One useful fan theory states that the entire plot is just Neon Genesis Evangelion boiled down to six episodes and served hyperactive on a bed of heartwarming comedy. It's a deconstruction of a deconstruction, with the Mind Screw left intact, and not a single phallic symbol removed.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Haruhara Haruko. Har har har.
  • Airplane of Love: It represents Mamimi's longing for Tasuku, as he's in America playing baseball.
  • All There in the Manual: AV Club's review of the series serves up a lot of details people are likely to miss.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Mamimi clearly is suffering from an undiagnosed mental problem. On a good day she is a Cloud Cuckoo Lander, on a bad day she Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality.
  • Animated Actors: Parodied in the very first episode, and combined with the show's first (but far from last) fourth wall break, implying that Haruko, Mamimi and Naota are all actors performing a role.
    Haruko: Those slow motion scenes are really tough, huh?
    Mamimi: Yeah, you have to hold you breath until they cut.
    Haruko: You can get cramps from that, you know?
    Naota: What? I thought it was a special effect! You're doing the slow motion?
  • 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 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.
  • Artistic License – Sports: 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. Possibly justified due to Rule of Symbolism.
  • Art Shift: Frequently throughout the series, with a major one Once an Episode, as well as several more subtle ones scattered around. Most memorably, there are two different sequences done to look like a manga, and at one point, it even goes South Park for a few scenes.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: The number of non-rock tracks can be counted on one hand.
  • Ax-Crazy (punverted): At least once per episode Haruko gets a crazy (if purposeful) look on her face and wields her bass (or 'axe' in old jazz slang) like an axe.
  • Badass Longcoat: A Humongous Mecha version, 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 Black red 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 
  • Baseball Episode: Episode 4 "Full Swing". Naturally, because it's this show, it manages to be one of the most confusing, frightening, and badass episodes, as opposed to any other anime's Baseball Episode.
  • Batter Up!: Usually, guitars are used in place of bats, but Naota still wields a bat when he attacks his father in episode 4. In the manga, they're used even more—Canti has one near the end, and the fifth enemy robot (the one with the Badass Longcoat) brings one up from down there.
  • 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.
  • Betty and Veronica: Mamimi (Betty) and Haruko (Veronica). Ninamori is the Third-Option Love Interest. However, he loses both girls in the end. Mamimi gradually loses interest in Naota as he grows more independent and closer to Haruko, and Naota inevitably rejects Mamimi altogether when he realizes that Mamimi never once had feelings for him and still loved Tasuku, Naota's older brother, instead. She leaves at the end of the series. Haruko does this as well. As for Ninamori, she is the most likely girl (and out of all of Naota's Love Interests, she had the most sincere affection for him) to end up with Naota in the future.
  • Between My Legs: Mamimi in episode 2, Haruko in episode 4, and Ninamori in episode 6.
  • Beyond the Impossible:
    • 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 Big Damn Kiss: Final episode, epic battle, then it happens with our protagonist. Also happens in the manga.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Amarao's massive nori sheet eyebrows, which he uses to block Haruko from using him as an N.O. channel.
  • The Blank: Canti has a TV for a head. A head that can display Japanese kanji to communicate, though only done once.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Haruko mows down dozens of men in black with a shotgun-type weapon in Episode 5, with no blood to show for it.
  • Blue with Shock: Occasionally, but it should be exclusively noted that when Kamon sees Naota kissing Haruko, his face roars through the entire color spectrum.
  • Bound and Gagged: The hospital nurse in episode 1 after she's Mugged for Disguise by Haruko.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • 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 5 Naota actually gives the audience an Aside Glance and asks "Do you find this difficult to understand?" during one of Haruko's more out-there moments.
    • "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?"
    • Immediately afterwards, Kamon and Shigekuni demand he explain what FLCL means, with Kamon insisting that he has to know because he's the main character.
  • Cat Stereotype: Naota's cat fits the old, fat and lazy grey cat stereotype.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Ninamori uses a water gun she had been showing off for the entire episode to cool off Naota after he's ejected from Canti.
  • Chew Toy: Hitting Naota with a guitar is a legitimate plot point. Hitting Naota with a Vespa is a Running Gag.
  • Clothing Damage: Kitsurubami after Haruko lobs her ammo back at her.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • Mamimi; it's played for laughs for the most part, but in episodes 2 and 6 her loose grip on reality is shown to have a nasty, vengeful side.
    • Haruko pretends to be this but it gets more and more apparent that she's a bit twisted by the end of the series.
  • Color Failure
  • 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.
  • Company Town: Medical Mechanica, maybe. Or it might just be a giant alien steam-iron.
  • 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.
  • Dark-Skinned Blond: Kitsurubami...and her particular skin tone is a Visual Pun (see Meaningful Name below).
  • Deadpan Snarker: Pretty much everyone, unless they're unconscious.
  • Demon Head: In "Brittle Bullet", Haruko gets one when she's wearing an Elvis Presley costume and talking with Naota in his room.
  • Deranged Animation: Episode 5 was directed by the same guy who directed Dead Leaves and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. And that's just one of the episodes.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Haruko, though her over-the-top sexuality and undeniable charisma overwhelm just about everybody's better judgment.
  • Didn't We Use This Joke Already?: During the second round of scenes done in manga style, Kamon wonders why they are doing more manga scenes again.
  • The Ditz: Mamimi again.
  • Diving Save:
    • Mamimi to Naota in Episode 1 "Fooly Cooly".
    • Naota performs one on Mamimi during the big fight in Episode 2 "Fire Starter".
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: There are dozens of examples of both, mainly sexual, though not always. To summarize the first episode, a kid meets a girl he falls in love with, he feels like he got ran over, and has trouble keeping something on his body from sticking out.
  • Double Entendre: There are dozens of examples of both, mainly sexual, though not always.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Sexual harassment in this case. Just try picturing the events of the series with the genders swapped.
  • Dramatic Wind
  • Dual Wielding: Naota in the final episode, who dual wields guitars. More specifically, his own Flying V and Atomsk's Gibson EB-0.
  • Dull Surprise: Affects both the Japanese and English dubs, but moreso the former. Manages to be part of the charm, though.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Or Kamon seems to believe. invoked
    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.
  • Exposition Diagram: In episode 3 "Marquis de Carabas" and episode 5 "Brittle Bullet".
  • Extraordinarily Empowered Girl: Haruko, though it becomes apparent by the end that she needs Naota because he has an even greater (if untapped) N.O. 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 another Fake-Out Opening, until Haruko shows up at his home, giant robots start shooting out of his skull, and all hell breaks loose.
  • Fanservice: With ol' Haruko being the crown jewel of it, from the various shots in the credits sequence to the numerous outfits and situations she gets herself into with plenty of The Tease and Male Gaze. Mamimi and Ninamori also have bouts of this, particularly the former's Panty Shot moments, and Kitsurubami suffers some interestingly specific Clothing Damage in episode 5. However, it's also surprisingly tame for what it is, and most of it's really Played for Laughs altogether.
  • Faux Horrific: Seeing one of Amarao's fake eyebrows fall off is apparently horrifying to Kitsurubami.
  • 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.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Quite a few.
  • Gainax Ending: Surprisingly averted, and almost inverted since the ending is what makes the rest of the series make sense. Sorta.
    • Also lampshaded. In the preview before the final episode, Mr. Director is asked whether the show will end properly. His response? "Uhhhhm... maybe."
  • 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
  • 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 Naota.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: Kamon, in a Shout-Out to Lupin III.
  • 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. Unlike most dubs that do this, this one isn't ruined by it, probably because the show is already insane.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: There seems to be a grand Space Opera in the background of this show.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: The robot that comes out of Ninamori's head starts using her as a weapon against Canti.
  • Groin Attack: During the manga style sequence in Episode 6, Haruko kicks Naota in the crotch.
  • Hands-On Approach: Haruko does this with Naota as she's teaching him how to "swing the bat" in ep. 4.
  • Happy Place: Gainax's. The director outright said this series was them blowing off steam after Eva.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen:
    • Haruko's superiors (presumably) 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.
  • Hidden Agenda Villain: Medical Mechanica's goals and motives are never really explained. All the viewer knows is that they have Atomsk and a bunch of killer robots stashed away somewhere, and Amarao (who proves himself to be an Unreliable Narrator by the end of the series) talks about the purpose of the irons being to "iron out the wrinkles" in the human brain to eliminate thought.
  • 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."
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Canti. Everyone thinks that Naota is the hero since it's him inside Canti fighting the robot monsters, but he doesn't remember anything about what happened (even if he takes credit for it). Canti also does chores and rescues girls.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: They're all four-mora abbreviations of a significant phrase. The English version just renders the full phrase—for example, the second episode's Japanese title is "Fai-Suta" and the English title is "Fire Starter".
  • Imagination Destroyer: The purpose of the irons seen throughout is to "smooth out the wrinkles" in the human brain, stripping them of their creativity and making everyone equal.
  • 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.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Haruko and her Rickenbacker bass; even weirder, it incorporates a pull-start gasoline motor. Oh, and did we mention that it's also a pump action shotgun, smashing weapon, anti-tank baseball bat, a machine gun, and a hoverboard?
  • Indirect Kiss: Kitsurubami unconsciously takes a sip from Amarao's exercise bottle and promptly goes Blue with Shock, and a couple other colors.
  • Initialism Title
  • Insert Cameo: The enormous animated hand is actually rotoscoped from the director's hand.
  • Instrument of Murder:
    • Haruko's bass.
    • In the manga, at one point Haruko spends time plinking around on a ukelele. When one of the rogue robots attacks Mamimi and Canti, it's revealed to contain a gun.
  • Ironic Echo: Watch episode 1 and listen to how Haruko uses the words "Lunch time". Now go back to "FLCLimax" and listen to how she she pronounces "Launch time".

    J - R 
  • Karma Houdini:
    • 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.
  • Kiss of Life: Haruko reviving Naota 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.
  • Lecherous Licking:
    • In "Marquis de Carabas" and "Brittle Bullet".
    • A Freeze-Frame Bonus during the end credits shows Haruko suggestively licking her guitar.
  • Les Yay: invoked In the manga, Haruko talks Mamimi into pretending to make out to tease Naota. It's Ninamori 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.
  • Love Martyr: Naota confesses his love for Haruko in the final episode...while she's trying to kill him. At the end of the episode, he wises up and decides not to follow her into space when invited to and she leaves to continue her chase after the Pirate King Atomsk, telling Naota "You're Just a Kid after all."
  • Magical Realism: Played with - usually it heavily depends on the character and the event whether it's considered unusual or not. Naota's concerned about robots coming out of his head and fighting, but he doesn't have much to say about the giant, enigmatic iron-shaped factory with no entrances or exits. This is mostly played for symbolism. (i.e. Naota underreacts to the horn growing out of his head in order to allude to what it might really represent.)
  • Manchild: 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.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Haruko is this towards Naota. It's a subverted trope; Haruko acts like one of these, but in the end she has her own ulterior motives that do not involve Naota at all.
  • Master of Disguise: Haruko, in a goofy, seemingly incompetent way. On both occasions where she fully disguises herself, her victims are completely fooled until she decides to drop the act. Her entire goofy personality is an act to lower everyone's guard. Her actions in the final episode reveal her true agenda and true personality.
  • Meaningful Name: Kitsurubami's skin tone is a light, traditional Japanese brown called kitsurubami.
  • Medium Blending: The live action moped in the end credits.
  • 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 Hideaki "Mind Screw" Anno might have something to do with that.
  • Mexican Standoff: Haruko and Commander Amarao end up in one in "Brittle Bullet".
  • Mind Screw: The whole series. There are some people who had no idea what the hell they were watching the first time they sat through the series. Some notable moments:
    • 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 duplicate of his father, and a baseball-shaped satellite bomb the size of a house.
    • Our very own Sweet Dreams Fuel page posits that this series is one of the few examples of Consensual Mind Screw. They may be on to something...
    • Forget the supernatural stuff, think about the basic conversations. At least in the dub.
  • Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher: Junko Miyaji. At the beginning of the final episode, we see her teaching her class of sixth-graders how to properly hold chopsticks... something they already learned years earlier.
  • 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 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.
    • This might also explain Naota's attraction to Haruko. The moment where he embraces her in his room after she returns during episode six can easily be interpreted as Haruko functioning as a stand in for some one else who is no longer in Naota's life.
  • 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.
  • Moving Buildings: In episode 1 "Fooly Cooly", when Haruko attacks Naota insde the hospital, the building starts moving around and finally jumps into the air and falls back to the ground.
  • Mugged for Disguise: In episode 1 Haruko overpowers a hospital nurse and steals her uniform to gain access to Naota.
  • Mundane Utility: Canti doing housework.
  • 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.
  • New Media Are Evil: Played with. Mamimi's Firestarter game is implied to be what inspired her to burn down her elementary school and she's even convinced Canti is the Lord of Black Flame from the game. But on the other hand, she clearly has a myriad of other problems and the game only gave her the idea.
  • Nice Hat: Actually, nobody likes Naota's hat. Not even Naota, really. He's wearing it to hide the cat ears.
  • No Swastikas: Averted in Episode 5, when Kamon is seen wearing a Nazi officer's uniform with a legitimate swastika on the sash. Not even the [adult swim] version altered/digitally edited it (and this is from the same channel that banned the Lupin III episode "To Be or Nazi Be" and had to air classic theatrical cartoons from World War II as part of a documentary). Given that Japan played a major role during World War II, this is defying the censors at its finest.
  • 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 profuse ones. Kitsurubami herself goes weak at the knees.
  • Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: A complaint of Naota's at the start of the series. Despite being proven wrong very quickly, he still makes the same complaint at the end of the series.
  • Not So Stoic: Ninamori in episode 3.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity:
    • Haruko. Warning: Do not make her mad.
    • 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.
  • 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, with episode 4 as the pièce 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 offand she 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 filled with Rays from Heaven, he assumes a kneeling position with his hands clasped in prayer.
  • Product Placement:
    • 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 (with an added pull-start motor on the back, however), 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.
  • Psychic Block Defense: Amaro uses his nori eyebrows for largely the same purpose.
  • Punny Name: Kitsurubami's skin tone is a light, traditional Japanese brown called kitsurubami.
  • Putting on the Reich: Kamon. Now that's Those Wacky Nazis.
  • Rays from Heaven: Episode 2 "Fire Starter". As Kanti 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: Amarao 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.
  • Red Shirt Army: The fifth episode featured a whole crew of Men in Black that were hired to take out Haruko. They were offed in an incredibly awesome fashion.
  • Reference Overdosed
  • Rule of Cool: Let's see...
  • Rule of Sexy: Why is Haruko fighting the Gunslinger while wearing a Playboy Bunny outfit? Seemingly solely for this trope.Actually... 
  • Rule of Symbolism: Spicy, sour, and bitter food and drink are treated as "adult" things, while sweet things are childish (Amarao having a Sweet Tooth is meant to accentuate his being a Manchild).

    S - Z 
  • Sarcastic Confession: Haruko tells Naota she's an alien in the first episode.
  • 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.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Episode 1 "Fooly Cooly" and Episode 3 "Marquis de Carabas".
  • Scooby Stack: Haruko, Kamon, and Canti in "Full Swing".
  • Second Love: Haruko for Naota because he did have feelings for Mamimi at first.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Kitsurubami and Amarao have one in Episode 6 as the former muses over how the giant hand that's left of the last Monster of the Week looks ready to grab the iron-shaped Medical Mechanica building and iron something "like the wrinkles in the brain, maybe." Amarao counters that those wrinkles are how people think. Turns out Kitsurubami was right on the money.
  • 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?
    • Compare the first and second episode to the fourth and fifth. The art style, although already malleable early on, becomes completely inconsistent over time.
  • Sexy Shirt Switch
    • In the anime — Ninamori and Naota's pajamas.
    • In the manga — Ninamori and Tasuku's shirt.
  • Shout-Out: To lots and lots of other anime, with references ranging from sly and subtle to blatant ripoffs.
    • Lupin III and Neon Genesis Evangelion in particular amount to running gags, and one character is named after a Carmichael Smith novel.
    • There's at least three for South Park. One comes in the form of a 30 second Art Shift, though the other two aren't as blatant.
    • The Pillows gave a musical shout out in the show's closing theme "Ride on Shooting Star"; it ends with the line "Beep beep, beep beep, yeah!", originally from The Beatles' "Drive My Car".
    • A shot of Mamimi's phone in the last episode says "Cyber Dying" which is probably a reference to Cyberdyne.
    • Haruko's sky-surfing bunnygirl is an explicit (she says so) reference to the Daicon IV music video, which was the first appearance of she who would become Gainax's signature bunnygirl, Misty May.
    • A few references to Gundam as well. Haruko fixes the Vespa with what appears to be a toy Gundam, and Kamon references the infamous Gundam Hammer in the first episode.
    • In episode 3 Naota eats some very spicy curry, and for a split second his face turns into Ghostface's mask.
    • According to the director, one of the meanings of the anime is the history of Gainax itself, which explains a lot of the in-house references.
    • Naota's cat ears in episode 3 get compared to Doraemon (despite that character not having ears).
    • In one episode, someone runs around in a mouse costume saying "chu."
    • In one of the episode previews, Haruko mentions a ton of anime directors, including Mamoru Oshii.
  • Slice of Life: Begins this way until Haruko arrives, and carries traces of it throughout the course of the series, although this would be a very broad definition of the term "Slice of Life".
  • Sliding Scale of Realistic vs. Fantastic: Far, far on the fantastic end.
  • Something Something Leonard Bernstein: The ending theme goes "RIDE ON SHOOTING STAR/ nuhnyenarnenanyeerrrnyerrr".
  • Sprouting Ears: Episode 3 has Naota's head growth be a pair of cat ears, that are actually claw leg things from the Monster of the Week, and also get transferred to Ninamori briefly before the robot emerges and takes over her body.
  • 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. This is usually for a reason, though, either for comedic effect or to provide a parallel between two scenes.
  • Symbolic Wings: Canti has small fake wings stuck to him at one point.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: "Little Busters" is sometimes used as a cue that Canti is about to kick some serious ass just in time for the end credits.
  • Theme Naming: Naota (ナオ太), Haruko (ハル子) and Mamimi (マミ美) all have names that are otherwise written in katakana (syllables) but end with kanji (characters with meanings).
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Naota's father to Naota in "Brittle Bullet" after he catches Naota kissing Haruko, followed up by challenging Naota to a duel for Haruko's affections.
  • 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?"
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • During the climax of Episode 5, Naota breaks free of his dependence and desire for Mamimi's affection — by outright rejecting it — and summons Canti to fight the giant gunslinger robot.
    • In Episode 6, he absorbs the power of Atomsk and enters a sort of Super Mode.
    • A number of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann fans think of Simon's "rebirth" scene as a Spiritual Successor to Naota's "rebirth" in FLCL.
  • TV Head Robot: Canti.
  • 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...
  • Unfazed Everyman: 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.
  • Unreliable Expositor: 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.
  • Unusual Ears: The cat type, sported by Naota in one episode.
  • Unusual Euphemism: A number of fans think of the title of the show as one — either as a mispronunciation of "Furry Curry" or as the onomatopoeia of bouncing breasts.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • The whole series runs on this. Why does no one comment on the strangeness of Ninamori growing a huge monster out of her head?!
    • 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.
  • Up to Eleven: The manga somehow manages to be even weirder.
  • 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. However, they both realize that he is still a kid and isn't ready to leave everything and go with her.
  • Visual Pun: Ninamori tells her classmates that she worked things out with her parents, right before she does a high jump. She cleared her hurdle.
  • Womanchild: Junko Miyaji, Naota's teacher, is very energetic and somewhat immature.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: The ending theme, "Ride On Shooting Star", which is slides and revenge lobsters?
  • Wheel of Feet: The mayor's secretary and Haruko both do this in Episode 3.
  • Widget Series: They don't get much crazier than this one.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Mamimi, in Episode 6, comes off as one of these.
  • X-Ray Sparks: At the end of "Fire Starter", Haruko is electrocuted by the giant hand and you can briefly see her skeleton.
  • Yandere: Mamimi, though the object of her obsession — Naota's brother, who went to America to play baseball — already has an American girlfriend.


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