Rewatching and posting on FLCL has been a really crazy experience. Aside from it now being the anime I’ve watched the most times total, it’s also the first that I’ve watched so many times in such close proximity. When I think of the long road I’ve trekked from hating rewatching to obsessing over it (see: Epic Journey) I really feel I’ve come a long way. Ever since the journey started, each show I watched made me want to watch it again, but I could never bring myself to until FLCL simply forced my hand and drove me to watch it 3 times over. It’s greatly opened my mind on rewatches and introduced me to just how powerful they can be, as now I can safely say that with this post, I have achieved a full understanding and love for this show after half a decade of watching it. So let’s get this show on the road! IT’S THE CLIMAX!!!
Episode 6 of FLCL is, in my opinion, the perfect ending in every possible way. For one, it is a culmination of all the things in FLCL – the quiet, contemplative bits, the hyperactive, energetic bits, psychological development of all the major characters, crazy fights, spectacular directing, and an epic ending like any show deserves to have. The ending is conclusive and gives a firm look at where each character’s development in the story went, clenching down on the series in a way that no moment had ever been wasted the whole time. This is the episode telling you ‘it all had a point and message, and here’s that.’
Our episode opens up with Naota’s classroom who is being taught to learn to use chopsticks and failing miserably under the tutelage of an idiot teacher. Naota’s friends joke about sporks while Naota looks emo. He tells them he’s going to get some sporks and leaves. The friends can tell that he’s lying about the sporks and just wants to go be emo somewhere. His more mature friends, Ninamori and the big lip guy, comment that he’s being an idiot – and yes I said ‘mature’ for a reason because we will come to find that their maturity is a sort of litmus test for Naota’s. Will explain later.
Naota narrates about how the city has been covered in smoke, making it as though there is no way to leave the town, and it is an isolated place from the world outside. He says that the giant hand seems to scream ‘stay there’. He also notes that Haruka and Canti have left town to this outside world. There’s an incredibly important thing to remember here – Haruka is supposed to be the replacement for Naota’s brother, who also left him behind when he went to America. Naota’s state of mind is greatly resembling how it was at the beginning of the show, with him feeling useless and emo as the one he looks up to has left him behind.
Quick Note: We then get some exposition from Amarao and his bridge bunny. There’s a little gag here that confuses a lot of people – Amarao is working out and has a water bottle. The girl takes the bottle and accidentally drinks from it, and when she realizes where it’s been she immediately turns blue and screams. Lots of people have been lost about that, lol.
We now see Mamimi back at the riverbed again. She is looking for Takkun – obviously not Naota since he and her are probably not going to be on the best terms after the last episode. She’s looking for the little cat Takkun who she’s supposed to protect. She can’t find him, and a guy on a motorbike splashes her, equating to one shitty day. Naota and his friends pass by and see Mamimi who is soaked, but Naota decides to ignore her and keep walking ahead.
The next moment has Mamimi under the bridge lighting up a cigarette and looking pretty damn pissed. However, right then a little component thing comes out of the water that is adorable. There is a really fun shot here where Mamimi, who’s pissed, is trying to feign disinterest, but curiosity gets the better of her and she goes to check it out.
Meanwhile, Naota is walking along and drinking one of the bitter drinks that he’s supposed to hate. Amarao shows up then and criticizes him for it, asking if it makes him feel more adult, and telling him the sweet stuff is better (ironic coming from the biggest wannabe-mature guy in the show.) As Amarao starts talking to Naota, we actually see Takkun the cat on the side who has found a female cat that he is together with. This symbol of a man and woman together is something that will pervade this episode as an important image, especially in the fact that the cat presumably left Mamimi upon finding love.
Amarao explains the plot to Naota in regards to Haruka’s presence and Atomisk, however, he is actually incorrect about certain details. First of all, he thinks that Haruka is in love with Atomisk – it’s natural that he thinks that the only reason she wouldn’t like him is because she’s in lvoe with someone else. In addition, when he shows his mental image of Atomisk, it’s a huge, manly man with flaming hair that looks monstrously badass. Once again, this is Amarao assuming that Haruka could only like someone else more if he was stunningly manly, which we will learn is untrue when we see Atomisk, who in no way resembles anything human.He finishes up the talk giving Naota some of his own eyebrows, which apparently protect you from having robots come out of your head.
Over on the Mamimi front, the little doglike creature she found takes her cell phone and tries to eat it. At first, Mamimi cries ‘wait! no! Sempai’s phone number!’ but after a moment she sulks, sighs, and allows the thing to eat it. It is at this moment that Mamimi has finally lost all hope and essentially snapped, or at least stopped lying to herself about being happy. With the last trace and hope of her sempai gone, she no longer has a hero to protect her, and therefor no longer has any real reason to live. At this point, she pretty much stops caring about consequence and life or death – but that’s all to come into the frame slowly. She tells the critter ‘you have to take responsibility. You have to be takkun.’ Once again, since she is heroless, she needs a Takkun to rely on her to at least give her some sense of worth. But this Takkun she’s going to use to act out her world-end deeds.
Back at Naota’s house, he is lazing about for a little bit then heads downstairs to find that Haruka and Canti are back in a hyperactive manga page deal again. It’s worth noting that the manga slowly degrades into pencil drawings, which are meant to look like the artist was about to miss the deadline and had no time for touch-ups.
Afterward in Naota’s room, Naota thinks Haruka is asleep and asks ‘who are you? why did you leave?’ but Haruka isn’t asleep and comes down to his bunk. She is nice to him, which wins his favor easily, and when he is looking at her longingly she tells him ‘you’re really a kid, you know?’ This is like triggering a switch. Right then, Naota springs forward and hugs her, crying, asking why she left him behind. Naota finally feels like he doesn’t have to play adult now. Because his hero has returned and is there to be the adult for him, he doesn’t have to put on the fron tof maturity anymore. Haruka offers him to run away with her, and he obliges.
While they are on the road, Naota narrates about how in a town like this, you forget there is a world outside, and it feels like you are living for nothing on a slope towards death. Haruka’s presence reminds him there is an outside world. What Naota may not realize is that he’s recognizing the world now through a child’s eyes like he should have been all along. In his front of adulthood and maturity, the world appeared like it was all about duty and maturity (as Amarao would also lead him to believe) but Haruka crushes that maturity with her free spirit and ability to do just anything which Naota admires.
At Naota’s school, his friends are discussing his apparent running away. The kid with the huge lips calls Naota an idiot for this, and then Ninamori supplements with the argument I mentioned in earlier posts. She says ‘he should just be honest with himself. I told the truth, and then I cried a lot and stuff.’ this was how her situation was resolved – she ultimately broke down and escaped her false maturity to embrace her childhood, and she knows Naota needs to do the same. He needs to stop lying to himself about what he is or isn’t, and accept himself and live the life he should on his own terms, without having to act like anyone else.
Quick Note: Somewhere in here, not sure where, we see Naota’s dad talking to the teacher. You can see that his arm is in a sling – this is from the terminal core falling on him at the end of episode 5.
Mamimi starts using her new Takkun to exact revenge on this world that she hates which has left hr behind. She starts with kids’ cellphones that she stole from school, and as Takkun grows she moves on to thing like the moped that splashed her. All the while, she wears a look that is a mix between glee and simply not giving a fuck about anything anymore that gets more and more dark as she progresses.
Naota and Haruka find themselves outside a convenient store where Haruka has bought a huge bowl of shitty ramen and Naota has bought a small bowl of name brand. Haruka takes a bite and says it sucks and switches bowls. This leads to one of my favorite exchanges in the series, if only because I’ve been able to quote both sides many times in different situations. Naota says ‘you can’t buy the cheap brands just because it comes with more, you have to go for the big name brands.’ (very true.) However, Haruka rebukes that ‘eating shitty ramen can be fun too.’ (also true) This is really the perfect example of Naota’s rationalism against her free-spirited that tells you why she is something so mystical and special to him.
We now see Mamimi pulling along Takkun who she’s been feeding for days now (seemingly without sleep) and he has gotten to be about the size of a single-story building. They happen to come across Naota’s male friends beside their truck who call out ‘oh! it’s the wife Naota dumped!’ Mamimi looks a bit mad, but Takkun outright comes around the corner with a loud roar. He charges forward at their car with Mamimi calling out ‘wait! They aren’t on my revenge list!’ As it eats their car, she then calls ‘I don’t want Takkun to do these bad things!’ This, like Naota’s part in episode 5 and the cat Takkun finding love, is another important symbol.
The new Takkun is doing just like Takkun did and taking it’s relationship with Mamimi farther than she wanted it to go. Mamimi wanted a docile thing that she could use, but now the beast has grown protective of her to the point that at an insult towards her, it goes ballistic and attacks the ones who dared to insult her. It could be said to be a statement on men’s desire to protect women who as a sense of duty and maturity, thereby making this Takkun another parable of Naota. Which is exemplified by the next moments.
Amarao and the officer girl are in the car, and Amarao starts perversely hitting on her, showing off once again his childish thinking that girls will be attracted to him. Second later, they have a run in with the terminal core, which proceeds to assimilate it’s missing component – Canti (remember, he came from the same place as all the others, he was just Atomisk-possessed before.) When the beast is coming towards them, Amarao actually pushes the officer woman out of the way to take on the beast, which gets him scooped up by it. This is another statement of a man’s so-called duty in maturity.
All of the powers that be manage to converge atop the giant hand – the beast, Mamimi in tow, Haruka and Naota, and Amarao, who manages to get in an awesome Gendo Ikari reference. The terminal core won’t enter the giant hand without one last component, and everyone knows it directly involves Naota’s noggin. Amarao tells Naota that he should not help Haruka and to stay away from her. He says how she is selfish and childish and only wants things for herself. He tells Naota to do the mature, adult thing, and protect everyone such as Mamimi and the rest of the town. Man’s duty and all, after all. However, Naota, finally at ends with his fake maturity, turns to Haruka instead and lets her malice him with her bass, launching him into the core, which merges with the giant hand.
As the hand reaches for the iron, Amarao cries how they’ve played right into Medical Mechanica’s hands, and now MM will destroy this planet. However, Haruka devilishly retorts that she doesn’t care about all that, and all she wants is Atomisk’s power – not his love like Amarao had thought. As the hand is coming down, it is stopped at the last moment by Canti, who is glowing with power, and Haruka now knows that Atomisk is coming. However, Naota then crawls out of Canti’s face burning with the power of Atmosik and wielding both his and Atomisk’s guitars. Naota has finally achieved the true manliness.
What does this mean? It will be shown in coming scenes, but I really want to spell it out here. A true man is simply one who can be honest with himself and strong of heart. His duties are just what he makes them, and he doesn’t have to aspire to any particular image to be a man – he just is one. His priorities now straight, Naota blasts the giant and from the iron. Haruka is pissed because she wants Atomisk’s power and Naota has it, so an epic final battle erupts between them. It ends with Naota stopping in front of Haruka and the power dispersing and circling around him, letting him float in the air before Haruka.
He simply says, with the most childish and honest of expressions, ‘I love you’, and kisses her on the lips. As soon as he does, Atomisk comes out in his true form – a fucking insanely enormous bird. It sucks the giant hand into it’s body, grabs onto the Medical Mechanica iron and tips it on it’s side, then blasts off into outer space never to be seen again.
Naota and Haruka stand on a pile of rubble. Haruka tells him that she is going to go hunt for Atomisk. At first she offers him to come along, but then changes her mind and tells him ‘you are still a kid.’ She doesn’t mean this as an insult – more like she’s proud of him for finally realizing it himself – and blasts off. Naota picks up the guitar and stands at the top of the rubble, staring off into the distance. It is not a look of longing or confusion or anything – he just stares after her, taking up her guitar as the symbol of his own progress towards the future where he might be able to live honestly.
It is when she sees this image of Naota standing with the bass that Mamimi too realizes her future. In this moment, Mamimi realizes that it’s time for her to move on. She needs to put the past and all the bullshit behind her and move on. As such, she leaves school and town to pursue a career in photography and presumably finally got her life moving in a real direction. In the end, Naota is with his friends once again, without presumption or dishonesty, living like a kid, as he should. And the only possible ship is NaotaxNinamori :p.
After finally finishing my epic journey of FLCL, I can safely say that it remains one of my alltime favorites. I don’t know if it’s in my top 5, since there are some pretty big shows I still haven’t done epic journey posts for, but it’s definitely a show I will never forget, especially after writing some 25,000 words about it XD. Will be doing business with it long into the future, and I hope that my posts have furthered your enjoyment of this spectacular anime, as they definitely have enhanced my own.