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She’s Got Me So Confused


By Yōji Enokido & Kazuya Tsurumaki 

4 Apr, 2019


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FLCL is a six-part anime series written by Yōji Enokido, and directed by Kazuya Tsurumaki. It was released in 2000 and 2001

Twelve-year-old Naota Nandaba lives with his father and grandfather in backwater Mabase. He grudgingly tolerates the uninvited attentions of high-schooler Mamimi Samejima. 

It’s a humdrum life. To quote Naota, 

Nothing amazing happens here. Everything is ordinary.”

Enter attractive maniac Haruko Haruhara, who 

  • runs Naota down with her Vespa; 

  • gives him CPR; 

  • wallops him in the head with her guitar. 

It’s not madness, although Haruko is dubiously sane. She has a plan.… 

Soon after finding himself lip-locked with the madcap Haruko, Haoto finds himself struggling with ill-timed protrusions. 

Haruko smashed Naota in the head to awaken his N.O. potential, transforming his forehead into an interdimensional gateway. Through this gateway, gigantic robots emerge to menace Mabase and its inhabitants. Assisted by mute Canti, the first robot to emerge from Naota’s head, it is up to Naota to save the day! Or at least try to survive it. 

Why can he form interdimensional bridges? What is really going on in Medical Mechananica’s mysterious complex in the heart of Mabase? What is the Galactic Space Police Brotherhood to which Haruko claims to belong? Why has the Interstellar Immigration Bureau taken such a close interest in Mabase? What’s up with IIB Chief Amarao’s eyebrows? And who or what is the mysterious Atomsk? 

Surrounded by adults who appear to have abdicated their adulthood, Naota tries his best to be the grown-up. It’s difficult. He’s coping with an endless stream of robots, unwelcome attentions from Haruko and Mamimi, and the way that Canti’s will take over in mid-combat. It’s almost too much. 


It might sound like fun to be pawed by Mamimi and Haruko, but it turns out the sort of older teens who chase a twelve year old aren’t the most restful of girlfriends. Haruko in particular has no regard whatsoever for the costs her schemes impose on others. 

Does it sound as if this manga is deranged surrealism? Well yes, it is. Questions will be raised but not answered. There will be no big reveal. To quote the director comprehension should not be an important factor in FLCL.” Yet somehow the six-part series manages to convey the sense that there is some skewed perspective from which this all makes sense, even if the anime itself has no particular interest in providing it. The series is enchanting, not just a jumbled bad dream. 

FLCL is a weirdly intriguing work. One cares about poor Naota. I rewatched this as a distraction from my wait for my Hugo nomination to be announced and once again found myself caught up in the action. I’m looking forward to finding out if the sequels are as good as the original. 

FLCL is available on various streaming services.