It has been a long time since I first watched FLCL. I still remember all of the circumstances leading up to it everything that happened that night. You see, at the time I hadn’t started watching anime that long ago. I had been looking for a list of shows to watch and I stumbled across a post on IGN, “Top 100 anime you should watch before you die”, I decided this would be my list.
I decided to start with the top 10, because I’m dumb and wanted shows I watch to get gradually “worse” as I worked my way through the list I guess. Luckily for me though I had already seen 8 of the top ten on this list. I don’t remember the rest of the list, but I remember there being Cowboy Bebop and Steins;Gate, shows I’d already watched and loved, and still love to this day. The two anime that I hadn’t seen on the list when I discovered it were Akira and FLCL.
So the first of the two I decided to watch was Akira, it was a movie so I thought it would be significantly quicker to get through. I watched the dubbed version because early on I would basically only watch the dubbed version. Overall, Akira was ok, I don’t think it is as amazing as it is often held up to be, but I still really enjoyed it. Recently I have been trying to find the manga so I can get the full story and maybe re-watch it afterwards. Especially with the news of the live action adaptation.
Now though, let’s get to my reason for wanting to write this all out. A television show that changed the way I lived my life and saw the world. Not just one that did that, but an anime on top of it, something that a lot of people saw and still see as something childish. How could this happen, one day I told a friend that a big reason I am who I am today is because of this show and they were flabbergasted.
Nothing amazing happens here, only the ordinary. I struggled with depression starting in high school (even though I didn’t know it then) all the way through the first semester of my sophomore year of college, when I ended up being suspended for poor grades. My life felt directionless, rudderless and at the time, FLCL was one of my only anchors keeping me grounded in reality. For the 8 months before I was able to enroll in school again, I watched FLCL probably 3 times a week every week. There was a time in my life I probably could’ve performed a stage play of the show word for word.
At the time though, what I didn’t realize was that I was using it as a wrong motivation. At the beginning of the show, Naota is living a directionless life unhappy with his friends, his school work, everything. I felt like this a lot of the time too in this period of my life, like nothing I did had a point, like life was ultimately meaningless. I never had a Haruhara Haruko come into my life, at least not for real. What I did have was the Haruko from the show and my own mindset. That is what I soon realized was the true beauty of FLCL despite a lot of the depressing messages and the hardships that Naota faces, he comes out the other side.
I have never been more alone than those 8 months, but I soon realized that I wasn’t alone. Countless people feel the same way as me, FLCL is a story about broken people living their lives.
Mamimi has always struggled in school, both in terms of grades and being an outcast and has now lost her biggest grasp on happiness in Naota’s brother. To make up for the loss she feels she has latched onto Naota and is essentially treating him like his brother trying to heal her broken heart.
Ninamori is the mayor’s daughter and her whole life has struggled to live up to the ideals that are expected of her. In episode 3, the episode most focused on her we get to see her struggling to deal with the divorce while outwardly displaying no emotion. We also see how she can be manipulative to get what she wants as she manipulates the vote because she has feelings for Naota.
Amarao is a man who was used by Haruko in the past and ever since has made it his life goal to try and stop her. He sees her as an evil creature and has dedicated his life to stopping her, but at the same time, it seems like he still wants her approval. HE is someone who is always trying to be seen as a grown-up professional, but is still seen as a child by many of the characters including Haruko.
Haruko is no matter how many times I see the show still a mystery to me, at least partially. Haruko is in love with the Pirate King Atomsk or more accurately his power. He is said to be able to pull entire star systems with his N.O. a power unfathomable to Haruko. We never know a lot of Haruko’s motivation, but we know she is broken as she spends her entire life chasing that power, using people then tossing them away. At least until she realizes that there are still people she cares about as things other than tools like Naota.
Naota is to me, the most broken character of all, he is completely jaded with life and doesn’t trust any of the adults around him. He is completely enamored with the idea of growing up and being an adult, commenting on how childishly so many of the adults in his life act. He is bored in life, often feeling completely alone, and then when Haruko abandons him he feels more alone than ever before.
Naota was always the character I identified with the most, but before I figured out who I was, when I was just a depressed kid, I identified with episode 1 Naota. I was disillusioned and I often felt completely alone in life, even when I had great friends and a supportive family.
Now though, I identify with episode 6 Naota, I realize how amazing my family and friends are, I no longer feel alone. I also realize that you can grow up and still be a child on the inside, still love having fun. The thing that FLCL taught me the most about life and about myself, is that you have to find what makes you happy and roll with it. While to a lot of people that may sound like the most obvious revelation ever, to me it was something that saved my life.
(Sidenote: I never found a good place to mention it, but the FLCL soundtrack is the best ever without a doubt in my mind and still a huge reason that I have such an emotional connection to music. I still tear up at a few of the songs and I really wish they were on iTunes.)