Ladies and gentlemen, the final results are in. Lessons have been learned. The enemy has been identified. Haruko Haruhara whangs on things with her guitar. Kana’s head turns out to be capable of vast power. You probably knew that before the show even began.
In this variant of FLCL, Medical Mechanica turns out to be more mysterious. The Government is helpless. Not even a nuclear bomb can touch the giant steam irons that have appeared across the world with lines of giant pins between them. Temperatures are rising as the irons release vast clouds of steam.
We learn that Tsukata Kanda is some kind of government bureaucrat assigned to deal with the problem. He reports directly to the PM who is a self-important, air-headed politician. He hates his job because there isn’t anything he can do. The government has secret plans to evacuate the rich and powerful to Mars. Tsukata seems to know Haruko well but that isn’t really explained.
According to Tsukata, the “irons” plan to flatten the entire planet and every other planet in
the universe for no apparent reason. They aren’t referred to as Medical Mechanica in this show, just as “irons”. Haruko doesn’t give an explanation of why she is fighting them. There was no Atomsk based love story, she’s involved just because she doesn’t want them to accomplish whatever they plan to do. There are more than a few unexplained things like that. In the other two FLCL variants, I at least knew why she was doing what she did.
I have read that Progressive was 30 years in the future of the original while Alternative was 30 years later than that. I have no evidence of this. Alternative could be a complete reboot for all I know.
Haruko is constantly trying to find the secret to unlocking to Kana’s ability. She toys with her emotions by behaving seductively with Mon, the basketball team president she has a crush on. Each time she starts to “overflow” (Now there’s a euphenism!) she runs away. When Kana finally has a chance with Mon in private, she discovers she is not really interested. She isn’t ready for romance.
Mossan is in a contest to see whose winner gets to show their work on the runway in a
fashion show. Between that and school and work, she is running ragged. Kana tries to help Mossan on the construction site but Mossan doesn’t like having her intervene in her life. To Mossan, that implies that Kana doesn’t think she’s up to the task. It steals her accomplishment. Once Kana apologizes and asks permission to help however she can, Mossan has her help as an assistant. When Haruko gets involved in the fashion show, things get pretty strange.
Pets is extremely rich. Her parents have a ride on the government flight to Mars. During a battle with
a giant robot, it turns out that Pets has a long list of grievances against Kana. In the end, she’s still going to Mars but exchanges her hairclip for the unconscious Kana’s as a remembrance.
In the finale, a giant hand reaches down out of the clouds. It grabs the iron and starts to flatten everything. Kana realizes her whole life has been a lie. Everything she has done is to try to make people like her rather than because it was truly what she wanted to do. The final battle for the fate of the earth is begun.
The original FLCL concerned a young boy entering puberty and his difficulty in accepting those changes. FLCL Progressive featured a 14-year-old girl and boy well into puberty and struggling with newfound desires. Both had themes regarding sexual development – altho Progressive was more obvious about it.
FLCL Alternative is a bit different from its predecessors and unlike its advance publicity implied. The publicity graphic implied a fair amount of fan service. Looking at the subject matter one would think this was a show that featured a lot of ecchi and would entertain a male crowd. But having watched it, I put the show solidly in the shoujo corner of anime.
There “girls” were 17. I would put them as almost-women, though in anime-land they are practically old ladies. It wasn’t about accepting adolescence or blossoming sexuality. This time the lesson was all about being true to yourself and not putting on an act just so others like you. Kana doesn’t want things to change but now she knows that change is inevitable and to be accepted.
Kana started out life as a sickly and unpopular child. When she first met Pets, who befriended her, she was being herself. As she grew up, her insecurity about not being liked began to dominate her life such that she would force her help on people without asking to get them to like her. The big division was that Pets had wanted Mon herself but had deferred to Kana out of friendship. Kana had wanted Mon to like her but when it came to it, she didn’t really like him and it eventually led to Pets rejecting her harshly.
I think Pets was at least partially at fault for not moving on Mon herself. I think her anger when Kana rejected Mon was really at herself but she couldn’t admit it. Kana could not know what was in Pets heart.
I enjoyed this anime a lot. Perhaps not as much as Progressive but still a lot. I didn’t really have a clue where the story was going until midway thru episode 5 when things became clear. It was Haruko’s comment that everyone only helps themselves and Kana’s reaction that brought clarity. She realized that all her attempts to help others were really done for selfish reasons and without concern for the other person.
I had thought that each of the four had a lesson to learn but it was mostly about Kana.