When I first saw Fooly Cooly I was in high school and I couldn’t say anything negative about the series. It was mostly a bright and loud extended music video for The Pillows: a band I like a lot. So I tolerated the series, accepted the puns and jokes and mostly enjoyed it when the animation did something that called back to another series.
For some additional context, FLCL is a short and sweet series: 6 episodes. It is meant to be a coming of age story featuring the main character of Naota and the various other essentially horrible people around him. That is, this is true until a literal space alien named Haruko drops in from the sky and runs him over with her Vespa scooter She then pushes forward the plot revealing government conspiracies, deep family secrets and helping Naoto learn who he really is and who those around him really are. Oh and did I mention the giant robots and weird forehead projections? Can’t forget those.
Naota is surrounded by manipulative classmates, a delusional love interest who is still reeling from being rejected by Naota’s older brother (the woman won’t even give Naota his own name, she just calls him Tak-kun: the name she gave his older brother), ineffective adults, and a shadowy and deceptive government. All of those plot points almost make it easy to lose sight of the fact that the series is a coming-of age-story. Naota was twelvewhen the series started. He wasn’t much younger than I was when I first saw FLCL.
So let’s now skip ahead to my post-college years and my second or third time going over FLCL. I’ll never forget sitting at home in the bedroom that I was supposed to leave after getting my degree but didn’t just yet. I was listening to Naota complain about his day and he said words that I felt all the same: “Nothing ever changes here.” I hit me like a well-placed ton of bricks. I, like him, was back stuck in a routine equally surrounded by impotent adults and manipulative friends. And for the first time since I began my journey with the show I empathized with Naota. I understood him and his struggle. I understood the crushing weight of a legacy you didn’t entirely want to step into. I felt lost, looking for a woman with bright hair who would come in and shake up my routine but then fade away gracefully, reminding me that the tools were inside of me always. I wanted all of those things.
It took years for me to see FLCL as anything more than a loud and bright explosion of nonsense and puns but as soon as I did, it changed me. I found solace in easy to relate to characters, wept alongside far too appropriate musical choices and reveled in a plot that reminded me that I could and would get better.
So this was a little love song to Fooly Cooly. If you’ve never seen the series, I cannot recommend it enough and if you’ve seen it, don’t be afraid to watch it again.