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Understanding FLCL: The “What the Heck am I Watching?” Anime

Anyone watch Adult Swim and see the anime come on late at night called FLCL, or “Fooly Cooly?” My second question is, how many of the FLCL watchers actually understood what on earth was going on in that 6 episode series?

Aside from great music, fluid animation, and extremely chaotic scenes of what seems like random hilarity, there actually is a plot! This post is full of spoilery, and aimed for the people who have already watched the show, yet remain confused to this day.


I need help understanding FLCL!

The key to understanding FLCL is to put it in chronological order. The anime starts with a monolithic industrial corporation that makes robots called Medical Mechanica, that are believed to be a big threat to the galaxy and especially Earth. Medical Mechanica captures the most powerful space pirate in the universe, Atmosk.

Understanding FLCL
Understanding FLCL. Click to embiggen.

After Atmosk’s containment, a crazy rocker girl who carries a blue electric bass guitar and rides around on a yellow Vespa scooter becomes fixated on Atmosk’s power. Her name is Haruko Haruhara and her aim is to bring the Pirate King, Atmosk, out of Medical Mechanica’s confinement by pulling robots from “N.O.” channels in hopes that one of them will be him.

These N.O. channels are like portals that form in the brains of humans, but only in certain brains will an N.O. channel be strong enough to pull out robots. Once N.O. portals form in the brain, it turns the brain to mush and makes it disappear, but the person still functions at the same intellectual level as before.

Haruko on the search for the “right head” goes to earth and finds Amarao, who is just a kid at the time. Amarao’s N.O. channel was too weak so he couldn’t really pull any robots or someone as powerful as Atmosk out of his head. Haruko then leaves Amarao to continue her search.

Time passes and Medical Mechanica comes to Earth by placing an industrial plant that looks like a huge clothing iron in the city of Mabase, where a young boy named Naota Nandaba lives. Naota hangs out with a high school girl named Mamimi who is fixated with Naota’s brother, Tasuku. While Naota and Mamimi are hanging out, Haruko speeds through, hitting Naota with her Vespa.

In seemed like mere coincidence, but Haruko noticed Naota had the “right head” for a strong N.O. channel. Haruko then smacks Naoto with her electric bass, which is not only used as a weapon, but it helps open up the N.O. portals in someone’s brain.

Later on when Naota goes home to his grandfather and his widowed father, Haruko is sitting at the dinner table. Haruko offered to become the housekeeper/maid so she could live there and study Naota’s N.O. channel more. After Naota rushes out of the house in frustration, he runs into Mamimi, and his head starts sprouting a horn, which then bursts out a robot and another robot’s hand.

Understanding FLCL. Click to embiggen.
Understanding FLCL. Click to embiggen.

The first robot was Atmosk. Haruko knows when Atmosk is around because her bracelet will start rattling, so Haruko shows up and beats the robot in the head with her guitar, turning Atmosk dormant. Atmosk then becomes Canti, which is the dormant state robot that now will only become Atmosk when Naota connects with Canti.

Amarao is grown up now and is a special agent for the Bureau of Interstellar Immigration. Amarao believes that Medical Mechanica is a huge threat to Earth, and he thinks it is planning on destroying the planet with the huge iron plant.

Amarao pays a visit to Naota to tell him what Haruko is really up to. Amarao’s objective of this is to find a way to stop Haruko from pulling out more MM robots, because he thinks it’s harming negotiation with Medical Mechanica.

Naota shrugs off Amarao’s advice and ends up asking Haruko to teach him how to “bat” like her. Haruko pulls a guitar out of Naota’s head and they get to practicing. Medical Mechanica sends a bomb to earth one day, but luckily Naota saves the day by hitting it with his guitar.

Medical Mechanica sends the final robot (which Canti formed into) that Atmosk ends up defeating. However, the robot left its terminal core behind. Mamimi finds the dog-like terminal core and begins feeding it electronics, which makes it grow, turning it into the worst enemy the Earth could take on.

Canti was originally made to merge with the core, so he does and ends up trying to control the plant to destroy the Earth. Naota is sent into the terminal core to retrieve Atmosk. Naota defeats the core and comes out now fully consumed by Atmosk’s power. Haruko is furious because she wants Atmosk’s power and tries to attack Naota.

Atmosk leaves Naota which makes Haruko stop fighting. Atmosk then turns into this giant eagle like form and takes the iron plant away from Earth and into space, removing the threat and saving humanity. Now that Atmosk is gone again, Haruko decides to leave Naota and Earth to go find him.

Soooooo, that’s pretty straight-forward, right?!? But then what about the unexplained weird things?!?

  1. Amarao’s eyebrows – His eyebrows were actually seaweed! He found out that seaweed blocks N.O. signals so it protected his head from being tampered with again.
  2. Manga strip and South Park transitions? – Even I don’t know what the South Park parody was about. The Manga strips were just kind of a funny visual way to practically show an event in super speed.
  3. How come Ninamori was able to sprout a robot out of her head? Why didn’t Haruko use her? Remember that Naota randomly grew cat ears and then Ninamori touched them. She then started feeling weird. Apparently when someone touches the portal, especially a strong one like Naota’s, they become connected almost like a virus.
  4. What’s up with with Haruko and Naota’s dad?! – Ok there is this one scene that gets super weird with them, but it turns out that Haruko was trying to experiment with Naota’s dad’s head because she thought if someone who has had a physical connection with Naota can accidentally connect to portals in themselves, maybe she could open a strong enough one in the father’s head.

I hope this article cleared up some confusion. Understanding FLCL is serious business, but try going back and rewatching the series now! That’s exactly what I did while typing this one up.

What are some other animes that come off as complete nonsense with no sign of a plot? Let us know in the comments below. And if you’ve enjoyed reading Nerds on Earth, please help us spread the word by sharing with your friends, using the social media buttons below. Thanks for reading!

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