FLCL: Character Arcs, The Formation of Thematic Circles, and The Need to Break Them

One of the few series I can watch over and over again, due to many reasons, though mainly its short length, has been FLCL. As the series is only 6 episodes long, its re watchability is extremely high by its very nature. Mind you, that does not mean that the story is simple. While six episodes may seem like a short amount of time to weave a story with complex themes, I have noted over time, that the series has a story line, that at minimum, is 12 episodes in length. But how is this possible.

To explain what theme I have noted is well documented in this series, and takes place over the length of at least 12 episodes, it is important to note that this is done by considering that Naota’s and Mamimi’s character arcs as being a part of the same possible story, and by that I mean Mamimi’s story could follow Naota’s story, with an emphasis on the COULD.

If you’re still following, let’s consider both of their stories at the broadest, but yet informative level possible for the sake of simplicity. Naota, a middle schooler, meets an alien(an older girl), and has things happen to him that have never happened to him before (has feelings he has never felt before). Overtime, he begins to accept the fact that he is living with an alien as common place (comes to terms with his feelings and fully embraces them). Unfortunately, the alien, whose presence his life has become accustomed to leaves (girl he is possibly in love with, but isn’t quite sure, leaves) and his life goes into disarray. There is more to this character arc, but don’t worry, we’ll pick it up shortly.

Now on to Mamimi’s story. At the beginning of the story we find out that Naota’s brother, who had gotten himself an American girlfriend, had dumped Mamimi. Following this turn of events, Mamimi obviously falls into deep depression and becomes obsessed with holding onto her past through multiple coping mechanisms,  not to mention pretty much the entire second episode.

Now here is where it gets a bit complicated. Over the course of the story, Naota sees this happening to Mamimi and slowly processes it. Then the pivotal scene of the series, and the point at which Naota avoids falling into the same deep state of depression Mamimi did. At the moment Mamimi rejects Naota’s advance in front of the french cafe, Naoto finally processes what has been going on with Mamimi. Unfortunately, after his stunning triumph in episode 5 which ultimately releases Atomisk, Naota is left alone as well, and falls into the same delinquent, depressed rut as Mamimi.

Though Haruko eventually returns, Naota eventually “defeats” her , but then ultimately forgives her via that climactic kiss. Mamimi, who sees this event occur, finally is able to realize the errors of her past (the dwelling and anger of breaking up with her boyfriend). This, in turn, is why we know Naota will be fine at the end of the series even though Haruko has left, as he knows the folly with responding to the situation as Mamimi did.

But still, you might say that’s only six episodes with characters who happen affect each other. But I contend that Mamimi’s arc from the first five or so episodes of the series is what could have happened to Naota in the long run if he didn’t meet Mamimi. Though I suppose this could still possibly be construed as a bit of a chicken and the egg type situation, at the very least, this post helped elaborate on the connection between these two characters.

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