FLCL: Our Running
July 10, 2018 12:29 AM - Season 2, Episode 6 - Subscribe

With the manifestation of the Pirate King due to the mass manipulation of N-O, the endgame of Haruko's machinations has been reached. But a resolved (and partially transformed) Hidomi has confronted her, demanding that she return Ide...
posted by NoxAeternum (5 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
And so, FLCL: Progressive comes to an end, as a number of the various plots come to a collision, and everyone makes their move. Of course, the focus of the episode is the confrontation between Hidomi and Haruko, as the former demands that she return Ide to her. What's nice to see in this confrontation is that Hidomi has come to understand what she wants and acknowledges it openly. (She's also wearing Ide's uniform jacket through the entire episode, a nod to her realization and acceptance of her own desires.) Of course, Haruko gets hoist by her own petard when her plan to cage Atomisk is revealed to be wholly inadequate - which is emblematic of why she keeps failing at pursuing him.

The midpoint of the episode is punctuated by Hidomi and her mother finally having the talk they've needed to have since episode 1, with the two finally coming to understand each other a bit better, and resolving to better support one another. In turn, this results in the restoration of Canti (whom, as you may recall, now possesses Ide), and who then crushes Hidomi's headphones, allowing her to fully transfrom into her Canti form as well. With this, they are then able to escape Atomisk's N-O prison, which leads to the two women fighting over claiming the now red Ide-Canti. channeling Atomisk. This is probably the most interesting part in its denouement, as this series has been an exploration of female desire, which means that (unlike he original) we get to see Haruko dealing with her toxic relationship with Atomisk.

The subplot involving Masarao (who is revealed to be the son of the original's G-Man Amarao) and Aiko just felt a bit rushed, with a lot of things left dangling. Aiko being manipulated and forced to be what the men in her life want her to be does loop back to the overarching idea of the series focusing on female desire and sexual awakening, but it ultimately feels like it doesn't really let Aiko have any real agency ultimately, with her two big moments in the episode having her just acting as a conduit for the desires of others. Honestly, this plotline was a bit underwhelming, but to be expected, as the fight with Medical Mechanica is never really the focus of the show.

One thing I'm interested now in is to see the theatrical cut (for those who don't know, Progressive and Alternative are being released in Japan as movies, not short OVA series) to see how this all works as one longform narrative. But overall, I think that Progressive did capture the spirit of the original as much as it could (things have changed in 17 years, and FLCL is a product of its time), but also went in its own way. I'm looking forward to Alternative, as that was done by some new animation studios, by a team that is at the same point in their career as the original was when they created the original series.
posted by NoxAeternum at 1:28 AM on July 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

I dug the "You get a gold star!" conversation between Hidomi and Haruko on the tracks. That was cleverly written and deepened both characters and their relationship/conflict very quickly in a way that flowed naturally with what was going on.

I agree that the B plot with Aiko and Medical Mechanica seemed to be getting at something really interesting but didn't quite have the space to get there.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 12:38 PM on July 10, 2018

After seeing this whole season over the course of an afternoon, my impression is that while it has interesting images and sequences, it didn't capture the alchemy of the original. In particular, I felt like it leaned too far into the surreal sci-fi aspect of FLCL without capturing the melancholy, conflicted, grounded aspects of the first season. Naota's messed up-life, from his lame dad to missing hero of an older brother, to the sad mess that was Mamiji, the girl his brother abandoned and now made out with him under underpasses, felt... kind of magic, and the guitars and robots and space pirates gave that story room to breathe, and all the crazyness didn't feel dumb, because it had that foundation.

In this season... I don't know, I just feel like not much of it worked. I liked Hidomi. But her inner world never felt as vibrant to me as Naota's. Her "real world" never felt that real, and as a result all the acrobatics of the supernatural elements never really did it for me. The final moment where she talks about taking what she wants was good. Her realizing her feelings for Ide was good. But... the subplots didn't really do much. The carnival shit was dumb. Haru seemed like more of a type, somehow, than she did in the original. Her relationship with Atomosk felt too spelled out. In the original season, the ending felt like a magic trick in which everything happened at once and the whole story turned itself inside out. Here, it was like... a guitar solo that's kind of cool but doesn't go anywhere.

On the other hand, the first episode of the third season felt very promising. Minor spoilers -- The group of girls it introduces feels very real, painfully aimless, deeply devoted to each other, but maybe on the verge of breaking up as its members change and grow. In the first episode we see more bittersweet slice of life than sci-fi antics, but it seems like it might have more to say about growing up than this season did.
posted by Rinku at 7:52 PM on July 11, 2018

ANN has an interesting discussion about Progressive, that hits on some interesting points (like pointing out that Ide not considering happy Hidomi in episode 4 to be the real one means that he doesn't know her as well as he thought.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:45 AM on July 17, 2018

I just re-watched this, and I was *so happy* when Canti came back!
posted by Pronoiac at 10:00 PM on March 2, 2022

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