… Looks like I was wrong about this week’s episode being the last. Oops. ^^;; I’m now guessing we’re going to get 6 episodes like the original FLCL series, in which case YAY because that leaves room for more character development.
I was much happier with this week’s episode compared to previous weeks. We’re far enough into the plot now that there’s room for character development and backstory and all that fun stuff. For example, this week we learned that Hidomi wears her headphones all the time to block out things like her mother crying because she misses Hidomi’s dad so much. Shit I’d wear my headphones constantly too if I heard my mother that upset. :/
So onto the review. With her headphones screwed into her head, Hidomi’s personality has done a complete 180. She’s now constantly perky, excited and hyper, even dancing and leaping around to get from point A to point B. It’s… weird. o_o But the funny thing is that now everyone is starting to notice her. Her classmates think she’s cute, and Marco even takes a liking to her. There’s a similar effect in the series Kimi no Todoke, where the main character Sawako is thought of as creepy and eccentric by her classmates until her burgeoning friendship with her crush Shota Kazehaya becomes the catalyst to Sawako becoming less shy and more accepted by her classmates.
Anyways, while Hidomi’s being all loopy Jinyu and Haruko decide that their only course of action is to take Hidomi into the Medical Mechanica plant (the giant iron at the top of the hill) to get her headphones unlocked. However en route the two get sucked into a portal (which takes them to inside the Medical Mechanica plant) because Aiko’s potted plant, left in the back of Jinyu’s car after the end of the last episode, gets dropped on Ide’s forehead and opens up said portal.
Inside the factory Jinyu and Haruko get really nasty with each other. Referring to the being Atomsk (aka The Pirate King) from the original series whom they are both still chasing, we learn that Jinyu is chasing him so she can keep people like Haruko from stealing away his freedom. She loves him so much that she just wants him to be free. Haruko, on the other hand, wants to steal his energy for herself regardless of what Jinyu or anyone else says.
I also didn’t notice this initially, but if you pay attention to the closing sequence of FLCL Progressive, we get a hint at some of the events which took place between the end of FLCL and the start of FLCL Progressive. During the credits we see Atomsk absorbing Haruko very briefly, and from this merging Julia Jinyu was created. THIS explains Jinyu’s earlier comments about her and Haruko really being one person.
The two women cause so much damage from their battle inside the factory that the destruction causes Hidomi’s headphones to deactivate and the teenager returns to her normal self. However with the headphones off Hidomi overflows again, and the N.O portal on her forehead is how Haruko and and Jinyu return to the real world.
This is where Marco enters the scene. Earlier in the episode he had bumped into Hidomi (literally), and unbeknownst to him he gained the ability to open an N.O channel too. He had been test riding the new amusement park attraction for work when a bamboo shoot suddenly sprouted from his forehead. It gets caught on the ground and launches poor Marco towards the Medical Mechanica plant. Once he lands at the foot of the giant iron, the bamboo sprout growing out of his forehead starts to lift up the iron, which causes Jinyu’s car (with Ide and Hidomi inside it) to start to roll off the edge. A little robot puppet resembling a monkey also appears and climbs up the shoot, firing rockets at both Haruko and Jinyu.
Jinyu is able to save the two high schoolers, but at the cost of her own life. Mortally wounded, Haruko consumes Jinyu, adopting the latter’s weird sunglasses as her own; Haruko’s hair also returns to its normal pink color. Haruko invites Hidomi to join her search for Atomsk again, but Hidomi places her headphones back on her head and firmly refuses.
This episode was full of action, and it even had a couple of subplots going on. The first subplot was the crush Marco was developing on Hidomi; he got a part-time job so he could earn the money to buy a gift for her. However at the end of the episode when the battle is over, Marco sees Ide being very protective of Hidomi and he sadly realizes that she is already taken (even if she doesn’t know it yet). Marco seems like a really sweet guy so I felt a little bad for him. ^^;
The other subplot centered around Aiko, her father and Eye Patch guy. It turns out Aiko’s given away another one of her father’s secret devices, this time a bear statue. Eye Patch guy is at Aiko’s home trying to help him find the potted plant that Aiko sold to Mori. And we get to see Canti! Or what’s left of him anyways. Parts of Canti are in the potted plant, which is why Aiko’s dad and Eye Patch guy are looking for it. Aiko’s dad and Eye Patch guy end up monitoring Jinyu and Haruko’s fight from the town.
I’m very happy with this episode. Finally, the series feels like it’s starting to pull together and go somewhere. If we’re going to get a full six episodes, I’m really hopeful that we’ll see Naota in some capacity before the end of the last episode. After all we’ve already seen Canti…! ;D I read a comment on a Youtube video saying that this fourth episode seemed the closest to the original FLCL in terms of quality (which to me would cover plot and animation), and I wholeheartedly agree with that opinion.