By: Zero Omega
morning week, another pillows FLCL Progressive. Let’s recap this week’s episode! Spoilers below for the second episode of FLCL Progressive!
This week’s episode, titled Freebie Honey (a reference to a pillows song that plays during this episode), starts off similarly to the first episode in a weird, apocalyptic, dimly colored world where reality is not all what it seems. Today’s theme seems to be zombies as we see decaying dogs, humans, and other creatures roam the world feasting on whatever they can find while being narrated by someone really hyper active who finds this all cute. We then see Zombie Hidomi rise from the waters, then flash briefly into the real world where we see Hidomi is dreaming, she shows a small smile before we cut back to our dream world and eventually see Zombie Hidomi devoured. Hidomi awakens with a blush on her face and caresses the bandage on her forehead. … Weird.
Morning time, Hidomi gets ready for school and as she leaves she is reminded by Maid Julia Jinyu to look out for the woman on the vespa. At school Teacher Haruko enters the class in a preacher’s uniform and begins explaining how the world is just completely screwed up, filled with irresponsible people, and how it is so completely imperfect because of adults, of which she is one. During her speech she makes a “pupipo” noise that resonates with the class, ending her speech the class crowds around her as if it were the end of a religious progression, as if they were bowing and paying respect to their God.
Before leaving she informs the class that the year book is complete and they should all take a look. Within it are wonderful memories of times during the class, when Haruko played baseball with them as both pitcher and hitter, when they sent a signal to a UFO, when the psychic was invited to the cultural festival, when Haruko bent her opponents fingers during the spoon bending festival, and when they used the school building to make a bon fire. After which the class begins to sing in unison, “Burn burn burn burn burn bright.” in a completely hypnosis. However, from Hidomi’s point of view these are all nothing but just crayon drawings… Hidomi decides to leave class where she comes across Haruko riding her vespa in school and asking Hidomi to give Ide his school work that he missed as he is absent from class today.
Hidomi walks through the city encountering a number of strange things, for example, a robot similar to the one she saw in the first episode escorting kids across the street. She finds herself in the sketchy part of town, apparently where Ide lives, and is escorted by Goro Mori (our resident dress wearing male) to where Ide works. The “real” Ide who just happens to have the body of a ripped bad ass given that his main job is working in a scrap yard pulling old beat down cars. Goro explains that while Ide pretends to be a class clown, he works a really hard life in order to make ends meet in his life.
Ide apparently runs his own “Ide manufacturing” vending stand where he tries to sell mundane items as amazing, high-powered tools of importance and when trying to pitch his latest weapon to a group of Japanese “tourists?” (apparently Japanese is not the native tongue in this world) he is beaten down and shot with the air soft gun he was trying to sell. Hidomi witnesses this, begins to get flashbacks to when Ide was being whipped by his boss earlier, thinks of the abuse that he is enduring and begins to breath heavily, her headphones start to rev and react, and she is hit with the very classic anime nose bleed then collapse.
Ide takes Hidomi back to his place where he tends to her nose bleed. He begins to awkwardly ask her out on a date to the local science museum and when she gives the implication of a possible future together, he gives us the very familiar Lupin Leap. You know the one…
It’s at this point they are interrupted by Haruko (dressed as a director, of course) who tells them to cut, take five, and try again. She briefly goes to the bathroom and decides to imitate Ide and Hidomi getting… More thoroughly acquainted with each other only to eventually be interrupted by Jinyu who tells Haruko that Haruko should know that she needs Jinyu. Whatever is going on between them is a matter between them and the children shouldn’t be involved so… Jinyu grabs Hidomi with her massive car mech, Haruko attached Ide to a leash, hurls him toward the mech and then Haruko and Jinyu begin an epic battle.
Haruko hits Ide on the head with her bass and summons forth one of the robots from earlier in the episode as the battle gets more intense, Jinyu remarks that Haruko knows she can’t reach “Him” alone and that the reason she knows this is that Jinyu and Haruko are “one.” Jinyu summons forth some laser/lightning firing small robots to surround Haruko and fire on her. However Haruko deflects these shots and they occasionally shock Ide, which Hidomi witnesses and begins to get flashbacks to her dream where a Zombie Ide approached her and began to feast on her. Hidomi experiences another nose bleed experience and her horn fires forth from her forehead.
Cue explosion and dust clearing, Hidomi has transformed into a small robot that causes a massive explosion that sends Haruko flying. Robo-Hidomi races toward the flying Haruko, winds up for a punch only to… Punch herself square in the face, causing a massive nose bleed and reverting Hidomi back to normal.
Jinyu saves Hidomi from crashing into the ground, turns her car into a DBZ-esque healing center and places both Hidomi and Ide inside to rest up and recover. Haruko remarks to Jinyu that no matter how they slice and dice it, they both know that “he” is her’s. In the healing center, Hidomi gives Ide the worksheet that she was supposed to give to him from school. The two laugh, she cracks a slight smile and upon seeing Ide’s beat up state her headphones start to rev up one more time before we cut to the end of the episode.
Wow there was definitely a lot of weird and a lot more to process in this episode than the first one. The big take-away from this episode is some character development for Hidomi and learning more about what makes her tick, and that seems to clearly be abuse, she seems to be a masochist. The episode doesn’t try to be subtle about setting this up. We also learn that Ide is definitely a bit of a bad ass, that aside from Ide and Hidomi Haruko has the class under complete mind control, and finally that it seems to confirm our theory about what we see in the end credits: Haruko absorbed Atomsk and split into Jinyu and Haruko.
The joke telling, compared to the first one, is a bit subdued but I don’t think that’s a bad thing if the show wants to try to push its deeper narrative a little more directly. We definitely seem to be heading toward some kind of relationship or set up between Ide and Hidomi, which I’m going to guess is going to be an overarching theme for this season. This episode definitely did deliver more on the bizarre compared to the first though, it took me watching a second time to really fully understand what I just saw and that is definitely a little more reminiscent of the first season.
Speaking of, I decided to recently rewatch a couple episodes of the first FLCL and it is very clear that the animation quality in FLCL Progressive has suffered when compared to the first. Even without comparing it there are times when we get more cheap animated and character design shots which is a little upsetting. It might be something that is fixed in the eventual Blu-Ray release of the series but it is a bit of a shame to see.
This episode was quiet, there wasn’t too much in the way of background music and we’re only treated to two songs from the pillows. While a bit of a downer, the way they are incorporated is really great and fits into what is going on with the show at the time. Freebie Honey plays during the fight between Haruko and Jinyu, The Scar Whispers, Nobody is in Paradise plays during the end of the episode when we see Hidomi and Ide together in the car healing center. Of course, Spiky Seeds is our established credits/ending song. I would definitely like to hear more of the pillows in later episodes as they really are the signature band for the series, so I hope that is something that will come to fruition.
Overall this was a really fun episode, it kept some wackiness that we would expect from FLCL but it was doing it in its own way, it has a specific story that it wants to tell and it wants to be told in a more direct way. Though, if this episode showed anything, you may still need to watch a couple more times to pick up everything that the writers want to tell you. FLCL Progressive airs on Adult Swim/Toonami every Sunday at 12:00am (be there Saturday at 11:59pm if you want to make sure you’re on time!)
FLCL Progressive: Episode 2
- Great character development
- Music is on point as usual when being used
- Amazing fight sequence
- Animation quality and general art direction will likely never match the original
- Musically, a quieter episode than the first