List of FLCL characters

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From left to Right:(Top) Commander Amarao, Lieutenant Kitsurubami;
(bottom) Shigekuni Nandaba, Masashi, Gaku, Kamon Nandaba, Canti, Haruko Haruhara, Naota Nandaba, Eri Ninamori, Mamimi Samejima

Main characters[edit]

Naota Nandaba[edit]

Naota Nandaba (ナンダバ・ナオ太 Nandaba Naota?), 12, is the protagonist. His name is derived from the Japanese word for "honesty". Unbeknownst to him, he has the "right kind of head" to be used as an N.O. channel.

Slightly wise beyond his years and heavily critical of others around him, Naota is cynical, obsessed with appearing mature and devoutly acts nonchalant. This is most expressed in his monologues which open and close each episode where he continues to claim that "nothing amazing ever happens here - everything is ordinary" despite the show's surreal and often absurd happenings. His attitude is largely reserved and bitter, though he can be somewhat smug and content at times. Naota idolizes his older brother Tasuku, carrying around Tasuku's baseball bat, and even hanging out with Tasuku's old girlfriend Mamimi. In Naota's mind, Tasuku is the epitome of what it means to be an adult, as opposed to the other adults in his life (e.g. his father, his grandfather, and his teacher) who he perceives as being immature. Much like Amarao, Naota is picky about his drinks (disliking drinks which are sour or bitter) and hates spicy foods, and shares an intimate bond with Haruko. This being said, Amarao and Naota's childhoods nearly mirror each other.

While at the beginning of the series Naota appears to be bothered by Haruko's presence, her alteration of his regular, mundane life results in him developing a crush on her with overlaps with his initial crush on Mamimi. He embraces her with a kiss in the final episode, and prior to that breaks down and cries while hugging her after she had returned from leaving without notice. Despite this, when his chance to be with her comes, he chooses to let her go and not follow her. His bass is the Rickenbacker 4001 which was Haruko's, but she leaves it behind when she takes the new combination of his Gibson Flying V and Atomsk's Gibson EB-0. He is voiced by Jun Mizuki in Japanese and Barbara Goodson in English.

Mamimi Samejima[edit]

Mamimi Samejima (サメジマ・マミ美 Samejima Mamimi?), 17, Tasuku's ex-girlfriend, though she is in some sort of relationship with Naota since his brother left Japan. She is a truant high school student with pyromaniacal tendencies; she also smokes a lot and spends most of her time under a bridge. She is often seen with a camera, and always smokes a worn cigarette with "Never Knows Best" written onto the paper. It is implied that she is often bullied at school, causing her to ditch.

In episode three, "Marquis de Carabas", it is hinted that her parents are separated or gone, suggesting that she is homeless or leaves her home to get away from something.

She has the peculiar tendency to name people and things "Ta-kun" (sometimes spelled "Takkun"), after her personal nickname for Naota's brother (and Naota himself). The "-kun" suffix is an informal and intimate honorific primarily used when addressing males of equal or junior status. Mamimi is likely using Naota as a substitute for Tasuku and therefore refers to him as "Ta-kun" which can be short for both Naota and Tasuku. (Naota is well-aware of the similarity between his nickname and his brother's name.) Mamimi also calls Tasuku, "Tasuku-senpai", since he is an older classmate.

The story originally sets forth that her fascination with fire stems from Tasuku having rescued her from the elementary school fire, although it is later hinted that she was the one who started that fire, given that she expresses her hate of her old elementary school, and her disappointment that the ashes still remain. Mamimi holds an almost quixotically weak grip on the difference between fantasy and reality; for example, she believes Canti to be the manifestation of Cantido, the video game god to whom she burns things as sacrifices. She also emanates an aura of benign vapidity that causes much of the cast (Naota's classmates especially) to look upon her with disdain. In fact, Mamimi can be exceedingly destructive - although only when nobody is watching. She spends much of FLCLimax exacting retribution against those who have wronged her by taking her classmates' cellular phones and motorbikes and feeding them to the terminal core Ta-kun, only to have her plan backfire.

Mamimi can be seen as lacking control over her life or willpower, hence the near-constant smoking and childlike reliance on others, whether it is Naota or his older brother Tasuku. This could also explain why she loves taking care of things that are weak-willed, which she leaves (or which escape, like Ta-kun, the black kitten) when they start to show independence.

At the end of the series, she leaves Mabase to become a professional photographer. Her last dialogue with Naota are at the end of Brittle Bullet when Naota makes the ultimate attempt at winning her love and respect by refusing to be called Ta-kun ever again and then jumping into a battle where (he hopes) he will win and make her realize his independence and true manliness (he fails horribly). In Naota's monologue at the end of FLCL, he says the last words she said to him before leaving to be a photographer were: "So long, Naota-kun". It is implied that she can't return Naota's romantic feelings, even though she has genuine affection for him.

Most characters refer to Mamimi simply as Mamimi, but Naota's friends refer to her as "Naota's wife", and Haruko calls her "Sameji", a shortening of her last name. Amarao refers to her as "that high school girl". She is voiced by Izumi Kasagi in Japanese and Stephanie Sheh in English.

Haruko Haruhara[edit]

Haruko Haruhara (ハルハラ・ハル子 Haruhara Haruko?) is an energetic, spontaneous pink-haired female from outer-space, and investigator for the Galactic Space Patrol Brotherhood/Stellar Fraternity. Despite that, she doesn't really follow any sort of rules, and even tries to destroy Earth just to get her hands on Pirate King Atomsk. Mamimi observes that she looks at least twenty years old, though she claims to be 19. But it is impossible to know, especially since Haruko is not even human. She wears a bright red coat, black pants, white boots, and lemon chiffon colored scarf. She rides a sunglow Piaggio Vespa SS 180 (becoming known as The Wasp Woman, a pun on the word Vespa, which means wasp) and wields a midnight blue, left-handed Rickenbacker bass guitar model 4001[1] (similar to the 4001S used by Paul McCartney, whom she mentions in episode five). She also has large amounts of knowledge and respect for the types of guitars and musical stylings of American classic rock musicians, such as Jimi Hendrix and Elvis Presley, along with Paul McCartney. Her guitar can be used as an axe-like melee weapon, shoot bullets, act as a rocket launcher, and is used several times to open N.O. channels. She also seems to use it to fly (an homage to the Daicon IV Opening Animation). She leaves it for a more powerful, double-necked guitar/bass (a fusion of Naota's Gibson Flying V and Atomsk's 1961 Gibson EB-0 that Naota creates while harnessing Atomsk's power) when she departs from Earth in episode six. In the manga, she also uses rifle similar to a Mare's leg.

She becomes the Nandaba household's maid and plays on a rival team of the Mabase Martians, seemingly for extra money, but in fact to knock a satellite out of Earth's orbit with the baseballs she hits. She has also apparently had past relations with Amarao, most likely similar to her relationship with Naota. This mysterious character is the catalyst for FLCL's entire plot. She is called Haruha Raharu (ハルハ・ラハル) by Amarao; however, this may be another alias (or simply her name minus the last character). In episode two she claims to be a first-class space patrol officer, in which she looks like an alien space angel. Haruko has connections to the Nandaba family cat, Miu Miu. The cat serves as a "walkie talkie" to her superiors. The cat does not speak (besides its "meows" and grunts) but it is obvious that Haruko is getting some kind of reply, as her conversations with Miu Miu indicate.

Haruko's true intention for being on Earth, as revealed in FLCLimax, is to rescue Atomsk from the clutches of Medical Mechanica (Amarao claims it to be due to her love for him, but she may be actually only wanting to absorb his power). She doesn't care about slaughtering innocents to get her wish, and even tries to destroy planet Earth at the end of the series (forcing Naota to fight to stop her). She at first is interested in Kamon's possible N.O. abilities, until it is apparent that Naota's head "is the only one that works" to her advantage. In "FLCLimax", she convinces Naota to help her free Atomsk to absorb his power, despite Amarao's warnings of her deviousness. However, Naota absorbs it himself, and uses it to incapacitate Haruko before finally freeing Atomsk. The only true expression of tenderness for Naota is when she offers to take him along to pursue Atomsk.

At the end of the manga adaptation, a character identical to Haruko appears from Naota's forehead. She claims to be "Haruha Raharu's superior [...] Superior Raharu"[2] and that Haruko is on the run from the Galaxy Space Police Brotherhood. It is made obvious that it is Haruko pretending to be someone else after she kisses Naota. Haruko is voiced by Mayumi Shintani in Japanese and Kari Wahlgren in English.

Commander Amarao[edit]

Commander Amarao (アマラオ?) works for the Department of Interstellar Immigration, a Men in Black-like agency. This agency, among other things, acts as a middle man for negotiations between the government and Medical Mechanica. Thus, Haruko is a big problem for them as she is bent on provoking an attack by disrupting communications. Amarao has fake eyebrows made of nori which he believes serve the purpose of protecting him from N.O. (Haruko mocks him for this, stating that they are mainly to make him look macho and to attract other women, including herself). Amarao seems to have had a past relationship with Haruko similar to Naota's.

He first appears in the fourth episode of the series, giving viewers the impression that he is virtually an omniscient character, giving background information as well as making fairly accurate predictions. However, subsequent events would show him as extremely weak and very limited in foresight, though he seems to grasp what is happening better than almost all the other characters. He is the first to warn Naota of Haruko and her intentions, as to beware of all "older women".

It is a likely inference from the story that as a child he was approached by Haruko, just like Naota, and she tried using his N.O. to capture Atomsk. However, his N.O. channel is so weak that he can barely pull something the size of a slingshot (actually a small guitar used as such) through. When she does this in episode five, Haruko says, "Small, as usual," again suggesting a previous relationship between the two. One could also argue that a youthful entanglement with Haruko could have led to his career with Interstellar Immigration. There are also traces of him feeling jealous that Haruko has chosen Naota over him, as he once bluntly asked Haruko why Naota more worthy of her affection than he was, as well as him appearing very upset at the Naota's kissing of her in the final episode. Though he does appear to still hold some of his youthful affection for Haruko, he still could see that she doesn't "care about Earth or whatever happens to anyone", and does all he can to stop her. He has a love for sickeningly sweet candy and drinks (which he claims will help people's heads back to normal), and hates spicy, sour, and pulpy foods — much like Naota. His vehicle of choice is a Fuji Rabbit, a motor scooter which was initially produced in 1946 six months prior to the initial production of the Vespa. Given that throughout the series Amarao is constantly trying to impress Haruko, who rides a Vespa, one could conclude his ownership of a scooter is a further manifestation of his attempts to impress her — or at the very least a signal to the level at which Haruko influenced him in his youth.

It is also notable that in the manga his part is rather small, considerably smaller than his part in the anime. He does have one part in the manga that is of signature importance compared to his other appearances in the manga, when he visits Naota's grandfather and explains the use and purpose of the N.O. channel. Other than that his role is limited, even to the point that it is completely void. He is voiced by Kōichi Ōkura in Japanese and Dave Mallow in English.

Canti[edit]

Canti (カンチ Kanchi?) is a medical robot with what looks like a television set for a head. He was manufactured by Medical Mechanica, but taken over by Atomsk as a way to escape them. After having his head broken by Haruko, he is recruited by her as an assistant; however, he proves to be no good for much other than washing dishes and fetching drinks for the family.

Atomsk can manifest through Canti, with Naota being the catalyst. Atomsk's symbol appears on Canti's screen when he absorbs Naota; the symbol is a corruption of the kanji characters for "adult" (大人).[1] This symbol also appears on him when Naota "swings the bat" in "Full Swing". The symbol that appears when Canti is absorbed by the terminal core in "FLCLimax" is similar, but he uses the characters for "child" (小人) instead. When Naota is absorbed, Canti's physical strength is increased and he gains the ability to transform into an antitank gun, called the "Overdrive Technique" in the manga.

The emotions of Canti are very human-like, despite his looks. He is embarrassed about his broken head (where Haruko hit him) and is looking for the pieces to glue back together in episode two. He wears the box on the back of his head for the same reason. Canti seems to like porn; he was reading it in the 7-11. It is also stated in the novel, that Canti spends three hours at a time looking through "perverted magazines". He is also extremely polite, extending a helping hand to Lieutenant Kitsurubami even after she attempted to destroy him.

Canti also dons a halo and fake wings which Haruko puts on him earlier in the episode. Mamimi is convinced that Canti is an angel/god. She calls him "Canti-sama" after "Cantido, the Lord of Black Flames" in the video game she plays. The rest of the cast call him by this title throughout the rest of the series. Apparently, he can also eat curry with his "mouth" (which is just a grille), but it is never really explained how.

When first synchronized with Naota, Naota fully connects with Canti through a plug that goes in his eye instead of a screw-in light bulb in the back of his head (broken off in episode one).

Atomsk[edit]

Atomsk, also known as the "Pirate King" (海賊王 Kaizoku-Ō), is an enigmatic character, apparently the most powerful space pirate in the galaxy. His N.O. is great enough to steal entire star systems. His physical appearance is that of a bird-like creature resembling a phoenix. He has a nose ring identical to the metal Ring on Haruko's bracelet, which allows her to detect Atomsk's presence or the activation of N.O. in general. The director's commentary explains that this is a remnant from the original story, in which Haruko was a space officer and Atomsk was her prisoner with whom she fell in love. They scrapped the idea but kept the bracelet, and a few discreet references to Haruko's past.

Amarao portrays him inaccurately, imagining Atomsk's appearance as a humanoid male figure with fiery red hair when he describes him to Naota. In an interview, the director clarifies that Atomsk's true form is indeed that of the bird, and Amarao's mental image was of a man because he believed that Atomsk and Haruko were lovers, which was later exposed to be false; Amarao looks very surprised when he sees Atomsk's true form. It is the desire to obtain him and gain his power for herself that drives Haruko to constantly follow Atomsk, regardless of the damage she causes along the way. Atomsk's bass guitar is a 1961 Gibson EB-0.

Atomsk is named after the novel Atomsk, by Carmichael Smith (a pseudonym of Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger, better known as Cordwainer Smith). In the director commentary on the third DVD, the director states that he is unsure as to how it's really pronounced (in the English version of FLCL, it is pronounced "atomisk").

Lieutenant Kitsurubami[edit]

Lieutenant Kitsurubami (キツルバミ?) is an attractive young woman and second in command on Amarao's staff in the Interstellar Immigration Bureau. She is often seen either giving out vital mission data, or on the field in investigations with Amarao. Amarao randomly begins to flirt with and embrace her in the final episode, but she resists him. In fact, Kitsurubami seems to be generally disgusted by the idea of romantic involvement (and likely any form of physical contact) with Amarao though she looks up to him as a superior and follows his orders loyally. She also seems to become smitten with Canti, despite her initial efforts to attack him with an anti-tank rifle. In episode four "Full Swing" and episode five "Brittle Bullet" it is shown that Kitsurubami has chronic nose bleeds when she witnesses Naota's N.O. manifestations from his head, but theses scenes might have only been used for comedic effect.

Kitsurubami is named after a light brown traditional Japanese color, which happens to be the color of her skin. Thus, her name could be interpreted as "Lieutenant Brown", although the color Kitsurubami is not the common "brown". She appears to be the only "normal" (or mature) adult in FLCL; however, her apparent dislike of close contact with others adds an element of childishness to her character. She is voiced by Chiemi Chiba (Japanese) and L. Villa (English).

Minor characters[edit]

Junko Miyaji[edit]

Junko Miyaji (ミヤジ・ジュン子 Miyaji Junko?) is Naota's eccentric sixth grade teacher. Her students have given her the nickname "Miya-Jun". She seems to be constantly troubled by the shallower problems which Naota seems to create, such as the destruction of her car (which happens twice over the course of the series) or the terrible interruption of a lesson. Even on 'normal' days, however, she is pathetically inept: her attempt to teach chopstick usage to a generation of students raised on sporks ends with the revelation that she is unable to use them herself.

She can be viewed as symbolic of the ineffectiveness of educational institutions imparting any truly important or useful knowledge: Naota constantly characterizes the adults around him as "unable to grow-up". In his mind, Miya-Jun's inability to act like a normal adult (similar to his father, grandfather, Ninamori's father, Amarao, and many others) confirms his theory. Adults like her are contradictions in Naota's life; he wants to become an adult, but the adults around him don't act like adults at all. She is voiced by Yukari Fukui (Japanese) and Jessica Straus (English).

Kamon Nandaba[edit]

Kamon Nandaba (ナンダバ・カモン Nandaba Kamon?), 47, is Naota's father, a former pop culture journalist working as a freelance writer, with his own trashy tabloid: "Kamon-Mabase" (the title is a pun on "Come on, Mabase"). He makes the most references to pop culture: EVA, "Monkey-sensei" (referring to the creator of the series Lupin III), Hamtaro, Mobile Suit Gundam, and MTV to name a few.

Kamon has taken a liking to Haruko, but she only wants to use him as an N.O. portal. In the fourth episode, Naota discovers that Haruko tried to use him but "his head didn't work" and that she had left a robot replacement to putter around the house. The real Kamon is found dead in a cabinet but is brought back to life by being hydrated in a small bathtub. Haruko's true intentions of coming to Mabase are revealed through her interactions with Kamon. After realizing that his head didn't open the N.O. portal, she discards him and returns to using Naota, saying "your head is the only one that works". Like the other adults in FLCL, Kamon is extremely immature, normally more so than the other adults. However, he shows a surprising amount of seriousness and thoughtfulness at some points in the anime. He is voiced by Suzuki Matsuo (Japanese) and Joe Martin (English).

In the manga, Naota kills Kamon because he believes Kamon and Haruko are sleeping together.

Shigekuni Nandaba[edit]

Shigekuni Nandaba (ナンダバ・シゲクニ Nandaba Shigekuni?) is Naota's grandfather. He owns the family bakery and coaches the local baseball team, the Mabase Martians. He has a grudge against Mamimi for unspecified reasons, but it is suggested that he didn't approve of Tasuku dating her. Shigekuni values baseball more than anything in the world — he is disappointed in his own son and younger grandson because they are lousy baseball players. He does not defend Naota as the other players mock him, because he holds too much pride for Tasuku. He enjoys taking advantage of Canti as much as Kamon does. He has an affinity for pornography. In the first episode, he mistakes "furi kuri" with "kuri kuri," a sound effect often used to describe any twisting motion, often breasts or nipples. He is voiced by Hiroshi Ito (Japanese) and Steve Kramer (English).

Tasuku Nandaba[edit]

Tasuku Nandaba (ナンダバ・タスク Nandaba Tasuku?), who is 17 years old at the beginning of the series (current age unknown), is Naota's older brother who moved to America to play baseball. Mamimi believes that, since Tasuku saved her from the fire at their old elementary school, he likes her and it is continually suggested that Naota serves as a sort of stand-in for his older brother (most explicitly by Mamimi's use of the same nickname for both). The actual depth of their initial relationship is unknown. In "FLCLimax", she seems to have lost hope in him, allowing the destruction of her mobile phone just seconds after looking at his number on a screen. In the first episode, Naota receives a postcard from Tasuku, revealing that he now has an American girlfriend.

Although he never actually appears on screen, he is very significant to the storyline. As the former star of the baseball team, Naota idolizes him, but is afraid of not living up to his brother's legacy, and because of this never swings the bat when at the plate.

There are examples of scenes in which Naota yells out "Tasuk--"; the Japanese audience, at first assuming that he will exclaim, "Tasukete" (Help me!), may be surprised when he instead says, "Tasuku", the name of his older brother. Naota says in the first episode that, for a moment, Haruko resembled Tasuku.

Eri Ninamori[edit]

Eri Ninamori (ニナモリ・エリ Ninamori Eri?), 12, is Naota's classmate. In the series, she is referred to by her last name. She is the daughter of the mayor of Mabase and is class president.

She projects a proper, even slightly stuck-up personality, and conceals personal information to an almost obsessive degree; she does not even let her classmates know that she needs corrective lenses, instead wearing contacts while at school. Even with her class president status, however, Ninamori is not above breaking the rules to get what she wants. She rigs the voting during the casting for the school play in order to get the lead role in a play version of Puss in Boots and have Naota cast opposite her, which (along with letting him see her wearing glasses while she was staying in his house) hints at her crush on Naota. (Even though her character in the play wears glasses, she wears a set of fake frames for the part.) Other hints are her expressed dislike of Mamimi and Haruko and a final scene with Naota by a vending machine that mirrors Mamimi and Naota's early-series interactions. Ninamori is highly intelligent, if a little jaded. Much like Naota, Ninamori attempts to act mature, and although her parents' problems trouble her deeply, she refuses to admit it until near the end of the series.

Ninamori has N.O. powers as well, though they only manifest once when Naota hit his head on hers. In this instance, Naota's third robot, which appears at first as "cat ears", transfers to her instantly when the Medical Factory's siren blows. In the manga, an octopus-like robot comes forth, before running away with Naota and appears very little after that until it helps her save Naota from an angered Haruko. She is voiced by Mika Itō (Japanese) and Melissa Fahn (English).

Gaku Manabe[edit]

Gaku Manabe (マナベ・ガク Manabe Gaku?), age 12, is another one of Naota's classmates and close friends and is obsessed with kissing and other things of sexual behaviour. In episode three, "Marquis de Carabas", he plays the part of a mouse in the school play. Gaku also uses the word "chu" constantly, especially when referring to Haruko. This is a pun in Japanese, because "chu" is the Japanese onomatopoeia for both kissing and the sound a mouse makes. In the English version, "chu" is replaced with "smooch" to make more sense to English speaking audiences. He's somewhat hyper (compared to the bored composure of his friends) and is usually seen with Masashi. He is an encyclopedia of bizarre rumors and legends, many of which are sexual in nature. He consistently refers to Mamimi as Naota's "wife", and Haruko as the "kiss-kiss" girl, likely due to her lewd behavior around Naota. He is voiced by Akira Miyajima (Japanese) and R. Martin Klein (English).

Masashi Masamune[edit]

Masashi Masamune (マサムネ・マサシ Masamune Masashi?), age 13, is yet another of Naota's classmates. He is friends with Naota and is often seen hanging out with Gaku, Ninamori, and Naota. Masashi also has a job as a delivery boy, and drives a truck around, even though he is only in grade school. His father's truck is later eaten by the terminal core when Mamimi loses control of it. Masashi, like Naota, generally sounds slightly depressed. He is voiced by Kazuhito Suzuki (Japanese) and Steven Blum (English).

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b FLCL Ultimate Edition DVD Liner Notes
  2. ^ FLCL Volume 2, p186, Tokyopop, November 2003