Revisiting a Modern Classic: FLCL Episode 2

See other parts: Episode 1Episode 2Episode 3Episode 4Episode 5Episode 6

Fire Starter

“I saw god the other day. By the river on a rainy afternoon. He helped a kitten that was all alone. Its a god that only I can see. A black winged angel that came down from the heavens just for me…” 

Endville

This episode focuses primarily on Mamimi and her relationship with Naota and Tasuku. The fictional city in the Fire Starter video game that she frequently plays is called “Endville.” A city with devils who can only be controlled by slowly burning parts of the city, thus controlling its population. With the absence of Tasuku, Mamimi needs to affirm to herself, her control over others.

"Canti" the Lord of Black Flames

More imagery of how Mamimi initially perceives Canti. She mistakingly believes that the gods in video games are the same as real life. Or rather, she doesn’t mistakingly believe this, but makes herself believe this. Slowly, she begins to set fires all around Mabase City.

As long as there is Gainax, there will be drills

By letting himself be swallowed by Canti in episode 2, Naota can take on an advanced form of Canti/Atomsk who can transform himself into a mounted cannon (in the novels, this form is called “overdrive mode”).

Canti engaging the second MM robot

The second MM robot is actually the full version of the first one. In episode 1, we saw the left hand being pulled out, in episode 2 the rest of the robot emerges, this time much larger.

Character Studies:

Samejima Mamimi

Mamimi is Tasukun’s girlfriend from before the series began. When Tasukun leaves Mabase City for America, Mamimi is arguable the most affected. She is often times depicted as a lonely girl in many scenes with the only interaction coming from Naota.

It is heavily implied that she becomes sexually frustrated and will sometimes settle for “fooling around” with Naota or else she might “overflow.” There is no doubt that she is poor. She is seen with old bread given to her by Naota’s father in episode 1, signifying that perhaps she is homeless. Mamimi’s hobbies include playing video games, photography, and smoking cigarettes.

Mamimi is right-handed but wishes she was born a "lefty" like Tasuku, she purposefully holds the bat as if she were left-handed

She is also a delusional pyromaniac. It is revealed through flashbacks that years earlier, Mamimi was influenced by her favorite video game ‘Fire Starter’ to set fire to her elementary school. Tasukun later found her and was able to “bring her back” to this world. However, when Tasuku left for America, Mamimi lost her only source of comfort.

The iconic "never knows best" scene

Mamimi is an avid smoker. Her brand of choice is the ‘Never Knows Best’ cigarettes. According to director Tsurumaki-san, this phrase can have several meanings, but generally speaking: “There is a best way, but not everybody can follow it, thus no one knows the best way.” (eg. not everyone can follow in Tasuku’s footsteps). It reflects Mamimi’s belief that there is no future for her apart from Tasukun. In a way, it symbolizes that she has given up on life. In episode 1, when she finally realized that Tasuku had another girlfriend, her emotions made her “overflow” which acted as the catalyst for Naota’s inter-dimensional link.

If Naota is a representation of liminal Japan, then Mamimi represents traditional Japan. She is the complete opposite of Tasuku who is heavily influenced by American culture. In episode 1, Haruko refers to her as “native girl,” signifying her ties to the roots of Japanese society. Naoto is faced with a decision for his future, and in essence, Japan as a nation is also faced with the same decision. Whether to remain tied to his friend, or to become loyal to his brother.

Canti

Canti was originally an MM robot who passed through the inter-dimensional gateway caused by Haruko hitting Naota in his forehead. Haruko expected Atomsk to emerge, but “Canti” (as he is later called) emerged first. However, in reality, Atomsk emerged from Naota’s N.O channel using Canti as a vessel. Haruko does not realize this at first so she bashes Canti in the head, severing Atomsk from Canti.

During the time that Canti was trapped in Naota’s head, they established a sub-conscious connection with each other. Realizing the loss Naota feels with Tasuku gone, Canti/Atomsk elects to fill the void. Thus Canti, in effect, acts the role of Tasuku throughout the series, though this is never explicitly stated, it is implied in the fact that Naota will often call to his big brother when in trouble and Canti will come to his aid. After Haruko’s swing severed the connection with Atomsk, Canti the vessel turned from bright red to a greyish color and begins to live with the Nandaba family, often playing the part of the ‘errand boy.’

Each of the character’s eventually form their own perception of Canti. For Mamimi and Naota, Canti takes the form of the person they want to be with. For both of them that is Tasuku. It is revealed in episode 2 that Naota still maintains a subconscious connection with Atomsk despite having the N.O. channel severed. Naota learns that he can summon the power of Atomsk anytime he wants by letting himself be eaten by Canti. The result is the Grey Canti being transformed into the Red Canti.

This form of Canti is what Naota pictures his brother to be, and also his ultimate goal to one day become. Mamimi on the other hand views Tasuku as somewhat of a savior due to how he “brought her back” from insanity years ago. To Mamimi, Canti is a deity of sorts which she labels the Lord of Black Flame (referencing her favorite video game). Is Canti really angel? That question is never explicitly answered either.

Canti is a savior-like figure to Mamimi

By swallowing Canti, Atomsk is able to re-establish a channel with Naota (Shown physically as a drilling into his brain)

6 years ago, Tasuku brought Mamimi back from insanity after the arson incidents and Mamimi has since viewed Tasuku as her savior

Canti acts as the vessel that fulfills the wishes of the main characters, Naota is able to attain the power of Atomsk and in effect become like his brother, He acts exactly like Tasuku 6 years ago, even comforting Mamimi by patting her head

Mamimi and Naota at the end of the episode, the exact same scene 6 years ago, except without Tasuku

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