Revisiting a Modern Classic: FLCL Episode 3

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

Marquis de Carabas

Director Kazuya on the naming of FLCL episode 3 “Marquis de Carabas”

“In this episode, the entire class performs a play at school. The title of the play is “Nagagutsu no Haita Neko” which translates into “Puss n’ Boots.” The story is about getting married to the king’s daughter, the princess. A common poor person fools the king by claiming to be a marquis and he gets trapped in this web of lies by claiming he’s the elite “Marquis de Carabas,” which is “Maruki do Caraba” in Japanese, which is shortened to “Maru Raba,” or “Lover” in Engrish.”

This episode focuses almost excusively on Eri Ninamori. She was introduced earlier in the series as the class representative for Naota’s class. Ninamori is like Naota in a lot of ways, and as the story progresses, she becomes Naota’s foil.

Grey Canti is vastly different from Red Canti. In episode 1, Haruko smashed a hole in Canti’s head, which made him turn from bright red to greyish green. Ever since, certain scenes depict Canti wandering around the river bank scrounging around for the missing red pieces of his head.

Metaphorically speaking, Grey Canti represents a man going bald after living past his prime. He is forced to wear a wig, or in Canti’s case, a cardboard box. This particular scene is a homage to the Japanese classic “Sazae-san” with the flaps of the box hanging out like buns of hair and the traditional Japanese apron.

Much of this episode focuses on the relationship between Niniamori and Naota. Ninamori, much like Naota is torn between reason and emotion. She has feelings for Naota, but she can’t express them without being “un-adult-like.” She instead rigs the voting ballot so that she can play the lead role in the play while having Naota play her love interest.

Naota, of course, is dealing with identity issues of his own. He thinks that school plays are just for kids and a waste of time. Their disagreement causes both of them to eventually snap.

Instead of horns growing out of his head, this time there are cat ears, a symbol for “cute.” Since Ninamori touched Naota’s ears earlier in the episode, her emotions establish a stronger channel of N.O and she “acquires” the ears from Naota.

The short battle between the two of them takes in the school and ends with Canti again swallowing Naota to become Red Canti/Atomsk. In the short epilogue given by Naota, he explains that Ninamori eventually got past her family issues and is still attending the same school as him.

Character Studies:

Eri Ninamori

Ninamori is the daughter of Mabase’s mayor, and is Naota’s classmate. She has a crush on Naota, which she confesses in the round-a-bout way of describing the “Puss n Boots” play that both of them are in. Ninamori comes from a higher class family than Naota and Mamimi.

Ninamori represents a path leading to the “proper” and expected choice of upper class native Japan. This is in direct conflict with Haruko’s representation of a vast and new world invading Japan. When all is said and done, there is little risk with choosing Ninamori over Haruko. Still the divide is made clear when Ninamori is invited to Naota’s house. Haruko interrupts their conversation in the room and starts to assert her control over Haruko in front of Ninamori. Visibly irritated, she later snaps after Naota reveals the fact that she rigged the votes to the entire class.

Until now, Nanimori has been lying to herself, trying to be a leader and a grown up, much like Naota. Even though she is still a kid, she acts as if she were an adult, refraining from child-like emotions especially during her father’s scandal. In other words, she had been living a lie, deceiving herself. However, by the end of the third episode, Ninamori learns and changes form the experience, something that Naota has yet to do.

Kamon Nandaba

The other important character to mention is Naota’s father, Kamon Nandaba. Kamon is not what one would picture as the typical Japanese father. One could categorize him as part of the “dirty old man” trope. Kamon is very jealous of Haruko and Naota’s relationship; this becomes more apparent in episodes 4 and 5.

In this episode, Kamon’s newest manga just happens to be about Mabase’s mayor having an affair. He even invites Ninamori to his house in an attempt to distract Naota from Haruko. Kamon is massively self-centered, thinking only of his desires to get with Haruko and disregarding Naota’s desire for a mother figure.

Kamon’s relationship with Naota takes a couple cues from Gendo’s relationship with Shinji (in Shin Seiki Evangelion). Kamon represents everything that Naota doesn’t want to become. Ironically, as we’ll learn in episode 4, he manages to take the only thing Naota wants from him. Though in true FLCL fashion, once the crucial moment arrives, Kamon is not able to deliver. Thus, Naota understands that he should not follow in the footsteps of his father.

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