What does it mean to be an adult anyways?
Warning: Spoiler for the full episode follow.
FLCL: Alternative’s second episode follows a similar blueprint to its premiere, but with much more heart and substance. This time around Kana and her friends’ dilemma feels like it carries actual weight, and the fight scene has some of that wild irreverent FLCL action Progressive and Alternative’s premiere mostly missed.
“Grown-Up Wannabe” focuses on Kana’s friend Hijiri, more specifically her scandalous relationship with a college-aged photographer named Toshio. Her classmates are shocked to learn about her older boyfriend, but she cooly shrugs off their concerns to cement her new “mature” personality. Although the theme of maturity does become a little heavy-handed (the word “adult” is used what feels like 100 times) it does give the episode a meaningful throughline. Hijiri’s relationship and Kana’s attempts to understand the complexities of adult life give this episode some emotional weight the premiere was lacking.
In a likely attempt to show off her mature boyfriend, Hijiri convinces her friends to join her for a group photo shoot at the park. This is the perfect opportunity for another montage featuring Kana and co. Much like the montage from the premiere, this scene is cute and heartwarming, especially the scene where Tomomi and Mossan poke fun at Kana for her childish sense of taste, which may be a sly throwback to original FLCL protagonist Naota’s dislike of sour things. The fun comes to an end when the crew runs into Haruko and Toshio becomes enamored with her, leading to a seemingly amicable breakup between him and Hijiri.
Hijiri hides her pain and lies to her friends about the breakup, but the secret gets out when Kana catches Toshio kissing Haruko. When Kana confronts Toshio about his perceived infidelity her rage manifests as a strange power that turns his car into a knock-off Bumblebee that begins to attack her. Haruko is forced to step in, kicking off an impressive fight scene that mixes interesting action with the series’ oddball humor. Haruko summons a food delivery truck to battle the robot, makes a dick joke about her guitar, then finishes off the Trans-faux-rmer with a giant spool of Gyro meat (after hilariously yelling “Michael Bay!”), while the rest of the crew remains strangely disinterested, delivering funny quips and observations from the sideline.
In the end the robot is defeated and Hijiri comes to term with her breakup, admitting she was only with him so she could appear more mature. Despite the less than graceful delivery of this lesson, I enjoyed the resolution of Hajiri’s short story. Even though Alternative’s wider plot is still a bit ambiguous I do like this character-focused approach and I’m interested to see if they pursue similar stories with the rest of Kana’s friend group.