“It’s my dream and it only counts if I can do it on my own!”
Spoilers for the episode follow.
The slow burn stylings of FLCL: Alternative continue with “Freestyle Collection.” Following the blueprint laid out by the previous episode, Freestyle Collection takes a closer look at Mossan through the lens of Kana’s constant struggle with her future prospects.
The episode kicks off when Kana, having not turned in her college planning sheet, inquires about what Mossan wrote down for hers. Mossan tells her friends about her dream of being a fashion designer and reveals she has made it through the first round of a fashion design contest. Unlike Hijiri’s fling from the last episode, which felt a little par for her character, Mossan’s reveal was actually a surprise to me and had me interested from the start. Mossan’s reveal also provided a great opportunity to add to Kana’s maturity crisis which has become one of the show’s main threads.
In pursuit of her dream, Mossan overworks and overeats, ultimately landing herself in the hospital. Kana and co. rush her to the hospital where Haruko, posing as a doctor, begins an incredibly unorthodox treatment which involves asking the girls to strip down so she can see their “parts”. Although you could argue “sexy” scenes like this are normal for FLCL, there is something undoubtedly uncomfortable about Haruko ogling three of the girls before stating that Mossan overeats (as she hallucinates about the food she wishes she could eat).
Looking for a way to help the incapacitated Mossan, her friends volunteer at her part-time construction job to ease her burden. Kana expects Mossan to be grateful for the help, but instead she yells at them for butting in on her dream. This scene was great, not only because it was unexpected, but also because Alternative has been a little light on these sobering life lesson moments the series has always mixed into its over the top scenarios.
The song feels bizarre and risky, a perfect fit for a show like FLCL.
The disheartened Kana wanders off on her own and her anger leads to her accidentally summoning another Medical Mechanica robot, which Haruko quickly takes care of. After listening to Kana bemoan her difficult situation, Haruko begins an unexpected rap whose lyrics suggest Kana find her own purpose rather than trying to take over her friends’. The song feels bizarre and risky, a perfect fit for a show like FLCL which became a cult classic off of weird one-off jokes and sequences. I wouldn’t call this particular scene a resounding success, but I would love to see the show attempt more bits like this.
Haruko’s rap inspires Kana to find a new purpose, leading her to kill two birds with one stone by offering up her services as Mossan’s assistant. At the contest Mossan’s design loses, but the ever-present Haruko saves the day when she bursts onto the stage wearing it, drawing cheers from the crowd. This final scene, which features no giant robots and very little fighting, is interesting because it completely subverts what we’ve come to expect from an FLCL episode, perhaps cementing Alternative as a different beast in the series canon. As a result, this episode is relatively low on action, but Mossan and her dress getting a moment to shine is satisfying all the same.