“Why is everybody talking about love?!”
Spoilers for the episode follow.
Following a series of episodes detailing the lives of Kana’s crew, FLCL: Alternative takes a detour back into romance territory with a love story between Kana and basketball manager Sasaki. Although this romance has been brewing for awhile, the message feels like a bit of a retread of the earlier saga with Hijiri. Still, “Pit-a-Pat” has some amusing moments, like the over the top basketball game, and even introduces some hints at what Medical Mechanica may be planning for the final two episodes.
The love triangle begins when Kana sees Haruko – who is posing as the basketball team’s new coach – aggressively flirting with Sasaki. Given Haruko’s history of toying with protagonists’ emotions it’s obvious what Haruko is after, but she can’t seem to crack Kana who simply runs away when the scene becomes too much for her. In the previous series Haruko has always abused the protagonist’s N.O. summons to fend off Medical Mechanica’s fierce machines as she searches for the ever-elusive Atomsk, but in this more subdued action-lite take on FLCL it’s unclear what her end goal is. That uncertainty is a little worrying with two episodes left in Alternative, but I hope to see a different goal from Haruko in her third confrontation with Medical Mechanica.
To help address some of these lingering questions the next scene features Kanda once again eating soba at Kana’s work, but this time he has company: the Prime Minister Maki. They drop some heavy hints about what Medical Mechanica might be planning, but more importantly the Prime Minister brings up a rumor about a past fling between Kanda and Haruko. What’s interesting to me is that Kanda, unlike Haruko’s previous boy toys like Amarao, doesn’t seem particularly frustrated with her. Rather than chasing her down he seems to be fighting against Medical Mechanica for himself, possibly showing us that things don’t always repeat themselves in the FLCL universe. Maybe these hints about them are just a red herring, but I hope their relationship has an interesting payoff in the show’s final act.
These moments that mix cute humor with solemn reflection feel much more fitted to Alternative’s slice-of-life style.
In an effort to clear the air about his own fling with Haruko, Sasaki tracks down Kana to tell her there’s nothing going on between them which ultimately just drives Kana away again. Frustrated at her own ineptitude she again asks her brother about his girlfriend, only to learn she is a video game character. This scene has a number of great moments, from Kana’s cutesy shoujo visage during her talk with Sasaki, to her subtle realization that she’s been comparing herself to her brother’s fake girlfriend. These moments that mix cute humor with solemn reflection feel much more fitted to Alternative’s slice-of-life style, and I wish the show would put more focus on them rather than mini-action scenes.
Emboldened by her new realizations, Kana sets off determined to confess to Sasaki but gets interrupted when a strange robot consumes him. It’s not really clear what the robots goal is, but nonetheless Haruko steps in to destroy it by slam dunking onto its head. The whole thing is cute as a mini-parody of sports anime, but as a the climactic action scene it’s a bit disappointing. Not wanting to end on that note, the episode ends with Kana admitting she isn’t ready for a relationship. That might have made for an enlightening moment if it didn’t feel like we already covered this with Hajiri in episode 2. I know FLCL’s mission is to investigate every aspect of growing up, but with only six episodes in a season I feel it can’t afford to repeat itself like this.