To properly analyze FLCL, we must first consider the theme of the series: coming-of-age. This is demonstrated through Naota’s pursuit of maturity, the idiocracy of adults, and Naota’s personal development throughout each episode.
Naota is going through puberty. His life is rapidly changing and he is experiencing all kinds of new and confusing emotions.
There are many different parallels between FLCL and society. The foremost is the innuendo of a young male’s sexual awakening. People are quick to defend the series — “Naota is only 12 though! Why would they make a whole series about sex?” The truth is, many people find FLCL curiously amusing and engulf themselves in the crazy series with out considering the obvious sexual tension and metaphors.
The creation itself is an amazing work of art that draws techniques from classic American literature and modernist ideas. To fully understand the depth you must be familiar with literary techniques and purposes. The characters, social interactions, and plot elements are all metaphors overlapping each other to cross-hatch the bigger picture that is, coming of age. The finer pieces are up for interpretation. FLCL creates analogies on a variety of social fronts. The series uses sexually ambiguous imagery similar to create humorous themes as Ren & Stimpy did in America during the early 90′s (FLCL draws reference to a variety of television shows).
The animation style drastically changes throughout the series. In the first episode, precise detail and traditional Japanese animation style is used. By the sixth episode the show is using relaxed slapstick artwork typical of Children’s cartoons. This change is often excused as a test of Gainax‘s new development studio. While this is partly true, the style was also an intentional mood set by the director. It exemplifies Naota’s exploration of sexuality and what it means to bee an adult.
You were probably confused when you watched FLCL for the first time. The dialogue is very confusing and seemingly random. This is because the story was written promiscuously, fixed around implications about sex. I challenge you to try listening to a few minutes of the show with your eyes closed. It can actually help to paint a picture of what is being discussed.
Haruko enters the story when she hits Naota on her Vespa, traveling at 400 MPH. The context of this scene is more than ironic; Mamimi starts kissing Naota under the bridge, they cross the bridge on their walk home, Naota is hit by the alien girl and the insanity of FLCL begins. This is even clearer in the manga; Naota is hit by Haruko while he is making out with Mamimi. Haruko‘s entrance symbolizes the the confusingness of puberty – hitting Naota out of the blue like an alien on a Vespa (foreign and unknown).
Naota’s horns and bumps are an obvious metaphor for an erection. The horn stiffly sprouts from his forehead during intense situations; or more specifically, sexually arousing situations. Embarrassed, Naota tries to hide them with hats and bandages.
Sexual awakening is not the only theme in FLCL. In general, the series is about Naota’s coming of age. Other common themes include social anxiety, religion, and pop culture.