Character Analysis: Haruko Haruhara

Haruko from FLCL is another character who is really easy to analyze. She’s a Look at Me woman.

Boop. That’s it.

That doesn’t make her a bad character, or, even worse, a forgettable character. One hundred percent the opposite! Haruko is without question the single most UNforgettable character from the entire FLCL franchise, and the only character who appears in all three seasons. She’s wild! She’s manic! She’s frantic! And, oh, yeah, she’s rude!

There would be no FLCL without Haruko, but in terms of the three series she makes only one plot-relevant action. Yep, one.

The key to FLCL is understanding that although all three series are set in the same universe, in fact, in the same city in the same universe, they are really three different stories.

They APPEAR to be the same story. There APPEARS to be some sort of conflict between the people of that town and the faceless Medical Mechanica that looks over them with those giant factories. And there, leading the fight, wildly swinging a Rickenbacker bass guitar, is Haruko. She must be the great leader of the resistance, right?

Except that that story line never goes anywhere, does it? Lemme check. Nope. Medical Mechanica is still right there at the end. In fact, they only time it seems to do anything is when Haruko provokes it, and then it sort of slaps her aside like an annoying gnat.

That’s not what it’s about.

The first FLCL is a tragedy in the literal sense. Boy (Nauta) meets Girl (Haruko), Boy gets Girl, Boy loses Girl when she sails off the planet in some sort of intergalatic Verpa scooter. That’s the literal definition of the plot called tragedy (bearing in mind that “Boy” and “Girl” can be basically any two entities of any gender and even animation status).

That’s it. Her plot function in the first series is to be a love/lust object for a twelve-year-old. What does that have to do with Medical Mechanica? Nuttin’, honey.

Haruko (right) plus bass, about to wallop Nauta

But you’re not supposed to notice that. You’re supposed to be watching Haruko running around like a (literal) manic maniac.

In the second series, FLCL: Progressive, she plays no role at all in the actual plot. Is there fighting with Medical Mechanic? Are objects whacked with basses? Does Haruko get into it with an almost equally strong opponent in Julia? Yep. Yep. Yep.

But FLCL: Progressive is a love story, literally a comedy, as in Boy (Ko) meets Girl (Hidomi), Boy loses Girl (to some kind of giant inflatable head), Boy gets Girl. Right? They’re together at the end, right?

But you’re not supposed to notice that. You’re supposed to be watching Haruko running around like a (literal) manic maniac.

And FLCL: Alternative … You know in one sense it’s a love story, too, but not a love story where a pair of characters end up together (comedy) or apart (tragedy). It’s about little Kana realizing that she needs to come out of her shell (love herself enough) in order to be the friend that her friends deserve.

But you’re not supposed to notice that. You’re supposed to be watching Haruko running around like a (literal) manic maniac.

Once you stipulate that your main character (as opposed to your protagonist) is a Look at Me Woman SHE CAN DO ANYTHING. In fact, the more outrageous she is, the better she works. Action slowing down? Haruko hits something with her guitar. Plot getting thin? Haruko rides in on her scooter. Need to get the audience interested in your sequel series? Haruko pretends to be a school teacher.

That’s why she acts like she has the self-control of a three-year old. It is consistent with her character that she has to be the center of attention. That’s her narrative function, and if you give her that as a personality trait, well, two birds, one stone, right? So she’s loud, rude, violent, aggressive … in a word, manic.

The old mystery writer Raymond Chandler once said … well, I bet he said it more than once, but … “When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.” What he meant was “Don’t let the action slow down.” Nauta needs to get away from Mamimi’s (creepy) affection? Enter Haruko! Ko not sure how to get close to Hidomi? Enter Haruko! Kana staring into space wondering what to do next? Enter Haruko!

And then you can have a HUGE action sequence that does two things:

It’s huge and it’s action. It attracts attention.
It distracts the audience/disguises the real plot.

BOOM. You (audience) didn’t see it. You were looking at Haruko, the Look At Me Woman.

I always look at comments and feedback, and I’m sure I’m not the first to see what I’ve seen, so have at it. Just keep it clean and keep it on target…no personal attacks, okay? Thanks

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