COME ON AND PIT, AND WELCOME TO THE PAT
On her walk to school, Kana has the pleasant surprise of getting to see her crush Sasaki managing the basketball team. Unpleasantly, she also eyes Haruko with her hands all over him. Seems she’s the substitute coach and is really doting on her manager. This effects Kana a lot, and repressing of her crush seems to be triggering something to come out of her head, which is what Haruko’s been hoping for…or at least almost since Kana runs away before anything can break out.
While she stews in her jealousy at her job, Tsukata Kanda, who’s been looking into what all of the weird pins in the ground mean, secretly meets with Prime Minister Maki Kitaki, who asks him that giant mall will begin moving, to which Tsukata believes it may start “flattening” in four weeks. So, Maki goes to amend their plans.
Kana grills her friends for advice on how to talk to Sasaki, who coincidentally arrives to talk to her (apparently after asking around about where to find her). But the main thing he came to say is simply that there’s nothing going on between him and Haruko. She blanks on what to say after that, only for her head to start acting up again and send her screaming into the night. The next day, we finally get an idea of why Kana likes Sasaki so much: apparently she relates to his inability to play sports because of an illness he has, and she used to get sick a lot as a kid, so they’re perfect for each other!
But Haruko’s provoking continues, telling Kana she’s too immature for a relationship. Wanting to prove her wrong, Kana finds Sasaki and tries to make a move (with a little push from her friends and Haruko)…only to find that her attraction to him might not be as strong as she thought.
Suddenly, a cow-man robot that was playing for another basketball team in an earlier game shows up and eats Sasaki, transforming into a more bull-headed form! Haruko saves him and easily defeats the robot by smashing a ball into its head, but he comes out covered in snot. In the aftermath, Kana admits to him and herself that Haruko was right; she wasn’t ready for love. But at least she’ll always have her friends, right?
Later that night, the mall’s covering blows away to reveal a giant Medical Mechanica iron.
This is probably the closest feeling episode to FLCL Classic in this season, with a lot of references and use of ideas from that story, but with some twists on those established ideas. Haruko using her feminine wiles to provoke a reaction in the protagonist and trigger their N.O. Head Portal is right out of her playbook with Naota, especially in his season’s fourth episode. We also see the robot enemy for the episode functions similarly to Canti, where it devours a human in order to become more powerful, then ejects said human as a glowing red ball that cools down into a wad of goop. There’s even a flashback of Haruko messing around with an older guy character only to pull out a dinky object, meaning Tsukata is basically a sadder version of Amarao.
But with these twists, you can’t blame me for finding myself comparing them to their sources and noticing they each come up short. As I’ve said before, Haruko’s presence and planning in this season seems pretty lazy compared to how she handled “Full Swing”, and flirting/harassing your target’s crush can’t really hold a candle to building a robot replica of their dad and sending a satellite on a collision course with their town. Then we have the cowbot, who has barely any presence until it randomly decides to start fighting and has no real reason to be there, let alone be part of a high school basketball team. And while I guess I’m appreciative of getting some more information about Tsukata, it really just raises more questions about what Haruko is doing there this time.
And lastly, the main thrust of this episode, Sasaki and Kana’s inexplicable former crush on him. Because of his own lack of presence in the story from the first episode, I was really drawing a blank as to what the appeal around him was, even if it was just from Kana’s perspective. Here, we learn it was a pretty superficial connection she thought they shared but never had a chance or reason to test until now. It’s a pretty clever lesson about knowing if you’re really as sure about your feelings as you think, but wasn’t Haruko after something by pushing Kana with this? I guess I have a few guesses about what having nothing come out of her head this time could mean in the context of this “moral”, but it’s a bit too ambiguous to tell at least for now. Guess it was good Kana ripped this band-aid off, and finally got some focus in her show, but now I wonder what’s left for her grow within the last two episodes that will seemingly begin the apocalypse-by-ironing all over again.