The FLCL Cameo That Included Evangelion's Creator

"FLCL," also known as "Fooly Cooly" or "Furi Kuri," is a Japanese animated series that ran for one brief six-episode season from 2000 to 2001. It was created by Kazuya Tsurumaki, a long-time friend and collaborator of Hideaki Anno, creator of the popular anime "Neon Genesis Evangelion" which ran from 1995 to 1997. Both series grapple with similar themes and received international acclaim for pushing the limits of the genre to include moments of lyrical abstraction or emotional introspection.

Like "Evangelion," "FLCL" finds its unwitting male protagonist wrapped up in supernatural events where he is forced to be a key player. Both series employ and upend classic tropes of the coming-of-age and mecha anime genres. In "FLCL" this is done primarily through its surrealist style and experimentation that only loosely grounds its characters in a given scene. In "Evangelion," the audience dives into the subconscious of the protagonist quite literally and bears direct witness to him grappling with competing emotions and insecurities.

Although the two series differ immensely in tone and style, the loosely collaborative relationship between the two creators should come as no surprise due to their shows' overwhelming number of similarities. However, even the most die-hard fans may have failed to notice the "Evangelion" creator's subtle and uncredited cameo in his friend's work.

The role was originally uncredited

According to the retrospective documentary of Anno's career created by "Anime News Network," the director actually had a small voice-acting role in Tsurumaki's series. Upon completing "Evangelion" in 1997, Anno reportedly declared that "Tsurumaki is next" (via My Huang Opinion). If Anno were too heavily involved in "FLCL," it may have limited Tsurumaki's creative control. Still, he wanted to demonstrate his support for the series by getting involved in some small way, even if it meant that his name would not be attached to the project.

The perfect balance to this conundrum was struck when Anno appeared as the uncredited voice of the cat Miyu-Miyu, the feline companion of the male protagonist. The "Evangelion" creator's involvement was kept a secret at first, and the voice of Miyu-Miyu was credited as a question mark. This was perhaps done in an attempt to maintain the integrity of Tsurumaki's creative credit, or simply as a fun Easter egg for fans to discover through their own research.

This sly nod at the audience would not be out of character for the series, which is chocked full of fourth wall breaks and references to other anime, particularly in the mecha genre. "FLCL" is directed at viewers with extensive knowledge of the medium. Both "FLCL" and "Evangelion" are inspired by the masculine insecurity that defines its viewers as well as its creators. Few other shows feature such an active dialogue with their viewership, but that's part of what makes "FLCL" so special.