Haruko Haruhara (ハルハラ・ハル子?, Haruhara Haruko) is a central character of the FLCL series, Mabase's newest resident, and an extraterrestrial investigator for the Galactic Space Police Brotherhood. She becomes the Nandaba household's maid while working to find Atomsk, the most powerful space pirate in the galaxy. She leaves Earth in FLCLimax, but returns as a teacher in Mabase in FLCL Progressive. In FLCL Alternative, she's back on Earth again tackling a whole host of new Medical Mechanica problems.
Haruko Haruhara is an energetic, spontaneous girl. She has light-pinkish hair and is an investigator for the Galactic Space Police Brotherhood. She claims to be 19 years old, but it is impossible to know if that is true. In the first episode, she runs over Naota with her Vespa and hits him in the head with her guitar. Shortly after, she was hired by Naota's father, Kamon, as a house-maid. She is called Haruha Raharu (ハルハ・ラハル) by Amarao and Jinyu; this could, however, be just another nickname, or perhaps her real name based on its use by Jinyu and the credits of Progressive. She also used the alias "Miss Shimazaki" for her teacher persona in RE: Start.
She has a tendency to switch between a variety of different dispositions to others on a dime, making her difficult to read and unpredictable. She can be very persuasive and stand-offish sometimes to get what she wants. When around the Nandaba men, she is often either promiscuous or found in suggestive situations. She can also act like a mom, a lover or a maid depending upon her mood.
While split from Julia Jinyu, Haruko acts a little different. She's a lot less manipulative and far more aggressive with her approach. She is very playful and selfish, intent on getting what she wants by any means without reason.
In FLCL Alternative, Haruko's traits appear to be more akin to Jinyu, as she is far more helpful than she's ever been in the past, and most that she's done is for the good of others. Despite her silly attitude, she's very wise, acting as sort of a mentor to Kana. Haruko guides Kana with simple advice to her problems, as well as protecting Kana and her friends. She is, however, still very mysterious and her motives are not very clear until the final episode, in which it's revealed that Haruko strongly wants to prevent Medical Mechanica from getting their way, a goal that Jinyu wanted to accomplish more than anything.
Haruko is deceptive and remorseless of the the things she has done. Ultimately, she is cause of the events of FLCL and most of the FLCL series, making her the true antagonistic catalyst of FLCL. On occasion, however, she does show positive traits akin to a more antihero type. Even though her actions in FLCL and FLCL Progressive were not pure, they ultimately changed the protagonist for the better.
There is a running gag in the series where Haruko is vastly impressed by larger objects coming out of people's heads. If the item is smaller, she will instantly lose interest in the person and mock him/her for as long as she knows them. In many ways, this joke is an interpretation of sexual encounters. This joke is stretched even further in FLCL Alternative, when Haruko stops Kanda from having sex with her and decides to pull an object from his head instead. When the item was revealed to be a small blaster, Haruko viewed him as pathetic.
Haruko is a tall, slender and unearthly young woman with cat-like facial features. She sports a pale complexion, salmon-colored bob cut styled into a medium-length flare, and yellow-colored eyes that are also cat-like. Her usual outfit is a bright red coat, black pants, white boots, a white scarf, and a pair of goggles. She wears many other outfits in the series, such as a nurse outfit she likely stole from a nurse after tying her up, but one fashion accessory she is never without is a large metal bracelet on her left wrist. The bracelet acts as a kind of radar device, reacting to N.O. power and letting her know where Medical Mechanica robots and/or Atomsk might be. It can also create red chains, presumably to immobilize Atomsk.
In FLCL Progressive, as a result of Julia Jinyu splitting off from her, Haruko's hair is slightly shorter, spikier, and orange, but she retains her yellow eyes. After reabsorbing Jinyu, Haruko's pink hair is restored and her eyes become red. This could be due to the both of them having absorbed some of Atomsk's power prior to splitting. Haruko takes Jinyu’s glasses as her own. Her belly also becomes larger after eating Jinyu, making her appear pregnant, but it eventually shrinks back to normal size. In Our Running, Jinyu is split once more from Haruko and her hair and eyes become orange and yellow again, respectively. In this season, she wears a different red jacket with black accents, but keeps her black pants and white boots. She stops wearing her gloves.
In FLCL Alternative, her hair seems to have turned back to its normal color, suggesting she and Jinyu merged again or have yet to be apart. She now has a different hair style, letting one bang loose to the left, with her hair tied in the back in a way that allows tufts to spike out in upward and downward directions. Her eyes are also yellow again, and she seems to have abandoned the wrist bracelet that she's known for having, implying that at some point she must have given up on capturing Atomsk and allowed him to have his freedom like Jinyu wanted, or has yet to encounter either Atomsk or the bracelet. It is revealed in the final episode that being an alien means Haruko cannot age past 19.
Main: Haruko Haruhara/Story
Haruko has a wide array of abilities, both from the tools at her disposal and her own natural strength. Most notably, she rides a super-powered yellow Vespa that allows for flight and super-speed and wields an electric bass guitar that opens N.O. channels. She can move at incredible speeds, as seen in FLCL when she dodges bullets from guns pressed to her body, and she also possesses superhuman strength, such as when she launched a bomb into space and when she fights the Medical Mechanica robots who tower over her. She can also consume and absorb the strength of other beings, as seen in her attempts to absorb Atomsk and when she devoured her other half, Jinyu. She survived being electrocuted by a Medical Mechanica robot in Fire Starter and in LooPQR, Raharu and Jinyu generate a red and blue aura, respectively, during their fight. It is possible that they both carry remnants of Atomsk’s power. She is fast enough to dodge bullets and has also demonstrated that she can hypnotize weak-minded people. In Our Running, it is revealed Haruko’s bracelet can produce red chains, which she tried to use against Atomsk. In Alternative, she is able to make an ordinary car fly and control it like a surfboard, suggesting that other things she's been using to fly may not normally be capable of doing so.
Haruko's first bass in FLCL is a 1974 left-handed Azureglo Rickenbacker 4001c64 electric bass guitar, first seen in episode one of FLCL when she hits Naota in the head. It seems to have a saw attachment that can improve its melee capabilities, and can be used as a gun and hoverboard. It is also used by Haruko as a bat and is referred to as such on a few occasions. It's indestructible and is her main tool. At the end of FLCL, she leaves it behind with Naota, but seemingly gets it back at the end of Progressive.
After the events of FLCL, she acquires Atomsk's bass (a Gibson EB-0) and it works in about the same way, save for the lack of a saw function.
In FLCL and Progressive, Haruko drives a yellow Vespa SS 180. This vehicle can fly, reach incredibly high speeds, and can almost stop on a dime. It is also able to weave through tight traffic despite its incredible speeds. A real world version of this Vespa is featured in the credits of FLCL driving itself around Japan in a series of photographs.
Haruko first meets Naota when she runs him over with her Vespa and proceeds to beat him in the head with her bass. He thinks she is insane, especially when she continues to follow him and eventually gets a job working as a maid in his house. He tends to be very outraged at her wild behavior, save for when she does something cool or impressive. Over the course of the series, he develops feelings for her, which he reveals in the final episode. However, to Haruko, Naota is nothing more than a tool in her grand plan— all she really needs from him is his head, which is an N.O. channel from which Atomsk can be freed. She merely manipulates his feelings, since she doesn't care much for anyone or anything besides her own desires. However, the boy eventually seems to have grown on her enough that she allows him to kiss her and even offers to take him with her before noting he is just a child. She parts with him on friendly terms, leaving her bass for him.
Mamimi and Haruko do not have much in the ways of interaction, but as Naota's personality changes because of Haruko, Mamimi finds herself liking him less and rejecting him more. While Mamimi never shows jealousy or anger toward Haruko directly, she cuts off all ties with Naota and leaves completely in the final episode, even though she knows Haruko has left.
Naota's father is interested only in his wants. His main desire is the lovely Haruko, who would make the perfect young bride. Since Kamon pines almost blindly for her, Haruko is easily able to use him for her own motives.
Naota's grandfather also thinks Haruko is quite attractive. While he is too old for her and doesn't pursue her, he still finds her arousing and thinks her baseball skills are intimidating.
Canti is the robot that pops out of Naota's head in the first episode because of Haruko hitting him with her bass. Thinking that by hitting him, she will free Atomsk, she hits Canti, only to break the connection between him and Atomsk (thus, he turns from red to blue). He becomes an obedient, helpful robot afterward, and listens to both Haruko's chore commands and her orders when engaged in battle with other robots. She recognized and was surprised to see Canti in Our Running.
While Miyu Miyu (Naota's cat) tends to be unfriendly, he allows Haruko to play with him quite a bit, and rather roughly. Haruko uses him as a method of communicating with the mysterious Fraternity, which she is a part of.
Amarao was Haruko's channel in the past, and thus is trying to keep Naota from ending up like he did. However, Naota has a much stronger channel connection than Amarao does, so Haruko actually finds him of use, unlike Amarao. Judging by the way Amarao acts around her and while talking about her, it is hinted that he has some feelings for her, just as Naota does. However, she's a troublesome alien for someone in his line of work, so those feelings are diluted by his anger towards her, both for what she did to him and the trouble she causes. Haruko finds Amarao to be completely weak and pathetic and doesn't fail to let him know.
Jinyu is a part of Haruko's being that split off from her when she attempted to absorb Atomsk's power. In contrast to Haruko's more brash and reckless personality, Jinyu is the relatively calmer voice of reason who wishes to protect Mabase and Atomsk. Despite their conflicting interests, which often results in physical confrontations between the two, Haruko seems to tolerate her and at one point even works with her against Medical Mechanica. Haruko eventually decides she can no longer tolerate Jinyu's existence after constantly being asked to join her. Haruko ends up battling Jinyu to gain dominance over their fusion, but Jinyu lets her guard down, and ends up being devoured and absorbed back into Haruko's body after accepting defeat. Jinyu is once again set free when Haruko and Hidomi kiss an Atomsk-absorbed Canti. She is freed when Haruko attempts to absorb Atomsk's power, which causes her to split from Haruko. However, this time is different, as Atomsk ends up bonding with Jinyu instead, and hugs Haruko before leaving her body. Jinyu then comforts a frustrated and emotionally hurt Haruko.
Haruko first encounters Hidomi when she assumes the role of her class' homeroom teacher. As with Naota, Haruko cares nothing for Hidomi and sees her as only a tool to acquire Atomsk's power. Haruko constantly attempts to manipulate Hidomi, as well as the rest of her class, to achieve this end. Eventually, after seeing Haruko's true nature and intentions, Hidomi comes into direct conflict her, doing whatever she can to stop her ambitions.
Like Hidomi, Ide first encounters Haruko when she assumes the role of their class' homeroom teacher. Haruko cares nothing for Ide other than his N.O. channel capabilities. She enjoys teasing him and looks down on him heavily. She was very amused when Ide tried to attack in episode 5 and easily fended him off. She laughed when Ide confessed he can’t be with her in Our Running.
While Haruko is willing to chase him across the galaxy, Atomsk seemingly has no interest in her. She is supposedly in love with him, but knowing Haruko's personality, she is more likely in love with his vast power. This is, however, changed in FLCL Progressive when it is revealed that the Julia Jinyu half of Haruko personally loves him while Raharu only obsessively covets his power. While fused together, Haruko's feelings are unclear towards Atomsk. When Naota is merged with Atomsk, Haruko goes into a rage and yells, "Nobody's going to eat that but me!" This most likely refers to the fact that, in order for Canti to gain Atomsk's power, he eats Naota (who has the N.O. channel connection). Haruko must similarly want to eat Atomsk to merge powers and identities. When Atomsk is freed, he dashes off at a brilliant speed, leaving Haruko behind. She is upset that she's lost him again, but she simply hops onto her Vespa and again takes up the chase.
In FLCL Progressive, the end credits of the first episode made it apparent that Haruko had gained Atomsk's power for herself at some point in the past of this series, but the experience of absorbing him caused her to split into two people, one with slightly shorter orange hair that resembles herself and the other a more unique-looking woman called with white hair called "Julia Jinyu". Jinyu is trying to prevent Medical Mechanica and Raharu from robbing Atomsk of his freedom, while Raharu is intent on finding him to absorb his power again. When pretending to be pregnant to her hypnotized class, she showed them a picture of her “hubbie,” which resembles a crude drawing of Atomsk, a red bird. At the end of episode 5 of Progressive, Atomsk returns. She showed signs of a love for Atomsk in Our Running when she cried, saying, “Why won’t you look at me? Can’t you see my body’s overflowing?” when she failed to absorb him again.
Haruko is interested in Kana's N.O. channel capabilities because she is on a mission to stop Medical Mechanica once and for all. Haruko respects Kana (despite harming her at times), and is very helpful to her. Haruko often gives Kana small advice in order for her to learn how to deal with her problems. This isn't to say that Haruko hasn't been equally as sly towards her, purposely messing with her emotions in order to trigger Kana's N.O. channel so that she can get rid of Medical Mechanica. She finally gets what she wants from Kana in the end, which is to get Kana to fully open up so that she can suck up the Medical Mechanica iron. This plan succeeds, but also backfires on Haruko, as she ends up being sent to Mars by Kana's Naked Focal Point.
Main: Haruko Haruhara/Gallery
- Haruko drives a 1965 Vespa Super Sport 180. In FLCL, its license plate's jurisdiction is labeled Mabase (Japanese: マバセ) and its serial number is "56-56" (Japanese: goro-goro). 56-56 is a homophone for ごろごろ (gorogoro) which is an onomatopoeia sound used for thunder, purring, scattering, and inactivity. In FLCL Progressive, its license plate's jurisdiction is labeled Oozu (Japanese: オオズ) and its serial number is "43-43" (Japanese: shisan-shisan). This is likely because 42 in Japanese is considered an unlucky number as it is a homophone for "die" (Japanese: 死に, shini), and thus is not used for license plates; 56 is also considered an unlucky number when paired with 42, as 42-56 is a homophone for "time to die" (Japanese: 死に頃, shini-goro). 43 can be read as a homophone for "scattered" (Japanese: 四散, shisan).
- The name "Raharu" can be found in her last name if read backwards in the Japanese alphabet. It is possibly her true name, as Jinyu and Kanda use it to refer her.
- Haruko's age is inconsistent. She claims to be 19 in FLCL, is labeled as 16 during interview snapshots in Progressive (despite the fact that it is confirmed in episode 6 that the series is not a prequel. It's also worth noting that she could have lied about her age to appear younger), noted as 20 in early concept art of her appearance, and explains she can't age past 19 in Alternative.
- Executive producer Jason DeMarco stated on Twitter that Alternative was “designed” to be a prequel to FLCL, further adding confusion not only to just Haruko’s age, but the entire story itself, as Alternative was designed primarily as a sequel to Progressive. This is hinted in Haruko no longer chasing Atomsk, the riddance of the Medical Mechanica iron, and in the final episode, while she was being warped to Mars through the time stream, glimpses of her former experience with Naota could be seen.
- In FLCL Progressive, Haruko is voiced by Megumi Hayashibara instead of Mayumi Shintani.