Naota Nandaba (ナンダバ・ナオ太?, Nandaba Naota), or Ta-kun (タッくん, Takkun) as he is called by Mamimi and Haruko, is the protagonist of the first season of FLCL, obsessed with appearing mature and nonchalant. He idolizes his older brother, Tasuku, who represents for Naota what it means to be an "adult." He also has a crush on both Mamimi and Haruko during the course of the season.
Naota Nandaba, at age 12, is the main character of the first season of FLCL. His name is derived from the Japanese word for "honesty" and his father named him Naota because of that, as stated in episode 1. Unbeknownst to him, he has the "right kind of head" to be used as an N.O. channel.
Naota is a sullen and snarky person who is obsessed with appearing mature and attempts to act nonchalant at all times. This is most expressed in his monologues which open and close each episode where he continues to claim that "nothing amazing ever happens here", despite the show's surreal and often-absurd happenings. He is the least erratic of the cast, but constantly finds himself at the center of attention. He seems to be very frustrated with his life, and, in the opening episode, is musing about how uneventful and boring Mabase is. Naota is internally struggling with the recognition of his existence and independence from his brother. It is the journey of the series, however, that is the coming of age for Naota, and by the end, he has reached young adolescence, and is ready to start exploring life on his own.
Naota has short, dark brown hair and blue eyes. The clothing he wears most often consists of a light blue sweatshirt with what appears to be a hood on the back and brown shorts, blue socks and brown sneakers. He also wears a variety of different hats and bandages to hide his horns throughout the series. Naota is short compared to others his age.
When Naota fuses with Canti, he transforms into a glowing red sphere. As shown in episode 5, the sphere is apparently very hot, as Eri Ninamori had to spray water on it before Naota could return to his human form. It also appears to be very heavy, since it crashed into a billboard and cracked the center, then fell onto a building, making it shudder, before crashing onto the ground and creating a small crater.
Main: Naota Nandaba/Story
Naota has a very powerful N.O. channel that draws giant robots to Mabase, which was opened by Haruko. His N.O. is so powerful it garners Haruko’s attention and is the reason he is chosen for her plans over other candidates such as Amarao. In episode 4, he can halt the satellite falling towards Mabase with his newly acquired bat, but ultimately requires Haruko’s help to push it back. When using Atomsk’s power, Naota can fly, summon his guitar and Atomsk’s Gibson EB-0, fuse them into one guitar, and overpower Haruko, who could somewhat keep up, but failed to actually harm him. Naota can be absorbed into Canti and the robot gains Atomsk’s power due to his N.O. channel.
Naota has a strong attachment to his older brother's baseball bat, which was left behind when he moved to play baseball in America. He very much wants to be like him, seeing him as an ideal goal for adulthood, but chooses not to play the sport as a result of the pressure to live up to Tasuku. He still, however, carries the bat around occasionally and leaves it readily available against a wall in his room.
Haruko summoned a Gibson Flying V guitar through Naota's N.O. channel for him to use, which he used to stop a satellite from hitting Mabase. He later uses N.O. power to combine it with Atomsk's 1961 Gibson EB-0 during his fight with Haruko into a double guitar.
Naota idolizes his older brother, Tasuku, carrying around his baseball bat, and even hanging out with Tasuku's old girlfriend, Mamimi. In Naota's mind, Tasuku is the epitome of what it means to be an adult, as opposed to the other adults in his life, whom he perceives as being immature.
To Mamimi, Naota is little more than a plaything for her sexual frustrations. Usually, he finds her to be immature and can be quite harsh to her. Despite this, he develops a crush on her, but is confused about how to deal with it. When he finally realizes that Mamimi will never return his feelings, their relationship comes to a messy end. It is assumed they remain friends in the final episode.
At the beginning of the series, Naota appears to be bothered by Haruko's presence. Over the course of the series, he realizes his own feelings and admits that he loves her, along with embracing her with a kiss, in the final episode. After fusing with Atomsk briefly, he realizes that she's only after his powers. When Atomsk escapes, she asks Naota if he wants to come along in search of him in which Naota quietly refuses, resulting in Haruko changing her mind due to him being a child. She claims to want to "try again next time" in the future before leaving. She leaves her bass with him when she leaves Earth, which he brings back to his room.
Much like Amarao, Naota is picky about his drinks (disliking drinks which are sour or bitter) and hates spicy foods, though he is told to "cut back on the sour drinks" by Amarao. Naota is the first to realize that Amarao's eyebrows are fake. Amarao tries to make him wear a set in solidarity for both being Haruko's N.O. channels, but Naota does not keep them on.
Naota's interactions with Ninamori are a bit tense due to her constantly teasing and manipulating him. However, unlike the other girls in his life, Naota treats Ninamori with a bit more respect than he does Mamimi or Haruko, sympathizing with her family issues and calling her 'very grown up' at one point. They do not take any further steps toward a romance, however, until the final episode.
Gaku is a classmate and friend of Naota. He refers to Mamimi as "Naota's wife," much to his annoyance, and envies Naota for "getting" both Mamimi and Haruko. He often talks about Haruko in a sexual manner, something which also bothers Naota.
Masashi is a classmate and friend of Naota. Like most classmates, they don't spend much time together due to Naota's chaotic life, but he seems to be closer with Masashi, as well as Gaku and Ninamori, once Haruko and all the problems she brought with her leaves Earth. The four share a vending machine drink scene in junior high uniforms, mirroring the one with Mamimi in the first episode.