…What the devil did I just watch?
No, but seriously. What on Earth? I’m not even sure I know how to summarize the plot or… this thing was an acid trip, set to anime, and it was glorious.
Flip Flappers is about a world (that I think is set at least a few years in the future?) in which there’s an entire other reality, called “Pure Illusion” that’s based on perception. The protagonist, Cocona, is a seemingly average girl who meets an energetic and eccentric girl named Papika, who chooses her as a partner to enter this place and collect gems from the many different realms of this other world, which they can then use to grant wishes, once they have them all… or at least enough of them. That never seems entirely clear, but there’s a fair reason for that. It’s a Science Fiction, Action/Comedy, with some serious Dramatic tones, and apparently a Shoujo Ai bend that isn’t marketed about it at all, but I supposed I should’ve expected because- oh, did I mention there are Magical Girls in this? There’s a lot of stuff in this, honestly. Like… everything.. Gurren Lagann, Dragon Ball Z, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, pretty much any Sentai series with giant robots (complete with the epic battle music), and I’m sure a lot of psychological and thriller series I can’t be bothered watching because it’s not my cup of tea. But it doesn’t even really make fun of them, so much as just reference their typical styles and beats and whatnot. And it’s amazing. Anyway, while they’re in Pure Illusion, they possess the ability to transform into Magical Girls… and apparently Super Saiyans. Complete with god tier strength and speed, flight, and the ability to apparently just magic weapons into existence.
Cocona is a character who has a problem with indecisiveness. As such, she’s something of a blank slate and just allows herself to drift through life in whatever direction it whisks her. This, however, shouldn’t be mistaken for her being shapeless and vapid like, say, the protagonist of a certain sparkly vampire movie series that shall not be named. There’s an actual psychological reason behind it, as opposed to the route of just having her be like that so the audience can put themselves in her place (which, I should point out, isn’t exactly such a bad thing if used properly). In fact, one of the earlier episodes even slyly accuses her of that very lack of self. And it keeps coming back. This turns out to actually be a significant part of her arc. My only complaint regarding it is a desire to see more how she wound up this way. For all the background we get, we don’t really see any of the life that shaped her in this fashion, and the implications made early on don’t really point to anything. At best it can be said she was subtly conditioned that way, but that’s all I could really gather, and it wasn’t much.
Papika is a character I’m not sure how to say much about. She’s fairly confounding in places, but acts as a perfect catalyst to get Cocona to act on her own. All she seems concerned about is having fun adventures with her new friend. She doesn’t even seem especially concerned with finding the MacGuffins they’ve been searching for, the entire time, as long as Cocona’s happy and having fun with her. She’s honestly a large child, and tends to be fairly emotional, as well as hasty, but it’s endearing. That and she’s… oddly superhuman in inexplicable ways… and I mean outside of Pure Illusion. The girl has the nose of a hound dog, and the resilience of a tank. Papika honestly has less of an individual arc, and more of a joint arc with Cocona, revolving more around her reasons for fighting in the first place. It’s actually an arc she very much shares with another character, Yayaka, who’s something like the “Dark Magical Girl” to this equation, and is her polar opposite, as well as her mirror image. Honestly Papika almost seems like a deconstruction of the infamous “Manic Pixie Dream Girl.” She tics all the boxes, but manages to actually be fairly more fleshed out than the typical trope codifiers. Though her eccentricity and energy, itself, is just a part of who she is, evidently. Don’t expect that to be explained. It isn’t. She’s just like that. Which I suppose is fine. Though I would’ve liked a little more background on her.
The rest of the supporting cast is comprised of characters I’m not going to say much of anything about, because the majority of them actually do quite a lot. They don’t necessarily all have arcs, but they’re very much active parts of the plot, especially towards the end. It was refreshing in that sense, though there are still a few characters that I didn’t quite ‘get’ the presence of. One shows up towards the end and is significantly less relevant than I thought they’d end up being. But I’ll leave it at that.
The world of Pure Illusion is just great every time they go… early in. The earlier stages of the series come up with some really interesting realms. The ones they visit in episodes 2, 3 (to anyone who’s already watched it, I’ll be honest. I really wanted that thing to be the main villain. So cool), and 5 are particularly “balls to it” weird, in delightful ways. But once it hits episode 6 (with the exception of episode 8, which is glorious), things start getting tamer. Less bizarre. It’s still weird, but more subtle and psychological. It reaches a point where even the climax of the series just doesn’t quite seem to hit that same level of total weirdness. In fact, a good portion of that climax is just (and this is a slight spoiler… really slight) bringing back things from previous realms. It’s otherwise very straightforward, despite the capacity for the climax to be the height of… trippiness, I guess.
Housecleaning time. The series is marketed as a comedy, and… it is. But it really should be marketed as a Dramedy. The latter half of the series (though I would be willing to push for saying the latter third) is really much heavier on the feels than the laughs. When this show is funny, it’s hilarious. And when it’s sad… consider your gut punched. Hard. The series also delivers some very interesting twists and turns that completely blindsided me. Though in realizing some of those twists, it reached perhaps a bit too far, and wound up convoluting itself more than it needed to. Certain elements of the final few episodes were less mind-blowing, and more mind-boggling. There are some questionable storytelling decisions, for sure. Then there’s the animation, which really sells the series. When you’re dealing with a reality bending series like this, the art is going to carry a lot of the series. Color, in this series, is a big deal as the palette in certain worlds is going to determine a good chunk of what sets each realm apart. And the series determines its colors quite brilliantly. It also is very good about distortion. In some places things need to look a bit more alien and bizarre. They’re covered. Believe me. It’d have been interesting also if the style in which the girls were drawn was perhaps warped a bit more with every realm they entered, but it was probably the idea that they were alien to that realm, so they would remain as they were. It’s not a negative. Just a thought. It also did a great job of capturing spectacle. Fights in this series get big. The music did an excellent job of setting the tone when it mattered, though no particular track stood out.
It’s highly unlikely it’ll be getting a follow-up (especially seeing as it’s an original project, and not based on anything), but the ending is left just open enough that they could make one if they so desired. I will say that the ending we got out of it was wholly satisfying, so I’d be entirely content if they did just leave well enough alone. In all, I’d say to check it out. It’s well worth it in my eyes. And with all that said, ladies and gents, thanks for reading.
Keep up the awesome, and take care