Writing about Flip Flappers is such a weighty thing to do. Why? It is yet another piece of media that is hard to put into words. Flip Flappers is one of those shows that you watch your heart. It is an emotional and visual experience that goes beyond words. In my opinion, Flip Flappers is a such that does things for the visual and emotional impact first and then handles all the writing and logical reasoning afterward if that makes any sense. In that way, trying to put some logic into the show by writing about it doesn’t do Flip Flappers any justice. For a lot of anime series, you can separate the writing and visuals because there is a time for talking and a time for doing because it’s either one or the other. In a long and roundabout way, what I am saying is that Flip Flappers is about doing. Take my word as a grain of salt (ha) here as I can only give you an approximation of what I feel through words.
So umm…beware spoilers here. I can’t talk about the show while also holding back anything.
Flip Flapper’s starts rather simply. This one middle schooler named Cocona lives a very boring life moving in an uncertain direction. She doesn’t know where to go next in her life, meaning high school, and her friend Yayaka isn’t taking the next stage very seriously at all. Suddenly one day, a red-haired girl named Papika shows up with her flying surf board to take Cocona somewhere else. Somewhere a bit more fun and unpredictable. A place that can be made out of snow and uncertainty. A world named Pure Illusion where anything can happen. It’s these two girls, Cocona and Papika with their pervy robot friend named Bu-chan against the world. First the story involves Cocona learning to live with the unusual with Papika, but it takes a lot of time for Cocona to worry about dangers and practice.
Pure Illusion is something that you want to learn about through visual understanding. The show never tells you directly about what is going on, so a lot of what happens in Pure Illusion depends on the current episode’s circumstances. In one location, the show can just be full with all sorts of anime references and the girls learning to become more comfortable with their powers of magical girl transformation sequences. Others are about other characters you don’t know about and their own mind worlds. So eventually, the story tells you about this girl who has a tough life with their mother, but has a grandmother that supports their art. You only find out what Papika and Cocona did to this person accidentally without them realizing it. That danger of the unknown can have real life consequences.
The overarching story of Flip Flappers is Cocona growing up and understanding herself and her feelings towards Papika. Cocona has two major ideas behind her own arc. The first one is obviously her feelings for Papika, that one random person who dragged her through all of this. Her thoughts are always complicated. One episode of Pure Illusion traveling involved Cocona dealing with multiple version of Papika in them for fanservice and because Cocona’s feelings were scattered on her. Eventually, Cocona does fall in love with Papika because they complete each other. The second part is that Cocona finally discovers what freedom is. She doesn’t live in her box with her grandma anymore, she finally knows where she is finally going here. It makes sense that Cocona’s mother is the final boss in this sense. Flip Flappers makes a lot of emotional sense and this is why I like the show. It’s very big picture and it works.
With that good emotional side of the story, Flip Flappers also goes by the rule of cool a lot too. Does Flip Flappers need an episode that references Fist of the North Star, Dragon Ball Z, Power Rangers/Super Sentai, Sailor Moon, and many other things in one combat sequence? No, but it’s a lot of fun and looks very cool to see Cocona and Papika using their powers in that sort of way. Same with the slightly more fanservicey mecha episode that has every female character in that episode wearing swim suits and having the controls of the computer provided to them in very suggestive angles and ways. It’s not too bad and the girls are involved in some amazing mecha sequences. I love all of it and if it matches with the emotional sense of the episode, which it does most of the time, then it’s pulling great double duty.
So, time for some nitpicks. I have been positive on Flip Flappers so far, but as I’ve said before, it is do now and think later show. There is a lot of logical problems with the show because of its emotional sense first and everything else second. Have you noticed I have mentioned Cocona and Papika’s competitors Yayaka, Toto, and YuYu yet or that they were competing for chards yet? They don’t really matter in the end. Yayaka does have a story and it’s a good one, but the twins don’t matter here. Same with Nyunya who is used to threatened Yayaka to do her job better and nothing else. In the end, collecting the shards for the bad guys who want to take over Pure Illusion doesn’t amount to much. Same with Nyunya who ends up doing nothing in the end. She has one purpose and now, she just sits around while plot things happen. Yawn.
I can keep going on with this “you don’t need these things”. Papika and Cocona work under Professor Salt for their travels into pure illusion. I do think that Salt’s story is worth having, but it’s so last minute that it feels like something that was added in last minute in the story of it. Salt also has two assistants by the name of Sayuri and Hidaka and they don’t really do much besides some small interactions with Papika and Cocona to give them orders and such. You never get to know them at all because Hidaka is a great mechanical scientists and Sayuri is nice and wants to connect with them. There are instances where it’s noticed that Sayuri has a clear crush on Salt by being embarrassed that Salt might see up her skirt while going up a ladder in the finale, but Salt never even bothers looking so it’s a character moment that is there but could easily be passed over. So yeah, nitpicks. Once again, these are only dings not huge bits of damage out of the tank known as Flip Flappers.
With all of the imagination and emotional comes some excellent visual flare. Flip Flappers is gorgeous. The worlds it creates are so wonderful to look at and feel alive just by how things move and think. Especially since there is so much work put into them. Papika and Cocona are our guides through these words and while their visual designs are simple, they are simple enough to be incredible well animated and placed them in different situations that the animators want to put them. Plus all the great side characters, the transformation sequences, the monsters, and even making the normal world and Pure Illusion feel different through the visual flare on one side and flatness on the other. Flip Flappers had some problems, and it took me trying the show twice to understand it more, but it’s an easy recommend if you want a good emotional experience and visual feast. So, a good, I think. Not pure art that people think it is, but more then good enough to recommend.