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Josh Dunham (@Josh_Dunham)
“…Flip Flappers continues to reach a level of emotion only possible through animation.”
The show stopping scene was, without a doubt, the double transformation completely solo animated by Yumi Ikeda, who displayed a masterful grasp of character animation. Controlled by the ‘Follow Through and Overlapping Action’ principle of animation, character animation is the idea that even after movement has stopped inertia from that movement continues. The slight subtleties of hair moving at different rates or minute adjustments of the body adjusting towards center of mass breathe life into the drawings, becoming more than just a 2D image.
Nowhere in the episode is this more apparent then in the solid minute Ikeda animated. But on top of all of this, Ikeda moves the camera to depict movement into depth – one of the hardest illusions to pull off in animation. Not only must each drawing be timed to realistic moment according to the laws of physics, but also to allow the shift in perspective of movement depicting depth. On a sheer technical level, the scene is amazing. From the lifelike eye and hair movements to the spiral camera pans (a nod and homage to magical girl henshin throughout the ages), Ikeda has crafted a scene that is also breathtaking on a stylistic level. The disco backing track was the perfect finishing touch.
The effects of Hideaki Anno’s Japan Anima(tor)’s Exhibition can be fully felt this episode, injecting new talent into the industry in the forms of Yumi Ikeda and Hakuyu Go. Go became an instant name last season with his amazing cuts from Mob Psycho 100, causing many to call him Yutaka Nakamura Jr. But with Flip Flappers he has truly seems to be coming into his own. In the climactic showdown this episode Go opts more for smears and speed lines over cubist debris. Energy blasts and blade flashes solidify into Dezaki postcard memories. But it’s more than technique choice that makes this cut so enthralling, but what shots he chooses to display them. Closeups prominently feature character animation, setting the tone for the action that takes place in medium and long shots and fluidly moves between the two. It’s a wise choice that allows effects animation to smudge and smear over a greater area in sweeping motions. The sense of grandeur envelops you without losing personality and meaning. It is best described as storytelling through action.
Kazuto Arai ends the episode with a Gundam explosion homage, but what really grabbed my attention was the three punch showdown between Papika and ‘Helmet’ Cocona. weighted fabric animation lends a sense of majesty to our hero of justice, Papika, as she disappears into speed lines she feels powerful, justified even. In a perfect amalgamation of smear and speed lines, Papika throws a left and right jab, perfectly telegraphed for the eye to catch each frame of the action. But the action erupts on the third blow from ‘Helmet’ Cocona, shattering the momentum that was behind our hero in a satisfying manner that follows the rule of threes. And then gives us a moment to bask in it.
Last but not least is the scene where Papika is stretched in inter-planar travel. Following the rules of animation can allows us to relate to what we are watching, and since the laws of physics don’t naturally exist in a 2D pen and paper world, they are inserted through the 12 principles of animation. But what happens when realism and relatability are not the goal? This scene is a perfect example of that, as Papika stretches (and only stretches) from one end of the dimensional tunnel to the next. Conventional animation rules would state that as something stretches, it must also become thinner – the same amount of matter must be on screen at all times. But not here, Papika simply continues to stretch. As opposed as I am to the inclusion of CG in anime, the background works to promote this trippy sensation by looking completely foreign – none of the rules are being followed. It’s important to realize when art ‘rules’ must be broken to free emotion. I’m glad to see Flip Flappers knows when the time is right.
Good sakuga depicts emotion, and Flip Flappers continues to reach a level of emotion only possible through animation.
CJ Hitchcock (@cjhitchcock)
“…this is why I watch anime.”
DID YOU SEE THAT FIGHT SCENE! IT WAS LIKE SWOOSH! POW! POW! BANG! SNICK! CRASH! KABLOOIE! IT WAS AWESOME!
Sorry, got a little excited there. This time we’re thrown directly into Pure Illusion where Papika and Cocona have been separated on a desert planet which is heavily inspired by Mad Max. Papika discovers that Cocona has become brainwashed into becoming the leader of a rouge band of pirates and must rescue both the innocent villagers and her best friend. The fight scenes in this episode are amazing. Between Papika verses the evil mask wearing Cocona, and the two girls against the leader of a gang of S&M nymphs, episode three of Flap Flappers has some of the best fight scenes I’ve seen all year. Throughout this episode I was wearing this big goofy grin as I watched the explosions of color and motion. I had that brief moment where I found myself thinking, “Oh right, this is why I watch anime.”
Now admittedly, I’m a huge fan of the “Women Kicking Ass” genre of anime, but we don’t get a lot of fight scenes quite like these. I love shows like Kill la Kill, Cutie Honey, and Dirty Pair, but those shows, along with roughly 85% of other shows in this genre, run into the same problem: Sexualizing the heroine. While I do think those shows empower their female leads, the message becomes blurred when their giant racks are bouncing more than the balls in a Disney sing-along. The creators of these shows want to portray their leads as both beautiful and strong. By doing so, creators run the risk of sexualizing those leads to the point where they become an item to ogle. It’s a very difficult tight rope to walk.
Flip Flappers on the other hand see this tight rope and does backflips across it without breaking a sweat. They accomplish this by picking and choosing where and when they wanted to show off their fan service. Before the fight between Papika and S&M Nymph, they do have a highly sexually charged scene of Cocona accidentally walking it their base which is a Roman styled bath house. The other Nymphs are naked wearing leather face masks with matching ball gags as they fondle one another. I could spin this scene as another dream interpretation about Cocona being afraid of submitting towards a new life style and being consumed by it, but this scene is basically T&A. But that fight scene, there’s nothing sexual about the fights themselves. They’re two women locked in combat with each other with no distractions of clothing getting torn to expose more skin or the previously mentioned bouncing to get in the way. These women are a force to be reckoned with. It’s so rare for an anime that rivals GAINAX titles in terms of its animation to show reasonably clothed women fighting one another with no sexual overtones during the fight. I’m hoping we’ll get more fights like these in the future, not just from this show, but from others in this genre as well.