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Be sure to check out the write-ups for prior episodes!
Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4 | Episode 5 | Episode 6 | Episode 7
The Subtle Doctor (@TheSubtleDoctor)
“The visual design is so well-realized.”
In the beginning of this iteration of Pure Illusion a single being exists alone, god of his universe. He is without peer or rival but also without purpose or direction for his thought and energy. So, he throws himself into creating a city, a quiet, glowing, massive futurescape. A city of god, a city for no one. This city is his art and, thus, it is a “reflection of [his] intellect.” Since the process of making art is a process of transference, there is a part of this god in the thing he has made. And, he is understandably proud of both his creation and his creating…so proud in fact that he makes the apocalyptically bad decision of giving himself the moniker (*preparatory wince*) The Great White Creator. If you need a moment to place you head in your hands, then by all means…
Tangent: this version of Pure Illusion is by far my favorite one. I absolutely adore the aesthetic of the city. It is this amazing fusion of a sort of depopulated Blade Runner with the color pallette of the forests of Hyper Light Drifter. Our tiny creator manages to avoid the drab appearance of venerated cyberpunk and imbue his world-city with a fresh, modern look. Yet, it is a look which isn’t completely divorced from celebrated stories of our corporate-controlled near future. The visual design is so well-realized. Synth music probably spontaneously evolved into being and just naturally exists as element of the planet’s atmosphere. I can hear the neon-fueled low hum of that planet-wide metropolis…and I want to bathe in it. BATHE in it.
Eternal perfection makes for boring fiction, so something comes along to disrupt our god’s architecting. Suddenly, weird bird men who bleed neon show up, and they want nothing more than to wreck god’s shit. Somehow or other, the amorphous is responsible for this, and so Cocona, Papika, Yayaka and the twins drop in to hunt it down. The weird bird men fuse into a giant monster full of power that overwhelms them all, even god himself. Severely outgunned, it’s clear that everyone should just escape. But, god won’t do it. As artist, he has transferred something of himself into his art. His city is so important to him that’d he’d rather die than abandon it. Cocona sees the strength and intensity of the bond between creator and their creation, and she realizes that it isn’t a million miles away from the bond she’s recently developed in her own life (love is also an act of transference). Out of respect and a deep sympathy for the desire to protect what is precious to oneself, Cocona acknowledges the bond between the diminutive deity and his art by fighting a losing battle in order to save it.
The bond between Cocona and Papika is indeed what saves the day in the end, but not in the way you might think. When Papika agrees to fight the monster with Cocona, the love and trust they have for each other is so clearly reflected in their eyes. This nonverbal exchange is something that Yayaka cannot experience, and that makes her so angry. These feelings are reflected by the billowing black cloud under the calm surface of the pool in the first scene. Yaya can’t admit that she wants Cocona, that she desires what Cocona and Papika have…if she even consciously realizes her feelings at all.
Of course, Yaya would deny all of this if asked; yet, she finds herself drawn to help her classmates at every turn, all the while spouting flimsy excuses to the suspicious twins. With Yaya’s help, the three classmates combine their giant robots into a single better, gianter robot and defeat the city-destroying dai kaiju. We even get to see Yaya say the words! But, it could have gone so differently: If the love between Cocona and Papika didn’t shine so brightly, Yayaka might not have been drawn to them in the manner she was. And, Cocona might never have decided to fight for that city if not for the zeal an artist had for his work. Art IS explosive.
CJ Hitchcock (@cjhitchcock)
“…I’m more likely to recommend this series as a whole when it’s over.”
Hitch’s Check List of Requirements for Kickass Anime:
*Tron Inspired Landscapes *Giant Robots *Giant Transforming Robots *Badass Transformation Music *Shipshaping Kaiju Monsters *Well placed reference to older anime
Yep, that covers everything. This is awesome. Go watch it.
-Submits to site-
EDIT: CJ, while your list is is nice, you gotta give more than that. – Josh
Episode 8 of Flip Flappers is one of the best episodes in this series thus far. Personally, I think this episode works so well for the same reasons Episodes 3, 5 and 6 do, they are stand alone episodes that don’t require any real plot. These four episodes are solid pieces of animation. Not only are they impressive from a technical standpoint, they’re an absolute blast to watch.
The only times the show bogs down to a grinding halt are when it feels like it needs a plot to make sense of the nonsense on screen. Really, those explanations and villains aren’t needed. This show should be like the four I listed earlier: a journey into a strange landscape with two lovable leads. There doesn’t need to be an overall point to all of this for it to be enjoyable. Again, it’s the journey, not the destination, that matters in the long run. It’s the experiences of the Mad Max inspired fight scene and the haunted school episode that I’m going to remember. Yayaka and the Evil Twins, pointless; don’t bother me with that stuff. Get back to the giant robot fighting.
At this point for me, I feel like the balancing of great moments and the tedious moments are going to be what makes or breaks this show. If we have more episodes that let the animators go crazy and do whatever the hell they want, I’m more likely to recommend this series as a whole when it’s over. But for now, I’m kinda stuck in the position where I’ll recommend single episodes to watch instead of the entire series.
Seriously though, that music during the mech transformation was amazing.
Josh Dunham (@Josh_Dunham)
“While not entirely complementary to the previous identity, this episode does manage to stand on it’s own.”
Flip Flappers episode 8 is very obviously a grand tour of the mecha genre. And as much as I like mecha, I’m not sure I like this new direction. I feel like there’s been a tonal shift in the show, bringing Flip Flappers closer to an homage-driven narrative like Concrete Revolutio than stand alone, episodic works like Space Dandy. But there was a scene that foreshadowed this shift in episode 7, when we spot Irodori throwing out her art – to me there is not a clearer message of a tonal shift.
So how does this shift hold up? Last episode’s dissonance is mostly cleared up to make room for homage and referential visuals. Inspiration from Gaiking, Gurren Lagann, Ideon, and Godannar is strung together not because it makes narrative sense, but because it is a requirement of a stereotypical super-robot plot (this includes the shots of lecherous fanservice). The weakest notion of this is how it is used to actually further the plot with Yayaka. My thoughts echo CJ’s from episode 5 – characters in Flip Flappers function better as symbols and icons rather than characters proper. The only argument that counters this is that the mecha genre requires the unification of opposites at some point – but this is a topic that was already covered in prior episodes to a greater degree. Thus, its inclusion is in interest of furthing an underdeveloped and unrealized plot. While not entirely complementary to the show’s previous identity, this episode does manage to stand on it’s own.
If the show is to achieve any enduring importance, it will be through it’s animation. The precredits scene is a perfect poolside replication of the KyoAni style, complete with gaussian blur and shakey cam with soft and well-characterized smears. But more impressive was the cut presumably animated by Yutaka Nakamura superfan, Shun Enokido. With masterful lighting and camera work, not only does the beam look spectacular, it feels deadly. For a moment, the death ray is a character in and of itself, one burning with equal and indiscernible hatred for all things in its path, leaving nothing but scorched earth. It’s not an attack characterized by the attacker, much the other way around: the beam characterizes the assailant.
The most redeemable aspect of this episode is the camerawork, which depicts a very reasonable and weighted movement into depth. A believable, three-dimensional space that can be moved into is one of the hardest things for an animated work to convey. There are multiple techniques in creating that sensory illusion, and all of them are labor-intensive (animating the background, using a copious amount of layers, etc.). The reason the Itano Circus shot feels so real and the payoff is so awe-inspiring is because the movement into depth has you mentally and emotionally committed to realize the missiles’ destination.
But as for depth of themes or plot, that’s just pure illusion.