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Episode 1 | Episode 2 | Episode 3 | Episode 4 | Episode 5 | Episode 6 | Episode 7 | Episode 8 | Episode 9 | Episode 10 | Episode 11
Josh Dunham (@Josh_Dunham)
“This show has fallen apart into something completely unenjoyable.”
It’s no secret, Flip Flappers has been plagued production failures and shortcomings for a while now. Scriptwriter for the first six episodes, Yuniko Ayana, departed production, and the series took a noticeable drop. Studio Pablo did not contribute for episodes 8 and 10-13, the weakest episodes of the series (preemptively calling 13 based on current trajectory). There has been an unprecedented amount of animators (averaging more then 40 an episode) trying to hold the show together with little success. And while no single issue can be completely blamed for the flaming downward spiral of Flip Flappers, they all play a role in how unbearable watching it has become. This show has fallen apart into something completely unenjoyable.
A handful of visual flourishes attempt to recapture the whimsical feeling we had during the first three episodes but instead comes across as the final cry of a wounded animal. Out of a dozen moments of sakuga only two or three are noteworthy, Hakuyu Go’s being one. Although I have issues with the editing (perhaps how it was storyboarded) the cut is fluid and functional in its camera movement and shot composition. However, like most of the show, it leaves the sense of feeling rushed. That fact that Go was able to produce a scene under the conditions Flip Flappers imposes on it’s animators is a feat and praiseworthy on its own; however, it feels unpolished to some degree. It feels like the animator was not given the necessary materials to reach his intended goal.
The scene of Yayaka’s hyper dash has garnered praise, but I honestly feel that this is a mistake. Aside from the ripples, the scene is relatively textureless, and because of this, the bar of multiple colors comes across as quite bland. The movement is completely plebeian, lingering longer on key frames in the middle to build anticipation, but that anticipation is followed up with a lazy blob. It’s an attempt to indicate speed, however, this fails with the noticeable gap between the blob formation and the sudden appearance of the barred color. Truly the only good piece of animation in this shot is the one with the ripples that contain texture akin to other vistas in the show and actually connote the movement being made. This shot is like a ten-year-old’s first card trick; look directly at what’s going on and you’re no longer amazed.
The whole aesthetic of the show is a child abandoned in a mall: lost, confused, and too scared to solve its problem. Steadfast adherence to character designs wavers; objects are undefined, blobby shapes. The melodrama no longer heightens the art but instead impedes it, wasting screen time with nonsense that remains unexplained and will go unexplained all the way to the end of the series. Visually, the show is no longer interesting and just hasn’t been for the last few episodes. While it’s most likely that the story has been a planned mess from the start, having it rear its misshapen head at a time of aesthetic confusion is like adding Salt to the wound.
“I didn’t find much else in the episode interesting, but the final sequence has a pretty funny visual.”
Watching Flip Flappers has been like going to a world-class restaurant known for its filet mignon and getting an overpriced Big Mac instead. It may not taste terrible, but it’s not quite what I’d hoped for, and I probably wouldn’t give the place a five-star rating on Yelp.
That said, I liked this episode a lot more than the last two. The story is still standard anime fare, but this time there’s more action sequences and less boring exposition. We finally get to see Yayaka’s magical girl form, which comes with green hair and neat butterfly patterns. The FlipFlap scientists start searching for a world-destroying MacGuffin that was never mentioned before, which at least gives them something to do. Even Bu-chan and the twins get some short yet sweet moments. The only completely useless character is Nyunyu, whose main contribution to this episode is standing around and pointing at an entrance.
Papika and Yayaka visit some of the different worlds and hazards they faced in previous episodes. The ‘Mad Max World’ monster girl shows up again, using her shapeshifting abilities to morph into some delightfully hideous drawings. The Tron robot and the Nausicaä-inspired snow insects also appear for an encore. There’s a nice callback to episode 9 where Yayaka lets Papika have some of her food. The pair don’t have a ton of chemistry in this episode, but the focus is more on the characters’ relationships with Cocona and Mimi at any rate.
One fun sequence has Bu-chan opening a can of “MUSCLE” and powering up into a buff super-robot, an obvious Popeye reference (Popeye’s tattoo even appears on his eye/camera). He then attempts to wrestle with one of the snow insects and utterly fails, which results in some nice astonished expressions from Hidaka.
We get a few decent fight sequences, but it doesn’t feel like anything we haven’t already seen before. This is probably because we *have* seen the same fights in prior episodes, which also had superior animation and Studio Pablo’s backgrounds. Yayaka’s smear/streak aesthetic is pretty cool, though. There’s a neat cut where she zips off the screen and leaves behind a stylized band of colors. I wish we got to see some of her magical girl form before the production apparently went to hell. I also like the bit where Papika flies smack into the Tron robot’s palm.
I didn’t find much else in the episode interesting, but the final sequence has a pretty funny visual. Papika and Cocona (now wearing wedding dresses) punch Mimi into the sky à la Team Rocket, and then they fist bump each other. I honestly can’t say anything bad about that.
The Subtle Doctor (@TheSubtleDoctor)
“ Mimi probably doesn’t even realize the degree to which her fear and micromanagement is dehumanizing Cocona.”
“Perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” – 1 John 4:18
In the twelfth episode of Flip Flappers, the dominoes tipped over last week continue to fall. Mimi, as we know, has suffered lasting psychological wounds from her past betrayal. As a result, fear (specifically of another betrayal) is the chief motivator of her actions, especially those regarding her daughter, Cocona. Because this fear has taken such deep root within Mimi, even her love for Cocona is infected by paranoia and anxiety. I mentioned last week that she is projecting her own trauma onto her daughter; Cocona’s potential mistakes and their consequent pain terrify Mimi because she has not come to terms with her own feelings and memories of experiencing betrayal unprotected. Cocona being hurt would feel to Mimi like she was being hurt all over again.
Mimi believes her mistake was trusting others. She put her faith in Papika(na), Salt, and the organization testing her abilities. And, she paid for that by being separated from her only child. This is a mistake that she won’t make again, and neither will her daughter. Mother manipulatively passes on this “lesson” to child by revealing partial truths about the nature of Yayaka’s relationship with Cocona. Since Cocona has already lost trust in Papika, this revelation about Yayaka breaks her and creates a fertile field for Mimi to plant her own ideas about trust. We see here how impressionable youths are and how easy it can be for parents, guardians and role models to distort the truth and warp adolescent perception.
However, it should be said that Mimi’s mental scars are only part of the reason she parents out of fear. Concern, worry, anxiety about your child’s well being, these are all natural emotions for parents. Granted, Mimi’s particular issues have greatly amplified this natural tendency, but it would be within her regardless. No one who loves their child wants them to feel pain. Yet, emotional pain is a crucial part of growing up, a part of the human experience. It’s a very important component of crossing the bridge from childhood to adulthood, of making us into the people we will become. In the fires of suffering, character is forged. This sort of formative experience requires the freedom for people to take risks and make wrong choices. So, if pain is necessary to the human experience, it seems that freedom is also. If you completely take away someone’s free will and decision-making, are they still the person you love? Mimi probably doesn’t even realize the degree to which her fear and micromanagement is dehumanizing Cocona.
Thankfully, Mimi is as multifaceted as the other principle characters in Flip Flappers, and the part of her that genuinely loves her daughter surfaces to tell Cocona that it is OK to make wrong decisions. Rather than fear failure or regret mistakes, Cocona should live by freely making her own path (something Mimi never got to do). Cocona cannot remain herself and stay in this world created to protect her from the real world, this pure illusion. She realizes that the reality she wants to create is one with Papika, the love of her life, by her side. They reach out for one another without fear, overflowing with love and resolution to never let the other go. It is this love that breaks the shackles of Pure Illusion, allowing the girls to transform and to defeat the monster symbolizing the pain that had calcified in Mimi’s heart.
Pat ‘Suri’ Price (@Suribot)
“…in a way that feels comprehensible, but one that I’m not sure I can articulate yet.”
Flip Flappers is something that has consistently left me with two feelings. First, a sense of delighted warmth. Second, mild confusion. Since go, I’ve been uncertain where the show wanted to take itself. The one-off episodes have been consistently strong, hinting at some greater plot, and the last few episodes have seen fit to try and deliver. The downside of this is that, despite becoming a show that I adore, Flip Flappers seems to have sacrificed some of its strengths to make good on that promise.
The show has felt strongest to me when you approach it with a mindset of ‘don’t think, feel.’ The greater plot will come, but the specifics of it don’t matter in the moment-to-moment. The dives into Pure Illusion follow a kind of “dream logic lite” that the show itself mirrors. The impact of the moment seems to take priority over the implications of the moment. The episode with Iroha, Cocona’s painter classmate, and the dive into her memories is my favorite in the show thus far. The next episode shows the ramifications of fixing an artist’s inner struggle. With her trauma and inner turmoil resolved, her need to express herself through art withers. It’s got an incredible impact. It’s a darkly clever consequence of a seemingly benevolent act. It doesn’t seem to actually matter, though. She hasn’t shown up since, nor been mentioned. Instead, the arc serves as a seed for the concept of ‘Pure Illusion can affect reality.’
Cocona’s grandmother standing up is an incredible shot that hits you with realization like a truck. After Yayaka and Papika are both shown to have withheld information from Cocona or had some ulterior motive, the final nail is driven home. Cocona can’t trust anyone. The moment, while amazing, raises a ton of questions that, as of this penultimate episode, we don’t have an answer for. Why wait until now to take Cocona, if she was in on it? Who is she? With Mimi having destroyed the old hospital/institute seconds after Cocona was taken, how was anyone even left to take her away? The implications of these moments and their greater importance seem to have been ignored. We have one episode left, and, while I do still feel a great deal of love for this show, it feels as though Flip Flappers hurt itself a bit by revealing as much information as it did. It filled in so many gaps that the few remaining stand out.
After 3 months of Flip Flappers I’m still left feeling delightfully warm and mildly confused. I can’t say for certain, but I don’t feel like the last episode will change that.