Flip Flappers – 13 (FIN)

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The Gist: Flip Flappers’ bloated smoldering corps belches its last into the new year. The power of love between Cocona and Papika and Papika and Mimi eventually defeats Evil Mimi. Salt shoots his alternate self in the face to hold onto his memory of being a screw up. Yayaka x Oxkull (yay?) and the Amorphus children and Salt’s Staff …hang around

In the end, we get a fake-out sad ending, where Cocona is trapped in a gray world without access to Pure Illusion, where Papika is trapped. Except Cocona is the one trapped and Papika rescues her without fan fair shortly afterwards.

Then they fly off into the sky with some giant butterflies, happily ever after.

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The Verdict: by the end, no amount of pretty animation and cheerful Papika quirk could save FliFla from a common trap of a generic villain that infinite power but is undone by the power of love. It’s shallow, under developed, and far less interesting than the world hinted at half a season ago.

Over all, I’m torn over my considerable enjoyment of the early and mid season verse the feeling of utter pointlessness having watched it all the way through. I’m not sure knowing how this mystery turned out was really worth it?

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Flip Flappers – 12

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The Gist: Papika and Yayaka trudge through the ‘greatest hits’ of Pure Illusion, getting pummeled by Mimi along the way. Yayaka learns to transform during the sand-world fight, Bu-chan is upgraded with the M.U.S.C.L.E. satellite, and Salt makes it back to his father’s lab in search of the original machine that made his father crazy.

In the ends, a splinter of Mimi saves the day by convincing Cocona it’s okay not to know what you want or how to get it as long as you have a little courage and try. So Cocona and Papika mega upgrade and demolish bad Mimi’s monster. Roll credits, for now…

The Verdict: It’s not terrible but it’s no longer good either. What began weeks ago feeling like important building blocks of story were missing has morphed to pure contrivance for narrative sake (Splinter good Mimi) or completely disposable (everything Salt and crew have been up to)

At the end of the day, Flip Flappers remains a very pretty, energetic show, with fun characters devoid of believable character traits and scenarios. The story, which has become more and more shallow as it’s gone along, is just happening in a conventional way with our heroes down one moment and then up, along with climbing music the next.

It’s effective but, compared to the open ended mystery about a world of shared mental scapes that knit the whole cast together, and the stories that could be told through the consequences of helping (or changing) those characters, Flip Flappers’ broken mom uses magic to control her daughter plot is a tremendous disappointment.

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Flip Flappers – 11

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The Gist: engage backstory exposition mode engaged! Salt’s father’s mind was destroyed by an experiment to project into pure illusion… or maybe control the destination or a dive? (It has something to do with the stone gate Cocona and Papika used to change Art-Senpai)

Salt got Mimi pregnant, but didn’t know until she and Papika ran away for a year and later brought back by Salt’s father’s army(?) at which point shit hit the fan and Mimi and the lab are lost.

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Meanwhile, Salt has been telling Mimi this (I guess?) while aiming a gun at her at the site of the old lab. Mimi puts him down and returns to pure illusion, where she has Cocona trapped but is slowly absorbing parts of reality.

Meanwhile Meanwhile Meanwhile Yayaka and Papika join forces and go to rescue Cocona. Also, the 3rd child is hanging out with Team Salt because reasons…

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The Verdict: So yeah… info-splaining Cocona’s backstory in one quick swoop, while setting up a final showdown between Mimi and Cocona’s friends is one way to make an episode. It’s not a particularly elegant way and, despite the striking compositions and a few imaginative backgrounds, it wasn’t especially attractive by Flip Flappers’ standards either.

From a structural standpoint, all of the pieces fit, but there aren’t many surprises. Cocona being Mimi’s daughter was not only spelled out last week, it’s been strongly implied all along. Seeing that Salt is Cocona’s father, and seeing specifically how Salt’s father became crazy and caused Mimi to dissappear into pure illusion (and eventually spit Cocona back out?) is not a particularly important detail, given that Salt had nearly no character building to this point and Salt’s father’s role in all of this was already implied last week.

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In shorter words, last week’s implications were enough. I’m not even going to talk about the Third Child, who appears to be part of the good guy’s team now, nor the Twins, who only make an uneventful cameo. It all culminates in the same thing: mostly unnecessary retreading and/or abrupt plot advancement for the finale’s sake.

I guess I’m puzzled most by the decision to over explain what was very nicely implied last week, but under explain other elements like Mimi ‘switching places’ with …herself?… at some point, not unlike Papika and Cocona did during the stone gate adventure. :/

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Flip Flappers – 10

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The Gist: The backstory rolls in this week and its not the only gut punch for our heroes. As the cult invades Dr Salt’s lair, an injured Yayaka has to stand off against the Twins, who are there to collect Cocona. (the target) Unfortunately, their relationship gets torpedoed as the Twins describe Yayaka’s mission to make herself Cocona’s friend.

Later, mid escape, Cocona throws a fit and demands Papika spill the beans, which she does via un-narrated flashbacks. At least a decade ago, Papika was one of many candidates to be Mimi’s partner. (Mimi being the only known person who can dive Pure Illusion) Salt is there — as a young boy — and the three of them have a bit of fun under the watchful (and sinister) eyes of Salt’s father.

What happened to Mimi is not clear, but Cocona is broken by the idea that she is only loved as a target or a replacement for another girl. Double unfortunately, Cocona’s grandmother turns out to be evil as well, and uses Cult soldier robots to pin her granddaughter down… only for the house to be destroyed by a resurgent Mimi, who refers to Cocona as her daughter!

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The Verdict: We finally get somewhere with the ongoing hints of Mimi on the boat, Papika calling Cocona Mimi, and a confirmation that Grandma has been an evil SOB from the beginning. All of these revelations are delivered beautifully and, thankfully, without too much exposition.

I really love the reveal that Papika is way older than she looks, as we can infer from Salt’s current age. (The lines on his face look late 30s at the youngest) It also gives greater context for Salts motivations and his cold persona.

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As always, Flip Flappers is a treat to look at and, Cocona’s angst aside, everyone has an interesting personality to investigate. But above all things, the fact that Flip Flappers retains many mysteries — what happened to Mimi? How did she transition to Cocona? What does the cult want? What does Mimi Want? — is smart and keeps my appetite drooling wet for more.

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Flip Flappers – 09

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The Gist: Yayaka’s fall has been building but, until now, we never had a clear sense of her relationship hooks to Cocona. This week paints them as having met long before school, in the hospital full of faceless men in lab coats. Yayaka is waiting for some painful tests, while Cocona is waiting for her own grandmother. The girls’ temporary escape is warm and their connection understandable amidst the subtly creepy setting.

Meanwhile, our 5 adventurers dive into a gigantic empty space. Cocona and the Twins spend a portion of it trapped in a room, while Yayaka tries to beat Papika to death. The twins treat Cocona almost like a big sister and since we know they are partially connected to Pure Illustion themselves, and that Cocona carries a fragment in her thigh, this does not at all bode well.

In the end, Cocona escapes of course. No matter what she says, she does care about Papika and wants to protect her. Likewise, Yayaka can not turn her back on Cocona and is brutally put down by the twins for stopping them from cutting open Cocona’s leg…

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The Verdict: This show is a master of the daylight and flowers vibe still oozing nervous dread. Dread in bright empty spaces too, where no immediate threat is obvious beyond the characters that know each other.

This week was not especially deep, nor were the various betrayals and reveals of backstory surprising. They were tender all the same and, yadda yadda extremely well animated, framed, and paced. Since the characters are enjoyable to watch, and the mystery remains… mysterious… I remain hooked!

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Flip Flappers – 08

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The Gist: this week, we dive the mad scientist of Team Salt. Unlike previous experiences, his mind world is very straight forward — he’s a tiny man who thinks he’s the king of his TRON’esq world. But something has invaded, and all the girls have to team up and use his combining mechs to take it down.

The style is wonderfully retro, wonderfully fluid in animation, and continues to creep Yayaka closer to being a part of Team Cocona. She even has to shout Flip Flap to help transform the mech!

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There’s always a bigger mech

The Verdict: If not for the top shelf visuals, you could be forgiven if you considered this a step below previous Flip Flappings. There wasn’t anything wrong with it, but the story was rather straight forward and we didn’t learn much about the world. On the contrary, it raised more questions.

Why is Pure Illusion attacking one of its own entities? What impact did defeating the invaders have, if any, on the mad scientist? If nothing changed in him, and I’m hard pressed to identify a change, what was the point of showing us this set piece in the first place?

If the only point was to push Yayaka farther away from the Cult/Twins, so be it. Simple or not, there are few visual experiences worth this much to otherwise fill your time!

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Flip Flappers – 07

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The Gist: Cocona and Papika’s relationship hits another down note and they enter Pure Illusion semi-separately. Rather, Papika is there, but more of an aesthetic overlay for many different friend archetypes for Cocona to interact with.

All of them love her, in a way, from the had hitting tom boy, to the delinquent that convinces her to wear a classic sailor, to the cute boy, to the horned seductress that Cocona may very well have had sex with. However, at the end, these Papika figments leave as Yayaka and the Twins collect this particular illustion’s fragment and Cocona is plunged into darkness.

…Only to be saved by the real Papika and Bu-chan riding the concrete pipe like a submarine. Their friendship is saved, at least for the moment.

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The Verdict: While I am starting to find Cocona’s personality a little annoying — she’s a bit whiney and indecisive — it’s still easy to understand her perspective. It’s not like she has any idea what is going on and pretty much everything in her life is efing with her perception.

I absolutely loved the weirdness of all the Papika projections. That they say ‘no matter how much you change, I’ll still love you’ is extra special creepy, especially as they/it probably ‘died’ in the background when Yayaka showed up.

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I have to revise my previous review in that I am not sure each episode — each dive into illusion — relates to a specific character’s mind scape. This episode doesn’t fit that model because it would have to be Cocona diving her own mindscape or some distortion of Papika’s, and even then, none of the experiences lead either character to a different place by the end (unlike the senpai in the art room)

Figured it out or not, this was another lovely visual feast.

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Flip Flappers – 06

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The Gist: Papika and Cocona’s normal adventure/battle with Yayaka in Pure Illusion is interrupted when they ‘break through the ground’ of their battle zone and discover a Stone Henge’like gateway deep below.

What follows is a lovingly rendered and constructed tale of Papika and Cocona living another girl’s life up to the point of tragedy. That girl is Irodori Iroha, the upperclassman in the art club that the girls have encountered since the beginning.

The tragedy is Iro’s dear Auntie falls into dementia and Iro, as a child, ran away from her instead of keeping a promise to reintroduce herself each time. This arc is wrapped with a warped home life, whispering neighbors, and a duality of perspectives because Cocona and Papika are inhabiting an individuals memories at the same time. But it all ends with the girls going back and correcting the ‘wrong’ on Auntie’s death bed…

Which carries over into the real world, with Irodori-senpai being much happier and finally able to wear the nail polish her Auntie had given her years ago. The polish she had, until recently, said she did not deserve to wear…

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The Verdict: Wow. Just ****ing wow. The range of art styles, starting with a painterly style of this week’s initial Pure Illusion that implied there was a connection with Irodori, to the soul crushing world of parents fighting at home and how well its colors and line work and point of view and figure distortions captured the emotional state of the child Papika and Cocona were inhabiting… this is easily the most artistically thought out episode of all shows this season!

However, what earns this episode’s master marks is its greater impact on Flip Flappers as a whole. Pure Illusion clearly connects to the minds of the world’s characters and it can greatly effect those minds. That construct absolutely makes me want to go back and watch the previous 5 episodes and see if I can tie previous dives directly to a cast member and see if tangible changes apply to those characters after the fact.

Because this ‘twist’ is delivered in such a matter of fact way — not even Papika nor Cocona respond to this as a twist or as anything surprising at all — it de-“what a twist!”s the entire experience, which makes it feel genuine. I cant name a single show that’s pulled such a feat off.

Almost retroactively makes All of the previous Episodes a 10!

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Flip Flappers – 05

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The Gist: Papika and Cocona are stuck in a looping nightmare school that reboots at midnight. Yayaka is there too, and seems to better equipped to handle the situation, though she doesn’t seem able to fully get out of it.

After figuring out some of the puzzle, Papika and Cocona gain access to the school’s bell tower, which is a monstrous death trap. Team Yayaka arrives around the same time but it falls on Cocona to actually collect the fragment.

When they return, courtesy of Yayaka, Cocona refuses to hand over the fragment and the battle line is now drawn…

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blah blah blah well rendered, blah blah blah dream like, adorable, and interesting. Yes, this week’s Flip Flappers was like previous outings in all the good ways.

What made it better than usual (though not enough to score a 10) was the utterly terrifying setting and characters Cocona and Papika were up against. The dolls and ink-face school girls were genuinely creepy, with wonderfully strange synth voices and audio.

And that super cute image of our girl’s base communication’s lady posing was the perfect thing to disarm us for all the creepiness to come.

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The Verdict: Flip Flappers continues to play it’s own particular blend of magic girl adventure story. You could possibly argue that it is playing with genre conventions, with each episode marginally approaching a different kind of magical girl story telling, but I’m not totally sold on that.

In the end, the story is played straight forward and I’m okay with that.

Flip Flapping!

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Flip Flappers – 04

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The Gist: Papika and Cocona confront Yayaka but little evolves on that front before the two must spend two days living together. At first, this is contained to the school campus and the little dump sight that Papika has converted into a fort of sorts.

Later, while trying to catch fish for breakfast on a deserted island, the girls are trapped when the hover board washes out to see. This forces the girls to forage for food and create shelter, and eventually build a raft to get back to school.

Much of this plays to Papika’s rough-and-tumble strengths and, by the end, Cocona comes to realize how limited her knowledge and usefulness really is. Happy, closer, more understanding of each other, the sky opens up and Pure Illusion sucks our heroes in.

Yayaka and the twins are not far behind…

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Flip Flappers is all about lovely details and delivering over-the-top weirdness in an under-the-top way. In one example, Papika gives Cocona a shell she has found on the beech and painted… only for a crab to pop out. However, Papika simply says ‘oh, it wasn’t empty’ and puts it down behind her. The crab slowly crawls out of the frame while the girls talk about something else.

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The Verdict: Flip Flappers doesn’t really have any faults. It’s fairly surface, with a simple relationship story at its core, but the surface layer is very rich with detail and nuance.

If I have a criticism, as a reviewer, it’s that Flip Flappers is somewhat hard to talk about beyond calling out the surface details. I don’t get a sense that a deeper meaning hides under the surface and the relationship isn’t that complex. However, dream-like wonder if more than enough for me.

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Flip Flappers – 03

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The Gist: Papika walks across a burning desert littered with wrecked ships and submarines. She colapses and is taken in by some Jawa’esq creatures and slowly brings us up to speed on how she and Cocona were separated…

which involves a BDSM flower girl who pretends to be a friend at first but has our friends fight each other by way of an emotion amplifying mask and…

yeah this episode is a tremendous run-on sentence of a plot!

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The important take aways are: Pure Illusion can be populated by a variety of sentient beings, Papika and Cocona can transform magic-girl style (including magic weapons that can merge into a magic gun) in addition to powering up, and Yayaka works for the mysterious group of Robots from the end of the first episode.

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If all these details feel heaped on and difficult to absorb, the decision to flash-back in the middle of the episode to explain what was going on, only served to make it more a of a mess. Yes, the short reveal of Cocona as a bad-ass villain in a mask was, yes, ultra bad-ass BUT the same effect could have been achieved in a more cohesive fashion.

While the episode made me feel like it belonged several episodes deeper into the series, or part of an entirely separate anime, not all was lost. The animation remains tremendously fun to watch, with stylish and swift gestures and lovely character design. Think something between Final Fantasy the Legend of the Crystals and TTGL and/or Die Buster. (Nono from Die Buster even feels incredibly similar to Papika)

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The Verdict: Animation aside, abrupt narrative shift aside, Flip Flappers remains lovely on an emotional level. The characters are warm, fun, and surrounded by a blend of oddly grim and magically dream like. I can not recommend this enough!

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Flip Flappers – 02

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The Gist: without explanation for the evil robots that captured the girls at the close of last week, episode two quickly hops into a conflict between Papika, Cocona and Yayaka. Papika’s too bold and embarrassing for Cocona to be around and Yayaka appears to fear being replaced as the social-convention breaker.

Cocona attempts to avoid Papika through school, but this quickly backfires when Papika joins her class as a transfer student… and Cocona’s green pet rabbit Uexkull gets sucked into the school’s… grass vacuuming robot?

During the ensuing Pure Illusion adventure, the girls gain a stronger mutual understanding. Papika realizes what it is like to be afraid that a friend might be killed and also experiences a ‘power up’ moment like Cocona’s last week. Uexkull even transforms into a male love interest of sorts.

Finally, home again, Cocona agrees to join Papika on adventures regularly. We meet a few of Papika’s coworkers, including Mr Salt, and end with our delightful pair going on another adventure.

Roll credits…

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Flip Flappers really nails a dreamlike aesthetic, with bizarre elements softly moving in and out of the story. The sound design is especially fantastic, with gems like a mooing sound for water drops and the subtle car crash as Cocona lands.

Papika and Uexkull are both adorable too, with wonderful happy expressions and zany body language. The entire segment where the girls become bunnies and must nibble on hard things compulsively, is packed with wide eyed drooling, ‘hard’ objects floating around the characters’ mental space, and miraculously ties into a plot point at the end.

The episode managed to move the plot forward, have a bizarre but well structured adventure, stay subtly creepy, advance character relationships and introduce a new character. The fact that all of it was done well is astounding.

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The Verdict: more than last week, this episode was packed with visual details and wondrous moments that excited me to rewatch. The dreamlike quality is infectious and, that it catches on with Cocona too makes it all the stronger.

Very very nearly a 10

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Flip Flappers – 01 (First Impressions)


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The Gist: Cocona is a quiet but average girl that doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life. Papika is an infectiously cheerful girl and/or science experiment that rides a anti-grav surf board, is fearless, and has a robot friend. Through a not-likely-coincidental meeting, these girls are taken into ‘Pure Illusion,’ an unexplained reality.

On the surface, the adventure is safe fun and games. However, a twisted darkness is hinted at below the surface. Papika is happy ‘Cocona didn’t die’ during reaching Pure Illusion, The cute robot friend has a groaning pulsating brain plugged into it (which the girls see when it is damaged) and grim looking soldiers (robots?) capture the girls upon their return.

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You should check out Flip Flappers because it’s a pleasant and mysterious adventure with likable characters. The animation is quite good, featuring interesting angles, action, interesting character and creature design, and sweeping fantasy vistas. The style also has a pencil and watercolor-like quality, which is hard to capture with stills.

However, what raises my appreciation is how efficient the production team has worked. When action is simple and mundane, they reduced the number of animated frames per second — but did not resort to ‘bouncing heads’ or ‘sliding figures.’ When action is dynamic, the frames per second go up and it looks close to top shelf anime.

There are not many reason to pass Flip Flappers bye. There are certainly better looking shows this season, though not as many as you’d assume. There are certainly other bright/dark stories and satire of Japanese students being overly tested this season, though their stories are more obviously spelled out.

Cocona’s introverted personality may bother you or, during the course of the season, the plot may deteriorate into something eye-rollingly silly, or they could run out of money, but that’s about it.

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The Verdict: the mixture of a care-free fairy tale adventure and a dark conspiracy is certainly not new. It’s not even unique this season. However,  Flip Flappers feels fresh and independent, especially because it has explained so little about it’s world and its characters agendas.

I’m even more impressed because no one on the cast or production team is particularly noteworthy, but they all put on a solid performance. I especially enjoyed Papika, who seems aware of the life threatening situation they are in, but responds with ‘wow this is hard’ and other enthusiastic cheers, that some dodge the cliches of insanity.

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