Flip Flappers Review
If something makes you happy, excited, or sets off another string of convoluted positive emotions, it’s kinda tough not to like. Hell, even things that makes you scared, anxious, or want to cry, emotions that seem negative in nature, are contributing factors to why you might like something. Think back to whenever someone tried to explain why they loved “Clannad: After Story” with “it made me cry,” or think back to whenever someone told you why they loved “Shingeki no Kyojin” with “I couldn’t stop looking at the screen!” The same can be applied to why people love those moe slice of life anime, it just makes them happy. It’s tough to beat emotion with logic, which is why Flip Flappers felt so damn successful. A world where anything could happen, the writers do what they want because they felt like it, not limiting themselves to a set of rules or principles, and goddamn, it was lovely. Every episode explored a new world, with new characters and a different sense of fun each and everytime. Flip Flappers understood perfectly well how to have a good time, and it was an absolute fucking blast to watch.
However, all of the fun can easily be destroyed in the face of an underwhelming ending. Flip Flappers was shaping up to be a wonderful series, but a sudden shift from episodic fun to an attempt at establishing a serious story changed everything. You could certainly argue that the final arc was what they were going for the whole time, while everything else was filler, but the “filler” was still significantly better than the actual story. Somehow, even the absolutely gorgeous animation had suffered. In comparison to everything else, the final scenes looked underwhelming. This may seem like a silly criticism, but for a show that boasts visual beauty, it’s disappointing when that beauty fades. Even then, I wouldn’t mind if the story managed to stay on track, but it doesn’t.
Flip Flappers absolutely decimated my expectations. The cover screamed nothing more than another typical magical girl anime. However, it really is so much more. This series is about exploration, travelling beyond the unknown, and doing crazy things for the sake of fun.
The series surrounds a middle school girl, Cocona, being carried away from her boring, mundane world by a very mysterious girl, Papika. Cocona gets introduced to this “portal” device that will allow her and Papika to travel to whatever world necessary in order to complete their objective. This objective is to obtain crystal shards, which Papika is having trouble gathering on her own, so she enlists Cocona to help her as best as she can.
Even if you haven’t seen the series, it’s pretty clear that this is a setup for something of an episodic nature. At first, the focus was on Papika, Cocona, and their adventures (or perhaps misadventures) within all of these varying places. Every episode explored a new world, and each world possessed strikingly different themes in a wonderful attempt at originality. It’s hard to confine Flip Flappers to one genre, because it tries so many things over the course of its thirteen episodes. A few examples:
There’s an episode where Papika ventures across a gorgeous orange desert in a battle to the death against a group of bandits. She was trying to protect a weak village of weak creatures, and when she squares off against the bandit leader, she practically goes Super Saiyan, and you see the two zooming across the sky as if you’re watching Dragon Ball Z. This episode is clearly inspired by the super power genre.
There’s an episode where Cocona and Papika have to pilot giant mechs and battle with other giant mechs over the backdrop of a gorgeous neon city, destroying most of that city in the process. This episode is clearly inspired by the mecha genre.
There’s an episode where Cocona and Papika get trapped in a school, where doll-like figures with giant black holes for eyes follow them around telling them that all they want is to be their “friend.” This episode is clearly inspired by the horror genre.
It was hard not to appreciate what the series was trying to do, as every time I clicked “next episode,” I knew I was in for new. This was an absolutely wonderful change from what I had been used to. I was simply in love in with this sense of adventure.
However, Flip Flappers once again decimated my expectations, except this time it wasn’t in a positive sense. The last third tries to give us a real story. It tries to wrap up what it had set up, and it wants to leave us on a good note. I could understand this, as having the series stay episodic through and through was probably a scary thought, so the creators might’ve wanted to at least give it an ending. However, this final arc doesn’t manage to be as likable as the rest of the series, and it really destroyed some of the fun.
Flip Flappers loses its charm when the creators shift the tone entirely. It tries to develop the characters backstories, give everything some kind of relevance, and they finally tell us what the hell is going on. There’s nothing wrong with what it was aiming for, but it just doesn’t work out the way I would have hoped.
What had happened to Papika and Cocona in their lives is incredibly compelling, and genuinely got me excited. Seeing Papika’s relationship to Cocona’s mother, and how they were stripped away from each other in such a barbaric way gave me goosebumps. We also get an explanation on why they’re searching for these shards, who the people chasing Papika and Cocona are, and why Cocona’s life is the way it is. Everything was explained decently, and at the start of the serious arc, I was convinced that it would work out pretty well.
However, where things start to get messy is when the series encroaches upon the conclusion. As Papika and Cocona draw closer, in an attempt to “save” each other, things become more about love, faith, and their “bond.” This sort of escapism might have worked before, in the mystical and whimsical portion of the series, but after giving us this serious, edgy, more depressing backdrop, all tension is diluted when it’s solved so inconsistently. The goosebumps faded away, and I was left with an empty feeling. It didn’t help that the animation started to take a serious hit. The final scenes felt underwhelming in comparison to the rest of the series. Not only the animation, but where all the previous fights were these epic unbelievable brawls, the final fight was more about hyping up a super-move of love to one-shot the final boss. Even if this was consistent with what the show was originally going for, the changing of the tone towards the end didn’t help that they decided to transition back into what they were originally going for out of nowhere.
Even if you disregard this, it’s not like the serious arc was being handled too well to begin with. Sure, I liked some parts of it, but it didn’t change that the writing started to get a bit messy, characters were acting inconsistently, and the story felt underwhelming with its attempt to dramatize everything. Seeing Papika and Cocona go from lovely, fun personas to this serious bunch with edgy backstories felt out of place. I started to get used to it, but then it did a complete flip and they went back to what they originally were. It’s hard to be sure what to feel at this point, so all I could do was watch aimlessly.
Flip Flappers starts out wonderfully, giving us a taste of pure fun for the sake of fun. It does whatever the hell it wants in an attempt to excite you, and it really works. Where things start to fail is when they try to create a darker story, characters, and tone. The serious arc is unfortunately very underwhelming. Although it isn’t bad, it never manages to be as fantastic as the series was beforehand. Flip Flappers really could’ve been something, and I’ll never stop being disappointed that it didn't turn out the way I wanted.
I give Flip Flappers a 6 out of 10
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