Full Anime Series Review: Flip Flappers
Flip Flappers starts with Cocona, a pretty typical middle-school girl. Cocona is exploring on the outskirts of her school and finds a huge pipe... thing. She rests against it, and out comes a girl about her age named Papika. Papika is... insane. Together, the pair start going on adventures inside a world Papika calls Pure Illusion; a kind of dream/fantasy world. Inside Pure Illusion, Papika and Cocona gain rare magical abilities.
But they find out quickly that Pure Illusion is no game. They meet Cocona's friend and classmate Yayaka, and two little Rei Ayanami twins, who warn the main duo about the dangers of Pure Illusion. This is a game that definitely will get scarier as the series progresses. So what is Pure Illusion? Who made it? Why does it even exist? Hop on your flying surfboard and take a ride into the mind to find out.
Magical Girl, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Flip Flappers is most similar in plot to Puella Magi Madoka Magica. In that both stories focus on a magical girl duo, wherein one half of the duo knows much more about everything that's going on than the other half. There are some things that also reminded me of Neon Genesis Evangelion and Kill La Kill, but that's not to say this show wasn't original. Flip Flappers is a clever anime. One thing I liked about it were all the meaningful callbacks later episodes had referencing earlier episodes. It had that good mix of good action and good storytelling. Almost all the main characters were interesting and emotionally compelling, while still seeming real and human.
But, Flip Flappers has its flaws. You start out thinking it's going to be "happy fantasy adventure of the week" and then it gets darker, and it would have been totally fine if they had kept it light-hearted as a show about two friends exploring a dreamland. The plot gets kind of convoluted and some things in it don't make total sense. The main organizations behind the creation of Pure Illusion don't have clear intentions, goals, or motivation. While the final episode is moving, I didn't necessarily feel like everything important had been wrapped up neatly in just 13 episodes. So maybe this show could use a second season.
Flip Flappers is kind of an anime tropes kitchen sink. This anime seems to do fantasy, magical girl, school-age slice of life stuff, and science fiction all at once, and the result is a kind of messy soup of what feels like many anime styles mashed together. One episode shows zombie-like ghost girls. One shows a villain who looks similar to the rival characters Scanty and Knee-Socks from Panty and Stocking. You have magical girls with transformations and magical gemstones and a transformation phrase they have to yell, like in Sailor Moon, and a hunt to find all the magical whatevers like you see in Inuyasha or Cardcaptor Sakura. You have a brain in a computer like the Magi in Neon Genesis Evangelion, and a scheming scientist similar to Gendo in Salt. There's one episode with a mech battle. You have a battle in the center of the mind like in Paprika, and you have a character trying to trap the main character in a fantasy world because of a kind of obsessive love like in Rebellion or a Tenchi Muyo movie I saw once called Tenchi Muyo in Love. In one episode, they go into a person's memories and change the present, but they never do this or talk about it again, it doesn't turn out to have any lasting consequences for the character involved. It almost feels like each episode has no connection to each other episode. The ending tries to bring it all together, and doesn't do that very successfully. Basically, Flip Flappers is a mishmash, a kind of tossed anime salad.
Basically, it's enchanting, pretty, and memorable, but after you're no longer dazzled by the art, the story is just so-so.