While I admit that I was impressed with the first episode of Flip Flappers, I had my worries as well. With a show that relies heavily on wild visuals, on their own brand of logic and very loose sense on plot, it walks a really tightrope to hold everything together for a full core season, and when it falls it’ll fall hard. Being said that I would never have imagined that this second episode plays out almost the same formula with the first, and ends up even more remarkable.
The ambitious relationship between the leads Cocona and Papika is one aspect that I found rather intriguing. I know this is the most bizarre comparison you will ever see but the duo’s relationship reminds me a lot of the two women in the classic movie Persona by Ingmar Bergman. In that movie, the strange bond between the two women keeps involving into something twisted and destructive, and then the movie implied that the two leads are part of the same person, like an actress put on some other persona on herself to escape the reality. Now, I’m not imply that Cocona and Paprika are one person (it would be boring if they are), but looking at them thematically, they might as well represent the dual sides of girlhood. For once, they are extremely contrasted each other in terms of personality: Cocona is timid but secure, Papika is playful and head-on. Granted, mismatch duo has been done a million times before but the thing about this couple is they never seem mismatched, instead they function like two sides of the same coin. Then we have Pure Illusion which basically mean the two have to tuning together in order to go to that fantasy world. Lastly, this second episode intentionally draws the parallel line with the first when this time, this is Papika who powered up and saved Cocona. Those two make up a great pair and I think that ambition creates a strange but poignant chemistry between them that I can’t quite put my finger on, but I’m enjoying it all the more.
While people often highlight the second part when the girls travel to that other worlds as Flip Flappers’ highpoint, this is the first part on Cocona’s schoolday that I’m more impressed. If you think of the second part as an acid dream, the first part functions as Cocona’s lucid dream. After all, the first thing we witness in this episode was Cocona waking up from her bed. And by that I don’t mean she’s literally in her dream state the whole episode, but rather the show follows her dream logic. Supporting characters pop in and out like ghosts (especially the yellow-hair girl Yayaka and the art-club girl who weren’t even introduced). Again there is that sense of isolation: Except from the bus scene and the class sequence, most of the time there are just the leads and no one else. And finally, that weird mascot character: Uxekull. Uxekull’s strangely afraid of Papika (played mostly for laugh though), and then get sucked under the Thinking Man statue (because WHY THE HELL NOT?), so the girls going down there as well to get him back. Well, this time it seems like they were put in another Pure Illusion that heavily influenced by Uxekull’s mind: the girls transform into bunnies and have an urge to gnaw on hard things. Now, you can take that as an “instinct vs. reason” or as a sexual innuendo all you like, I’m not going that far. Then Cocona got sucked in that giant washing machine, pulled off to the cage that descended to hellfire (not unlike the hellfire in Utena, indeed I think this gem share many similarities to Utena) and was rescued in time by Papika. Uxekull’s version in that world looks whimsical and bravery at best so I don’t mind having him around every now and then. Only every now and then.
For anyone who simply watch Flip Flappers for its visuals, there’s still a lot to love here. Optical illusion references are everywhere in the first episode (right in the very first image of the first episode). The animation again is fluid and character’s movements in particular is in top-notch. I even enjoy the character’s designs myself as I see them very expressive. References to fairy tales are all there as well, from Papika’s dress to ‘disguise’ as a new student, to that otherworldly fantasy world, to the catchy ending theme. The overload of colors work for the show’s benefit too, as it displays the colorful fantasy worlds that both invited and twisted at the same time.
After those 2 episodes, the plot was still pretty much kept in the dark. But what do we have so far? Papika has tuned in with other girls before, but apparently, they’re all failed, but what happen to them? There was a brief scene of unconscious girl in the first episode, but whether she’s dead or not is unknown to us. The leads have to go that Pure Illusions world in order to retrieve fragments that can grant true wish (another fairy tale’s reference), but for what purpose? Dr. Salt has mentioned they do that to liberate Pure Illusion, of course it sounds very vague and he seems to use the girls for his own purpose here. The other staffs, on the other hand, seem nice enough. Judging from the OD, that girl Yayaka and the twin from first episode will play some roles here, and I’m waiting to see whether the picture that the girls see building up to anything in the future. The thing is there’s not much info for us to work with, but in a way, it is what makes this show so special. With this type of show, if it makes too much sense, it will loose its sparks so here’s hoping that the show has what it takes to continue to surprise us for 12 episodes.