Flip Flappers – 12
It’s easy to forget, in the excitement of each episode, that Flip Flappers is still fundamentally a magical girl anime. And magical girl anime, fundamentally, are coming-of-age stories. More so than the cute mascots and the glittery transformations, the narrative structure of these shows are defined by the protagonist (a young girl, of course) overcoming a series of obstacles and maturing as a person because of them. You don’t need me telling you this, you know it well; every other anime is a coming-of-age story. Magical girl anime, though, being supposedly targeted at Japanese girls still trying to figure out what it means to be an adult, often have a more targeted focus: motherhood. They by no means have a monopoly on this subject, but it is one borne of their demographic. It’s easy to find magical girls with very specific relationships with their mothers. Nurturing mothers, overbearing mothers, and the ever popular absentee mothers—they all, in their own ways, define what ‘coming-of-age’ actually means. Flip Flappers, it seems, tries to do it all at once, with Mimi being able to play many different maternal figures. She starts out missing, of course, and Cocona lacks guidance and direction. When Mimi shows up again, she comes in two aspects, keeping with Flip Flappers‘ theme about perception and optical illusions. There’s the ‘nice’ one, who mostly only gives gentle advice. And there’s the less nice one, the wrathful matriarch, who is her daughter’s protective shield and vengeful sword. The latter is the more interesting one, since it’s done somewhat less. She’s actually less a foil for her softer half, and more one for Papika. Cocona is framed as someone who needs another to take her hand. When Papika does, she takes Cocona on all manner of dangerous adventures. No adventures for Mother Mimi, though. She doesn’t approve of them. She doesn’t approve of a lot of things, actually, including these new friends. Bad influences, friends. Don’t need them. Mother knows best. Mother will provide. You just have to follow mother.
That’s what Flip Flappers is, in a nutshell, I think. It’s about Cocona’s issues with her mother. When she was first journeying through Pure Illusion (Mimi’s world, it turns out), she was subconsciously seeking her mother. Now, in Pure Illusion Repeat Mode, she is stepping out of her mother’s shadow. And, of course, giving Yayaka the chance to experience the same journey and discover the power of love and football.
Otherwise, it seems that Flip Flappers is content with just doing whatever weird thing it wants. I’m mostly fine with this, as that’s where Flip Flappers is actually the strongest, in my opinion, when it isn’t burdened by cumbersome things like plot and can focus on just expression. So bring on your sudden motorbikes and outfield shippings and all the FABULOUS still in reserve. It’s not Flip Flappers if it’s not kooky. I am somewhat concerned, though, that not all the loose ends with be tied up in a satisfying manner in the finale. It seems most of the plot is actually done at this point, so there’s actually a good amount of time to tidy up, but there’s much to do on the side. The twins show some sign of emotion, that Uynuynuynuynuynuyn girl remains the biggest red herring of the series having done nothing of import whatsoever, and, of course, Papika’s forgotten past. That last one, especially. Isn’t she actually old enough to be Cocona’s mother? The shoujo-ai triplet is going to get kinda creepy.