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Flip Flappers – 03

「ピュアXLR」 (Pyua XLR)
“Pure XLR”

If you had asked me, before the season started, what kind of anime I thought Flip Flappers would be like, I definitely would not have said Fist of the North Star. No, that would have been very far down on my list of likely models for Flip Flappers, next to Junjou Romantica and Grave of the Fireflies. Yet here we are, in the year 20XX, punching people in the post-apocalyptic desert wasteland. And along with Fist of the North Star there also seems to be some Mad Max and, judging from the Jawa vs Tusken conflict, some Star Wars as well. Everything featuring ‘guest star: sand’. Point is, those aren’t exactly magical girl titles. Unless you make an argument for Princess Leia (spoilers).

Despite the insolubility of this episode’s genres, Flip Flappers still insists on sticking to being a magical girl show. Actually, wait, does it? Sure, we finally have a full transformation sequence three weeks into the series, but when it is triggered not by the powers of love and justice but by the powers of magical sweet potato, yet still goes full Sailor Moon anyway, one has to wonder whether we’re actually in parody territory. How serious is Flip Flappers about, well, anything? Not that it doesn’t play things straight, per se, just that sometimes playing things straight is actually ridiculous. In a good way, perhaps, but still we wonder, as our girls pull out a giant cigarette lighter to fire like a cannon, what Flip Flappers actually is about, three episodes in.

Perhaps it’s because Flip Flappers is one big mass of symbolism, and freely open to interpretation. What you get out of Flip Flappers, I suspect, depends much on what you see in it, subjectively. It’s something of an anime Rorschach test; some will see a butterfly, some will see an ugly smudge. For example, perhaps in this episode Flip Flappers juxtaposes the magical girl transformation, which is supposed to symbolise purity, with an antagonistic cast of sadomasochistic hedonists as a commentary on sexuality and the release of the untrammeled id. Or perhaps it’s all just fanservice. Don’t stare at it too hard.

For now, there is certainly some strength in Flip Flapper‘s fluidity. Being set in a surreal world, things just happen, without a reason. In other words, Flip Flappers to just do whatever it wants. Sure, quite a few relevant plot details popped up this week (oh hey, these robots look familiar) but it’s mostly cryptic nonsense anyway. And it’s important that there’s some level of obfuscation. For one, mystery is tantalising, so it keeps viewers hooked, but also because if Flip Flappers starts making too much sense it’ll lose its surrealism and in turn its ability to go wild. And I anime should indulge in a bit of crazy now and then. Reality has been done to death.

Verdict after three episodes: Flip Flappers remains one of them most interesting shows of the season. I would definitely recommend it, even though that’s not actually easy to do because it’s so hard to describe to the uninitiated with just words. That in itself makes Flip Flappers a worthwhile watch, I think. However it turns out, I think It’ll certainly at least be an experience.

 

Preview

October 21, 2016 at 11:38 am
11 comments »
  • October 21, 2016 at 12:06 pmFuwa Fuwa

    This show must know I really enjoyed Panty and Stocking because that was almost what 1/3 of this episode was. While it was entertaining, I’m having similar issues where I don’t know how much is supposed to be parody, but then I shortly surrender to the show’s vague-ish goal of just kind of having stuff happen.

    I think the Rorschach test is the best comparison for this, because I can certainly see people having a blast of a show being unhinged, experimental and colorful, and it succeeds at that and something I can appreciate. But when they’re fighting a big foe, and they summon a giant cannon because…they can do that suddenly, then I really start to get lost. Sometimes it cares about the story, sometimes it doesn’t, and that’s something I know that can make or break someone’s interest, as things really tread a line between being viewed as being creative and being a deus ex machina.

    It’s certainly one of the “on the fence” shows I’ve seen in a while. I really want to like it, I can see people being engaged with the animation and colors, both things I do appreciate, but I can’t fully get onboard with it because of it being so unhinged. Though I will say I love what they did with Yayaka, albeit it feels strange they do this reveal this early on, but seeing what her role in this now really made me interested to see what she goes about doing now.

  • October 21, 2016 at 12:12 pmyoloalchemist

    This is anime really makes my mind work a lot with its going-ons. One moment it makes sense, another I just think its straight-forward magical girl on crack. It’s a rather different (if not unique) package altogether. Which is to say, I will be staying around for this anime. It is as you said Passerby, it will at least be an experience. And am I understand that you will be covering it all the way? Because your kind of insight is the best I could think of for it.

    • October 21, 2016 at 10:09 pmPasserby

      We’re currently ironing out the schedule for the season right now. Stay tuned.

  • October 21, 2016 at 1:57 pmdean

    I think the overall theme of the series is going to be some kind of coming-of-age story. It seems that Cocona is going to face the issues of becoming an adult through Pure Illusion. Being lost when it comes to the future, having no real sense of self, the changing body, experiencing unknown things, fear, social stigmata and of course sexuality, experiencing the opposite and same sex, but also inner desires and sexual frustation and trying to handle all that stuff.

  • October 21, 2016 at 2:11 pmdanny

    Completely enjoying this. It reminds a bit of Kaiba, in how we get to explore a totally new world/universe/planet/illusion each episode and they are all pretty whacked out/absurd/surreal/inventive/fun.

    Bonus in this ep’s illusion is an interactive population. I found this ep’s first nemesis (she of the unusually useful thigh-highs) and the transformation sequences to be oddly “adult” in an old 90′s MTV Liquid TV kind of way.

    And, yeah, I was getting some cheeky parody vibe all along from the first. Total enjoyment. The only irritant for me was the constant “Cocona Cocona Cocona” we kept having to hear in the first two. I can live with it.

  • October 21, 2016 at 2:36 pmEnan84

    This show becomes better and better. It’s amazing how efficient they are with storytelling, skipping the transition to the next place and explaining it later with cut-backs. So can spend more time on the important stuff, whatever that it:

    http://randomc.net/image/Flip%20Flappers/Flip%20Flappers%20-%2003%20-%20Large%2029.jpg

    Sexuality is certainly a major theme of flip flappers. Last episode explored more primordial states of lust, while this episode explored sexual dependency and feelings of inferiority. I’m not satisfied with the solution of the quite interesting conflicts: raw magical power and hope the conflicts and their solution become more complex and require some growth of character:

    http://randomc.net/image/Flip%20Flappers/Flip%20Flappers%20-%2003%20-%20Large%2017.jpg

  • October 21, 2016 at 4:47 pmFaolin Eye

    A random bit of information about the symbolism at the end of the episode: the figures who are clad in robes chant the name of ‘Asclepius’ which might be a reference to the god of healing and rejuvenation in Greek mythology. Plus Asclepius had a snake-entwined staff as his attribute which is similar to the obelisk into which the ‘priest’ figure injected the fragment. However, as for the meaning of this I’m still in the dark, maybe it represents somehow that he antagonists’ goals are linked to healing so in the end they won’t ultimately be the bad guys.

    As for the show itself, I’m still enjoying it to the fullest, the wacky colour schemes and the odd references really make it a fun watch while the potential for a deeper story lingers on continuously.

    • October 21, 2016 at 10:08 pmPasserby

      Note for the Americans: the medical symbol is the rod of Asclepius. Please stop bothering Hermes.

  • October 22, 2016 at 2:00 pmRedRocket

    I like it. Wanted to say you just tell people it’s like your last good trip on shrooms or LSD but that might not fit ;)

  • October 22, 2016 at 7:35 pmqwert

    The feeling I get thematically from this show is like… if Space Dandy had cute magical girls.

  • October 23, 2016 at 7:08 amKF