Last week, I was talking about how Flip Flappers is strongest when not trying to make any sense, since then it’s free to do whatever surreal thing it pleases. It stands to reason, then, that it is conversely weakest when trying to explain itself. Unfortunately, as a show that lives on constant visual stimulus, Flip Flappers loses a lot of energy the moment it slows down. At the same time, though, it’s probably necessary for Flip Flappers to stop to catch its breath at some point, at least if it wants some kind of coherent narrative before the end instead of just a mass of ambiguous imagery. Not that a mass of ambiguous imagery can’t be compelling, mind you, but there’s already this whole magical girl anime going on already so I guess they might as well make something out of it.
Really, episode 04 is probably the best time for a transition, after making a good case for your show in the first three episodes and having stocked enough goodwill to afford a bit of a slowdown. And it’s not like Flip Flappers completely sacrifices its mystique for the sake of a plot; we can always still rely on the trippy dream sequences to deliver our dose of weird optics, and even though Flip Flappers does offer some explanation for all that has been going on, most of it was in the form of cryptic nonsense anyway. Unless it really does think ‘the amorphous’ is supposed to mean something, in which case, no. No, it does not. Stop it.
In any case, it’s probably less important that we know why everything is happening, and more important that Flip Flappers is questioning why everything is happening. Up until this point Cocona has mostly just been taken along for the ride without putting up much resistant to the frankly rather absurd idea of diving into a surrealistic parallel dimension to search for wish-granting widgets. What’s your motivation, Cocona? Well, she still doesn’t really have one, but it’s good that she acknowledges that. Being able to see her dead family is nice, of course, but there’s no sense that’s what really drove her. It’s supposed to be a deliberate contrast, I think, with Yayaka, who’s driven by—what was it?—TAKING OVER THE WORLD. It seems that, compared to the professional fragment-collecting team, the Cocona and Papika duo don’t have any grand purpose in what they’re doing. They’re just out adventuring and experiencing the Power of Friendship (or, at least, the power of shameless shoujo-ai). There’s a point to be made here, I’m sure.
Staying out of Pure Illusion for an episode is also a good opportunity to take a better look at the world outside, at the normal status quo. Except that there’s really no ‘normal’ in Flip Flappersexcept on a relative scale. We already had a sense that the entire setting of Flip Flappers was rather strange, and now we know for sure. Perhaps it’s simply more juxtaposition here, in that even in the ‘real world’ (if we can call it that) there’s very distinctly the civilised Cocana’s side (quiet and teatime) and wild-child Papika’s side (giant rampaging kiwi birds). Or perhaps everything we see is coloured by our knowledge of Pure Illusion. We sort of expect strangeness, now. Take Cocona’s kindly grandmother, for example. In another setting, she could just be an unimportant family member, but here? This is a surreal fairy tale setting; either the old lady gets eaten by a wolf, or she’s somebody we need to keep an eye on.
Well, no matter how the grandmother turns out, the straight-up wackiness resumes again next week. Now that there are two distinct teams competing, I wonder how the dynamic of these little adventures will change. I hope it’s no less crazy, at least.