「ピュアコンポーネント」 (Pyuakonpōnento )
I have mostly given up on understanding Flip Flappers. Whether it even wants to be understood is debatable. Certainly, bringing transparency to its plot does not seem to a short-term priority. In fact, it seems to revel in its opaqueness. There’s no need for the Jojo-theatrics, Flip Flappers. You’re enjoying how little anyone knows about anything a tad too much. If you want to keep the mystique going it’s fine to just stick with Dr Salt’s cryptic nonsense. You want to keep your cards close, I understand. It’s cool. I’m fine with following along and being generally confused.
I should know this, shouldn’t I? When I wrote the preview for Flip Flappers I quite confidently identified the wish-granting fragments our magical girls were collecting as the ‘Shards of Mimi’ without knowing what that actually meant, and sure enough, the show punishes me for it by not actually using that name at all and only now popping up an alleged Mimi in a monochrome flashback. Well, my bad. They fact that Flip Flappers is attaching faces to proper nouns, though, is a good sign. It shows that FF knows what its plot looks like, and is still dedicated to dripping it through our IVs every episode. To be honest, though, I’m not actually too concerned about the plot. For a show like this, which is one big mass of imagery and symbolism only haphazardly held together by a plot, more important, for me, is what it stands for thematically. Flip Flappers is chock full of ideas, and I want to see them come together. Good news: they do seem to be with each episode, and quite clearly in this one.
I obliquely described Flip Flappers as being confusing earlier, but it’s not quite that. At least, it’s confusing in a ‘good’ way, if that’s possible. So, usually when an anime is confusing, it’s because it’s messy nonsense created by a writer who doesn’t have a very good grasp of logic, or perhaps a director who didn’t block a scene very well. There’s a failure of communication between the show and the audience. But Flip Flappers doesn’t suffer like that. I’d say it communicates perfectly effectively; no matter what it shows me, I am engaged and follow along. Rather than not getting its ideas across, Flip Flappers gets an overabundance of ideas across. I consider that a good thing, for the most part. It’s simply constantly mentally (and visually, and sometimes even emotionally) stimulating every step of the way. Yayaka makes a remark about Pure Illusion being Hell. It’s filled with trials and arranged in levels so… is it Hell, of Dante’s circles or perhaps Buddhism’s myriad layers? But Bowl-Cut talks about Pure Illusion as a mix of different perceptions, perhaps referencing Jung’s collective unconscious, and maybe that’s what changed Iro-senpai. Flip Flappers wants us to look at everything from multiple angles, it seems, and that, along with all its homages and references (the psychology, of course, and the train scene feels like Spirited Away while the abyss is from Howl’s Moving Castle) means that Flip Flappers is at least never dull. But constantly asking questions—throwing out ideas—is easy. Answering them is the hard part.
As I said, it does seem to be something Flip Flappers is doing. The most consistent thread, in all of FF‘s methodical madness, is that we always see things from Cocona’s perspective, even as FF acknowledges that it’s not the only one (e.g. it always seems that Papika goes missing, even if it’s arguably the other way around). And so much of the show is about her mindset, and in this episode how she views her relationship with Papika. Being the analytical one, it’s almost as if Cocona experiments with a whole bunch before concluding that none of them feel quite right. So, what is Cocona x Papika? More than ever, I’m convinced that they’re two halves of a greater whole, symbolically or otherwise. Whatever they be—Id and Ego, rational and emotional, left and right hemispheres, anima and animus—they succeed together and fail apart. It makes for a neat contrast with Yayaka, at any rate. I had thought her perhaps part of a trio with Cocona and Papika—as the Superego or something, I dunno—but more and more she’s the odd one out. In a world that emphasises pairs, she is along, and is thus considered inferior to the twins. She alone of those who adventure in Pure Illusion has drive and purpose, but she’s also the most disposable pawn.
I’m sure some would think I’m reading too much into everything, and that I should just sit back and enjoy the show as is. But what is Flip Flappers, as is? I truly think it wants us to seek that out ourselves. It’s certainly more fun that way. But I guess I wouldn’t be a blogger if I thought otherwise.
Full-length images: 04.