「ピュアブレーカー」 (Pyuaburēkā )
Perhaps it’s because Flip Flappers has been so consistently stand-out with everything it does, but I haven’t been noticing that Flip Flappers hasn’t been serving up the crazy action that has been one of its key highlights. It’s only now, after an episode or two of introspection, and as Flip Flappers back towards spectacle, that I’m remembering that Flip Flappers is actually crazy. Completely off its rocker. And that’s wonderful. So, while we didn’t even get a transformation sequence last week, this week we have multiple, and not even in the right genre.
Make no mistake, this week is very much a fanservice episode, in every way. It’s not just that the entire cast sallies forth into Pure Illusion conspicuously dressed, but also because, well, giant robots. Flip Flappers doesn’t tiptoe around this point—both swimsuits and robots are, essentially, male fantasies sourced from testosterone. And it’s a curious thing to mash into a magical girl anime like Flip Flappers nominally is. While magical girls were supposed to target a demographic of young girls and super robots were supposed to target a demographic of young boys, the adolescent anime otaku seem to have claimed both. The two genres actually share a lot in both themes and motif, but my theory is that transforming and fighting is all anyone cares about, so here we are. That part is the gratification. It’s the fanservice. We all know that the two robots are going to combine. And not only do we expect it, we demand it. That’s the part that feels good. It’s the flourish before stomping on the bad guys that prompts the audience to cheer and celebrate, purely there for the applause. We know it. They know we know it. Everybody is fine with it.
I wonder, though, if this fanservice episode was not also something of a metaphor for the larger Flip Flappers plot. Often does Pure Illusion seem to mirror the world ‘outside’, and here we have it once more, in spades. Is Pops not a melodramatic Dr Hidaka? Does he not have a Flip Flap of his very own? Pops built his futuristic, abstract world, under threat from shadowy forces; is it the same for Hidaka? Is Pure Illusion the work of man, now imperiled by… whomever Yayaka works for, I guess. And how about Yayaka? In more plot-relevant development, she’s slowly coming around, though at the expense of her peer reviews. What better way is there to break Yayaka out of her shell than super robots? Yayaka’s always been (or made a show of being) a no-nonsense, purely business sort, while on the other hand super robots are, frankly, stupid. They’re unwieldy. They run on magic and wishful thinking. You have to shout your attacks. And you can’t even use your most powerful ones until the end of the fight. They’re stupid. But also awesome. They’re an invitation to willingly throw away rationality, something which is obviously difficult for Yayaka but it’s the only way she’s going to be part of the trio instead of the odd girl out.
So what am I trying to say, in the end? Once again, a great episode of Flip Flappers, at once a definite crowd-pleaser and also a substantive piece of the narrative. We’re definitely going somewhere, but each step of the way is shamelessly entertaining, and the juggling act is an achievement in and of itself. Of course, we’ll need to see where we actually end up with the plot, since that’s the ball that’s been constantly in the air. So, once again: