Almost, almost an Inception-ending for Flip Flappers, but thankfully, bullet dodged. Not that I didn’t enjoy seeing the grey world where the magic is gone; I think it’s a necessary contrast to all the all of Flip Flappers weird and wonderful, even outside of Pure Illusion. It’s the sort of thing I think we need to be shown at least, as the closest thing to ‘Cocona’s World’—or at least the world she thought she wanted. She’s the protagonist, so this is a necessary development. To end it at that, though, will be a tad too depressing, so although the fake-out is definitely cheating, I’m fine with it. This is, after all, a magical girl show! I’ll accept nothing less than a happy ending for everybody. Zettai daijoubu dayo!
So, yeah, this finale does pretty much everything I want a finale to do. With the advent of the Apocalypse, the stakes were about as high as it ever could be (when Wicked!Mimi said she ‘knew the words’ it definitely made me fret for our protagonists). There was some tasty action to go with the climax. And the story was, more or less, resolved. True, there are still a few questions (okay, many questions) that are yet to be answered (like what Pure Illusion actually is, what Mimi actually is, what the what), but I’ve never considered the answering of questions to be very important for Flip Flappers. It is definitely at its strongest when it is being weird and unexplained, to match the psychedelic visuals. If everything was just a vehicle for the artistic imagery I’d actually be sort of fine with that, but Flip Flappers goes one step further. Where Flip Flappers progresses most is in the furtherance of its themes, and I found that to be much more important than the plot. Flip Flappers is about the nature of love and how it plays into one’s identity, and a discussion of maternal love is the best way to cap it off. Sure, having two actual Mimis playing two different kinds of mothers is not the most subtle fare (especially when one turns into an evil snake), but the point was made well enough. I’m satisfied. And with that, onto the final impressions!
Final Impressions ~ Reality Is Overrated
What a great show Flip Flappers was. I’m sorry for ever thinking any different. When I first watched the first episode I was intrigued, but also had a fear that Flip Flappers would just be a strange, directionless thing. There are many anime that are artistically distinct or visually impressive. Often, though, that is the end of it. Such is the nature of the medium. Anime directors invariably start as animators, and are not necessarily well-versed in the craft of storytelling. It’s one thing to have pretty art, and another to use it to actually say something. While style can go far to compensate for a lack of substance, any show still needs both if it aspires to greatness. Thankfully, Flip Flappers isn’t just artsy for the sake of being artsy (not totally, anyway). Its style is always part of its expression, and it almost always has something to say.
Yes, Flip Flappers is strange. Yes, it’s sometimes confusing. But it’s never actually too hard to follow. It’s influences are always fairly clear, and the overarching plot not actually that important. While Flip Flappers does try for an overarching plot and we do need to keep up with that, Flip Flappers is actually the most effective and memorable when it’s more episodic, telling a specific slice of story and leave the plot to progress in the background. The strongest of Flip Flappers for me is undoubtedly episode 05 and episode 06, where Flip Flappers is mostly concerned about portraying yuri-as-horror, or telling a simple story about a child coming to terms with dementia. In fact, they are some of the best episodes of anime I’ve ever watched. They are the episodes where Flip Flappers was the most comfortable with being surreal and abstract, and to use those tools to tell a story. While the rest of Flip Flappers from there, and its focus on a plot, was still ‘good’ by all means, nothing else really compared to those middle episodes.
Basically, Flip Flappers was strongest when it was truest to its nature—and arguably the fundamental nature of anime. The strength of Flip Flappers is, I would say, the strength of the anime medium as a whole. Anime isn’t realistic, and that’s a great thing. When talking about CG animation, or video games, there seems to be this assumption that they must strive towards graphical realism. They are criticised, sometimes, if they look too ‘cartoony’. Even anime is lauded when its art (especially backgrounds) look ‘realistic’. That’s all well and good, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I think it’s important that we keep in mind that anime doesn’t have to be realistic. If it’s made by people drawing frames, it’s not confined to realism. Draw whatever is effective in communicating the story. I mean, it’s not like reality has a score, yet all shows use background music to build mood and atmosphere. Why not be flexible with the aesthetic as well? When a show like Flip Flappers experiments with visual expression, I’m all for it, because its style is unique to the hand-drawn medium. It does not need to limit itself to the world as we see it, but addresses the world as we experience it—which is much more than photos, no matter how detailed. Obsess yourself not with reality, but with truth. That is art. That is Flip Flappers. That is anime.