I’ve seen Flip Flappers back when it was airing in Fall 2016, at the four episode mark according to my MyAnimeList account. I don’t really remember the show too well though I’ve dug through some old writings on MAL and apparently, I wasn’t too hot on the series. However, I’ve heard a lot of good things about this show so I’ve been meaning to give it a second chance. Since it’s in the backlog, I figured I’d give it a candidacy in the review polls. The show has been on the poll twice. With the first one, Twitter got a bit weird with the calculations, telling me it won third place at times or tied for second with Yuki Yuna is a Hero at others. I stuck with the former count though I think I would’ve used my tiebreaker on YuYuYu anyway. The second time around however, it’s the clear winner so here we are.
So why I didn’t I like Flip Flappers at the time? Based on my old MAL posts (and no, you can’t see them anymore), my 2016 self apparently thought the show was light on story. I even wrote the story “feels too much of an afterthought” and “it just feels like the writers went with the barest minimum possible”. That is based on what little I’ve seen so take these old words of mine with a grain of salt. However, I must admit that as I watched the premiere again, I can kind of see how I or really anyone can come to that conclusion. The story does feel like it’s all over the place.
From what I can tell, Flip Flappers revolve around Cocona (Minami Takahashi) and Papika (M.A.O.). Cocona is your typical middle schooler while Papika is some sort of test subject from a laboratory. The two meet and along with a robot named TT-392 (Kazuyuki Okitsu), they fall through tunnel and somehow end up in a realm called Pure Illusion. The area they explore in Episode 1 is a winter wonderland. While exploring, the girls find out the snow tastes sweet and run into giant, snow-covered beasts. Cocona loses her glasses in the encounter, Papika almost dies to retrieve them, and Cocona becoming a magical girl to save her. After their adventure, they kidnapped by robots. I swear, I’m not making any of this up.
It’s a head-scratcher through and through. Not much is explained regarding Papika, Pure Illusion, or the power Cocona activates at the end. Some additional curiosities are mysterious twins observing papika and a woman Cocona sees in her dreams. Some leniency does need to be exercised as the show is likely saving the explanations for later (at least I think it is) but as far as first impressions are concerned, it does feel like the show is a bit light on story.
This isn’t to say Flip Flappers is bad at telling its story however. I didn’t notice this the first time around but the show exercises “show, don’t tell” quite well. By visuals alone, you can easily see the contrast between Cocona and Papika. Cocona lives a mundane life, unsure of her future and trying very hard to act mature. Papika is clearly living for the adventure with not much a care in the world. Additionally, the show conveys Papika’s interest in Cocona visually. She follows Cocona around, initiates their first meeting, and risks her life to retrieve Cocona’s glasses as she notices they’re important to her. We’ll see about the writing but the visuals do seem to be doing a solid job with telling the story.
Speaking of the visuals, these are some top notch stuff on a technical level. That’s the one thing I remember about the show and it seems to still hold true. There’s some really gorgeous scenery to be found here, be it from the streets of Cocona’s town to the rubble she finds in the middle of the woods to the winter wonderland she and Papika stumble upon in Pure Illusion. Cocona and Papika are very expressive with their faces and body language. The action is stunningly animated and in traditional fashion to boot with no trace of CGI to be found (and if there is CGI, this animators did a darn good job hiding it). All in all, this is definitely a studio’s A-game. I don’t know if 3Hz still has it in them, their most recent shows have frankly looked pretty underwhelming, but if they get cracking again, I hope that work looks as visually arresting as this.
We’ll see how Flip Flappers fares for me as a whole. I’ll admit that I still get the impression this is style over substance. That said, I enjoyed this first episode quite a bit and I can’t deny that this show does have style. And if the story really does pull through, that’s even better.
OP: “Serendipity” by ZAQ
ED: “FLIP FLAP FLIP FLAP” by TO-MAS feat.Chima
Thanks for reading!