The premiere of Flip Flappers ended on a pretty suspenseful note as Cocona and Papika get captured by a mysterious group of robots. Whatever happened to those two, they seem to have made it out okay as Episode 2 begins with Cocona waking up in her home. She can’t seem to recall anything though her arm does feel sore for whatever reason (maybe her captors injected her with something). It’s definitely a strange opener though I suspect it’s intentionally meant to be so.
After that, Cocona faces the fact that she now has one zany companion in her life. A bit harsh of her to avoid Papika and deny that she knows her but I can’t say I blame her. Papika’s presence is clearly disruptive to the tranquil, mundane life Cocona is used to. And understandably, Cocona wants to spare herself the headache of explaining to the class who Papika is, let alone how the two of them know each other. Along the way, Cocona discovers that her pet rabbit, Uexkull (is there a reason his fur is green?), has accidentally stowed himself inside her school bag. As she tries to keep him from public eye, the rabbit gets sucked away by a vacuum cleaner that happens to be the portal to the next Pure Illusion. That is indeed what happens.
What a wild adventure this turn out to be. The first world was weird but there was a dreamy quality to it, at least before the monsters appeared. This one however feels straight out of an acid trip, right down to the warped appearance and psychedelic variety of colors within the aesthetic. There’s also less and rhyme and reason to the place, starting off in the outdoors before somehow ending with a facility that’s filled to the brim with various deathtraps. While in the world, the characters’ appearance changes. Hilariously, Uexkull takes form of a muscular rabbit-like man and dons a cape. Dude looks like he got pulled from a Gainax anime. Meanwhile, the girls sprout rabbit ears and a tail. In additional to their appearance, they also gain the urge to nibble on something solid. That change in behavior is more pronounced with Cocona than it is with Papika. Her normal, pre-rabbity self wouldn’t dare do something this unbecoming and it’s interesting seeing her give into it at times.
There’s some neat character development for Papika in this episode. Right before entering Pure Illusion, Cocona tells her that she’s bothered by how carefree and reckless she is. It gives the impression that she’s too unconcerned for her own life and combined with how dangerous Pure Illusion is, it’s something Cocona doesn’t want on her conscience. Papika later realizes what her friend means when she sees her and Uexkull nearly perish in the deathtrap facility, feeling the same concern and fear Cocona does about her. She does activate her magical girl power and save them but she nevertheless understand Cocona’s reluctance to go adventuring with her. Fortunately, that newfound awareness is enough to convince Cocona to bear with Papika and explore Pure Illusion with her on occasion (though let’s not kid ourselves, it’s going to be almost every episode).
A couple of other moments stand out to me. During school, Cocona observes a painting depicting a darkened forest set against a red sky and converses with a member of the art club about it. Is this girl going to be an important character? Judging by her character design, she’s too distinct to be an extra. At the end of the episode, Papika introduces Cocona to Flip Flap, the organization she apparently works for. This includes meeting the leader of the group, Salt (Kenjiro Tsuda), and Cocona sure glances at him for a decent of period of time. Methinks there’s a connection between those two. Finally, there’s Yayaka (Ayaka Ohashi), Cocona’s childhood friend. She noticeably takes issue with Papika’s overt friendliness around Cocona and even finds out what her friend has been up to during the end of the episode. Granted, I have seen enough Flip Flappers to know a bit about what Yayaka’s deal is.
Thanks for reading!