It seems that Iroha is less a character and more a plot device, leading Cocona and Papika into this new discussion over the correlation between the real world and Pure Illusion and whether that’s a good thing or not. To be honest, I’m a little confused with Iroha’s new personality. I get her becoming less of a loner but her getting rid of her paintings? That seems odd considering that her art was a huge part of how she bonded with the old lady. At the same time, I don’t think I’m supposed to be hung up on this. What seems to matter more is the broader discussion at hand.
The one most concerned about this is Cocona. She’s beginning to feel hesitant to go into Pure Illusion again, afraid of the consequences. This puts her at odds with Dr. Salt who insists that she and Papika still collect fragments, arguing that it’s too late to back out and pointing out that they could revert things back to normal with enough fragments. The episode doesn’t really divulge much on what Papika thinks on the matter. This is the first time she’s hearing of this but she doesn’t care too much one way or another. Then again, she’s not attached to the status quo the same way Cocona is so her being a bit more neutral makes sense.
Oddly enough, the next trip to Pure Illusion mirrors Cocona’s concerns. The girl finds herself in an exact replica of her town albeit with her being the only resident (who’s running those trolleys is beyond me). She isn’t entirely alone however as she’s accompanied by different versions of Papika. One acts as a little sister. Another wants to sleep with Cocona (look, it’s an anime). Some are genderbent versions of Papika. The list goes on. The emptiness of the world reflects the potential extremities of Pure Illusion’s effect on the real world. All the various Papikas Cocona encounters represents her fear of changing a person’s personality to the point that they’re completely different.
It’s a little complicated as to what conclusion Cocona makes from her time spent in this mirrored world. The most overt statement is that she prefers the original Papika, implying that she’d prefer things to stay the same. However, it also seems like Cocona knows that she can’t do anything about the changes should more occur. She adjusts to the lack of a populace pretty well and lacked any control as to which Papika she’d run into. At one point, one of the Papikas directly asks Cocona if change is a bad thing and if it’d matter if the relations between the people affected remains the same. Cocona isn’t entirely sure herself. Really, Cocona is able to say she prefers the original Papika because she knows the real one still exists. In the end, it seems that Cocona realizes that despite her preference on the aftereffects of Pure Illusion, she’ll just have to deal with them as they occur.
I must say: this episode really floored me with its direction. A lot of wide shots lets you take in the emptiness of the town and Cocona’s loneliness, giving the whole adventure an eerie atmosphere. Some jump cuts occur whenever a version of Papika disappears, making it evident that they are part of the illusion and the lack of control Cocona has over them. One really creative shot has Cocona and Papika leaning at their sides against a bed. Their face is obscured halfway and the frame is dominated by the blanket, both symbolizing how inevitable and unstoppable the changes will be. You still have Flip Flappers‘ trademark goofy visuals, most notably in the character designs of all the different Papikas and the climax of the episode. But for the most part, the visuals are more about taking the most normal looking vista into something more eerie and using visuals to reflect the main theme of the episode. Honestly, between this and the past couple of episodes, I’m really coming around on Flip Flappers‘ artistic merit.
Outside of the main story, there are couple of other peculiar moments. For one, Yayaka is apparently being denied information and clearance to certain facilities by her superiors. The twins meanwhile aren’t which leads me thinking whatever organization Yayaka works for is trying to keep her on a leash, perceiving her as more conscientious. Another is the ending where Papika’s fragment glows and she suddenly remembers a girl named Mimi. Within the same area Papika and Cocona landed in is a man in possession of a fragment who also seems to know who Papika is referring to. I can’t help but want to connect to this Cocona’s vision of the woman welcoming her home. It can’t be a coincidence that both heroines have a mysterious someone in their minds.
Thanks for reading!