The end is almost near with me and Flip Flappers. While the primary plot is Papika and Yayaka rescuing Cocona from Mimi, there’s actually a lot of other stuff happening in parallel. Salt heads for the Asclepius base with Sayuri, Nyunyu, and TT-392 to use their technology which sounds risky given that the specific device he’s looking for is what drove his father insane. Hidaka stays beyond and remotely gives TT-392 an upgraded body; a bit random though I do find it funny how the upgrade only barely improves the robot’s physical capabilities. Meanwhile, Yuyu prioritizes on treating Toto’s injuries, even ignoring an order from a barely surviving Asclepius member to do so.
While it is kind of neat to see the entire cast so involved in the story for a change, I can’t help but think how underdeveloped some of Flip Flappers‘ supportive cast is. Salt is pretty interesting and Yuyu having a bit of an arc is a pleasant surprise but we barely know Sayuri and Hidaka and Nyunyu does little that you have to wonder what the point of her is. I would chalk that up to a lack of time but given the size of the cast in proportion to how many episodes there are, it doesn’t sound that good of a excuse.
For the last foray into Pure Illusion, Flip Flappers treats us with a trip down memory lane as Mimi forces Papika and Yayaka to go through the various places they’ve been to before. Not every location reappears, the ones from the middle episodes are noticeably absent, but the big action set pieces such as the desert wasteland from Episode 3 and the cyberpunk city in Episode 8 are present. It’s a fitting enough backdrop for the final stretch of the series though I’ll admit that it’s also a rather safe choice to go with. Maybe it’s on me for expecting something wilder but considering how omnipotent Mimi is, can anyone blame me for doing so?
What carries the episode for me is the character development. While it’s a bit vague how long Cocona has been in Pure Illusion, it’s clear that Mimi has indoctrinated her into saying in that dimension. In fact, Cocona seems to have no will of her own at the moment, blankly staring at her friends’ efforts in rescuing her and not objecting to her mother’s actions. It’s an interesting spin on Cocona’s struggle with agency. Since the beginning of the show, she hadn’t a clue about her future and more or less accompany Papika because it allowed her to break out of the monotony. Mimi essentially takes advantage of that by promising to all the decision making for her. Of course, this is only a temporary development and Cocona does eventually snap out of it. And with her accepting Papika and Yayaka’s aid, Cocona returns to making her own decisions, putting a satisfying turn on her arc.
The other two characters also get to shine as well. Papika affirms that she wants to specifically save Cocona and has finally come to see Mimi and Cocona as separate people (I’m sure the fact that one of them is trying to kill her helps with that). Yayaka is also in a similar case, fully acknowledging her friendship with Cocona and expressing her desire to reconcile with her. In fact, it’s that desire that allows Yayaka to use her amorphous fragment to become a magical girl herself. It’s a concrete way of showing how adamant Yayaka is about her feelings and it’s so satisfying seeing her be gifted with the same abilities as her heroines. My only nitpick is that she doesn’t come up with her own magical girl name (come on Yayaka, it’s tradition).
Even though she’s late addition to the cast, Flip Flappers has done a solid job with characterizing Mimi. She’s a great villain on paper and she’s proving to match that with execution with how unnerving her overprotectiveness for Cocona can get. I especially like her interactions with Papika as they show how far their relationship has fallen. Papika tries to reason with her and Mimi goes as far as to rewrite her memories just to silence her. It’s just plain sad seeing Mimi cut off her friend like that. Meanwhile, you learn that the old, good Mimi still exists, helping Cocona snap out of her daze. It’s here that you learn Mimi’s real intent: that she wants Cocona to make her own choices since she never could growing up. This kind of opens the door for Mimi to be saved though it could also just be her good self trying to do one good thing before allowing herself to be killed.
The last scene is a little bit odd. Cocona and Papika seemingly obtain a new transformation, presumably of their own creation as opposed to relying on the amorphous fragments. Despite evil Mimi turning into a giant monster in retaliation, our heroines defeat her in one punch and the episode ends right there. It’s a bit anti-climatic for my liking though with one episode left, there’s a good chance that this battle is far from over.
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