First Look: Flip Flappers

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Anime original by Studio 3Hz
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

Cocona is an ordinary middle school girl in an ordinary town, but one day she runs into the mysterious Papika, a sky-surfing girl accompanied by a fussy robot. Together they’re spirited away to the world of Pure Illusion, a mysterious alternate dimension full of whimsy and danger.

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Zigg’s verdict: Down the Rabbit Hole

Given my long history of enjoying highly artsy, surreal anime, it’s little surprised I adored Flip Flappers. Blending the surrealist leanings of an Ikuhara work with a slightly more loose, comedic style and a smattering of magical girl tropes, it’s truly a unique thing and that’s always something I’m up for more of. Director Kiyotaka Oshiyama cut his teeth on doing key animation for some of the most artistically high powered projects of recent years (Space Dandy, Evangelion 2.0, The Wind Rises) and it’s immediately apparent that this is a show that will do just as much storytelling through visuals as it does through writing. The gorgeous animation, pastel colour palette, and scratchy, energetic characters bring a beautiful dreamlike feel to proceedings, backed up by the lack of any heavy exposition to rag down the freewheeling acid trip. There’s certainly a few reasons for concern – Papika’s weirdly fanservicey skin-suit, the memory of The Rolling Girls – but as it stands this is my favourite debut of the season at a walk.

Iro’s verdict: Beautifully Bizarre

I wasn’t expecting to see a surrealist magical girl show this season, but Flip Flappers definitely stands out among the generically bad Matoi the Sacred Slayer and the Light Novel Hell of Raising Project. The soft colors and strange landscapes give everything a dreamlike feel, which I’m sure is the whole point. While I personally don’t tend towards liking this sort of thing very much, I can definitely see the appeal, especially with the dearth of artistically interesting shows lately. I’ll keep Flip Flappers on the radar.

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Aqua’s verdict: Curiouser and Curiouser

Did somebody say Kyousougiga? With its futuristic fairytale setting, high octane action and figure-it-out-for-yourself approach to storytelling, Flip Flappers certainly merits the comparison. Though while Kyousougiga still had a plot of sorts, Flip Flappers seems to be a imaginative free-for-all with characters going on widely different adventures every week, a la Space Dandy – not unimportantly the most significant credit on director Kiyotaka Oshiyama’s record. Like that show, Flip Flappers is often inexplicable and entirely unwilling to explain its colourful dreamscapes and it’s all for the better. In a medium dominated by strained exposition and a nigh-pathological urge to curb viewers’ imagination, this show’s invitation to make of its exhilarating bliss what you will is a welcome antidote.

That doesn’t mean Flip Flappers leaves the creativity up to its audience, however. Every frame beams with whimsy and joy appealing for their own sakes; Flip Flappers doesn’t bother explaining anything because it simply doesn’t need to. Granted, its framing devices often aren’t nearly as creative as the overall presentation – lethargic student meet mysterious manic pixie dream girl, run from shady organization, act like they’re just married, etc. – yet the fact that Flip Flappers itself seems to care about as little for its ‘plot’ as I do should tell you enough on how much this factor weighs on the overall experience. Above all, Flip Flappers is a curious, colourful celebration of everything that makes animation great.

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Artemis’ verdict: Fantastically Surreal, Hopefully Not Also Creepy

This is weird. Good, but weird. Actually, its weirdness is what makes it good, otherwise I suspect the show wouldn’t have warranted much attention in the first place. Less magical-girl and more like some kind of surrealist dreamscape exploration a la Alice in Wonderland, Flip Flappers has a very distinctive style to its direction and art that immediately demands viewers to sit up and take notice – this despite all the hints of fanservice that kept trying to creep on in there too. I could have easily done without the bizarre robot almost-but-not-quite groping scene, for example, as well as the consistent suggestions of yuri-baiting, to say nothing of Papika’s weird outfit. Credit where credit is due, I don’t think the camera was getting creepy to the point of actual sleaziness, but the small yet constant reminders that it very well could do at any minute kept jarring me out of some pretty great storytelling. I want Flip Flappers to be good and I absolutely think it could be, but only if it steers clear of its apparent urge to pander to the lowest common denominator.

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4 thoughts on “First Look: Flip Flappers

  1. This one was pretty but the first episode has left me wondering what the story is actually going to be about (not that not knowing instantly is a bad thing but I’m holding off on making a decision about this until I know a little more).

    • The bit after the ED makes me think there will be some kind of plot, probably trying to get those crystals while the bad guys chase them. It will still probably boil down to just visiting some magical new world every week though.

  2. Beautiful, distinct animation and great directing. I’d have to disagree with the comments about having no plot, there’re so many very subtle hints scattered throughout the entire episode that gives me just the right amount of information to keep me intrigued without being predictable. I have to say I was so excited after finishing watching the anime that I immediately went looking for people to talk about it with and that hasn’t happened since Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Thanks for the review and hoping that you guys will decide to do episodic reviews for this series!

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