Episodic Thoughts: Flip Flappers – Episode 1 (Spoilers!)

[Description]: My thoughts on Flip Flappers episode 1.

To briefly speak about the most obvious strength of the first episode and hopefully the show itself, its visuals were stunning. The animation was fluid and expressive but more to the point – the settings both in and outside of Pure Illusion were gorgeous. The director has an extensive background in animation and it shows up here. There’s a personality and vision about Flip Flapper’s visuals and while that in itself doesn’t promise a strong show to come, I think we can expect something very visually engaging out of it.

So what was it that so caught my attention with this show other than its actual presentation? I think Flip Flappers did an excellent job of setting up its two main characters. While we don’t know very much about either Cocona or Papika outside of their most fundamental personality traits, the show gives an excellent introduction into the two worlds in which they live – and I’m not talking about Pure Illusion, at least not yet.

I enjoyed the beginning of the show a great deal because of how it introduces us to Cocona in her classroom setting while intersplicing the scenes of Papika soaring forth from the underground lab on her hoverboard. What’s so striking about the way in which this is done is that it juxtaposes the two characters phenomenally. What do we know about Cocona? She goes to school, she takes exams, she wakes up in the morning to a daily routine, and she has to think about her future. She’s very structured and the steady, measured animation of the opening scenes speak to that. Conversely, Papika bursts into the show – flying through a tangle of robots and glass into the frigid night air in exclamation. She does so despite the protests of the scientists and her scenes are animated wonderfully and with great energy. She directly parallels Cocona in that she’s liberated – flying carelessly through the sky in the quintessential act of freedom.

So why is this important? Cocona comes from a world of structure whereas Papika is excitable and rambunctious, hailing from an entirely different world than the one Cocona knows. It is in their meeting that Cocona is introduced to this other world and subsequently, the more whimsical and strange world of Pure Illusion. I found the first episode very reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland in the way that Cocona shares a fleeting exchange with Papika early on before later venturing through a kind of eerie storage space and eventually descending down a rabbit-hole-esque tunnel in the form of the pipeline leading to Pure Illusion. Cocona leaving a trail of what I presume were candies as they ventured deeper into the forest further emphasized this kind of fairy tale influence on the show.

It’s only once they arrive in Pure Illusion that Cocona is finally shown smiling and having fun. She’s entered another world and not just that of Pure Illusion but Papika’s as well. She’s able to leave behind her sense of responsibility and structure and enjoy herself in the whimsical, unbarred way in which Papika herself does. Cocona later undergoes a very literal transformation in order to save Papika and by that point has fully immersed herself in this other world and attached herself to her newfound friend.

When they both return to the real world Cocona then somewhat hilariously rejects Papika’s request to go on another adventure but her response I feel is more than just for the sake of comedy. She’s returned to the natural world and the dream of Pure Illusion and of Papika has ended. She regains her sense of structure and responsibility. I might even go as far to say that Cocona’s broken glasses are representative of the way she perceives the world and that something has fundamentally changed about her but this might be reaching for symbolism.

While it was by no means a perfect episode, it was beautiful to watch and I think it had a lot of narrative value in the way it was structured. I think Flip Flapper’s first episode was a stellar start to the series and I hope it can follow up on a lot of the whimsical and interesting elements it established. Also, what an incredible ending theme.

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