Episodic Thoughts: Flip Flappers – Episode 2 (Spoilers!)

[Description]: My thoughts on Flip Flappers episode 2.

I’m pleased to say that I found the second episode of the show just as fantastic and engaging as the first – the initial few scenes instantly putting my fears to rest. The episode starts out in much the same way I felt the prior one left off – Cocona awakes as if from a dream, her glasses are repaired and undamaged, and in a number of ways, she’s returned to her normal life. The rest of the episode is then spent in the arc of her resisting Papika’s influence and desire to adventure once again however it isn’t until the latter half that we realize that this is because of how her friend was injured on the previous outing into Pure Illusion. We get an introduction to Dr. Salt and the other scientists though whether or not the eerie persona about them is intentionally blatant for the sake of deception or not is still to be seen.

While I already enjoy the two lead characters, the show’s lively animation, and wonderfully vibrant world, the element of Flip Flappers that is pushing it into the territory of my favorite shows of the season is its strong sense of subtext and influence. From the fairy-tale-esque allusions in the first episode to the varied use of optical illusions and playful references to people like biologist Jakob von Uexkull, the show seems to possess a great deal of vision. At face-value, a lot of these primarily aesthetic elements themselves excellently to the whimsical atmosphere of the show but when investigated more closely speak to certain developing themes. With only two episodes released, its messages are hard to distill but I would like to think that what some viewers initially discarded as playful fan-service, after this episode, might be more along the lines of an exploration of sexuality and adolescence. It’ll be interesting to see where these things go but I think Flip Flappers definitely has something to say.

With all of that in mind, episode 2 really followed up on the elements that captivated me initially – Pure Illusion making an expected return in just a bizarre and wonderful way as one might expect. We see the inverse of Cocona’s transformation in Papika this episode though the narrative meaning of this is still uncertain. There are so many awesome design details that leave Flip Flappers feeling just as strange and unnerving as it is bright and enthusiastic. The defunct passageway referred to by Dr. Salt as the Thomasson, this new abstract and beautiful iteration of Pure Illusion, and its juxtaposition to the fiery hell into which the cages descend and the bizarre deathtrap of a tunnel they escape into all illustrate such a diverse and awesome world. Also the claustrophobic space the scientists put Cocona and Papika into as well as the red eyes that appeared on the walls were exceptionally disconcerting.

Another brief note about the Thomasson, a piece of hyperart coined by Akasegawa Genpei – I found it fascinating how this use of ‘meaningless stairs’ played into the illusion-rich setting of Flip Flappers. Akasegawa defines a ‘Pure Type’ (純粋タイプ) category of hyperart, under which the staircase qualifies, as “an uncategorizable object whose use it is impossible to fathom. Whether this speaks in some way to ‘Pure Illusion’ or some other inspiration, it adds an additional element of intrigue to this already gripping world.

Flip Flappers has a lot going for it already and I’m very excited to see where it goes. This second episode delivered in just the way I hoped it would and I’m almost sure we can expect the episodes to come to be just as whimsical and perturbing as they have been thus far.

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