[Description]: A narrative analysis of the colors and visual techniques used in the sixth episode of Flip Flappers – ‘Pure Play’.
Flip Flappers’ sixth episode brought with it much of the same unconventional abnormality that we’ve come to expect from the show but where this episode stood out from the rest was in its presentation and means of exploring its narrative. The episode itself detailed the empathetic journey of Cocona and Papika as they experienced Iroha’s childhood through her memories. The vignette was about her unsettling family life, her affectionate relationship with her aunt, and the regrets she harbored for years concerning her past and her aunt’s dementia. Pure Play breathes additional life into this touching story and skillfully emphasizes each of these narrative elements through its dichotomous use of color and perspective.
Orange & Blue
The core visual component of the episode is its ubiquitous use of orange and blue and the significance in their appearance. When these colors appear, they dominate the scene. The time Cocona (or rather, Iroha) spends with her aunt is entirely saturated with a warm, inviting, orange atmosphere. In the same way that the two colors oppose each other, the tones they represent are in stark contrast. While orange represents happiness, safety, and pleasant experiences – blue expectedly represents sadness, fear, and trauma. Wordlessly, Flip Flappers makes it quite obvious what the differences are between Iroha’s time spent cooking, gardening, and bathing with her aunt and her time spent at home with her parents.
It’s the sharpness of their contrast that makes the dichotomy of these two colors so pronounced and meaningful. Almost every scene involving Iroha’s aunt exists within this realm of comfortable orange yet the second Iroha returns home, the world around her shifts and blue overpowers the scene. Cocona, still full of Iroha’s pleasant memories and sensations is still illustrated within her previously orange aesthetic – a diminutive orange figure enveloped in the vast, somber emptiness of the blue house around her. The change is instantaneous.
A similar thing happens upon Iroha’s discovery of her aunt’s dementia in the rest home. While the scene starts out awash in the familiar and inviting color we’ve come to associate with her aunt, upon hearing that she no longer recognizes her, Cocona bursts through the doorway into a shadowy, blue hallway – a hallway that we walked through previously within the orange atmosphere. The abruptness of this change drives home the emotional point of the scene incredibly well. Through the color shift, we get an enhanced, visual understanding of Iroha’s fear and sadness.
The scene goes on to dramatically show Iroha running from the building, tears in her eyes. Now illustrated entirely in blue, she stands out against her backdrop of sunset orange – her despair and worry now internalized. The environmental juxtaposition here emphasizes how, though all is right with the world as a whole, Iroha herself feels lonely and miserable despite the warm atmosphere. Within the palette of colors, she becomes just as visually lonely within the frame as she feels inside.
House and Haven
While both colors represent the general mood of the scene and the tone of each of Iroha’s memories, their opposition is perhaps best utilized by Flip Flappers to accent her family life and how she perceived happiness and safety. Iroha’s house is a culmination of the other visual implications within the episode. From the outside, its unassuming, pale blue coloring hints at what lies within. Rendered entirely in blue, the house presents a striking difference from the scenes that precede it and this really gives it a sense of foreboding and loneliness. Shut away in her room, Iroha whiles away her time kneeling on the floor and drawing pictures in isolation. Amidst the chaos outside her door, this is where she feels safest, though the room itself never appears orange. It is as much a prison as it is any kind of haven.
When we get a glimpse of her parents beyond the boundaries of her room, what we see is chaotic and warped. Not blue but an aggressive and abstract orange that borders on a threatening red. If orange is representative of when Iroha is happy and feels safe then the manner in which her parents are portrayed is evocative of a haven gone wrong – the orange color perverted and twisted into something more alarming than comforting. This is such perfect imagery for a home where one feels unsafe or unhappy – a corrupted place of belonging rather than the somber blue that invades the rest of the house and Iroha’s room. Furthermore, the abstraction of her parent’s appearances both emphasizes their menacing portrayal and reinforces Iroha’s childish perspective in how exaggerated they look.
The third color that appears only briefly towards the end of the episode is grey which symbolizes a path not taken. Iroha, who regrets her past, never called out to her aunt and so when Cocona and Papika follow this path within the abstraction of Pure Illusion, the scene is muted – a grey limbo indicative of a choice never made. Similar to blue, this grey tone lends itself best to a somber atmosphere which is capitalized upon by the setting of a walled off room where Iroha’s aunt lies sleeping in solitude.
Upon remembering her words of comfort however and calling out to her, Iroha’s aunt features the only active color shift of the episode, as orange floods back into her body and she greets the two girls as Iroha with teary eyes. It’s a heartfelt ending and the return of the orange aesthetic suggests a restoration of haven and of healing. This, along with all of the other uses of these colors adds so much emotion and meaning to each scene and I think episodes like this are indicative of the kind of vision and inventiveness behind Flip Flappers.
Maturity and Change
Before the girls’ journey into Pure Illusion, Iroha never painted her nails due to the guilt she harbored over her past and her failure to connect with her aunt. She felt like she didn’t deserve to because she never faced her fears. We see multiple times this episode how she runs away from her problems rather than confronting them. This immaturity is important because the act of painting one’s nails is quintessentially something that an ‘older person’ does as it’s understood within the story. Grounded in adolescence and regret, Iroha never moved on from these childhood experiences that Cocona and Papika witness.
Once the girls return to reality, the change in Iroha brought about by what happened in Pure Illusion is immediately evidenced by her cheerful attitude and freshly painted nails. The orange nail polish is emblematic of her happiness and her newfound maturity. The act of painting oneself plays off of the previous color themes of the episode. Rather than being bathed in orange or blue as dictated by her surroundings, Iroha paints herself in an artful display of agency. It’s indicative of the change that has taken place within her and neatly pulls together the various symbolic ideas present throughout the episode.