[Description]: My thoughts on Flip Flappers episode 12.
I’ve been a huge fan of Flip Flappers since its first episode and though the show’s most recent direction hasn’t been as engaging and intelligent as its earlier content, I’ve still enjoyed myself. So it’s with some heartache I have to level some serious criticism at this week’s episode. On the surface-level, the show is more disconnected and random than ever before and not in a way that benefits its story or characters. Mimi sends Yayaka and Papika away only to follow them a short time afterwards. Salt goes in search of secret Asclepius technology but Sayuri and Nyunyu only seem to accompany him because they hold no greater relevance. Toto and Yuyu wander around caring for one another but they’ve become mere spectators of the story rather than active characters themselves.
The various story-lines aside, it was the way in which this episode incorporated Pure Illusion which first gave me concern. What was so fantastic and wonderful about Pure Illusion was that it was strange, vast, and unpredictable. For Mimi to banish Yayaka and Papika to different dimensions only for those realities to be the same ones we’ve already encountered just felt like fan-service – an attempt to recapture what made Flip Flappers so creative originally. The writers had the whole of Pure Illusion at their disposal and they could have gone anywhere with this episode but instead we revisited and recycled rather than exploring something strange and new in the vein of Flip Flappers.
I was very excited to see the return of the gnarled roots from Cocona’s dream sequence as I had accurately guessed what they were for which meant that the image was fantastic at conveying its purpose. To see it then used once again to cage Cocona felt just like this episode’s use of Pure Illusion – it recycled a striking image rather than creating something new for itself. Why not cage her in the tendrils seen in the previous episode, or flowers, or clovers, or something even more abstract?
By far the most problematic aspect of the episode was Cocona’s characterization. I don’t love Mimi as an antagonist but I do like what she represents. A great deal of Flip Flappers has been aimed at Cocona’s own self-image and coming of age and so Mimi’s motivations make a lot of thematic sense for the show. She offers Cocona a way out – she doesn’t have to grow up or make decisions. She can reject those responsibilities and choose to remain as she is, hollow but unharmed. Yet the episode handles this compelling character arc terribly.
Cocona sits idly by with a blank stare. Her identity and self-image aren’t in contention – she isn’t dismissing her own growth and maturity. She looks more like she’s brainwashed or under a spell. She possesses no agency and this is what is so critically important. It’s the choice which is so integral to her character arc and its exactly choice and agency that she has lacked in these past few episodes. One could argue that the absence of choice fits into her options thematically however its primarily the presentation I have an issue with. It feels like Mimi is cheating Cocona out of her choices rather than Cocona herself opting not to make them. She then has a vision of the other Mimi, her eyes brighten up, and she comes to as if she is snapping out of a stupor.
In regards to everything else that happened – Yayaka transformed this episode and its good that she still feels relevant however her love for Cocona has been pretty well cemented recently and this really felt like an unnecessary affirmation. Mimi doesn’t even seem to believe her own words given how she speaks to Papika so that didn’t feel right either. The end of the episode was kind of anticlimactic, there was another set of new transformations which didn’t feel all that special, and who can say what’s in store for the final episode. I have to imagine Salt is going to utilize the Elpis technology to communicate with Mimi and put her to rest but if something so predictable happens I might feel a little let down. I haven’t fallen out of love with the show or anything and I won’t forget what it’s done but I see this episode as a culmination of a lot of the ‘could-be’ issues that recently arose.