Flip Flappers – 09 Review
You just have to applaud the writers of this episode for their financial conscience to leave this colorful space-environment behind and go to a… bland empty white room. Animes get so much cheaper when the world’s empty and white.
Flip Flappers 09: Yayaka is about to be replaced by a new Amorphous Child. This is very sudden for Yayaka who seems to have forgotten that she has been constantly prioritizing Cocona’s safety so far. But she manages to convince her bosses that she should be given a last chance (spoiler: … to make the same mistakes again).
Also, Cocona doesn’t trust Papika (again) and Papika wins her trust back (again) by obsessively chasing after her (again).
And only at the end of this episode does it occur to Cocona to ask who Mimi is. (At this rate, we will find out what the stones are for around episode 20 or so, I imagine.)
#1 on the list of no-nos for a protagonist in a mystery box-plot: Guessing what is happening (just as the audience) instead of actively looking for the truth.
Flip Flappers can’t help but incur the disappointment of the audience through its strange inability to multitask. Pure Illusion has been as much a source of excitement as it has derailed the story time and time again. Although it isn’t clear how much of this is happening by choice or not (and you can certainly make a case for a purpose with how secretive the series’ storytelling has been so far), it has derived the series of many opportunities to establish the stakes, characters, and themes of the series. In light of that, the ninth episode does try to change the lackluster state of things in the series. And it does so in the only way it seems to know how: By letting Pure Illusion disappear into the background.
This doesn’t mean that what takes the place of Pure Illusion is a waste of time or doesn’t illuminate certain elements. The focus of the ninth episode is Yayaka’s inner struggle that gets cemented by a lengthy flashback-sequence which establishes her connection to Cocona. In a way, the flashback doesn’t offer as many answers as I’d have liked to see at this point in the series. Instead, the flashback merely makes a lot of things explicit that have remained subtext before. One, Yayaka and Cocona are childhood-friends who have met at a hospital. Two, the weird cult has given Yayaka the mission to shadow Cocona and remain close to her. Three, in reality ,she genuinely wants to be Cocona’s friend. But these elements haven’t been revelations at all. The fact that Yayaka and Cocona are close friends has already been covered before (if not in a defining exposition-y way, then certainly in how they behaved around each other). Yayaka’s betrayal has already been utilized for a revelation at the beginning of the series. And Yayaka’s struggle has already been established in the recent episodes. If anything, it only added to the list of questions concerning Cocona but without offering any answers, trying to figure out what is going on remains futile as always.
In a sense, it feels like this series simply doesn’t know how to tell its story. So much of it isn’t just a mystery but has remained unsatisfyingly opaque. Not just struggling with the exploration of depth in the story, this series is still lacking in providing the context for its drama and characterization. Through these failings, most of what this series has done so far drama-wise hasn’t worked. What little story-beats the series has had have felt unearned. And this episode’s flashback isn’t different in this regard.
Wait, who are these three other girls…? Where did they come from?!
Plot-wise the episode offers more of the same. Papika and Cocona have a petty little disagreement but they go to the world of Pure Illusion anyway. Yayaka and the Amorphous Children go there, too, and end up competing with Papika and Cocona for the shiny stone. The story of the episode is very adamant about what it wants to talk about. From the very beginning, it is set up that Yayaka is about get kicked out of the team and only by begging for a chance to redeem herself, she joins the Amorphous Children (instead of some blue-haired girl). Then the series tries hard to make you care about Yayaka’s struggle through a flashback-sequence and various fights showing how she’s struggling to prove her loyalty to Cocona and the weird cult at the same time. In the end, Yayaka sacrifices herself to protect Cocona instead of attacking her while the Amorphous Children get away with the stone from that realm.
It’s clear that everything besides Yayaka’s struggle has been put aside in the episode. And probably what is most frustrating about this setup is that none of this was needed. After the eighth episode, I doubt anyone in the audience believed that Yayaka is capable of hurting Cocona or where her true priorities lie. Yet the series tries to get drama out of such a predictable conflict. This episode clearly expects the audience to be very invested in what Yayaka is going through. But the series underestimates the audience here clearly by neither showing awareness of said predictability nor employing any plot twists to undermine it. Additionally, the Pure Illusion setting of this episode is boringly empty. Trying to read into the setting certainly doesn’t seem worthwhile due to how dull it is compared to what the series usually has to offer.
After nine episodes, the series still feels like it’s on an odyssey in the first act of a story. What little of consequence the series does almost always feels like we’re still watching the show find its footing. Any attempt to get ahead of that and interject some serious drama into the series has failed so far. With what little story the series has explored so far, it isn’t surprising how boring and predictable this episode ended up being. You have to seriously wonder if even the writers of this show know what it is about. So far, this series has almost been directionless in what is happening and what matters in each episode. Add to that how the series wants to be a “mystery-box” and it’s no surprise that the show is at its best when it doesn’t care why something is happening and to what end. This show struggles just as much as the audience to find a story in its chaotic Pure Illusion shenanigans.
- So, Cocona’s a pretty huge deal in the world of Flip Flappers… which is, well, not very surprising. It’s normal MO for an anime-series to tie its world-mystery to the fate of the protagonist.
- Is it still important that Cocona and Papika fucked with someone’s mind through Pure Illusion? I mean, is Cocona still looking for a way to undo what has happened?
- How many times has it been now that Cocona has had doubts about her relationship with Papika and it all ends with them both shouting each other’s names…?
- To be honest, I don’t care who Mimi is. And why should I? Papika has a connection to Mimi – and that’s it. I don’t care that Cocona’s jealous of Papika’s now divided attention and affection. Especially since it still feels like Cocona and Papika barely know each other.
- It has been multiple times now where the Amorphous Children have talked of “Defense Mechanisms” in connection with whatever weird stuff is happening in the Pure Illusion dimensions. And this episode they mentioned that they were responding to Cocona. Who knows what it means… Maybe someone who likes this show more than me cares to guess but for me, that stuff is only worth a shrug.