This post was actually going to be part of a longer post on small “breadcrumbs” that Flip Flappers has scattered throughout the series — small tidbits that are now either coming together, or reframed by recent exposition in Episodes 11 and 12. However, that one post turned out to be far too unwieldy, especially for something that began as a collection of odds and ends.
The first post is on Mimi, the idea of “the witch,” and perceptual ambiguity. This post will cover Cocona, Papika, and Yayaka in regards to their color scheme and color theory.
From the first sequence of Flip Flappers‘ opening song, “Serendipity,” there’s a sequence that starts with one beat, then two, then three. Although the main emotional narrative of Flip Flappers is about Cocona’s maturation and coming-of-age, the first person shown before the single beat is a lonely Papika. This makes sense in a greater context. Papika has been waiting for both Cocona and Mimi all alone, going through other failed partnerships — that result in the other person’s death, according to this grim shot in Episode 1.
Before the second beat, Cocona is shown. Before the third, Yayaka.
In Episode 12, Yayaka finally receives her own transformation sequence. Her impending union with Cocona and Papika was foreshadowed in the opening animation, through their temporary alliance in the robot world of Episode 8, and finally through the use of primary colors of light and pigment.
A long-running joke in the anime community is the game of “guess the protagonist” based on which characters have brightly-colored hair in a classroom overview shot. Flip Flappers introduces Cocona in her cram school classroom, taking a test. The overview shots first compare her blue hair against the normal hair colors of her classmates, and then show a sleeping Yayaka with colorful yellow hair. This immediately establishes them as important, key players within the series.
Cocona, Papika, and Yayaka’s hair colors — blue, red, and yellow respectively — make up the trio of common subtractive primary colors used for artists’ pigments and paints. The true colors are cyan, magenta, and yellow (abbreviated CMY), but are simplified as blue, red, and yellow in artists’ lessons and classrooms. They’re also the colors we see the most of in a close-up of Iroha Irodori’s in-progress painting.
Not only are Cocona, Papika, and Yayaka important — the main protagonists of this story — but they will, as the colors hint, work together towards a common goal. The series will, at some point, need all three girls like the beats in the opening sequence increase from one to two to three.
Flip Flappers makes it easy to see Cocona and Papika as a pair. Their colors mirror each other in transformation and outside of it, inverting different blues and reds. Cocona often makes up for Papika’s weaknesses and vice versa. The two express admiration for their respective abilities, especially regarding what they themselves lack that their “other half” has. Not only to their colors invert while transformed — Cocona’s eyes turn blue and her hair red while Papika’s eyes turn red and her hair blue — but their outfits match each other as two halves of a greater whole.
When Yayaka is added to the mix, their outfits tell a bit of a different story.
With green hair and yellow eyes, the transformed Yayaka completes both color primaries — additive (red, green, blue) and subtractive (cyan, magenta, yellow). Additive primaries make up the spectrum of light rather than pigment — red, green, and blue light added together makes white light. Subtractive primaries, as previously mentioned, are in pigments and every day colors.
Each color primary when mixed creates the other primary trio. The secondary colors in the additive color wheel are the primary colors of the subtractive wheel, and vice versa. When all three girls are transformed they represent both color primaries. Their eyes (cyan, yellow, magenta or blue, yellow, red) make up the subtractive primary trio while their hair colors (red, green, blue) make up the additive primary trio.