In my Yuri!!! On Ice post, I mention how difficult it is for me to watch currently-airing series during the fall season due to my job. Yuri!!! On Ice was an exception.
I didn’t watch Flip Flappers right away or keep up with it while I was inundated with work, but once I watched the first episode, I was hooked. I couldn’t look away.
Flip Flappers has a lot to say about adolescence, sexuality, and navigating all of that as a queer woman. It also has a lot to say more generally about the human mind and how we process imagery. Flip Flappers uses a lot of visual cues that other anime have also employed, but does so in a way that makes them seem wholly new and fresh while also intrinsically-tied to series’ lead Cocona’s emotional narrative and growth. It begins as an episodic series with Cocona and the erratic Papika jumping to different worlds in a place called “Pure Illusion” in pursuit of amorphous fragments. Every world they visit is beautiful and tied to someone they know in the “real world.”
Of all of my favorite series of the decade save one of Kunihiko Ikuhara’s works that has yet to appear, Flip Flappers is the most visually-stunning of any series on the list. So much attention and detail has gone into the framing of every scene, the positioning of characters, and everything from flower language to art history references to color theory plays a role in further fleshing out Cocona and her story. Flip Flappers is, as a friend so succinctly put it, almost entirely subtext, but it works because of the care put in by director Kiyotaka Oshiyama and his team.
In fact, Flip Flappers had such a visually-impressive three-episode debut — ending on what was rightfully dubbed the series’ “Mad Max episode” — that many fans who were expecting an over-the-top animators’ showcase were very vocal in their displeasure when it became the story of Cocona’s adolescence and burgeoning sexuality. The production itself was fairly troubled, and for as much as I’ve gushed over the way Flip Flappers looks, there are noticeable dips in quality throughout the series. The departure of Flip Flappers‘ scriptwriter and Yuniko Ayana mid-project was also highly-publicized while the series was airing, casting another shadow over the show.
Like adolescence, Flip Flappers is messy and imperfect (if you’ve been reading through all of these “favorite anime of the decade” posts, you’ll notice that’s a running theme) but manages to end surprisingly neatly with the conclusion of Cocona’s emotional transformation. I’d recommend anyone who hasn’t seen it to at least watch the first three episodes.