I went into Flip Flappers quite blind, only hearing whispers from various anime fans mentioning it’s something to keep an eye on and experience if you can. They were right! Flip Flappers is unlike any other series I’d seen before due to the way it presents it’s episodes and story structure while maintaining gorgeous animation throughout the entire 13 episode run.
Flip Flappers is produced by studio 3HZ who at time of writing this review are currently working on Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online. Flip Flappers isn’t only original in it’s episode structure, which we’ll get to but is also a completely original work. Not based on a previously existing story, property or manga.
The story of Flip flappers follows Cocona. An intelligent but uninspired young high school girl who has reached the point of life where she’s expected to plan out her life career and goals yet find’s herself undecided on what she want’s to be.
Until suddenly her life is pushed in a brand new direction when an incredibly loud and bubbly girl named Papika crashes into her life on an air powered surf board. Leading to many psychedelic adventures through a parallel universe known as Pure Illusion in the search of mysterious gem-like fragments all while fending off an antagonistic organisation who yep, you guessed it are also after the same fragments.
So far it may sound like a story experienced numerous times before. Especially as there are quite a few parallel’s to other ‘Magical Girl’ anime such as Sailor Moon. Colourful transformation sequences, the quest to reclaim lost shards of a crystal and the female lead cast. But what you likely haven’t experienced before is Flip Flappers unique story telling structure.
Each episode of Flip Flappers is it’s own self contained story that wraps up nicely by the end, leading to a new adventure in the next episode. There are obviously story threads that bleed through numerous episodes such as the character development of Cocona and Papika and the search for the fragments but this isn’t just your typical ‘monster of the week’ scenario at play here.
Due to the way Pure Illusion works, manifesting the world based on the feelings, thoughts and emotions of it’s visitors, the setting and theme’s vary drastically episode to episode. One episode will focus on a sunny slice of life beach adventure with Cocona and Papika. The next they’ll be facing bandits in a post apocalyptic desert setting only to have the follow up episode be a scary, dark and gritty horror story.
This drastic change in genre that appeared in each episode had me on the edge of my seat at times and as credits rolled on one episode it was a big driving force in my need to check out the next episode straight away, just to see where we’d go next.
Beware though, because of this constant theme and plot change-up there isn’t a deep narrative thread that you’ll experience and enjoy while watching all of Flip Flappers. Every episode until the last few could be seen as individual self contained experiences, not really requiring any prior knowledge of what’s gone on to enjoy. Because of this many will likely say that Flip Flappers as a whole doesn’t have much of a story. And those people wouldn’t be entirely wrong. The viewer is kept in the dark as to what the main story of the series is until quite late in the season, just enjoying the adventures of each episode as they come.
It was towards the end of the season where Flip Flappers tries to thread together some ongoing narrative that I actually started to lose interest in the show a bit. I would have preferred if it had maintained it’s interesting individual stories for it’s whole run.
Besides the interesting episode plots the thing that drew me into the series was the developing relationship between Cocona and Papika. Initially Cocona is quite reserved and reluctant to trust or show her real feelings. But as the season progresses there are some really magical moments between the lead girls in the series that are much more than their bright, sparkly transformation sequences.
Unfortunately I can’t say the same treatment was given to the other characters when it comes to any form of deep development. Because of the structure of the show and only having a 13 episode runtime many of the side characters are introduced but contribute very little to the plot of the show and will have a hard time being remembered with much significance by viewers of the show.
The first thing you’ll likely notice about Flip Flappers, right from the first episode is it’s bright, eye catching visuals and incredible animation. The designs of the Pure Illusion worlds and the characters leap off the screen, with many of the scenes being packed with so much detail and environmental story telling that it’s hard to know where to look at times. The team at 3HZ have done an incredible job in this department and thankfully the series maintains this high standard for the whole 13 episodes.
The music in Flip Flappers does a great job at conveying the appropriate mood in many of it’s scenes. It’s quiet and soothing during peaceful moments but can quickly ramp up when the show jumps into one of it’s Dragon Ball inspired battles.
The Sentai Filmworks home release Blu-Ray contains all 13 episodes in full HD across 2 discs. It is light on extra’s featuring just the clean opening and closing animations.
Flip Flappers is a short and sweet series that is quite an addicting watch due to having a different plot and weaving in and out of different genre’s just about every episode. While it’s lead characters Cocona and Papika are lovable and developed well throughout the season the same can’t be said for it’s supporting side characters. But it’s beautiful animation, character designs and music make this incredibly enjoyable and is well worth a watch for fans of the magical girl genre.
A Blu-Ray review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment for the purpose of this review.