Cocona is just your average anime high-schooler – ordinary and unsure about her future direction post-schooling. The one career she wasn’t expecting to have thrust upon her is that of inter-dimensional Magical Girl, but when a strange girl named Papika takes a sudden interest in her that’s exactly what happens.
Papika, along with weird little robot Bu-chan, immediately drags Cocona into an organisation named Flip Flap, who exist to retrieve wish granting shards called Amorphous from the mysterious world of ‘Pure Illusion’ – an alternate dimension of infinite possibility. Now as part of Flip Flap, Cocona and Papika must learn to work together and synchronise their feelings with each other to transform into powerful magical girls within Pure Illusion to secure the shards before the more powerful children from rival organisation Asclepius, including Cocona’s classmate and friend Yayaka, who are after the shards for more nefarious purposes.
Flip Flappers, written by Yuniko Ayana, animated by Studio 3Hz and directed by Kiyotaka Oshiyam combines genres in a way that far exceeds the basic magical girl premise on the tin. The world of Pure Illusion allows for endless genre-spanning shifts in tone and setting, sending the girls from their normal everyday world into worlds filled with Mad Max-like desert bandits, abstract worlds of morphing colour and shape, time-loop horror, rabbit transformations and even the past of others.
The shifting worlds lets the show change tonally and visually, from things that look like they’re straight out of a serene Ghibli movie to absolute madness akin to Gainax’s Panty and Stocking or something from Studio Trigger. Underneath the always impressive visuals and character designs, the story revolves around relationships, both the developing bond between Cocona and Papika, their classmates and the bonds of the past that are eventually revealed through Pure Illusion to run through Flip Flap and Asclepius. The relationship between Cocona and Papika in particular is extremely well developed as the two go from complete strangers to becoming incredibly close, but with an underlying fragility as Cocona’s uncertainty takes hold and the deeply personal connections to Pure Illusion become more and more apparent.
Flip Flappers tells an emotional story filled with love and loss without falling into the pit of all-out darkness and depression that has become more common ground for modern magical girl series to tread in order to build tension. There’s always an underlying positivity and hopefulness, no matter how dire the situation, which makes Flip Flappers a joy to watch from beginning to end.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review