We’ve come to the finish line in predictably bright, bombastic, heart-on-our-sleeves fashion. I’m looking forward to talking about it–but first, as is tradition, let’s start with a spoiler-free review for anyone interested in picking up this fascinating, flawed, heartwarming little series. I’ll let any newcomers know when to click away so they don’t have the finale spoiled for them. As for those of you joining me for our last round of analysis, feel free to scroll on down past those many words and dig on in.
In the next couple weeks I’ll be hitting you with final Flip Flappers commentary, my Top 10 Anime of 2016, maybe a short essay or two, and then we turn around and start all over again with the winter premieres, including the much-anticipated return of Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju (and my lengthy commentary about it)! A blogger’s work is never done.
So you’d think that would mean I’d have kept my Fall retrospective thoughts short and sweet, right? Wrong! This season was a cornucopia of strong comedy, positive queer representation, diverse female leads, and geeky premises. And you know I can’t shut up about stuff like that. Hit the jump for too many words about too many shows.
In the words of another 2016 heroine: “Let’s make confessions and lose our shit!”
In typically explosive, surreal, and dynamically animated fashion, Flip Flappers delivers a penultimate episode that puts a capstone on our main character arcs and gives us plenty of time next week to tie up the rest of the loose ends. While “Pure Howling” sometimes loses focus as it jerks from scene-to-scene, trying to weave multiple stories together very quickly, it more than makes up for any disjointedness with two beautifully staged and immensely satisfying emotional climaxes. Any week I get to write “MY HEART!” in my notes is a good one in my book.
For a show that began with so many abstractions and mysteries, Flip Flappers has developed into a remarkably tight narrative, answering questions, fulfilling foreshadowing, and continuing to strengthen its thematic through-lines and character arcs at every step. While I can’t say I’m as emotionally invested in the current arc as I was in previous ones, I don’t think there’s any question now that the storytellers know exactly what they’re doing and where they want to go. Bonus points, too, that this journey comes with an incredible view.
Our opposing organizations clash at last, but (as always) most of the real shakeups surround our protagonist. Cocona’s trust is shattered and her world turned upside-down thanks to a series of reveals that threaten not only the relationships she holds most dear, but her very sense of self. Not to mention Mom is being, like, a total control-freak. It’s hard out here for a teen, that’s for sure.
Cocona’s come a long way since we first met her. From a directionless girl looking to fill any role, even that of a villain (an amorphous child herself, in a sense), Cocona has slowly developed goals, ideals, and deepening relationships. She has a partner, she has a wish, she has resolve. Her most immediate internal conflicts have been tackled, so it makes sense that we’d turn our focus outwards again, to her relationships with others and her understanding of how they view her.
Keeping with its fondness for classic coming-of-age genres (fairy tales, magical girls, yuri school stories, etc.), Flip Flappers goes all-in with giant robots this week. It’s something of a bridge episode in terms of story and character arcs, but the Tron-like city, swooping and smeared action sequences, looming monsters, and multiple mecha transformations easily make it the busiest and most visually exciting episode since “Pure XLR”‘s desert battles.
As last episode’s final scenes suggested, Cocona and Papika’s actions in Pure Illusion are starting to affect the real world, and not necessarily in a good way. Fittingly, this is also the moment when the series itself shifts from a sequence of loosely connected, episodic adventures to a more fluid story, as “Pure Component” is all about dealing with the repercussions of what’s happened before and setting the stage for what’s coming next.
I’m writing this from a hotel room in New York, which both explains why it’s a bit late (some of these shows have already moved past their halfway point) and why this introduction is going to be brief. My Fall anime bloc continues to either hold steady or improve each week, depending on the show, which is always a promising sign at the halfway mark. There’s good variety too, so whether you’re looking for something to soothe or something to pump you up, you should be able to find a much-needed break from reality below.