12 Days of Anime #4: ‘Worlds’ in Flip Flappers

One incredible feature of our personhood is how we, as people, are not tied down to any particular ‘world’. Though we accept that there must be a singular world at some level, we as subjective and complex individuals also accept there are many important and different lenses through which we experience it. Fiction is one such brand of lenses. Stories can entertain, provoke, and inspire people, despite the fact the events described in them are, strictly speaking, not real. The ideas, beliefs and examinations in such fiction are ultimately communicated in such a fashion to be palatable. There is value in dry textbooks describing the world. There is also value in fantasy fiction describing a fake world. Flip Flappers is no exception to this.

(slightly nsfw images below the cut, courtesy of the Adolscence of Utena)

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Even as far as fiction goes, the worlds of Flip Flappers are fantastical in nature. ‘Pure Illusion’ is described as being intimately connected to the world, but ultimately not of it. It is an illusion that can, and does, drastically alter the ‘actual world’ (that being the world we’re meant to take as being real within the fiction of the show). Cocona, the protagonist, is at first very concerned about this. It took several episodes for her to be comfortable playing in Pure Illusion, and to see the events of Pure Illusion to dramatically affect reality itself, understandably, shocked her.

Fiction is powerful. Only a couple of days ago a tweet thread passed through my feed about the Adolescence of Utena. It’s core message was: “Imagine how vindicated this kiss would make young queer girls feel.”. When Flip Flappers shows how Cocona, and her sidekick / lover / Adoptive Mum Papika, have changed their world through the fiction of Pure Illusion it is understanding that power. The events of a fiction have a meaningful effect on people, and from that, the world itself regardless of whether the event itself happened or not.

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Two gals, being pals, at the end of the Adolescence of Utena.

Episode 12 of Flip Flappers makes it clear “who’s” fiction the main worlds of Pure Illusion are. Mimi, Cocona’s Mum, may not be alive in the real world of Flip Flappers. But her effect on it, or rather, the worlds of the characters we follow, is undeniable. The childish fairy-tale worlds are reflective of Mimi’s own restrictive and childish world. She was always locked away, and never had a chance to experience reality. Furthermore, her ‘stories’ do live on through others. Salt, Papika, and Salt’s father all have direct experience with her, and thus their ‘Pure Illusions’ of her are going to construct her differently. Mimi is, and was, capable of being selfish, self centred, and scared. She was also capable of deep care and affection. This is clear from the many facets of her we’ve seen in the past few episodes of Flip Flappers.

Flip Flappers is ultimately a show about Cocona maturing. It’s very first shot is her taking exams. Exams that determine where she can go in life, at least that’s what school suggests. By the end of episode 12 she has decided to finally start making her own decisions. But to do so she’s going to have to reject the protection of her Mum’s Illusions. Shows like Evangelion, Utena and Akira end in apocalypse for good reason. The systems of a their worlds are rejected by their cast. Cocona, by donning her own outfit rather than her Mother’s, is in the middle of doing just that.

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