Anime: Flip Flappers
Let's take a look at an anime series I've gotten into lately. Flip Flappers is a fun anime which sort of has a magical girl angle and features bright, wide-eyed, and irritatingly energetic mystery girl Papika whisking away reluctant schoolgirl Cocona into some bizarre, surrealist, and occasionally Mad Max-esque landscapes to find a magical stone or something. What I particularly like about Flip Flappers is the way it plays with its settings and introduces surreal and strange creatures and areas that warp not only themselves, but often our protagonists too. One of my favourite moments involved Papika and Cocona growing bunny ears and teeth and experiencing sudden urges to gnaw on things.
The show is somewhat reminiscent of Madoka Magica in the way it plays with its own style, but Flip Flappers is a much more upbeat and fiercely peppy series, echoing Papika's personality as a sort of excitable toddler in a teenager's body. This brings me to the show's faults. I usually don't care for the anime trope of the clueless girl character who acts like a small child, and Papika isn't an exception as such, but I don't find her insufferable. She is annoying in her unrelenting and over the top enthusiasm, but this is lessened for me by the fact that her innocence and wide-eyed wonder isn't generally used as a catalyst to get her into trouble or to put her in awkward situations. She is at least able to recognise any antagonists and to defend herself with flair. My main criticism of the show would be the fan service element, which sometimes comes from Papika's obliviousness to the concept of privacy, but often is just shoehorned in. It feels out of place and is something I find uncomfortable anyway, but other than that at least the girls are generally not stupid - even despite Papika's disposition.
The show focuses nicely on lots of little pleasant moments of downtime. We see Papika and Cocona exploring facets of their environment and taking note of little things around them. This is a nice contrast to their more action-oriented scenes, which I also think are well directed. One thing I really love is the host of peripheral characters and enemies that show up throughout. Our main characters are accompanied by a robot who seems to trundle along in exhaustion after Papika. There's a little creature they're friends with who looks like a cross between a bunny and a dog poo bag. The diversity and animation of some of the characters they come across in their explorations reminded me of Kill la Kill (especially in episode 3 - the same episode that reminded me of Mad Max).
Ultimately I enjoy this series because it has a lot going on in terms of creativity. The strangeness keeps unfolding into something new, and you're never sure what's about to happen. It's a really interesting show that's well-paced, bright, and sprinkled with magic.