Magical girl anime as a concept has been rehashed and reimagined in hundreds of ways since its origins. While the genre may feel particular in aim, unique and intense stories like Madoka Magica and Kill la Kill prove that the horizons for the magical girl idea still have room to grow.

Enter Flip Flappers, a comedic romp with an odd couple of girls into a realm of extraordinary circumstances. Our heroes, Cocona and Papika launch headlong into a strange series of missions in a world called Pure Illusion. Their ultimate goal involves salvaging as many Shards of Mimi as they can throughout Pure Illusion in order to be granted their hearts’ greatest wish.

This review covers the first six episodes of the series thus far, as the initial run is still ongoing.

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Art

This anime stands out from the beginning for its art style. The animators utilize the colors in magnificent ways, using contrasting hues and changing patterns to help tell a story. Background and foreground environments blend together into an Easter basket-like aesthetic. The line detail feels light and gives all the animation a crisp kind of weightlessness. Even while jumping through worlds, the visuals remain rich in tone and texture.

On the other hand, the character designs sometimes seem cluttered. The anime offers a vibrant cast, each differing strongly in style and appearance. While the designs on their own are delightful and memorable, shoving them all together in the same shot feels jarring. Multiple characters with wildly differing color palettes throw off the balance of the visuals.

All the same, Flip Flappers scores lots of points for staying original and true to the faces of their characters.

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Pure Imagination

One of this show’s strongest points comes from its ability to play with nearly limitless boundaries. The premise offers literally infinite universes for Cocona and Papika to traverse. Within just the first six episodes of the anime, the show goes from winter wonderland to vivid dreamscape to Mad Max to horror nightmare world to heart-wrenching childhood memories. In between all this meat, we see a colorful assortment of characters even by more down-to-earth standards.

Flip Flappers only gives its story at face value as of episode 6. We, as the audience, still do not wholly understand the strategic dynamics behind the heroes’ dimension-hopping. Where did these backup characters come from? What do they gain? What jobs do they perform? At the moment, however, these questions hold little importance. The show feels it only owes what it has bit by bit, and it works fine so far.

Yet, as with most stories, Flip Flappers‘s initially lighthearted premise begins to unravel in recent episodes. Rivals reveal themselves and internal struggle rears its complex head into the light. What began as bubbly and charming tries to drag that same air through some unexpected turns and conflicts.

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Unusual Friendships

Glowing, warm and rosy as the centerpiece of the show, blossoms Cocona and Papika’s friendship, as to be expected with an aspiring magical girl anime. Cocona stumbles through life cautiously, but with no direction. Papika barrels in headfirst, snatching Cocona into the world of Pure Illusion. Papika alludes that Cocona fits the mold as Papika’s most compatible candidate. Cocona hesitates, but eventually succumbs to the wonder and adventure of Pure Illusion.

We’ve all seen the unlikely friendship dynamic play out before, but Flip Flappers withholds not a single moment of uncertainty, forgiveness, or love between the two heroes. Cocona, while smart and wary, also craves guidance and fears the future. Papika builds up a new, brave side of Cocona neither have seen the likes of before. There even rests a subtle romantic tension between the girls – not quite enough to draw palpable conclusions, but just enough make us curious.

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Sweet Anticipation

The cute candy pop vibes of Flip Flappers lingers tantalizingly on the tongue. The anime thus far has been nothing less than a visually stellar rollercoaster. However, whether or not it holds up and makes a mark depends on the last half of the series. As is, Flip Flappers may not be the greatest magical girl anime of the year, but it definitely strives to be different in the most refreshing of ways.

The first 6 episodes of Flip Flappers are available to watch on Crunchyroll.

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