What They Say:
As a middle school student, Cocona has been trying to decide what to do with her life. Magical Girl, however, wasn’t a career path that she’d ever considered. When suddenly a strange girl named Papika thrusts her into a secret organization called Flip Flap, Cocona’s outlook does a radical flip-flop. Her views start to change when she is dragged into an alternate dimension called Pure Illusion where she’s charged with gathering crystal shards and fighting strange creatures.
Now, between running missions and facing off against a rival organization, Cocona doesn’t have much time to consider alternate career choices. What are these shards, and why is gathering them so important? There’s a mystery to be solved and multiple worlds to be saved!
The audio presentation for this release brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo and an English language dub in the same, both of which are encoded using the DTS-HD MA lossless codec. The show has a lot of activity throughout it as the characters flit to and fro and the mix keeps up with it well across the forward soundstage. There are a lot of little moments along the way that get attention as well but it’s the movement that captures things the most. The placement is solid and directionality across the screen works well with the variable events that are going on. Dialogue itself is problem free with solid placement as needed and some amusing moments of depth at times. It’s a clean and clear pair of tracks throughout and we didn’t have any problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2016, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The thirteen episodes are spread across two discs in a nine/four format that gives it all plenty of space to work with. Animated by Studio 3Hz, the show got a lot of attention during its simulcast for its visuals and the encoding here just makes it all the more apparent. It’s a rich tapestry of colors that they work with while still giving it a slightly more illustrated look in some ways. The fluidity of the movement and the nature of the character designs almost gives it a slightly older feeling to it but it’s more that it doesn’t quite feel like other shows. The encoding captures this detail in a great way while also ensuring that the colors are crisp and clean throughout, never oversaturated, and with a level of warmth that gives the show even more life.
The packaging design for this release smartly uses the key visual of the two girls and their respective worlds blending together through a fun perspective shot and it showcases their designs really well, as well as the kind of feeling that the backgrounds get as well. It’s a kind of busy and wonky cover because of the perspective but it’s one that gets you to be drawn into it and look at more of the details, something that few covers really do these days. The logo is kept to the lower right and looks good with the whole thing surrounded by a white and blue framing border that ties it together well.The back cover works with the logo colors well to provide a clean and accessible summary of the premise, several good shots from the show, and a circled version of another key visual from the series that’s more illustration than anime. The discs features are clearly listed and the usual breakdown of the production credits and technical grid covers everything clearly and accurately. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menus for this release are nicely done with the right kind of vibrancy that works well. With the majority of each disc given over to some great character pairing material that’s very vibrant and bright, it’s made more so by the navigation along the left with its white background, shades of blue mixed in, and the touch of pink to give it a bit more impact. It’s a bright and appealing menu with happy characters that draws you into their energy well. The logo is kept to the lower right with its color variety that gives it more pop of life, but I’m glad not all the colors made it in fully to the menu design as it would have felt like too much. Submenus load quickly both as the main menu and as the pop-up menu during playback making for a solid experience.
The only extras included in this release are the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
An original work with Studio 3Hz handling the animation, Flip Flappers was directed by Kiyotaka Oshiyama with a screenplay by Yuniko Ayana. The show landed in the fall 2016 season and garnered a lot of attention for its visuals but also the way a lot of original works do by adhering to its own structure as opposed to the usual way a manga series kicks off and ends up being adapted. That gave it a little more freedom to explore what it wants to deal with but it got a whole lot of attention for some great visuals. While dreamlike isn’t the right word for the designs and color palette for it, it has some of those elements that allows it to move from the real world to something fantastical and feel natural yet still somewhat jaw-dropping to take in the details of it.
The premise of the series is straightforward in that we’ve got middle school student Cocona who is living something resembling a normal life with her grandmother, someone that’s worse off than she was a few years ago as she’s wheelchair bound and getting up there in age. Cocona has all the elements of your normal girl, sans friends for the most part of any note or real meaning, whose life is about to be upended. That comes in the form of Papika, a bundle of energy the same age that bursts in from nowhere (almost literally) and discovers that she and Cocona are perfectly matched in a way that allows Papika to travel to the world of Pure Illusion. She’d been able to do it on her own haphazardly but is able to do it flawlessly with Cocona at her side.
What Papika is trying to do there is to collection a series of shards that are scattered over the lands, which is her role as part of the Flip Flap organization. With Cocona, she’s able to do the whole transformation and transportation element a lot easier and seemingly lives in the world of Pure Illusion fairly regularly. The Flip Flap organization is kind of loosely defined as lead by Salt, an older man that has this quest to find the shards, along with a few others. The most constant member of the group with the leading pair is that of the robot TT-392, which is named Bu-chan for some reason, and basically can’t say anything but showcases its emotions easily through its form and eyeball screen. It gets caught up in some of the adventures and helps along the way, but is more just a cute add-on than anything truly critically needed that couldn’t have been dealt with in a simpler way.
In standard form, Cocona is resistant to all of this at first but ends up getting into it because the world of Pure Illusion is so varied in what it offers and so full of wonders that she’s drawn into it. The excursions into it offer up a range of different types of places and what they have to deal with while trying to find the shards and they’re all creative and really just need to be seen rather than described. It’s the kind of piece that showcases what animation can do when untethered from certain restrictions and you have a studio looking to establish their own creativity and capability as well. Naturally, it can’t all be fun as there’s a competing organization with their own goals that are revealed toward the end that are after the shards and it drew in Yayaka, a childhood friend of Cocona’s that she hasn’t dealt with for a while. She’s bonded to a pair of twins and is mostly just coarse and dismissive throughout, but that childhood friend aspect is something that you know will come back in obvious and expected ways.
Which is pretty much the thing with Flip Flappers. It’s full of creativity but it largely adheres to the standard concept of a show about middle school girls. Yes, there’s the elements of love that they express for each other but it’s not the way as interpreted by adults in that it may be yuri-ish or anything. It’s the love of two friends that have bonded through some very difficult times as their pasts are explored fully in the final arc with some intriguing twists. It’s also something that really requires multiple viewings I think in order to piece it all together well as even marathoning it left me questioning the timeline and “realness” of certain things brought to the forefront in this regard. It’s not complicated but more complex and told out of order in a way that left me a little uncertain as to what was real.
Flip Flappers is a visual delight from start to finish and warrants a viewing from that alone. Sentai’s gone and put a lot into the show as it has a great dub cast and they also released a big premium edition for it, which shows some good data on their side for how well watched and received the property is. For fans of the show, it’s a great release even if the regular edition is fairly basic and straightforward. It shines where it needs to with a great encode and a fun and heartwarming dub performance from the leads that drives the story home. It wasn’t quite as strong narratively for me as I would have liked and in some ways felt like it meandered a little too long without digging into things it needed to earlier, but it’s just further quibbling on my part. Definitely a solid release through and through for the fans.
Japanese DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Sentai Filmworks
Release Date: February 27th, 2018
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.