If you passed on watching Flip Flappers because of its name, you missed out on one of the most intriguing shows of the season. It’s really not your fault, though. I did the exact same thing before I went back and did a little digging–and when I finally investigated I found what is now one of my favorite shows of 2016.

I was ready to write it off, too. Maybe it’s set up that way from the very beginning to trick you. Because if you based your impressions of the entire show on the first half of the first episode, you’d think this was just another typical magical girl show, too. And that’s where you’d be wrong again. Here’s why you shouldn’t hang all your impressions of the show on its title.

Flip Flappers is a magical girl adventure, but just barely. It’s more of a surrealistic combination of bright colors, bizarre monsters, and a shadowy organization that happens to have some pretty seedy goals in mind. Following one Cocona, a quiet and somber middle school student who gets mixed up with the quirky and outgoing Papika of the FlipFlap Organization. That’s where the series gets its strange name that seems to have turned so many potential viewers away–it seems like it’s nonsense, but hey! The name serves an actual purpose at least in the context of this world.

When the two girls meet in the first episode, you might think you’ve got the show all figured out. This seemingly gloomy girl Cocona is going to have her life turned all the way upside down by the eccentric Papika, and they’re going to fight monsters together as magical girls in a Pretty Cure sort of manner. One will teach the other the importance of friendship and the other will learn that life isn’t as bad as it seems. Important bonds will be formed while they fight off the bad guy, they’ll reach their “ultimate forms,” yadda yadda yadda. I was expecting something exactly like this (or out and out silliness), so imagine my surprise when the end of the first episode takes a turn I didn’t expect: Cocona isn’t immediately smitten with the idea of hanging out with Papika every day–and when the coral-haired girl asked Cocona if she wants to hang out again, the answer is a resounding “no.” 

I didn’t expect that, because that’s just not how these shows play out. But that wasn’t the first time I was dumbfounded. When the story progresses so that the girls enter the strange “Pure Illusion” worlds, which are actually alternate dimensions. The dimensions are neon, dreamy eye candy that look more like a fever dream from Studio Trigger than something that belongs in a magical girl series. I looked for a mascot to be pulling the strings. I looked for some hokey love and justice talk. I found neither, not even a magical girl transformation sequence, which I was really hoping to see. I couldn’t be disappointed, however, because the show has defied my expectations in every way, right down to the twists that have occurred as of the most recent episodes.

I’ve not yet seen a magical girl anime or anything as remotely, cheerfully strange without having to constantly explain itself or offer some sort of insight into why it might be the way it is. It’s refreshing and engaging in ways that the genre typically doesn’t even bother utilizing. It’s unfortunate that anyone who normally eats up this type of content might miss out on it because of a rather ill-advised title. It’s shaping up to me one of the most memorable tales of magical girl et cetera minus the presence of tropes, and I love it. Give it a chance, even if it sounds like (and looks like) it might offend your sensibilities somehow.

Top Image Credit: Twitter

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