Flip Flappers – 01
Flip Flappers is a bit of an interesting mess, and a good example of why it’s important to hire a writer. How does one sum this series up? It’s sort of like Gainax and Masaaki Yuasa had a baby, visually anyway. As for the content, well – that’s where the messy part comes in.
Speaking of Yuasa-sensei, I searched high and low trying to find some connection to him in the staff list but if it’s there, I missed it. This premiere really puts me in mind of his visual work, but with a twist of old school Gainax or Bones – which reflects the pedigree of director Oshiyama Kiyotaka and Animation Director/Character Designer Kojima Takashi. Studio 3HZ did some impressive work with Dimension W and it’s clear they’re a studio to watch, at least when it comes to producing visually arresting anime with a lot of retro feel.
Sadly, though, I find Flip Flappers to be pretty soulless. The premiere plays as if the artists and animators wrote the story, and not in a good way. There’s a lot of beautiful and strange imagery and animation sequences here but nothing tying them together apart from an extremely basic cute mahou shoujo premise, which seems to exist for little more than to provide an excuse for loli fanservice. Of the two leads Kokona is very plain yogurt and Papika rather annoyingly perky, so not much help there (when a robot who only says one syllable is the most interesting cast member, it’s a bad sign).
I love great animation and interesting art, but ultimately a full-length anime has to be able to tell a story, and so fat there’s not much evidence Flip Flappers is either inclined or able to do that. But it’s just one episode, so who knows – at the very least the series should provide plenty of eye candy for animation geeks.
All Out! – 01
Anytime Madhouse weighs in with something that’s not a boilerplate LN adaptation, that’s an item of interest – not least when it’s a sports series. They’re no stranger to sports anime of course – there’s a long history there, most recently their co-production on Daiya no A (with Production I.G.). This is a co-production too, with TMS Entertainment (come to think of it Hajime no Ippo: Rising was a co-production too – why do they only do co-productions on sports manga adaptations??) and this time around the subject is rugby. Like men’s figure skating, this is a sport that as far as I know has never had a full anime treatment – we’ll see if its up to the challenge.
I’m not quite sure what to make of the first episode, to be honest. It was pleasant enough, boisterous and boyish and brash, but the humor didn’t really work for me. We have a classic tale of two opposites, a giant first-year named Iwashimizu who’s scared of his own shadow, and a pint-sized kid named Gion who overcompensates for his size by being pugnacious to a fault. Iwashimizu has a history with rugby, as it turns out – he seriously injured the captain of his middle-school team bowling him over on his way to a
touchdown try. So he’s reluctant to be a part of it now, while Gion sees it as a chance to work off some of his hostility towards guys bigger than he is (read: everyone).
That’s all fine and good, and the premiere is well-produced and slickly animated. I just didn’t get a whole lot of pop from the characters, and I don’t really know enough about rugby to have that aspect draw me in on its own. The first problem is of course far more important than the second, and maybe it will change as we dig deeper into the story and characters. The basic look of the series is pretty much classic Madhouse old-school sports. but the marketing campaign certainly made it look as if they’re going for a different target audience (and in fact All Out shares a head writer with the Free! adaptation). So on the whole I’m not really sure what we’re going to get with this show, and it may take a few weeks to figure that out.