What got you into anime?
I am eleven years old, sitting on the old rug in my friend’s room, watching as Toonami airs its bump and announces the airing of a new show, .hack//SIGN. Weeks flash in and out as I trace the solemn eyes, the expressive body language, the bittersweet nature of our protagonists. To me at the time, .hack//SIGN was elusive, imaginative, and captivating: I loved its worlds and personally resonated with many of its characters and philosophical themes. I remember staying up secretively at night every Saturday, excited to see what would happen next. No other show had caught my attention so deeply. What struck me the most was the twist at the end when it was revealed that Tsubasa, a male character in the game who falls in love with a female player, was played by a female character all along. The surprise was something I held onto for many years. At the time I didn’t understand why it struck a chord within me, but later on I realized that it was my first instinctive yet awkward realization that I was queer.
Flash forward to nearly 13 years later, where I’m 24 and much more relaxed with my personal nature and characteristics. I’ve seen a lot of anime, and many of them are wonderful, bizarre, and thought provoking. Other shows are just ridiculously bad, but fun at the same time. I’ve grown accustomed to anime as a medium, and while there are surprises from time to time, overall it’s been a steady rhythm in my life.
Enter Papika on a hoverboard, knocking the wind out of me and gasping for breath.
Flip Flappers is a show that has done nothing but consistently surprise me, to the point where I almost feel like an eleven year old again, watching .hack//SIGN for the first time. The two shows share little in common – I would argue that Flip Flappers is a delightful mix of Kyousougiga and Mawaru Penguindrum, with a gentle nod to Evangelion – but the experience they’ve personally delivered are almost the same. I haven’t found myself so enthralled by a myriad of stunning worlds plus a romantic queer duo in years. Put aside the raw emotions of guilt, fear, and anxiety in realizing you’re different from the start for reasons you can’t explain, and focus on the honest coming-of-age story about a girl trying to make her own choices and responsibilities in the world. Or perhaps look at it from an artistic perspective, where the show consistently reminds us the importance of creativity in education, as both a means to express ourselves and learn about ourselves. Or switch it up again, through the lens of psychology and art history. There is so much packed into the show, but at the same time it feels free, joyous, and filled with spirit. I joke about how I was born for Flip Flappers, but in some way, I really feel like I am. Somehow in the weird, intangible universe, this show and I found each other in the disheartening year of 2016, and it’s been an amazing ride to the (near) end.
A friend of mine once told me “I always found it impossible to write about the stuff I really, truly loved.” It’s a true statement. To this day I’ve never written anything about Penguindrum because the show hits so close to home. I want to write about how I love Casshern Sins and how it brought me back to anime when I felt a little worn out in my high school years. I want to write about the charm of Kyousougiga and why it’s relevant to me in terms of family and heartbreak. There are so many anime that heavily affect me, and Flip Flappers is another show I can add to that list. Nothing I write in words will really convey how much the show means to me on a personal level. But I can try. Just as Flip Flappers extends it hand and reaches out to me, I too continue to write about the ways anime makes me hold my breath, in the hopes that somewhere along the line, people will find inspiration and love for something new.
Every Thursday, I am eleven again, tracing the bright eyes, the expressive body language, the optimistic nature of our protagonists. I am awestruck by the creation of vivid, beautiful worlds. Flip Flappers has reminded me why I fell in love with anime all those years ago, and why I continue to fall in love with it (and write about it) again and again – and I can’t thank it enough.