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Flip Flappers was developed as a project drawing from topics which interested director Kiyotaka
Oshiyama, and among those topics were the various branches of psychoanalysis, especially
those of both Freud and Jung. As a work very directly about the psychosexual realm and
its impact on development, specifically through the lens of queer awakening and the role of
relationships in subject formation, the influence of these thinkers, as well as other works
which drew upon them, like Neon Genesis Evangelion, is startlingly clear. Yet simply analyzing
the series along psychoanalytic lines misses something; the show's powerful pushback
against many aspects of psychoanalysis. Cocona's story, while certainly one of sexual awakening,
is not a cut-and-dried Freudian or Jungian process of therapy and actualization. Mimi,
despite clearly resembling an image of the Oedipal Mother, is not so simple. Rather,
through both narrative and animation, Flip Flappers elaborates a view of the world and
the mind which is much less singularly-focused than the thought of either Freud or Jung,
telling a story which encourages us to forge connections and improve ourselves through
an understanding of our fluidity and status as assemblages of disparate elements.
It's key to establish a few essential points in regards to my perspective here before we
begin. First, I interpret Flip Flappers as a queer text, and believe any reading which
doesn't do so is disingenous at best. This analysis will make no attempt to justify or
prove the queerness in the show, just as it will make no attempt to justify or prove Papika's
existence in it. Second, this is not a moral critique or a
review. Yes, the show has objectionable content, including a number of unnecessary shots which
sexualize the characters. While much of the sexualization in the show is important in
conveying the adolescent discovery of sexuality, not all of it is, and some of it is quite
jarring. Having admitted that, I have no interest in discussing it further.
Lastly, this analysis, while less personal in nature than many of my videos and not intended
to comment on the quality of the show, should be interpreted given the following facts:
Flip Flappers is my favorite anime, something I learned after beginning my fifth watch of
it just a few months ago. I relate heavily to Cocona, and her relationship with Papika
served as an important point of clarification when I began my current and only relationship.
In other words, I am very personally invested in the series, and whether that information
leads you to believe I'm interpreting it to fit my own ends, or makes my interpretation
even stronger, it does seem worth pointing out. Now, with those out of the way, we can
return to the scheduled program. Part 1: Freudianism-Jungianism
In an interview, Kiyotaka Oshiyama explicitly mentions his desire to insert psychoanalytic
elements into Flip Flappers, saying that “Pure Illusion is fairly similar to the idea of
the Umwelt, and one of the themes of the show is the multi-faceted nature of the internal
world we each have, so I felt like psychology would be pretty relevant”. Broadly speaking,
most analyses of the series break down into two primary camps, if you exclude those which
come at it from a vague, personal approach rather than one informed by specific theory.
On the one hand, there's queer analyses, specifically looking at what the show says
about queerness and sexualized or gendered difference, often focusing on Cocona's journey
as one of breaking heteronormativity. On the other, we have psychoanalytic readings, generally
of a Lacanian bent. These modes of analysis are not in contrast, and in fact a number
of pieces on the show dabble in both, but as a result of the series' clear priorities,
they have gained some level of dominance in the discourse.
In order to understand the series and the ways in which it challenges psychoanalytic
thought, therefore, we need to look at psychoanalytic thought, and how the series is generally believed
to engage in it. Broadly speaking, Freudian psychoanalysis
can be seen as a focus on sexual development. Essentially, Freud was concerned with how
the sexual development of human beings impacted their mental processes, and broadly discovered
that this development was primarily determined by early environment, alongside innate biological
drives which also fuel the unconscious. Perhaps as a result of being a bourgeois man from
Vienna, this led his analysis to primarily center the family, in particular the parents,
as the ultimate cause of most complexes and disorders. Lacan added far too much to summarize
in full, and I'm hardly educated enough to do so in the first place, but some of his
important contributions for the sake of this analysis are a renewed focus on ego or subject
formation, the reintroduction of the Other in a Hegelian move, and the conception of
desire as created by lack, separate from the needs of the drives, and dominated by our
existence in the symbolic order of society and language. Another Freudian concept is
obviously the tripartite model for the mind of the id, ego, and superego, but attempts
to connect these structures to the main trio are spurious at best, produce little in the
way of interesting analysis, and don't account for their development across the series.
It's not hard to see how this view of psychosexual development makes itself known within the
narrative of Flip Flappers. While Cocona is not a boy, and thus not the classic example
to be used in the well-known Oedipus Complex, Mimi, her mother, remains cast in that light.
Cocona desires her mother's presence throughout the series, and once she arrives is overjoyed
at finally meeting her. In spite of feeling embarrassed at doing so, she identifies with
her, taking on her appearance, though this is to a large degree due to Mimi's insistence.
To some extent, there is even a sexual tension in the scenes between the two, though not
one which rises to the surface at any point; the intimate body language is well beyond
what we'd normally accept for a parent-child relationship, and the animation in the series
conveys a lack of borders between the two that clearly harkens back to an earlier stage
of ego formation. During this period in which Cocona and Mimi
are together, Mimi occupies Cocona's body in the “real world”, signifying the association
between the two. Through a psychoanalytic perspective, this can be seen in two key ways.
In many works, it would reflect the traditional example of a “healthy” result to the Oedipal
relationship, identifying with the same-sex parent and moving beyond a desire to kill
them. However, the fact that Mimi attacks Salt, Cocona's father and her husband during
this period rebuts this: if anything, it's the father Cocona(because remember, it's
her body) wants to kill for taking her mother. Her Oedipus complex is, of course, a homosexual
one. However, not all Freudian thinkers cling so strongly to this directly binary and heteronormative
understanding of the complex, and some have encouraged us to see it as happening in all
genders and as a phenomena directed at both parents. Where, then, does that leave us?
Clearly, it establishes the fact that Cocona, despite being a middle schooler, has not properly
formed a complete ego; she has not passed through the “healthy” stages of development
in full. She exists and has a self, but she has not yet disentangled said self from the
need for validation from her mother through identification with her, and having failed
that, her sexuality is confused. A great deal of evidence exists to provide
support for this reading. Throughout the series, Cocona demonstrates herself as someone without
a clear idea of who she is, often behaving more as an object to be acted upon than a
thinking subject herself. She exists primarily through her relationships with others, and
relies on Yayaka and then Papika for direction, even as she often protests where that direction
leads. A sterling example of this is provided in the scene wherein Cocona is discussing
high school plans with Yayaka. She rejects Yayaka's choice, given its status as a boy's
school, in many ways objecting to the androgyny of queerness that Yayaka has already accepted
in herself, and yet she is not herself able to formulate another idea. Her desire is occupied
by societally-enforced needs for a “normal life”—she is, after all, an intelligent
and diligent girl—but her need for love and sexuality, particularly of a queer sort,
is entirely unconscious. And yet when it seems as if Yayaka wants to kiss her, she readily
accedes. As a result of her incomplete development, it's easy for those with cruel intentions
to get her to move as they wish. In this Freudian reading, what frees Cocona
from her complex is ultimately an overcoming of desire through association with Papika,
essentially moving her sexuality beyond the Oedipal target of her mother. The symbolic
marriage with Papika demonstrates this more clearly than anything else could: marriage
is, representationally, the leaving of the parents for another, and the “natural”,
“healthy” end-result of sexuality. Cocona's psychosexual development completes itself
at the end of the series in this reading, and she no longer needs to venture into Pure
Illusion, a world of dreams, in order to rectify her complexes and psyche.
But, this reading presents a problem. Not only does it treat sexuality and the family
as the only valuable site for analysis, but it ignores the fact that the ending of the
series is not one of departure from Pure Illusion, which is in many ways a reflection of Mimi
herself, but in reality a return to it, as Cocona and Papika learn to venture there for
their own enjoyment. If one wished to remain within a psychoanalytic framework to solve
this conundrum, they'd have to turn to Sigmund Freud's prodigal disciple, Carl Jung, for
another mode of thinking. Jung spent much of his early career following
Freud's lead, but with time he came to a decisive break with the man, feeling that
he over-centralized the sexual aspects of desire and disliking the formulaic analysis
it resulted in. Jung went on to found the discipline of analytic psychology, which while
accepting of some of Freud's ideas took a radical departure. Primarily, Jung based
his theories on the idea of instincts and imprinted tendencies from evolutionary history,
and developed the theory of archetypes and the collective unconscious. For Jung, while
we all have an individual unconscious which makes up a part of ourselves, alongside our
conscious Ego, we also have the collective unconscious, an aspect of thought common to
all humans. While we can not directly grasp this collective unconscious, we can see its
effects work themselves out in various ways. For instance, Jung used examples such as the
commonality of Messiah figures across the planet, or other such archetypal figures to
argue that deep within us exist primordial ideas about saviors, a sort of conceptual
instinct. For Jung, we must grapple with these archetypes and the dreams in which they express
themselves in order to self-actualize and free ourselves of complexes and mental illnesses,
to live a good life. Pure Illusion itself is, through this framework,
a representation of the ways in which the collective unconscious merges with individual
consciousnesses in order to create people. Take episode 3, where Welwitschia—yes, that's
the name of the BDSM girl—acts quite obviously as a representative of the witch archetype,
and yet drawing from Sayuri's thought processes gains an appearance befitting a Mad Max-style
world; though Cocona's desire, always brought to Pure Illusion's fore perhaps by Mimi's
influence, is also an obvious factor in her existence. Similarly, OO-303 is a variation
of the mad scientist or witch doctor archetype. In this reading, Cocona would likely be diagnosed
as having an introverted thinking type personality—yes, Jung inspired Meyers-Briggs—though one that's
significantly held back by her failure to self-actualize. It's through meeting Papika,
a sort of misfit who breaks through her bubble, that she's able to free herself from that,
associating in a healthy way with aspects of her shadow, or the parts of herself which
her ego previously attempted to avoid identifying with, while adopting a less harmful persona,
one which does not stifle her so heavily, as shown in her willingness to enjoy herself
freely in Pure Illusion by the end of the series. To return to the earlier point about
Yayaka's mentioning of a boy's school, Cocona is able to accept the androgyny of
her queerness here, or, in Jungian terms, she is able to more heavily identify with
her animus, embracing her feelings for Papika. But this reading, too, seems as if it's
missing something. For one thing, it's not entirely clear that the archetypes of Pure
Illusion are responsible for her change. Of course, casting the series' players as archetypes
themselves, for instance, describing Papika as a wild child who disrupts the harmful status
quo of Cocona's life and thus allows her to engage with her problems, does something
to rectify this, but even then it feels wrong to treat all figures aside from Cocona as
mere representations of instinctual trends in human psychology. And while the question
of why Cocona returns to Pure Illusion in spite of self-actualizing is answered under
this framework, it's just as set of a framework, and like orthodox Freudianism, will only ever
produce an analysis which boils down to one thing: for Freud it may be sexual development
in the family, but for Jung it's simply an inability to properly reconcile the ego
with other parts of the capital-S Self without the help of archetypes. No, I don't think
either of these analyses are sufficient, even if they're useful for certain ends, and
I don't believe the show does either. But how is that, when it so clearly draws from
them? Well, for that, we'll need to discuss a series with deep intertextual relations
with Flip Flappers, one it draws upon heavily in both visuals and narrative: the one and
only Neon Genesis Evangelion. Part 2: Altering the Gospels
We all know Neon Genesis Evangelion, the seminal 1995 anime wherein Ikari Shinji is led to
pilot a giant being known as an Eva which—spoiler alert—is actually his mom. It changed everything,
without it shows like Flip Flappers simply couldn't exist as they do, and it cribbed
heavily from psychoanalysis. Like with Flip Flappers, there's a great deal of hare-brained
analyses attempting to tie each individual character in Eva to a specific Jungian archetype,
or to a structure in Freudian thought, but those aren't worth discussing. What's
actually interesting is that we know that Anno got deep into psychoanalysis as he worked
on the show, and this came about in the thematic priorities of its second half.
Similar to Flip Flappers, Eva is a show deeply concerned with subject formation, taking a
particularly Lacanian approach to the concept in using the theory of the Oedipus Complex
as an early developmental form of the Hegelian struggle for self-identification. Like Cocona,
Shinji is a character who's incapable of proper development as a result of sexual and
interpersonal complexes which keep him from going further. Just as Cocona uses the amorphous
and Pure Illusion to connect to her mother on an unconscious plane of existence, unable
to do so in the real world due to her Oedipal mindset, so too does Shinji pilot the Evangelion.
And the shared trait of queerness between the two needn't even be mentioned. Characters
like Salt are obvious parallels to Gendo, and it would be hard to argue that Ascelpius,
in their goal to unite Pure Illusion with the real world and break down the borders
of human thought as it currently exists, does not bear some marked similarities to our friends
over in SEELE. These commonalities, along with many shots
directly cribbing from the earlier work, were derided by those less fond of the series as
it aired, treated as a simple usage of Eva's powerful imagery without shifting its meaning
in a way which added any original flair. However, I don't agree with this judgement. Rather,
I believe that the parallels exist for two obvious reasons: to remind viewers of Eva's
existence and thematic content, and then to actively subvert that content. Essentially,
Flip Flappers relies on viewers making the Eva connections, as they play a key role in
establishing that unlike Eva, this show cannot be boiled down to Oedipal impulses nearly
so easily. Let's take a famous, or perhaps infamous
scene in the show, one taking place in episode 11. Having occupied Cocona's body after
her daughter felt betrayed by everyone, Mimi meets Salt in the middle of a grass field.
Throughout the series, Salt has, like Gendo, been a far-off father to Cocona, though unlike
Shinji the girl is not aware of that connection. Salt points a gun at Mimi after she mocks
him, a reflection of Gendo's action against Ritsuko in End of Eva. We then cut to backstory,
but sequentially speaking, he declares that the “real Mimi” would not have wanted
this. It's here that the differences from Eva begin to reveal themselves. While this
reflects shots in Eva, they're in a different context; Gendo never doubts Yui, and follows
her plans to the last, even as he treats others around him, such as Ritsuko, as if they're
mere pawns. Salt, on the other hand, judges his wife for her actions, but crucially, he
is wrong. While only some parts of Mimi support her actions here, they are very much real
parts of her. Already, Flip Flappers is breaking down the concept of an individual ego with
a singular motivation and essence. As Mimi says, all aspects of people are real. We are
more assemblages of disparate parts that make up a unique whole than we are concrete, unitary,
and inseparable existences. While Eva aligns with this to some degree, arguing that the
versions of ourselves in others' heads are real and yet different from our own self-perception,
it still ultimately returns to a conception of solid individuals, hence the rejection
of Instrumentality. But back to the scene, Salt raises a number
of monoliths meant to stop Mimi, arranged in roughly the same manner as those of the
members of SEELE. Rather than a cheap visual riff, this too is key; Mimi easily disrupts
them, and then Salt as well. SEELE and NERV are led entirely by men and represent a particularly
masculine, if pathetic, form of authority, one which holds no power here. Eva is ultimately
focused on Shinji, and uninterested in that story, Flip Flappers shows these masculine
monoliths and figures trivially disrupted. The scene concludes, even, with Salt left
on the ground after Mimi and Cocona depart, unable to change anything as Gendo was able
to. Unlike the successful plans of SEELE, which led to Instrumentality, if an aborted
form of it, there is only separation here, because this is not a world where men's
efforts are necessarily and always successful. Similar examples of rebuffing Eva's conclusions
can be found in other locations. Take episode 7, where Cocona, having been asked the pivotal
question of whether or not she loves Papika, stumbles through Pure Illusion, eventually
ending up in a streetcar, as we're provided a shot duplicating one that shows up in Eva
many times. From a purely filmic perspective, this shot, which keeps Cocona seated on the
left side of the screen, conveys that she is moving without purpose, passed by even
and yet not totally still, more of an object than a subject.
However, unlike in Eva, the lighting here, while still tinged with the literal shadow
of doubt, leaves Cocona lit by natural colors, foreshadowing her hopeful turn towards accepting
Papika's feelings and her own at the end of the episode. While Shinji is lit up in
his scene as well, it is by a harsh, orange light, one which represents his repressed
and anxiety-inducing memories throughout the series, and where Cocona comes to a conclusion
shortly after leaving the train, Shinji's attempts to understand his own feelings or
those of others are stifled. Both of them arrive on this train to think about how to
relate to other people, but crucially, Pure Illusion, in allowing Cocona to encounter
a number of different but all very real Papikas, opens space for a successful result of that,
in a way not possible for Shinji until the very end of the series, if even then.
But why is it so important that this series challenges what Eva established? Because Eva
is the psychoanalytic anime de jour, and any series employing those motifs must engage
with it in some way; that's what it means to be the tent-pole of an entire medium. Flip
Flappers' clear subversions, its use of parallel imagery made to say different things
sends a straightforward message: as a work which comes after Eva, there are topics which
must be readdressed, particularly in terms of method. Evangelion ultimately boils the
extent of Shinji's problems down to those caused by the circumstances of his birth and
early childhood, accepting all that Freudian theory had to contribute. This doesn't make
it a worse work, it's stellar, but it is a very particular perspective. Flip Flappers
refuses to do the same, as while Mimi and Salt influence Cocona's character, they
do not define it to nearly the same degree, nor do any of the characters' personalities
stem so directly from their parental treatment or lack thereof as Eva's do. No, the cast
of Flip Flappers is far more fluid than that, and as previously stated, are treated more
as assemblages of various parts which change across time. Without borrowing so clearly
from Eva, these differences would not have been nearly so obvious. Besides, while it's
regularly claimed that the characters of Eva need some time in a psych ward, it's pretty
obvious the damage that's done to the characters here.
Part 3: Living Amorphously “You were a big girl before, and an old
lady before that, and a baby before that. Now… you're the same as me.” These lines,
spoken by a young Cocona who has not yet left her mother's home of Pure Illusion to a
Papika who has similarly been sucked in, is the first moment of equal connection between
the two, and the foundation of an eternal promise of love, the first point at which
these two individuals, previously so different from one another, have themselves reached
a point at which they're able to meet. Three things stand out in this scene, all of which
are necessary for understanding what Flip Flappers does believe about the world and
human behavior within it. These three things are the quote itself, the barrier which divides
the two, and Papika's cage being a tree. Cocona's journey throughout the series is,
of course, one of development, of knowing how to grow up. But is that so straightforward
as one might first expect? The quote of Cocona's puts that into doubt. Papika is not a character
who had a straightforwardly “linear” development, and she has not aged in an ordinary way. While
she progressed typically until adulthood, upon being sucked into Pure Illusion alongside
Cocona and Mimi this changed. Pure Illusion itself disrupted the supposedly natural path
of aging, causing Papika to bounce between ages, eventually ending up as a child like
Cocona. Now, it could be assumed that Mimi is the cause of this, and did it to ensure
that Cocona would have a friend. On some level, this is likely true. However, it can't be
wholly true. Mimi's jealous, controlling aspects have already taken control over her
conscious aspects by this point, and as we see, would not have approved of anyone growing
too close to Cocona, even her best friend. No, to whatever degree Mimi did choose this,
it was a function of Pure Illusion's inherent tendencies; that is to say, as she could not
have consciously made this decision at the time, it must have been something she did
unconsciously entirely because it was the “natural” thing to do within the space
of Pure Illusion. Pure Illusion isn't just free of the restrictions we face in everyday
life but is fundamentally open in a way the real world supposedly isn't.
The next thing we need to look at is the barrier between Cocona and Papika. Of course, this
barrier likely is a conscious creation of Mimi's, designed to keep them apart, a gambit
which ultimately fails. However, the barrier represents more than a mere prison or divider.
On a filmic level, it also establishes a lack of hierarchy between the two. Unable to interact
with one another, they're split apart, and yet as a result utterly equal. The room does
not exist for hierarchy in such a space; at least, not one between the two of them.
But why a tree, and why is Papika in prison if Pure Illusion gives her the freedom to
move through time in a less restricted manor? Well, it's time to finally address the theorist
I've been dancing around this whole time: Gilles Deleuze. For Deleuze and his partner-in-crime
Felix Guatarri, a helpful way of looking at structures, of knowledge and other sorts,
is through the form of the tree and the form of the rhizome. The tree, or the arborescent
form, contains within it a clear beginning, and while it may branch out in many directions,
all ultimately comes back to the central root, and ends at the top point. It's a teleological
way of thinking, or in layman's terms, a method of organization which comes with an
end-point baked into it, such as Christianity's built-in belief that Christ will eventually
return. A website that users access by connecting to one central server might suffice as an
example. The rhizome, on the other hand, has no beginning or end, merely a center from
which all emerges. While any given point on a tree can only connect to another point through
the central root, any point in a rhizomatic structure can connect to any other point;
peer-to-peer networks share at least some features with the rhizome, though it would
be overly ambitious to claim torrenting is rhizomatic in all ways, or that anything can
be. Psychoanalysis traditionally has an arborescent
structure; all ultimately derives from the family and the “main root” of sexuality,
rather than understanding every aspect of ourselves as creating our own desires, as
assemblages of various machines which form their desires in a system of flows, nothing
fixed and everything determined at the moment. So why is Papika in a prison? Because for
whatever freedom Pure Illusion grants, and it clearly grants quite a bit, the tree is
meant to stop it, or as a Deleuzian might put it, it is an attempt by the State, in
this case seen in Mimi's darker elements, to impose striated space on smooth space.
The hierarchical nature of the tree makes it a fitting cage in this reading, and to
go even further, you might say that psychoanalysis, as a discourse made use of by medical institutions,
inherently bears similarities to the prison in a disciplinary society. Yet, given Papika's
shifts, it is not entirely successful. Even within the cage, Papika is not totally trapped
by arborescent structure, as her visually and narratively non-hierarchical connection
with Cocona demonstrates. Pure Illusion clearly does make room for methods of thought and
organization that we usually can't access. Why?
Part 4: Pure Imagination If anything can be called rhizomatic, it's
Pure Illusion itself. While many of the various worlds and spaces within Pure Illusion are
intruded upon and take more hierarchical structures, as a space in itself it is utterly free. Every
Pure Illusion is equal to and, as Mimi shows, connected to all of the others, with no clear
delineation. Furthermore, all the parts of Pure Illusion reflect on the real world, as
the real world reflects on those parts. While I may use the phrase “real world”, it's
a bit of a misnomer, as Pure Illusion is no less real than the outside. Through this focus
on the rhizomatic structure of Pure Illusion, a world of dreams, Flip Flappers encourages
a broadening of imagination, a form of thought less tied to the power of the State and arborescent
structures. Now, one point could be raised to dispute
this. Within Pure Illusion, or at least some of the worlds within it, is a “deeper level”,
one accessed by Cocona and Papika when they accidentally become Iroha, or by Salt as he
goes to confront his past self. However, while this is referred to as “deeper”, it's
questionable whether that's the case. Rather, these “deeper levels” appear to be a hyperfocusing
on individual people. While all worlds of Pure Illusion, on some level, borrow from
the specific interests, hang-ups, and thoughts of characters within the show, and presumably
other people in the world as well, the “deeper levels” are specifically about those people,
and in the cases we see, their history. However, this is not, in fact, the imposition
of hierarchy through a more classically psychoanalytic framework, even if it may appear that way
on first blush. First of all, psychoanalytic attempts to access it fail, but things are
even clearer in Iroha's world. Papika and Cocona both inhabit Iro, even fighting over
who gets to be her at various times. This is not due to their fundamentally different
brain structures, with one representing the id and the other, the ego. When with Iro's
Auntie, they behave the same way, showing little if not none of the personality difference
which characterizes their everyday interactions. Rather, they are literally becoming-Iro, not
transforming into her but taking on her form, the machines that make her up, borrowing traits
from her in a rhizomatic, non-hierarchical way. Through this they alter Iro's waking
experience, yes, but it isn't because they somehow go deeper; it's because they enter
into a relationship with her mind and memories quite directly. Yes, in a certain sense there
is a “deeper layer” to pure illusion, but it is not deeper as in more true, but
deeper as in closer. Given what we're shown, “higher layers” of Pure Illusion are also
able to change the outside world; they're simply further detached from doing so. This
is not 100% rhizomatic, but as I said, nothing truly can be.
And this characterizes all of Pure Illusion. In episode 7, Cocona directly engages with
Papika as an assemblage of various machines; as a little sister-machine, a temptress-machine,
a hottie-machine, etc, all aspects that make up Papika as she is boiled down to simpler,
more direct representation. Cocona is attracted to all of these aspects, but furthermore,
understands that what she wants is Papika as a whole. This is not a denial of the multiplicity
which is Papika, but a recognition that what she truly loves is that multiplicity. Having
accepted that, much of the conflict between the two in the rest of the series is Cocona's
struggle to understand and eventually come to love the fact that, as an assemblage like
all people, Papika is fluid and changes at all times. Of course, classically psychoanalytic
forms do not necessarily deny that the characteristics which make-up a person are fluid, but in positing
central, universal, and ultimately arborescent structures as the main factors in development,
they can't in practice engage with them properly. The rhizomatic structure of Pure
Illusion enables Cocona, and by proxy, people in general, to realize that they are in a
sense multiplicities, as are all people, and that embracing that in yourself and others
doesn't have to be an impossible thing, even if it can, at times, be scary.
All of Flip Flappers takes this position. The animation emphasizes movement both across
spaces and between them, never privileging one over the other, or, to quote Joe of Pause
& Select, “it suggests that movement between spaces is as valuable as within those spaces.
There is no hierarchy.” The fact that this non-hierarchical structure exists in the animation
as well as the discrete narrative of the script is vital. Even as production problems abound
at the end of the series and the animation takes a hit, this is demonstrated. Mimi's
movements, for instance, tend to fill the screen, cutting off freedom of movement as
is the hierarchical nature of the State; the trio's animation, on the other hand, conveys
speed, and most importantly, flight, the ability to move across space freely, the ability to
flee. Mimi is trapped in Millais' portrait of Ophelia, drowned as she's surrounded
by the arborescent structures which made her the way she is, the structures she, unlike
her daughter, is not able to entirely escape. And that, at long last, brings me around to
my title, the end of pyschosexuality. It should be clear, at this point, that I was not referring
to a conclusion as such, to some telos for the entire project of understanding how sexuality
reflects itself in the psyche and development. No, Flip Flappers is a show which is very
much about that, even if it pushes back against many of the psychoanalytic conceptions which
surround how psychosexuality is understood. Instead, I mean it more in the sense of a
geometrical “endpoint”, or perhaps even a “goal”. The most important arc in the
show is Cocona's coming to love herself, and much of her ability to do so derives from
her mutual love for Papika and resulting acceptance of her sexuality. It's notable, after all,
that the most famous image from the series is the two of them holding hands while wearing
wedding dresses, demonstrating the importance of connections between individuals(or perhaps
I should say assemblages), of becoming-each other in a certain sense. But what Flip Flappers
does is break the idea that it can be understood entirely through one lens, that development
or human life can be reduced to a pat analysis of one's parents and childhood. It's a
psychosexual show, but you might also describe it as a psycho-mechanical show, or a psycho-educational
show, or a psycho-apocalyptic show, if you were so inclined. Flip Flappers focuses on
the psyche and sexuality above all else in its characteristic surreal manner, without
putting said sexuality in a hierarchy over the other things which affect our lives. And
that's what we should be aiming for.


Flip Flappers: The End of Psychosexuality

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二百五 2019 年 9 月 11 日 に公開
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