Because Episode 7 was just as strange and nebulous, and because my last Flip Flappers analysis was so well received (thank you!), I have decided to write another explanation for the latest episode. This episode explored Cocona’s relationship with Papika because she begins to have doubts about it. The episode also hints at underlying issues with sexuality.
Warning: This post will contain many spoilers!
Connection With Episode 6- Pure Illusion Does Affect The Real World
One of the points I made in my previous analysis was that Pure Illusion and the real word were somehow connected, and, that by going into Iroha’s memories, Cocona and Papika influenced events in reality. This suspicion was confirmed in Episode 7. At the beginning of the episode, Cocona decides to visit Iroha-senpai and discovers that she is throwing away her paintings.
This seems really out of character for Iroha, who loves to paint and be creative. Cocona fears that their intervention into Iroha’s memories may have had a negative effect. To get answers, Cocona goes to Flip Flap and asks Hidako for details about the purpose of Pure Illusion. His answer is vague at best; however, he does verify Cocona’s fear that their latest journey had an effect on the real world.
Doctor Salt upsets Cocona even more by saying that “friction” (negative effects) is bound to happen when interfering with different worlds. Because of this, Cocona decides that she doesn’t want to go into Pure Illusion anymore; she is afraid that she and Papika will cause more unforeseen consequences. Papika tries to console her, but Cocona is unconvinced. She is beginning to question Flip Flap and their purpose of their journey.
And in doing so, she is also questioning Papika, who is tied into the whole situation. Her uncertainty sends Cocona unknowingly into Pure Illusion, where she runs into several alternate versions of Papika. But…
What Do The Different Papikas Represent?
Because Cocona is questioning her, Pure Illusion has broken down the original Papika into different identities. It is testing Cocona to see if there is a version she likes better, or if she will willingly accept the original Papika. Cocona will have to struggle until she comes to terms with how she feels about Papika. Whether or not you are a yuri fan, you cannot deny that this episode explores Cocona’s sexual identity and attraction to Papika.
Dependent Little Sister Papika
The first Papika that Cocona encounters is a little sister version. She calls Cocona “Onee-chan” (big sister) and relies on her completely. In this form, Papika is extremely dependent on Cocona- as most little sisters would be. She needs Cocona’s approval for everything. Usually, it is the other way around. Papika does whatever she wants and drags Cocona into it with or without her consent. But at the same time, Cocona depends on Papika’s boldness and disregard for danger. Cocona is not used to dealing with a Papika that is so fragile and defenseless. She feels uncomfortable and doesn’t know what to do. It is obvious that this Papika isn’t for Cocona.
Aloof Bad Boy Papika
Therefore, Pure Illusion makes the next Papika the complete opposite- an academically apathetic bad boy. He seems like the kind of person who keeps others at a distance and doesn’t rely on anyone. However, he takes an interest in Cocona and decides to bring her along on one of his hooky adventures. From the beginning of the show, it has been made clear that Cocona is very studious and takes school seriously. Despite this, she decides to tag along with Bad Boy Papika. This is sending an important message- she cares enough about Papika to skip school. I have to point out that her adventures with Papika are most likely affecting her academic endeavors in real life. How can she focus on school and homework when she is journeying into other worlds, possibly missing hours- if not days- of school and getting home at all kinds of strange hours? In following Bad Boy Papika, Cocona is slightly accepting real Papika, the one who will drag her along, even if it means missing other important commitments. This is the first step in the right direction for Cocona in terms of getting Papika back (although, it may be the best for her GPA!).
I also need to point out that it is no coincidence that this Papika is male. A similar (though less rugged and nonchalant) version of Papika exists in real life. Notice how Cocona was able to go along with this Papika much more quickly than when she met the original female Papika. This could be due to two factors. Firstly, because she already trusts Papika, which hints again at Cocona accepting Papika. Or, it could be a metaphor implying that having a relationship with a boy is more appropriate for a girl. Whether she realizes it or not, the pressures of society could be weighing on Cocona and she may subconsciously disagree with her current close relationship with Papika.
However, she doesn’t fully accept this version of Papika. He jumps out of the school window and prods Cocona to come with him. At first, Cocona gets frightened of jumping (or metaphorically, “taking the plunge” with Papika). She does jump, but Bad Boy Papika disappears as Cocona looks up, signifying how she hasn’t found the correct Papika.
Creepy Fearful Papika
Maybe Bad Boy Papika was too forward, so the next Papika is timid, awkward, and afraid. She is less dependent than the little sister version, but still needs Cocona to help her do things. This is shown through their interaction at the Flip Flap office. Papika is hiding under a desk, probably too meek to expose herself. When Cocona tries to look into the desk’s drawer, Creepy Papika stops her and questions Cocona, making her more outspoken than the little sister. However, she is still reliant on Cocona because she seems to be too afraid to look in the drawer by herself, and asks Cocona if they can look together. The idea that Fearful Papika can’t do things alone is shown again later through a collage of moments, when Creepy Papika is crouching behind Cocona as she play a crane game. She wants to do things and enjoys herself, but she is too afraid to do it without Cocona. This is extremely different than the original Papika, who doesn’t seem to be scared of anything, and jumps into dangerous situations without asking any questions.
Creepy Papika was little better in terms of not being too dependent or blunt, but her creepy exterior most likely weirded out Cocona. So now it is time for another exaggerated, in-your-face Papika. I call her Indulgent Papika because she doesn’t seem to be afraid to indulge in her emotions- whether they are happy, destructive, or something else. This Papika and Cocona build sand castles together, and Indulgent Papika decides to punch hers and watch it crumble. She does not hide (unlike the last Papika) how good it felt to her, trembling with joy. She gets Cocona to do the same thing, and asks her if it felt good. Cocona agrees, which is significant. Up until this point, Cocona doesn’t seem to be able to really express how she is feeling without exploding. Letting out some frustration in a healthy manner is a good thing, and something that Cocona needs to learn how to do. Indulgent Papika achieved her goal, and in many ways, real life Papika has helped Cocona open up and express herself as well. But Indulgent Papika is probably still too blatant and overly feminine for Cocona to fully accept.
This next Papika is crucial because it marks some progress in Cocona’s acceptance toward Papika and her sexuality. This Delinquent Papika is a typical character you see in anime. They may be tough on the outside and cause trouble, but they are actually sensitive and have a good heart. Cocona sees this in Delinquent Papika. Despite the fact that his injuries were probably caused from a fight or scuffle, Cocona tries to cheer him up by taking him shopping.
The next scheme where they try on different clothing greatly resembles a date. Cocona initiated this outing (again, hinting at the idea that girls should date boys), and Delinquent Papika enjoys it, even convincing Cocona to dress up in silly outfits. It is no coincidence that this is happening while Papika is male. One of the outfits that Cocona tries on is a stereotypical outfit of a female delinquent. This outfit makes Papika blush and Cocona blushes back when he compliments her. This “date” and flirting is setting the groundwork for other Papikas and events that are going to happen later. It is planting the idea that maybe, just maybe, Cocona and Papika could date and be attracted to one another.
While in the delinquent outfit, Cocona goes out and has fun with Delinquent Papika. Although he is probably considered bad by many people, Cocona likes this Papika, even with his flaws. This is important. Once again, Cocona was strung along by Papika and does things she normally wouldn’t do on her own. Notice how the Delinquent Papika doesn’t disappear right away and she actually gets to spend time with him. This is because she is slowly accepting Papika for who she is. The only problem is that the original Papika isn’t male. Cocona has to realize that her possible feelings (whether friendly or romantic) toward original female Papika are real, even if society says otherwise.
Because of this, Pure Illusion continues to swap out the different Papikas- the barrage and confusion will continue to recycle itself until Cocona finally makes a decision.
Depressed Self Conscious Papika
Her appearance is short, but another very vulnerable Papika appears. She needs approval from Cocona in order to feel good about herself. For example, when she sees that a photo of herself came out poorly, Depressed Papika says, “I could just die.” However, she feels better when Cocona compliments another photograph. She depends on Cocona t0 boost her confidence- Cocona is literally her source of self-esteem.
Cocona does not seem that comfortable around this Papika. Notice how she seems to dislike the more dependent Papikas and likes the ones that are more confident (not to mention boyish). This is because they are more similar to the original Papika. The shy, uncertain Papikas probably remind Cocona of herself who cannot even come to terms with her own identity.
Sexual Male Bishounen Papika
Here we have another male Papika, but this one is much different than the first two, and elicits a very different response from Cocona. This Bishounen (Pretty Boy) Papika isn’t really like the original Papika. He seems to do whatever he wants, but doesn’t come off as genuine or nice. He appears snarky, which Cocona doesn’t seem to like.
He is also very sexualized, from soda running down his chin and neck, to cold water causing his t-shirt to turn transparent. And Cocona doesn’t seem to like this either. The other two boy Papikas were not sexual. They were male, but not overly masculine, and their demeanor were kind of similar to Papika’s tomboy presence. Therefore, Cocona wasn’t turned off by them. But she seems really turned off by the idea of a pretty boy, who isn’t like Papika in the least She rejects him right away.
There was one clue, however, that hinted the idea of Cocona being attracted to Papika. When he first appeared, the Bishounen Papika takes a drink from a ramune soda bottle and then passes it to Cocona, who absentmindedly takes a sip from it. She blushes and looks down at the soda bottle. Why? Because it was an indirect kiss from Papika. Whether male or female, she kissed Papika. This moment leads into the next Papika, who is the most significant Papika of all of the others.
Sexual Female Succubus Papika- Facing Sexual Identity
After her experience with Bishounen Papika, Cocona somehow ends up in a hotel. While there, she is introduced to a new Papika- a seductive, sexual Papika. Except this one is a girl.And although she seems concerned by her presence, Cocona doesn’t reject this Papika right away. Instead, they talk to each other.
Here is their conversation (after the screenshot above):
Sucubbus Papika asks “Do you love me?”
“Do I love you?” answers Cocona. “I don’t know. Because you aren’t the Papika I know.”
“Does it have to be the Papika you know?”
“That not what I mean…”Although she doesn’t respond to this directly, I believe the answer is yes. She has been wandering around Pure Illusion and interacting with all of these different Papikas in order to come to terms with the original Papika. The cycle would not have continued if she was okay with just any Papika.
“Do you love me, then?” questions Succubus Papika.
“You mean as a friend, right?”asks Cocona. Here Cocona is still in denial- society has conditioned her to believe that only boys and girls should date. However…
“Why would you ask that?”counters Papika. This Papika represents lust- specifically lust for females. Therefore, she doesn’t understand Cocona’s opposition. She doesn’t see girls being together as strange, so questioning it doesn’t make sense to her.
“I mean love is…” Between boys and girls, right?
But Papika interrupts her. Cocona turns around and her face is extremely close to Papika’s, although she doesn’t seem to mind. Somehow the two girls end up in lingerie and lay on the bed together. Papika tries to seduce Cocona, stroking her and telling her to try something fun. You would expect Cocona to feel uncomfortable, but she really doesn’t seemed bothered by it- at least much less bothered than when the pretty boy doused himself in water. This is sending us a blunt message- that Cocona may be sexually attracted to Papika and other girls. Do we know for sure? Not yet. But the idea is there, and Cocona doesn’t seem that concerned.
However, she decides to not get intimate with this Papika. She would rather find the original one. Will she and the real Papika ever get to this point in their relationship? As of right now, this is another unanswered question. But it is obvious that Cocona would rather find the real Papika than give herself away to a fake one.
Finding and Accepting Real Papika
After the rejection, Succubus Papika disappears. With temptation gone, Cocona leaves the hotel, takes a train, and ends up in a field. We don’t really know what happens, but Yayaka and the others seem to take a fragment from Cocona. And she feels defeated. She has searched and searched, and still hasn’t found the original Papika. In her frustration, she says, “What if I can never go back? Really… Papika, you jerk! You jerk… Where’d you go?”
Here she is questioning Papika once again, and succumbing to her despair, which is about to swallow her up. Literally. After she yells, the ground beneath her caves in and transforms into a black abyss, ready to gulp up Cocona.
At that moment, knowing she may die or disappear, Cocona regrets how she questioned Cocona. And she wants to see her dear friend (?) one more time- she wants Papika to save her like always. And Papika does. Seemingly out of nowhere, Papika swoops down and grabs Cocona by the hand, pulling her up into a flying vehicle.
“I found my lost Cocona!” cheers Papika.
Cocona replies, “What are you saying? The one who was lost…” Was me. Cocona realizes that she has just found what she had been searching for the whole time: her Papika. Cocona gets pulled into the flying machine and joins Papika. And it is the first time she truly smiles throughout the entire episode. The girls ends up in a field of flowers, where they play and laugh together. Whether or not her feelings are romantic, Cocona realizes how important and precious Papika is to her.
And she will never question her again.