Welcome, one and all, to another thrilling instalment of Matt Doyle Media Dot Com’s yearly tournament, Crunchyroll of the Dice. As always, before we begin … the rules!
- The series must be picked at random
- If it has multiple seasons, I go with season 1
- I have to at least try to watch the episode, no matter what show I get
- I then compare the shows in various categories, and the series that had the episode with the highest overall score advances to the next round
This time around, we’re rounding off the semi-finals with Flip Flappers vs. Interviews With Monster Girls. What we have here are two very different shows, so that should make things nice and interesting. Right. Here we go!
I really enjoyed episode one of this and have been looking forward to seeing more of Papika and Cocona’s adventures. So, let’s dive in!
Cocona awakes with her Gran next to her and soon heads out to school. She has a bit of muscle ache and is slightly confused by this as she’s putting the last episode down to being a dream. Then, Bu-chan (the robot from episode one) starts peeking up her friend’s skirt! Right … well, that’s not a great start. Suddenly, Papika appears, surfing along outside the train and waving to Cocona. Everyone seems to be able to see her too, which causes a little bit of an uproar. The OP still feels as catchy as last time, which is nice.
And we’re back. Cocona’s blonde friend is quizzing Papika, and Cocona pretends not to know her. She starts to leave, stating that she needs to get to school, and Papika grabs her and whisks her away on her sky-surfboard. They stop at the big pipe that they used to enter Pure Illusion last time, and Cocona starts to notice Papika’s wounds and cuts. Papika is more concerned that Cocona’s friends did something weird to her anywhere. Anyway, Papika still has the wish fragment and suggests that she and Cocona go hunt more. Cocona wants no part of it though and tells Papika to go alone, but Papika explains that she’s not powerful enough to do so. She declares Cocona her partner, and … Cocona remains frosty. So, she tries grabbing onto to Cocona instead. Still no luck. Cocona tells Papika that outsiders aren’t allowed on school grounds and walks away. Bu-chan turns up again with a present for Papika … why do I get the feeling she’s going to transfer into the school?
Back in class, Cocona opens her bag to discover that her pet Uexkull has been hitchhiking therein. And, hey presto! Papika appears, dressed magical girls style, and declares herself a transfer student. Called it! Cocona’s blonde friend really doesn’t seem to like Papika at all though. I wonder if there’s more to that, like maybe she goes to Pure Illusion too? Anyway, we jump to Cocona reading form a book with Papika looking on in awe. Next, Papika shows off her basketball skills and gets a massive lunch, then follows Cocona outside. I’m still trying to figure out what Uexkull is. Some sort of green rabbit-turnip hybrid maybe? Anyway, Papika turns up to hassle Cocona some more. She explains that she became a transfer student so that she can continue to be close to Cocona and that Salt, an important person in FlipFlap, explained it to her.
Papika tries to convince Cocona to go adventuring after school again, but she’s not playing ball. Next, Papika follows Cocona into the bathroom, because stalking is the best way to make friends it seems. Cocona tries to escape and is eventually aided by blonde-girl, who helps hide her in the medical room. For some reason, the smell of the room puts Papika off. Ah, the girl’s name is Yayaka. Good to know. Yayaka grabs Cocona as she goes to leave, but stops herself saying whatever it was that she was going to say. She does tell Cocona that you have to spell it out to girls like Papika though or they just won’t get it. With the coast clear, Cocona sneaks out and wonders up to a scary painting that reminds her of Pure Illusion. A girl who is also fascinated with the painting invites her to visit the art club and Papika makes a reappearance, tackling Cocona to the floor and spilling Uexkull out of her bag. Papika gives the pet a creepy look and he scarpers, leaving both girls to give chase.
Time skip, and Papika has caught Uexkull. Mr. Green-and-Turnip-y suddenly gets sucked up by some sort of vacuum and Cocona snaps. She tells Papika that it’s always like this when she’s around her and demands to know why she’s like this. While she is technically correct, Cocona has only had one adventure with Papika so to say always seems a bit harsh given the lack of data to base the statement on. Anyway, she continues that Papika has no sense of danger and asks what would happen if she died. Papika doesn’t understand the concept of regrets it seems, and Cocona breaks down, letting slip that she was worried that Papika would die. Her mask soon falls back into place though, and she tells Papika to leave. Before she can though, Papika tries to help retrieve Uexkull again and … the two girls get sucked into Pure Illusion again.
This time, the world looks all fluffy, bouncy and colourful. As soon as Cocona touches down, she sprouts what look like rabbit ears and an oversized rabbit tail. Everything goes a bit yellow submarine then, and Papika appears as some sort of demented jelly baby teddy thing. A quick hug makes her revert back to normal but with the same new appendages as Cocona. Cocona suddenly realises that she has the ears and tail too and is rather upset by it all. She starts to panic that she has fur all over, though that isn’t really clear with the art style. Bu-chan briefly appears as a brain with an eye on a stick, then turns back to normal so that Papika can chow down on him to ease her restless mouth and bunny teeth. Cocona refuses to join in the bity fun though and goes hunting Uexkull, ordering Papika to stay where she is. Ignoring the possibility of causing a disaster, she follows anyway.
We briefly see someone watching from afar, and soon cut Cocona wandering through a darker area, and failing to resist the urge to bite stuff. Papika finds what I’m assuming is a fragment, and all Hell suddenly breaks loose. Cocona is being swished around like she’s in a tumble dryer, and is getting cut up pretty badly, but someone jumps to her aid … it appears that Uexkull has transformed into a green skinned humanoid rabbit-is warrior of justice, or something. A cage traps him and Cocona anyway though and they start getting lowered into some lava. The pair try to gnaw their way out, but it doesn’t look like it’s going great. Papika is terrified and starts thinking back to what Cocona said about worrying that she’d die. Light surrounds her, and we cut to the cage, just as it sinks into the lava. Luckily, Papika powered up just in time, and saves both Cocona and Uexkull. Unfortunately, she drops the group into a pipe with high-speed whirling metal blades at the end. Everything’s gone mad anyway though, so Papika forms an energy ball around the group and whisks them towards the blades. An energy blast fails to stop them, so they try a second one at the last moment and squeeze through the temporarily slowed death-sticks, returning to the real world.
Papika explains that she understands why Cocona didn’t want to go adventuring now as she too felt scared when she thought Cocona might die. Cocona concedes that she had fun though and that the last bit was awesome. She asks Papika if she’ll go again (to which she says yes), and declares that Papika never learns. Cocona does offer to go again though, at least when she feels like it. Yayaka is watching on from behind a tree and looks slightly confused. So, we jump forward a little and Papika is taking Cocona to FlipFlap. We meet Salt and Sayuri, and they then head off to meet Thomasson. Cocona asks Salt why he wats them to collect fragments, and he says that it’s to liberate Pure Illusion. The episode ends with the girls apparently disappearing. ED sees the storybook style thing again with the chilled song. That’s pretty enjoyable in a fairy tale sorta way. Flip-Flip, Flip-Flap, and all that.
Well … that was something. The early part kinda made both girls look a little bad for me. Papika is incredibly clingy and lacks awareness of the meaning of the word ‘no’. Meanwhile, Cocona was just plain rude. Once they reached Pure Illusion though, things went barmy. It was like Yellow Submarine meets Magical Girls. While undeniably odd, that part was entertaining for all its weirdness.
Interviews With Monster Girls
Interviews With Monster Girls was one of the biggest surprises of round one for me, and I’ve been looking forward to this episode too. It looks like we get learn more about the dullahan Macchi Kyouko this time. So, let’s get started.
Takahashi Tetsuo is in his office talking to Macchi, and is unsure where to look, at her head (which is on her lap) or the glowing flames coming out of her neck. The opening theme is just as fun as last time, and is littered with some fun visuals to illustrate what monster each demi is. Anyway, we get confirmation that the dullahan legend originates from Ireland, and Takahashi asks if the flames are hot. Macchi confirms that they aren’t and asks if he’d like to touch them. He does, and comments that it’s strange because it’s like touching air. Macchi’s head doesn’t look too happy though. Realising this, Takahashi recoils and asks what’s wrong, to which Macchi replies that touching it puts pressure on her nerves. Takahashi apologises. Good man. He confirms that the head and body aren’t separate beings, and asks if it was Ok when they carried her head and body separately in the last episode. Macchi says that it’s fine and that they’ve actually been as far apart as Tokyo and Okayama before now. What happened was that her body was standing in a train while her grandparents were holding her head and saying goodbye. The door shut and off went the body. D’oh!
Takahashi ponders if things like that are bothersome in real life, and Macchi says that she and her family work it out through trial and error. She’s even adapted to use harnesses when eating or using the bath or toilet. She does struggle with social interactions though, as most people get startled and take a while to get comfortable around her. Having missed three days due to illness hadn’t helped either. She gets on with Hikari Takanashi (the vampire girl), but still feels like there’s some distance between her and her classmates. They talk, but they avoid discussing dullahan aspects, which upsets Macchi as she’d like to be able to joke about it with them. Takahashi asks if she makes jokes about it herself and, when she says no, he suggests that she should start by doing so as that will help set the tone for her classmates. He says that it’s like taking the first step, and that he classmates probably have a higher hurdle to clear in that regard as she’s probably the first real live dullahan that they’ve seen. He asks about there only being three in the whole world, which impresses Macchi. Takahashi does his research for his previous students.
Macchi gets a little shy and tells Takahashi that it’s Ok if he wants to refuse, but would he mind hugging her? Her flames ignite with the emotional outburst and Takahashi asks if she was joking. She says no, and clarifies that she only wants him to hug her head. He does so, and she says that she enjoys being held like that. Her parents used to do it a lot, but now that she’s in high school, they think she should get over it. She feels that she can’t, and that there’s no one else to ask. He starts to ponder how hating solitude is part of a dullahan’s nature, just as Takanashi the vampire wonders up … I bet there’s going to be a misunderstanding here … Takahashi realises how it looks and explains to Macchi that it may look inappropriate as he’s a teacher, but that they should be find as long as no pesky higher-ups or that chatty vampire see them … and there’s Hikari in the doorway! She gets a big, evil grin on her face and runs to the window to shout about what she’s seen. Takahashi leaps into action to stop her before things get crazy.
Later, Macchi and Hikari are talking and Macchi thanks her for setting up the interview. Hikari dashes ahead when she sees Yuuki the snow woman, and they find that all three are walking in the same direction. She suggests that they walk home together, but Yuuki seems to be put off by Macchi and makes her excuses. Later, Hikari invites Macchi home with her, but Macchi needs to get going or her Mum will worry. She has to stop when her Mum calls too as it’s hard to carry her bag, and her head, and still use a mobile, all at the same time. We cut to night time, and Macchi has a roll out futon for her body and what I can only describe as a small dog house for her head.
The next day, we learn that Macchi wants to go on a date with a guy, but she isn’t sure how the guy feels. Hikari is all up for it, telling her to flash her nice figure his way and he’ll be hers. Oh dear, this could lead to some awkwardness if she’s talking about Takahashi. I’ be worried, but the show has been dealing with things sensibly thus far, so I’d expect them to deal with that in a reasonable manner. Anyway, Macchi views being a dullahan as a hindrance, but Hikari sees it as an advantage because she’ll be capable of special techniques when it comes to being naughty. Uh … thanks for that. I did laugh when she said that she doesn’t actually know anything about such things though. Anyway, Macchi is unsure what sort of date she’d like. She does like the idea of walking with the one she likes while he carries her head though. It is all quite romantic. Hikari cuts to the chase and asks who the guy is, and Macchi says … Takahashi.
Well, here we go. Hikari pulls her phone out and calls Takahashi. She gets sneaky and sets up an experiment where Takahashi and Macchi have to go shopping and not return to her until they’re done. Hikari, complete with Batman-style shirt, says that she’ll keep an eye on Macchi’s body. I really hope that Takahashi sorts this out quickly. Takahashi asks Macchi what sort of experiment they’re doing, and she says that if she meets anyone she likes, she may be able to go out like this with just her head. This means that she can work out any problems in advance. He thinks that’s a great idea. Back at Hikari’s place, she’s watching Macchi’s body and wondering what’s going on. Cut back to the duo, and they’re on a bench talking about the now departed blooms. Meanwhile, Macchi’s body reveals that it can write in a notebook without the head being there, so it can communicate with Hikari. It tells Hikari that she’s having a great time and thanks her. Hikari is happy, but decides that it may be going too well, and that that ticks her of. So she prods Macchi, causing her head to cry out. She tries to cover while her body gets angry back at Hikari’s.
Montage happens, and then Takahashi asks if Macchi’s found any problems. She has: motion sickness. A quick drink later, and all is well. Takahashi apologises as it’s new to him, and Macchi says it’s new to her too, being on a date with a guy. Takahashi misses this and says that the experiment is yielding results at least. Macchi covers herself and the conversation turns to the snow woman. Takahashi knows her but hasn’t spoken with her. Macchi raises Hikari hugging the snow woman, as Yuuki looked a little scared. She doesn’t think she was scared of Hikari, but stops short of saying that she was scared of Macchi herself. Takahashi offers to talk to her. Macchi suddenly realises that she needs the toilet, and her body stands up, bashing its knee. The body eventually explains in a note, and Hikari’s sister Himari returns home just as she’s leading the headless body to the bathroom.
Back with the experiment, Takahashi has found a way to prevent the motion sickness. He says that when people walk, they move up and down but don’t notice it because they unconsciously move their eyes and necks to balance it out. So, he’s using his arms to hold her head like a balancing toy. Back at Hikari’s. the vamp almost lets slip about the toilet incident. Macchi thanks Takahashi and he says that he should thank her, as he learned a lot. The experiment is deemed a success. Macchi leaves, and Hikari starts to tell Takahashi something.
The next day, Satou (the teacher who is also a succubus) sees Takahashi talking to the principal. He says that dullahans need to always carry their heads and that carrying a regulation bag takes up one hand, which is both inconvenient and dangerous. He asks if permission could be given for Macchi to use a backpack instead. The principal agrees. Takahashi adds that Macchi’s homeroom teacher’s permission should also be considered, so asks if it can just be the principal’s order so as to avoid issues. Satou is impressed and later sees Takahashi feigning ignorance when Macchi turns up with a backpack. I think Satou’s warming to him. Ending credits are water colour based (despite showing crayons), and the song is nice enough.
That was a decent episode, though I would have rather that they gave a clearer resolution to Macchi’s feelings. I kinda got the feeling that she realised that Takahashi didn’t see her the same way, but it could have been a bit more explicit in that. Otherwise though, a good job.
Let the battle commence!
I will now compare each series on several different aspects. The winning series in each category gets two points, and both series get one point in the case of a draw. Being the quarter finals, we’ll be using a few different categories this time: Best Story Progression, Best Character Progression, Best Individual Scene, Best Character, Best Animation, and Best Soundtrack.
Going into this, it should have been an easy win for Flip Flappers. You see, the round one matches demonstrated that Flip Flappers had a set storyline in place, while Interviews was more of a ‘monster of the week’ thing. Flip Flappers kinda fluffed it for me though. There were plenty of opportunities there, and some seeds have been sown (such as Yayaka’s reactions and Salt’s clear evil undertones), but the only real progression felt kinda rushed to me. What was that? The two leads opposing views sort of coming into synch. On the other hand, Interviews With Monster Girls still doesn’t have a major storyline per se, but like Flip Flappers, it threw in some hints towards future progressions, like Satou warming to Takahashi or the hinting at Yuuki being uncomfortable. Without a clear main plotline though, I can’t give it the points. Best Story Progression: Draw
Flip Flappers made the likable leads irritating at the start of the episode, then moved them towards balancing themselves out. In a way, it almost felt like a step back though. The nature of Interviews With Monster Girls is such that we’re bound to get some progression each time though, and that certainly rang true here. Macchi was a side character in the first episode, but here, she took centre stage. We now know a lot more about her than we did before, and she’s beginning to find her footing a little, so that takes the points. Best Character Progression: Interviews With Monster Girls
This one is pretty easy. When Himari returns home to find Hikari calmly leading a headless body to the bathroom, it was just so wonderfully surreal. Plus, it made me laugh. Best Individual Scene: Toilet Trip (Interviews With Monster Girls)
I’m intrigued by Yayaka in Flip Flappers, but there just wasn’t enough shown to make her stand out enough to take this one. No, this one sees Hikari successfully defending her round one win in the category. Last time around, part of her charm was the focus on mixing folklore with new ideas, but this time, it was all personality. She’s a devilish character, and is pretty much the catalyst for most things happening. I was close to picking Takahashi, because he seems like an awesome teacher, but Hikari edges him out. Best Character: Hikari Takanashi (Interviews With Monster Girls)
Both shows are technically fine, but I’m going to give this one to Flip Flappers. The style switches between the real world and the exquisitely trippy Pure Illusion impresses me, and helps it stand out in a big way. Best Animation: Flip Flappers
Neither show really stands out to me here. Both have enjoyable OP and ED themes, and the in-episode music is unobtrusive. With neither doing anything to go above and beyond, this one’s a draw. Best Soundtrack: Draw
Final Scores: Flip Flappers – 4 points, Interviews With Monster Girls – 8 points
And so, Interviews With Monster Girls takes a comfortable win. This leaves us with Flip Flappers and Miss Koboyashi’s Dragon Maid battling it out for third place, while Interviews With Monster Girls moves on to face Beautiful Bones in the final. What makes this all interesting to me is that, at the start, I viewed Miss Koboyashi’s Dragon Maid as the clear favourite to win. On top of that, look at the leads in Beautiful Bones’ opponents so far: Nyanko Days had humanoid kitties, and Dragon Maid had a dragon … it’s a monster slayer of a show, that’s now facing more monsters in the final. This has been one weird tournament thus far!
Anyway, thanks for reading everybody, I’ll catch ya later.