We all remember this girl right? Episode 3’s villain, who provided the impetus for Cocona and Papika’s first proper transformation. She was known by a variety of fan names. “Bondage Queen”, “S&M Queen”, generally some variation on that concept. Well a while back I discovered that she does in fact have an official name, Welwitschia. It turns out, that name wasn’t something made up just for that character. Welwitschia is a real thing in our world. And its kinda interesting! Lets take a look.
Welwitschia the character is interesting within the context of Flip Flappers, she is one of the only real episodic “villains” the show has, and the only one who seems interested in having a discussion with Cocona and Papika. Her role, both in episode 3 and in her reappearance in episode 12, is to serve as a catalyst for the girls’ resolution. We’re not really here to talk about Welwitschia’s role in the story though. Its very interesting and a good subject for an article, but I want to talk about her name and her design.
Welitschia mirabillis is a species of plant, native to the “Kaokovelt Desert” a region along the coastlines of Namibia and Angola in Africa. Its a region very reminiscent of the desert landscapes we seen in Pure XLR, making this a fairly obvious choice. However the plant itself is quite fascinating. It is the only surviving species of its Order, Family and Genus, which is quite impressive to have to go all the way back to Class to find any related organisms that still live. There really are no other plants like it on Earth anymore!
As a plant its shockingly simple. In fact, it only has two leaves. These leaves begin to grow when it was a seedling and unlike other plants, are never shed or lost. As it grows the leaves become thick and leathery, and shred into multiple long strips. This gives it the appearance of a giant pile of leaves sorta dropped on the ground. Also interesting (though not unique, per se) is that there are distinct male and female Welwitschia plants. They aren’t hermaphroditic like the majority of plants. Also, there are Welwitschia that have been confirmed to be over 1000 years old and it is believed they can reach upwards of 2000 years in some circumstances.
So how does this relate to our favorite bondage-fetish villain? Well, you can see quite a few influences right in her design! The most notable is probably on her head. She has what appears to be a hair-bow, but if you look it actually very closely resembles the two leaves that make up the core of the Welwitschia plant. She also uses leaf-like extensions from her legs to attack a desert bandit in episode 3 and tie up Yayaka in episode 2.
Her monstrous form in both episodes also looks a lot like what you might expect from a plant like the Welwitschia were it to become ambulatory. In fact, there is a living Welwitschia plant that is over 1500 years old, 1.4 meters tall and 4 meters in diameter! That would be quite the monster if it got up and started walking around!
So that’s Welwitschia. I never expected to find such a fascinating plant behind what is most certainly the most memorable villain in Flip Flappers! Now, if you want to read about some real flower imagery in Flip Flappers, make sure you check out Emily Rand’s Pieces of Yayaka: Flower Language in Flip Flappers.
“Welwitschia mirabilis.” Welwitschia mirabilis. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2017. https://www.plantzafrica.com/plantwxyz/welwitschia.htm
“Welwitschia.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 16 Jan. 2017.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welwitschia