In Pure Echo, Cocona and Papika find themselves trapped in a repeating time loop. Not just that, but a repeating time loop where they are yuri schoolgirls who go “gokigenyou”. They also happen to be lesbian schoolgirls, but thats not quite the same thing.
So why this weird school of maidens anyway?
So perhaps the ur-setting of “yuri” stories is the elegant school for girls, where everyone walks slowly, has perfectly placed uniform scarves and greets each other with “Gokigenyou”. It is a place for “Class S” relationships, where girls experience emotional intimacy with each other, but once they leave the school and enter the real world, they get married to a man as is proper. Their experience at the school being just a fond, but fleeting memory.
Needless to say, this particular trope has not aged well, and has increasingly become the target of deconstruction and most especially, parody. It is, however, still played “straight” sometimes, with the most well known in modern times probably being Maria-sama ga Miteru or “Lady Maria is Watching”. Set in a catholic girl’s school, it hits all the major beats, and it has been explicitly parodied multiple times. Its actually a very good show, and has several explicitly lesbian characters among the larger subtext.
Flip Flappers recasts this setting into that of a horror story, which is fitting. Cocona and Papika get locked into a repeating loop of banal activities like a tea party and crochet, surrounded by faceless girls who just repeat a distorted “gokigenyou”. They don’t seem malicious, but they provide the flow Papika and Cocona end up mired in. Every day Cocona and Papika repeat the same things, with no variation. Each day she and Papika end up in bed together. And before they got to bed, Cocona turns the head of the doll on their dresser away from the bed. Each morning, its back to how it was.
This setting is often called a “pure garden of maidens”, but like a garden, its there to be observed, the flowers are decorations, rarely considered in their individual aspects. Papika and Cocona can only progress once they can break out of the stasis of the garden. At the end of the episode, Cocona smashes the bell holding the amorphous, freeing them from the stasis of the school of maidens. As she escapes, along with Papika, Yayaka and the twins, the school collapses, and the doll, laying forgotten on the floor, closes its eyes.
Cocona has escaped the stasis of “yuri”, and opens up a path forward. Her heart-pounding feelings cannot be locked away in a garden to be watched, they are hers, and she must learn how to accept what they mean.