As a general concept I don’t object to “fanservice” existing. There are, however, specific cases where I find it irritating, distracting or feel it does a disservice to the show. By and large I don’t mind the bits of fanservice in Flip Flappers, except for three occasions.
The first is the pan up Cocona as she showers in episode 4. Another is Nyunyu’s rather distressing lack of pants, and the last is a significant chunk of episode 8, Pure Breaker.
For some people Pure Breaker is one of the best episodes of the show. Its visually inventive, filled with some fantastic animation and pays homage to classic giant robot combination sequences. It even uses this to bring Yayaka closer to Cocona and Papika, in a way that feels naturally and not forced. Unfortunately, the episode is also the one with the most explicitly sexualized depictions of the girls, and structures some shots in some pretty unfortunate ways.
First of all, they spend essentially the entire episode in school swimsuits. There is potential here for this to have been used to emphasize Cocona’s increased view of Papika as a physical, sexual person. There are a few scenes where Cocona is visibly more comfortable with physical contact with Papika, but this didn’t really require them to be in swimsuits the entire time. What it does have however is a bunch of shots of their swimsuit clad butts.
This by itself wouldn’t be the biggest problem, but its combined with camera angles that very closely emphasize their bodies in a distinctly Male Gaze manner. The worst, however is several shots when the girls are in the robot cockpits where the control sticks are incredibly overtly phallic. Giant Robots in anime have always implicitly or explicitly been rather phallic, but in this context it comes across as incredibly crass and grating. Particularly coming off of episode 7.
Why this episode ended up this way is beyond my ability to analyze, though I know it was handled largely by an outside team of “Webgen” animators. But that doesn’t really provide an excuse. This is the sort of thing that falls on the director, to keep the show’s tone and imagery consistent and in line with each other. I don’t hate this episode, but its a lot less than it could have been.