Pop Team Epic

June 2, 2018

At first I was going to give this the skip. Although the main characters are drawn in a chibi way, but somehow I was slightly freaked out they look a bit scary despite knowing this series is going to be pure comedy and epic nonsense. But after reading the synopsis so many times to psycho myself as well as seeing the main characters giving a double mosaic middle finger to us, I knew I had to give Poputepipikku a try. If that sounds hard to pronounce, Pop Team Epic lives up to its name with all the parodies and references of pop culture. It has everything you want from and it is not even shy to tell us its main goal is to become a real anime. Wait. Isn’t this already a real anime? Maybe not real anime epic enough for their standards.

Episode 1
* Popuko pumps into Pipimi while on her way out. The latter lost her pendant. It is in the former’s hands. She asks to return it. She doesn’t want to. Instant obliteration!
* Totoro parody: Popuko trying to snatch an umbrella at the bus stop. Pipimi the Totoro warns her. They both get banged by the bus.
* Pokemon parody: Popuko is tasked to select her starter Pokemon pack but they are all with Pipimi’s face.
* Aliens invade Earth. Popuko shoots her own comrades so Pipimi the alien have to stop her from doing that.
* Badass Pipimi barges in and saves Popuko from some alien experiment. Shady characters let them have their way as they break the fourth wall as they say there is no way a 4-panel manga can become anime. Their goal is for supremacy and they might have gotten it via… Fidget spinners?!
* Some dumb hippo bugs the girls for food but they for feed him bugs.
* The girls are going to France and with Pipimi as a mine, she thinks French people like gestures (heck, they’re even speaking in French). So when she does those mime gestures, she got a double middle finger back.
* Popuko abuses Pipimi but the latter isn’t even mad. So Popuko tortures her like hell and turns her into some biscuit shipped for distribution and she’s still not mad at all.

Episode 2
* A party of RPG warriors summon twin dragons to defeat the demon king. Too bad they summon Popuko and Pipimi. Because of that, the duo have a field day teasing everyone like how this episode is only in sketches, getting paid to do some easy job and doing weird impersonations. We break even more fourth wall because the real seiyuus then complain to the producer how most of their lines are going to be adlib. Do a better job please! Yeah, they even break down, going crazy!
* The duo are at the zoo and it seems Pipimi is testing if the animals they have seen are new (wow so cute!) or a repeat (meh, seen it before). Popuko got tricked when a Tasmanian devil is not seen yet but yet she says it is so. Then they all laugh it off.
* A stop motion animation of the girls singing the theme song.
* Pipimi swiftly takes a picture of all their ridiculous fortunes.
* Popuko dies each time she sees a jagged speech balloon. Of course this shocks Pipimi and the cycle repeats all over again.

Episode 3
* Popuko is going to leave but her blanket won’t let her and covers her. Now she’s sleeping soundly.
* A documentary parody: Pipimi is the producer of an idol group, Tame Monkey in which Popuko is an uncouth member. Others try to tell her off but Pipimi makes them inferior and a slave to Popuko. Popuko gains more popularity although she is lazy. Pipimi tries to find suitable idol partners from humans to animals but none were suitable. She then decided the best was to mass clone her. It soon becomes a dystopia with Popuko clones taking over the world and subjugating all humans. When asked if this is the ideal world Pipimi envisioned, yes it is.
* Pipimi likes this new red car. Because red covers the blood she is going to spill! How about its hybrid specs? It means it is quiet. Oh, she can kill without making a sound!
* The girls are in France and are infatuated with baguettes. The bought a bunch home and Popuko loves them so much that she uses them as her ski.
* Popuko wants to hug that cute red panda. But the closer she gets, it turns into a big scary monster! But far away it looks so cute and docile…

Episode 4
* Popuko enters a bobsled race. Is that Dastardly?! Yeah, he blew himself up after trying to cheat. As for the other teams that zoom past Popuko, they crash into the crossing penguin and her family! Poor penguins. When a speeding sports car leaves Popuko in the dust, she combines with Pipimi the airplane! So fast that it leaves the sports car in the dust! Popuko finally wins gold but she is disqualified because she is a robot! Now that the secret is out, what do they do? Fly away!
* Popuko and Pipimi singing a spoof of Earth, Wind & Fire’s Let’s Groove. Not bad actually!
* An alien tries to act like a cat. Yeah… Is your hair standing on ends? However Popuko is not convinced and tells it to leave. Time to go back to your own spaceship.

Episode 5
* Iyo Sakuragi is a normal high school girl who is in love with the popular football club captain, Hojou. One day her dad, Pipimi marries another woman, Popuko. That woman is Hojou’s mom! To her dismay, now they are siblings. Yeah, she would have wanted to become his girlfriend. But they live a tormenting life every day since the parents do not work and gamble the money away. It is made worse when they always do stupid stuffs to interrupt their studies or sleep. Even worse, Iyo is bullied by Hojou’s fan girls every day. One day Iyo cannot take this anymore so she tries to stab them but Hojou gets in the way. He will not let her stain her hands for his sake. Although this reinforces their love, their parents continue to gamble away. 5 years later, they are happily married with twins. Popuko and Pipimi?! Why do I have a feeling the devils have been reincarnated?
* Popuko couldn’t stop hiccupping. Pipimi says she will die once she reaches 100. However she stops at 99 and self-destructs. This is worse than an atomic bomb!
* Popuko doing a lame impression of Mickey. Yeah, that Disney mouse. Does Mickey snort when he laughs?
* Popuko chases a cute bunny like forever on Route 66. Seems normal but made epic because the background music of Steppenwolf’s Born To Be Wild is being played! Easy Runner?

Episode 6
* Shogi parody. Popuko with Pipimi as her Heian spiritual guide, faces off with an opponent. However he finds her aura too intimidating and gives up! Holy cow! Popuko wins with the game not even started and no moves were made! Super record! Next is some cabaret slut queen and after 73 moves, Popuko wins while she disintegrates into sand. Next is a discount version of Tekken’s Heihachi. After Popuko makes the first move of her pawn, this machine dude explodes! Must be the way she put her pawn so epic, huh? Her final opponent is the real Pipimi who is supposed to be the pinnacle of shogi AI. The battle is so epic that it looks more like a fighting game than playing shogi. Did they both do hadoken in the end? Yeah, so epic that the entire place explodes. All that is left is Pipimi’s ribbon.
* Popuko is running late for school but her blanket, pillow, mat, curtain and alarm clock won’t let her go and let her sleep in. Ah, such warm comfy peace.
* Popuko thanks everyone and hopes all will subscribe to her channel. For those who don’t, she is going to get you…

Episode 7
* A guy is feeling depressed so Popuko recommends reading Pop Team Epic’s manga. He finds it boring and is instantly labelled a hater!
* I’m sure Hellshake Yano is about some rocker guy trying to rock the crowd with his electrifying guitar. However what makes it interesting is how the story is told using a combination of 2 sketchbooks, the cut-outs and other effects solely from just using the sketchbook. Even though I don’t really get the overall story, but the visuals of this art is sure a hell lot creative! Very creative! Kudos and hats off!
* Today’s cooking show brings you… A compressed manatee! I hope no manatees were hurt in the use of this cooking show.
* Popuko and Pipimi take a selfie of a beautiful French scenery. Turns out to be just a billboard poster.

Episode 8
* A bacon watches itself cook a bacon to eat… Oh sh*t…
* Popuko is a violent criminal in prison. But Pipimi sees an interesting side of her and has her sworn into her brotherhood of yakuza by licking the same lemon. Sour… Once Popuko is out on parole, the duo go on a notoriety spree of criminal activities. Popuko becomes Pipimi’s personal assassin by taking down all her rivals or those who stand in her way. Some YouTubing fiasco has Pipimi suspect her father is the one behind this and is bending his backs to the police instead of following their yakuza code. Pipimi quits the gang. But soon, Popuko gets assassinated. At her funeral (double middle finger as her death photo?), Pipimi brings a guy who seems to be criticising Popuko from the manga. Mad Popuko wakes up and pops some lead in his head. Pipimi blows the entire place up as the duo escape.
* The duo cut their bangs. Those who do not cut their bangs will not pass!
* Popuko shows Pipimi a music video she made. WTF is this trippy drug fuelled fantasy?! Pipimi immediately orders her to burn the tape!
* Popuko throws seeds to a tree for it to bloom. However it is just ordinary flour. The mad tree chases her. The interesting about this is how the art is done using sand art style.

Episode 9
* OMG. A short story decently narrated in decent English! (Though, the second half is in Japanese) It’s about this New Yorker boy who feels lost in life. Till Popuko and Pipimi randomly appear in his life (as Ghostbusters busting punks!). He decides to follow them and tell them all his problems. He thinks they are listening quietly to his problems but I bet they’re just ignoring him and think he doesn’t even exist! Hey, is that Robocop and Terminator Pipimi arm wrestled and easily beat!!! He cherished following the girls everywhere and believes they are showing him the other side of life. Though, I’m pretty sure they’re just randomly going places. One night when they are about to cut the tuna, he gets scared. That is when he realized he was too scared to do anything and ran away from everything instead of facing it. Hence he goes back to his ordinary life and promises to work hard. Now he is the mayor of New York as he makes his speech and pays tribute to the girls who has changed his life. OMG! So this is the back story of Street Of Rage’s Mike Haggar! Now I’ve seen it all!
* The rabbit is late for a secret tea party but stupid Popuko keeps blocking its way.
* Pipimi lets Popuko press a button. She gets a hug. But when she repeatedly presses it like mad, she gets smacked!
* Pipimi throws a deep question to Popuko. What if 1000 out of 10 people hate her? Wait. What?! She starts crying. But Pipimi says what if she is the only one by her side? Popuko is happy she is the centre of the universe.
* The duo are ordering French cuisine for the first time. I’m sure they are impressed with the fancy names and order away. They didn’t know the food they order has strong odour. Yeah, it stinks. So they go order something familiar: Ramen. Ah, nothing beats good ol’ ramen.

Episode 10
* God wants to let Popuko take over His role. Guess what? Popuko thinks it is a bother and gives Him the middle finger, blowing Him away!!!
* The duo play football but they pass and shoot using their hadoken!
* Popuko experiences bad customer service so she sets all the traps and then presses the button to call for service. Since the waiter didn’t come, Popuko falls into her own traps. Still got bad service…
* Detective Conan parody: Popuko and Pipimi are relaxing at a hotspring but a murder occurs. The detective suspects everyone there but the duo take the liberty to play detective. They keep accusing this suspicious guy with a mask and try to get him to confess with their hostess abilities. Eventually they are kicked out so they go do their own investigations. Is it me but isn’t the evidence so clear because the murder victim wrote with his blood the culprit as the hostess inn? So when Pipimi figures out the culprit, she calls everyone but starts off narrating her hostess life. Thanks to her hard work, they give her a hotspring trip to relax and sends Popuko who is the top new hostess with her. Thanks to this, they blame their trip is spoiled by the murder. Yeah, the inn hostess breaks down thinking they are putting her at fault. This has her explaining about the victim killing her dad 15 years ago. She wants to kill herself but Pipimi slaps her and gives her a second chance to come to her hostess bar. Case closed.

Episode 11
* Horror time! 4 friends are having their own party at an isolated cabin. When Aya goes to the ladies, she thought she saw shadows of 2 girls standing at the hallway. She freaks out and this alerts her friends. They take her back with them to rest. Reina accuses Aya to drop the cute act because she wants to get close with Shogo. Hayato tries to diffuse the situation so Reina also tells him to shut it and knows he has a crush on Aya. Soon the girls start trying to outdo each other they have done things with Shogo. So he is two-timing them? Hayato goes crazy and slashes Shogo with an axe! Reina runs away into her car. After starting up, she is spooked by the 2 girls in front. Panic, she crashes down the ravine. Meanwhile Aya shoots Hayato before he axes her. Next morning, all the dead friends are now in the photo with Popuko and Pipimi. They have their eyes…
* Pipimi becomes a tree. Popuko doesn’t want to be left alone and hugs her. She too becomes a tree. And that is how the legend of why the tree is protruding and has a shape of a girl.
* Popuko wonders how Pipimi became so big. Science, baby. Science.
* Pipimi reads a comment from a viewer complaining there isn’t enough keyframes. Popuko dances like hell to make more keyframes.
* Popuko talks like as though she knows all about wine. Yeah, she sounds like an expert until Pipimi tells her to just finish her grape juice!

Episode 12
* Those shady characters are disgusted at the cuteness of Popuko and Pipimi since they have ruined their whatever legend they have planned or created. With lots of terms that I don’t even understand, finally they think their next greatness will be in the form of hegemony. They send henchmen to kill off the duo but our girls get even more violent, destroying their surroundings and killing everybody. Brutal…
* Popuko can’t find her glasses. She searches until the moon. She tussles with a couple of aliens for it until they get sucked into the black hole.
* The duo are singing a graduation-like song. Until the lyrics became about killing and destruction!
* The duo crash into the HQ of the baddies and defeat all small fries and interrogate them for the mastermind. It leads them to the HQ of our shady characters who then turn into their true monster form. The duo combine and transform into their golden form and easily defeat them. In the end, this costs Pipimi’s life. But not to worry, a hot guy who is a time traveller takes them back to the past! In an alternate version, the duo survived and that’s the end!

Pop Goes The Epic
Thankfully I didn’t lose any brain cells from watching this nonsense. That’s because some of the jokes are so short and I didn’t really get them. Even though this series is garbage, it is not the bad kind of garbage. I mean, it is meant to be over the top nonsense and parodies anything it could get its hands on. In this sense it is the kind of trash we are talking about. The kind of trash we would love to have more. Can we have another second season? I’m sure if Popuko and Pipimi would have their way, they would have blackmailed and threatened the producers at gunpoint until they give in to their demands. Yeah, that’s the kind of anime this series is supposed to be. It has everything that you could ever want to in your anime!

Initially I was baffled that the series’ running time is the usual and standard 24 minutes but it is only half that time. What do I mean? You see, this show is only 12 minutes long and the second half is actually repeated! Is this a kind of trolling? However for those who keep watching the second half, you would notice there are some minor changes in some of the skits. The most obvious being the seiyuus voicing each half are different. Heck, in every episode, Popuko and Pipimi’s seiyuu are different. So it doesn’t matter if they are female or male, because either way, the character sounds funny. Even funnier if it is voiced by a male with a low voice. Just hilarious.

Hence with the seiyuus list running longer than your tax file, it was hard for me to pinpoint or pick out any seiyuu that I could recognize. I don’t think I remember if I did since the skits were so short that I couldn’t pick them out. Heck, I was trying to understand the joke too! Too much for me. What do you mean Mamiko Noto voiced one of the Pipimi characters here???!!! WHERE???!!! Must go back and find out… So the host of seiyuus that I know lending their talents as Pipimi include Ayana Taketatsu, Satomi Satou, Yuu Kobayashi, Tomokazu Sugita, Yuuki Kaji, Jouji Nakata, Shigeru Chiba and Norio Wakamoto, Whereas Popuko has Aoi Yuuki, Mikako Komatsu, Nana Mizuki, Youko Hikasa, Tomoko Kaneda, Hiro Shimono, Rikiya Koyama, Sho Hayami, Showtaro Morikubo and Yuuichi Nakamura. Yeah, this is just part of those whom I should recognize and there are lots more others helming both characters. But for other cameo characters, the list is even longer since a seiyuu is used for an extra minor despite staying the same in both halves. Sometimes I feel the seiyuus are having fun voicing their characters. You can sometimes here they aren’t serious in their role and just doing it because it is fun. Not bad actually. After all, what else do you expect from this kind of anime? The input equals the output.

Other changes in the second half include certain skits having slightly different visuals or a different presentation. Like that Mike Haggar story in which the first half was narrated in English and the next half was in Japanese. Or that horror-cum-murder story in which some sort of commentary was provided instead for the second half. There is also a recurring segment (albeit not in all episodes) called Japan Mignon. We have this young French dude who is supposedly the animator of this series talking in French. Unless you know French, you’re not going to understand what he says because the next animation scene featuring Popuko and Pipimi is supposed to be the punch line. So if you stayed around for the second half, there would be a proper translation to understand what the so called joke was. So sometimes I keep thinking that this second half with slight difference is just one big spot the difference game.

The art and animation might use the standard chibi version for Popuko and Pipimi but there are also certain skits that have their art style slightly different. I believe that some skits are produced by different people as you can see their name appearing in the eye-catch scene before the skit. I also want to note that the ‘most horrible’ art style goes to this segment called Bob Team Epic (New Series). Not only our main duo sound like guys doing their worst falsetto impression, the drawing of the girls is just horrendous and distorted like hell! I know it is done on purpose and to make the girls look funny. I think my 5 year old nephew could even draw better and if submitted, could be passed off as that segment’s animation style! Hilarious and ugly at the same time. Other visual styles include the use of live-action, stop motion, CGI (although this is kept to the minimum), 8bit retro video game style as well as real hand sewn dolls.

Can’t comment much about the characters and storyline because everything is so random and nonsensical that it doesn’t make sense trying to do so. Pop culture references are a ton aplenty and veterans would have a field day spotting them. I’m not so I wasn’t really that excited. Popuko and Pipimi are like everything. They are your best friends, your enemies, your saviour, your worst nightmare, even playing both God and Satan themselves! The world revolves around them! And other characters don’t matter because what for? If you think that yellow blob Wooser was bad enough, looks like this duo are going to give him a run for his money. Popuko and Pipimi do not have much character development between them and it is so minimal but it makes us want to care a lot about their dynamic friendship. They are indeed the dynamic duo. Pure comedy gold!

This brings me to another interesting segment. Supposedly the next episode preview but not for this series but for ‘another anime series’. Based on the ‘next episode preview’ of Hoshiiro Girl Drop, this looks quite an interesting anime! Despite it looks like a romantic comedy kind of anime, that penultimate preview makes it look even more interesting because of its tragic twist (although generally it might not be that of a shocker or original one). Heck, the art and drawing are standard bishoujo style! Also, mainly narrated by Yui Ogura in her trademark cute voice who is supposedly the main character of this series (Sosogu Hoshifuri). Also, they got a seemingly decent opening theme for this series already, Twinkling Star by Drop Stars. I want to see this anime! THEY SHOULD MAKE THIS ANIME INTO A REALITY AND SCREW OVER THIS ONE!!! Oh, wait a minute. If Hoshiiro Girl Drop announced it is ‘second season’ at the end, could this be a deeper meaning that this series is getting one?! Yeah, this series loves trolling us in so many ways. But I really hope Hoshiiro Girl Drop gets adapted.

The opening theme for the series is as the same name of its series sung by Sumire Uesaka. Can’t give an even more epic name for an epic title, can you? But I am not really attracted to this song since it uses a lot of synthesizers and I think it makes the singer’s voice sound like she is using Auto-Tune. I seem to prefer the ending theme, Poppy Pappy Day. Although there are many versions of it, depending who the seiyuus are voicing the main duo, I prefer the male voices covering it. It has that sleepy and calming effect to it. Really. Of course the one that really takes the cake is Let’s Pop Together, that Let’s Groove spoof. Care to dance and groove to this tune? Let’s pop together, all night! All right!

Overall, this strange and bizarre series might have won the hearts of many because of its epic nonsense and parodies of everything, but it is not likely to become any sort of masterpiece. In short, not Oscar worthy material. Though, it is already a masterpiece for those who absolutely love it. Therefore crap shows like this are good because they make you forget about reality and make you laugh at all the ironies and silliness. It doesn’t have to make sense or be logical. It could very well be a meme of its own. But if you think that there is all to offer to this great epic series, be warned that this isn’t the last that you will hear of them yet. They’ll be back to give us more epic memes, parodies and laughs when you least expected it. OMG. Pop Team Epic saved anime?! Just the kind of epic story-cum-meme we all need.

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