Image Source: アニメ「ポプテピピック」公式 on Twitter
What if you had a entire anime about trolling?
Pop Team Epic–also known as Poputepipikku in Japanese (a title I am never able to say, much to the amusement of those around me)–is a new anime based on a four-panel manga about two oddly-shaped middle school girls who parody anime, touch on real world topics, and trick their readers constantly. Their names: Popuko (the short one) and Pipimi (the tall one).
Possibly because of matome sites (Japanese aggregator sites) and former co-workers, I’ve known about this manga for quite a while. It’s incredibly popular amongst geeks in Japan, with the manga collaborating with cafes, department stores, and clothes brands. Popuko and Pipimi have made multiple appearances at Comic Market, Japan’s biggest fan event for anime and manga, with Pop Team Epic hand warmers being handed out at Summer Comic Market a while back as promotion for the upcoming anime. Why? Because this anime screws with everyone. Including its own publisher.
Image Source: 大川ぶくぶ/bkub on Twitter
A manga would be nowhere without a publisher. Despite this, Pop Team Epic constantly treats its publisher Takeshobo like crap. It blamed its publisher for the anime being delayed by a season from fall 2017 to winter 2018. In the panel above, Popuko uses Pipimi to bludgeon the Takeshobo building while yelling, “Wah-chah, Takeshobo!” In the key visual at the very top of this article, a sign reading “Takeshobo” has been smashed in half. That’s like Mickey Mouse saying “Gosh darn it, Disney! You’re so sleazy!” See how well that would go.
Japanese society—especially the anime industry—is very, VERY protective/careful when it comes to parody and criticism. Japanese companies will actually distribute Twitter icons of their properties, giving permission to users to use them. Anything else is really considered taboo. Remember when that first episode of Mr. Osomatsu got banned and remade? It was because Japanese parody laws are so strict that even if you don’t directly copy the image or mention the title, just a slight resemblance can get you in big trouble.
Pop Team Epic gives absolutely no shits about parody standards. Even before airing, it revealed its first Blu-ray cover as a parody of Die Hard‘s movie poster. The manga has parodied things like Disney, which is especially considered a no-no in Japan due to its strict copyright protections. Metal Gear, Umaru-chan—they’re all up for grabs. It’s a sub-culture parody parade, and I’m on board.
And what I appreciate about Pop Team Epic possibly the most that while it is vulgar in a way, there is no constant toilet humor, violence jokes, or sex jokes. The girls will flip the bird at people, but there’s never any bloody violence. Most rebuttals from the main leads are done with comedy violence and, most pleasing of all, pure wit. As someone who doesn’t enjoy the comedy of something like, say, Family Guy, Pop Team Epic is a good fit for me.
I’ve also heard some things (that I can’t say due to trust reasons) about what the anime is going to do to screw around with viewers throughout the show from those involved with the show. And it gets me more and more excited to see not only what this show has up its sleeves, but also how the others around me will react when its tricks are revealed. Hell, the “episode 1” premiere of the anime at a movie theater only screened the first half of the first episode! This anime is definitely going to be one to watch with friends with a big bag of popcorn—and middle fingers at the ready.
Pop Team Epic will premiere on Japanese television on January 6, 2017. There has not been an announcement of an English streaming as of yet.