Well this is a show that will certainly be difficult to review but I will try anyway. This is Pop Team Epic.
Genres: Comedy, Parody, References
Themes: Meta-Humor, 4th Wall breaking, Mainstream Media, Western Culture, Eastern Culture, Absurdity, Sketch Comedy
Number of Episodes: 12
Plot Summary: Popuko and Pipimi are a pair of foul mouthed girls ready to take on every pop culture reference ever made. Pop Team Epic follows the pair through a series of surreal skits and short stories full of internet, movie, video game, and self-referential based comedy.
Let me see. How do I best describe this show. Think the WarioWare series in animated form. What I mean is the majority of the show is 5-15 second rapid fire comedy sketches (micro gags) with 6 minute short story parodies per episode. The premiere episode is pretty much micro gags but episodes 2 to 12 feature a short story parody alongside the micro gags. Like all comedy the enjoyment of the short stories and micro gags is entirely dependent on the viewers’ sense of humor, hence why I cannot give the show a definitive. People’s enjoyment will greatly vary. While the plot summary does say the girls are foul mouthed it is half true. Yes they are crude and flip people off a lot (The middle finger is their trademark signature after all) but they do not cuss as often as say Panty and Stocking.
So the kind of comedy on the show is two-fold:
1: whatever silly scenario the writers of both the manga and anime could think of.
2: Lots and lots of Western and Eastern media references.
Viewers can expect to see anything from American and Japanese culture, be it video games, music videos from the 1970’s and 80’s, American movies, Japanese folklore, cooking infomercials. While the list has a limit it is a LARGE LIST of references and parodies. The enjoyment for some of these depends on the viewer either recognizing the references or the jokes being funny on their own.
As I said above the first style of comedy is a mix of the original web mangaka’s jokes and whatever the anime staff could think of. Then there is Bob Epic Team…I have no words for these sketches. I truly do not. They either get you to chuckle or they do not. Simple as that.
Another example is the French animator jokes. From what I have gathered this show gave independent animators and artists the opportunity to show their craft like the French animator here. I am not 100% certain but I think the joke in these segments is that “foreign cultures are weird” or “Hey. Let’s make fun of the silly traditions our culture has”. This brings us to the next part of the review. Every episode in actuality is less than 12 minutes long. Why? Because every episode repeats the same jokes twice. Only the second time there are differences that range from subtle to very noticeable. One example is horror movie trope sketch. The first time around the sketch starts and ends no problem. The second time while watching the sketch it is presented with director’s commentary pointing out the horror tropes and ending with “Oh. This is a parody of that movie”. Again bringing up the French Animator, the first time it does not feature subtitles whereas the second time it does.
The animation and soundtrack are all over the place. There is no definitive way to judge it. I suppose one way I could describe it is “stylistically low budget”. It is not something one would put out in cinemas but as far as television/computer monitors go it has a simplistic charm going for it. Even Bob Epic Team’s intentionally ugly designs are kinda charming. The OP, I will say, is one of my personal favorites of the Winter 2018 season. Then there is the voice acting. Each episode has different guest voices for Popuko and Pipimi, both male and female. After the first episode where the characters are first voiced by men and then women it is reversed from the on. Most of the time the change of voices does not contribute much other than that “Haha. Look at these anime girls being voiced by manly men” though sometimes the voice change works. One example is a 70’s music video parody. The male version of the song is funnier than the female one. However, most of the time the girls do it better because the guys’ script has them pointing out the jokes, which like I mentioned several times the entertainment value depends on the person’s sense of humor.
Of course there are also those hidden or subtle jokes for the highbrow or incredibly observant to discover alongside the “What is this parodying/referencing?” or “Name the seiyu of the week!”.
As for yuri, believe it or not there are several sketches where the two show affection for one another both in a comedic and sincere way. What is more, it happens exclusively when the two are voiced by girls. Even at conventions during the show’s broadcast their relationship was acknowledged. So yes, OTP.
Overall Pop Team Epic is an interesting kind of sketch comedy show. Certainly better than the garbage that aired on Cartoon Network years ago, mainly the terrible MAD TV cartoon (How the heck did that crap get 3 seasons whereas Symbionic Titan only got one!? #Injustice!). While technically watching the same episode twice a week with minor changes may sound cumbersome, and sometimes it is, it works in the long run. As I have stated time and again throughout the review because of how important this statement is, the viewer’s enjoyment of this show depends ENTIRELY on their sense of humor. What do they as a person consider “funny”? I for example, enjoy random, wacky or nonsensical humor so it was easy for me to enjoy it. The same cannot be said for others.
PS: The ED previews continue the story shown during the premiere episode so be sure to not skip the EDs the first time. It is interesting to see where exactly that story is going and will end.
P.S.: As for the final episode…do not ask…just do not ask. It is better not to ask.