Before we begin, I want you to take a look at this:
This is a pretty famous little comic that became a bit of a meme in the past. Doing a little further digging and you find out its part of a series called Pop Team Epic. Every chapter is just another weird little one-off that is only about 4 panels long. They consist of weird niche anti-humor, references to anime, games movies, and music… And weird Japanese stuff that you’d need a disclaimer to understand. And needless to say, I think it’s fucking great. I don’t think I’ve ever seen something so odd and funny before. It’s completely out there and it feels like it’s made for a very specific type of person.
So color me surprised when I heard that this 4-panel manga is getting an anime adaptation. I was so confused, I seriously couldn’t put together how they can even manage to make this into a show that doesn’t just last for 30 seconds… But somehow they managed to pull it off.
Pop Team Epic’s anime adaptation is a 10-minute surreal experience every episode; the structure of these episodes is something like a couple smaller skits that are completely nonsensical and goofy, where somewhere in the episode there’s going to be a much longer skit that has somewhat of a cohesive story some of the time… Then we have some music videos scattered throughout a couple episodes. Bob Epic Team which I’ll let you figure out on your own, and then something live-action or a 3D French skit for some reason.
..And with this weird flexible structure, every single episode is highly re-watchable and they still make me laugh just the same as going back to a random chapter in the manga can make me erupt in laughter. Seriously, guys, this show is so good. My only gripe with it is that it isn’t long enough. Each episode is actually 20-something minutes long actually but that is if you prefer the two characters to have either male voices or female voices. I think both are pretty great but I prefer the male voices just because of the delivery. Speaking of voice acting, the English dub is also fantastic and both male and female voices in that do a great job in it as well. I actually thought that was the only difference between the two airings but actually, some skits play out differently in both versions. Some are completely different and some have this weird behind the scenes commentary behind them instead of the actual audio.
The series as a whole is also known for it’s references to a bunch of things. The first episode alone has references to Berserk, Skyrim, Your Name, Pokemon and more. Also a ton of fighting game stuff, like Street Fighter and surprisingly BlazBlue a bunch of times actually. I can’t even tell if the references are even good, they kinda just slap them in there for no reason. They’re all cool to see but only a couple are actually funny.
One of the cooler things to note is that this entire show is a collaboration between 3-4 studios. The main one being the studio that did the openings for JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure Parts 1 – 3 . There is even a separate studio for the stop motion stuff. And within all of these studios all of the creators of the skits are left completely to their own devices, seriously they just do whatever they feel like with no prior direction.
The production quality is also legitimately amazing in this show. I understand that it’s actually only 10-minutes but I still think that this show didn’t even have the budget for like 5 minutes. The wacky shit they pull off in this time is amazing because of how good it looks. It mixes 2D with 3D, as well as stop motion and some other weird stuff. I believe they even reference the fact that it’d be kind of impossible to pull off a show based off a 4-panel manga but they somehow did it.
In conclusion I think almost everyone needs to check this show out. It’s legitimately one of my favorite things to come out of anime in a long ass time and it’s well worth the try. I know a lot of people will hate it since it’s extremely hit or miss but for those of who it clicks with it’ll be something they’ll remember for a long long time.
I would give Pop Team Epic a 9/10