Pop Team Epic – Episode 1 – “You’re The Only One I’m Telling!”

Oh man, it’s good to be back doing these! It’s been four months since I did my last My Hero Academia recap, and 3 months since my last written piece about Fairy Tail. So yes, I feel good to be working on my next recap piece for this winter. If you have been a faithful viewer of this website, my boy Josh Knighten did the last recap of the season. He picked King’s Game, and he did a fantastic job covering it. If he also didn’t suffer major mental trauma from reviewing all of it. As we transition over to the winter season, it’s my turn to choose. There was a plethora of titles to choose. Plus, with Anime Strike’s own demise having finally arrived, there was more options to pick from. I had a couple of shows I wanted to do. From the Trigger/A-1 Pictures team up with Darling in the Fraxx, the sweet return of the Candy Queen Hotaru in Dagashi Kashi S2, or I could have gone with something cute like A Place Further Than the Universe. However, looking at all of these, and how good they are, there was really only one choice I really wanted to see the most, as it finally arrived for the winter season. Although, I thought I wouldn’t see it, as Sentai Filmworks picked it up and put it on HiDive (I’m kind of very broke, so I can’t afford it yet, bite me). But, a light came (or licensing thing happened), where both Crunchyroll and Funimation got involved as well, and they got to license this show as well. Praise be it for this show. So yes, my #1 choice became a reality. It’s time to recap the the cult manga that is finally flooding our minds in its pure, animated form insanity.

It’s time to recap Pop Team Epic.

If you don’t know about Pop Team Epic, the manga created by  Bukubu Okawa, it’s based around pop-culture and other stuff that gets very bizarre. It’s basically one big “shitpost,” as it doesn’t give a crap about what it defers to. This is good in how it presents itself, so it should be a fun time.

As we start the show, we meet an average, high school student named Daichi Taira. His parents are leaving to go abroad, and tell him not to bother someone named Sosogu. He has no idea who the hell Sosugo is, and then we hit the opening which…You know, I’ll be completely honest. This confused the hell out of me when I saw it. It said it was Pop Team Epic, but then it turns into an Idol anime called “Hoshiro Girldrop.” I was freaking out, thinking either I clicked the wrong thing, or Crunchyroll uploaded the wrong anime and accidentally gave it the wrong name. There were cute girls singing everywhere with other people, and there’s even a gigantic doggo.

Fun, huh? But then the opening ends, and the animation gets ripped apart, with one of the girls saying “NOT!” And so, we begin the show with the show absolutely trolling right out of the gate. The first segment begins with Orange-hair girl, who has a very deep male voice, punching Blue-hair girl (I’ll call them this until it gets to where they reveal their names), saying if she’s upset. Blue-hair girl, who also has a very deep male voice, isn’t. The next segment has the two on a plane, and the flight attendant asks if they want “Beef or Chicken?” Orange-hair girl is not pleased at all.

Blue-hair girl calms her, and chooses “Beef.” Orange-hair girl spits, and spares the flight attendant.

The next segment has the Blue-hair girl now being God, and Orange-hair girl can ask anything. She asks how much she loves her. Blue-hair girl loves her a…whole…lot. The next segment has the Orange-hair girl being late as she flies, but the animation is presented in a old-school original Nintendo game way. It’s a nice reference.

Then we get to the first real part of the show, titled “Encounter.” There, we find out what Orange-hair girl’s name is. She is Popuko, an average 14-year old 7th grader, who is running with toast in her mouth like you see in other shows before it. There, she runs into the Blue-Hair girl. It’s a dreamy encounter, as she asks Popuko who she is. She answers “I’m me!” frantically. It’s the first parody of many, as it parodies the hit movie Your Name, until a nuke drops, wiping them out. Popuko wakes up, and sees she’s late. She runs out the house, right into the Blue-hair girl, having her pendant land right on her. In a parody of the game Chrono Trigger, Blue-hair girl wants her pendant back, as Popuko decides what to do with it. She decides not to give it back, causing Blue-hair girl to get charged up, and wipe her out with her own attack.

Popuko then wakes up and is now in a space-war simulation. The Blue-hair girl appears, and finally reveals her name. She is Pipimi, and tells that the Earth is under attack, so Popuko shouldn’t shoot. Popuko does fire her gun. On her own crew. Pipimi teleports behind, and knocks her out cold. Popuko wakes up again, and is in a safari. Because of the place, it’s only right we welcomed her there. Popuko can’t stand this anymore and runs off. Pipimi joins up, and asks her is she is gonna kill her “chilled-out” classmate. She brings her to a bunch of explosives, which Popuko likes. Only to have her grenade she’s holding explode on her.

Then it starts to get weird. Pipimi asks if she likes her. Popuko is smitten, which Pipimi likes. Popuko winks and poses to the audience, and causes the show to distort (It did say earlier on that it would happen.)

Then we come to parodies galore. The first one has Popuko running in the rain, and arriving at a bus stop. There she meets a blurred-out Pipimi Totoro, who tells her not to take the umbrella that is next to her. The two then get hit by a bus.

Next we have an obvious Pokémon reference

Then a scene from a kaiju movie(?) where a monster births from an egg, followed by a Berserk reference, which you know I had to go for this joke.

We then get to-HOLY SHIT!! IS THAT A MOTHERFUCKING SKYRIM REFERENCE?!!!

Even in anime, there is no escaping Todd Howard.

Then there’s some reference I don’t know involving a phone, or maybe just a random segment. We then see Popuko in an alien capsule being experimented on, but Pipimi comes to save her. Even though they got her, they don’t care, since they can go on with their own plan of controlling the world. And how will they? The most evil way imaginable: Fidget Spinners.

After another return to the Super Mario-like segment, we get a new segment called “Bob Epic Team.” This one involves the girls in very hideous animation with an ugly hippo, who is starving. The two do feed him. A scorpion. The next segment involves a thunderstorm, and Popuko gets pissed off and not-at-all scared. She curses out the storm. After a beer, we get Law & Order in here. Now eat a cutlet bowl. DO IT!!

Then it’s on to a new segment called “Japonmignon.” This starts off live-action, with a French animator describing the next segment. Except he’s talking in his native tongue, and there’s no subtitles. And then it goes into the next segment where the girls go to France. But they’re speaking French, and there are still no subtitles. Sorry that I don’t know French. Anyway, they get there and talking to a French guy, who flips them off.

The next segment is another “Bob Epic Team” one, but it’s the first segment they did with the uglier animation. However, Popuko proceeds with her punching Pipimi harder, beating the crap outta her, then ending with Pipimi being turned into pickled radishes. And yet, she still not upset. Hold up, did someone say pickles?

After that, the ending theme plays and…wait, the ending theme and credits? But there’s still 12+ minutes left of the show? If that wasn’t weird enough, the show ends with them previewing the next episode of Hoshiro Girldrop. So it looks like it’s done. BUUUUUUUTTTTTTTT it’s not over yet, as the show once more starts up from the beginning with Hoshiro Girldrop, showing the opening and everything. Which, I got to be honest, its OP “Twinkling Star” is a catchy song. However, as Popuko tears up the OP once more, there’s something a little different. The girls this time instead of having deep male voices, have actual female voices to go with them. The whole 2nd half of the episode is literally the same as the first, but with the girls having feminine voices. Oh, there’s also the part that’s all in French. This time it has subtitles, as the French Animator was talking about how they will quell French stereotypes. The girls go over to Paris talking in French (with Popuko saying she doesn’t know French as she talks it. Nice touch), and go over that you have to know the gestures to really understand the French. Which led to the French dude giving them the 2-finger salute. And so the episode ends as it did.

Going into this, I had high expectations of this series. I seen many clips of the manga and how it is. I seen how everyone was expecting this to be great. I was seeing if it would deliver as well as it did.

Guess what? I was not disappointed.

This episode was one giant shitpost, and I couldn’t have been anymore happier. Everyone who’s been into PTE knew this, and that’s what the show gave. The Idol anime, the girl’s voices, the parodies, the fact the 2nd half is the same thing. Hell, it knows it’s trolling everyone, and knows how aware of what its manga was about in the first episode.

I do have some things to say though. I know the girls are going to be used with the voices in the 2nd half of the episode going forward, and yet, it kind of sounded natural to hear those two speak in old man voices. Like, I felt it belonged with how surreal this series can get. Don’t get me wrong, the female voices were pretty good too. But doesn’t it seem more fitting for this show to just use the male voices cause of how this series plays out? I wouldn’t be surprised if they get used again in another episode. Whatever option works, but I feel strangely more comfortable with the male counterparts. Another thing, the 2nd half part was also addressed by some, along with what service you watched it on. On Crunchyroll, they did a good job for subbing, for the most part. But on HiDive, as I saw tweeted, they did sub something that Crunchyroll missed, and that was the part that said that it was a “Repeat” in the corner. So yes, this was all intentional.

This was a magnificent first episode, and I really can’t wait to see where it goes. For real, I really do wonder how it will go in future episodes. Will do they the repeat thing again? Will there be more pop-culture references/memes from last year on there? Will they give us the male voices once more? Is the Idol anime gonna be a thing at the beginning from here on out? Which anime/video game parody will be next? Will we see this on Adult Swim/Toonami since Funimation is dubbing this? Will Chris Sabat and Sean Schemmel do the male voices on it? Will we see this gag turn into a full-length episode?

There are many possibilities. And many ways this show can get even better. I hope it keeps on with how it delivers from here on out. This first episode was fantastic, and I can’t wait for Saturdays now. Pop Team Epic, you have won me over big time. Now go out there and punch your friends a few times. Don’t worry, they won’t be upset.

Pop Team Epic is made by Studio Kamikaze Douga and licensed by Sentai Filmworks. It can be seen at 12:30 PM ET Saturday on Crunchyroll and HiDive. Funimation is making a simuldub that has no official release date, as of this writing.

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