What They Say:
Crude, rude, and a little…cute? Get ready for the larger-than-life attitude of Popuko and Pipimi, the small and tall stars of Pop Team Epic. Based off the popular four-panel webcomic comes a bizarre comedy filled with plenty of absurdity!
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo while the English mix gets a 5.1 bump, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD codec. The show is like a lot of comedy shows in that it’s pretty basic with what it does across the forward soundstage but it does have its moments where it steps things up a bit with directionality across it. It’s fairly simple while handling the highs and lows in a clean and problem free way. Dialogue is mostly center channel based but it has a few areas where it stretches itself a bit and the 5.1 mix does what it can to try and give it all a bit more impact. Both tracks are pretty good overall with what it works with and they come across cleanly and clearly without any dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally airing in 2018, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The twelve episodes are spread across two discs with a nine/three breakdown. Animated by Kamikaze Douga, the show works a range of styles and some live-action material as well to become a pretty busy work. The encoding for it captures it all in a very crisp and clean way with bright and vibrant colors, lots of detail where it employs it in a big way, and a very solid look all around. The show works some very active scenes throughout and the bit rate handles it all so that there’s no breakup or noise stemming from that area. It’s a good looking encode of the material and the end result is a cleand and appealing one for fans.
The packaging for this release comes in a standard sized Blu-ray case as it only holds that format. The set comes with an o-card that has a cute image of the two main characters in their school uniforms while the case artwork has them in their demonic rocker look. There’s a nice change in the two covers with the red to blue backgrounds and each provides a different design that someone might want for their release. The set also comes with a reversible cover that focuses on the initial key visual of the two of them sitting alongside the house done in illustration style. The back covers are the same overall except for the color difference and the character artwork is changed up as well. The summary of the premise is about as you’d expect and we get a clean but incomplete look at the extras. The technical grid breaks down the form in a clean and accurate way. No show related inserts are included though we get an advert for the manga as well as the digical copy details.
The menu design for this release is a bit amusing in that we get a fairly standard piece here as it works the cover artwork design of the two against a field of read as a static image. The logo looks nice alongside them while the bottom has a large block where we get the navigation. The change is on the second disc where we get a blue background but we also get the whole thing done as a corrupt digital image with all the blockiness to it. It’s an amusing way to play into the whole dual sides aspect of the show that stands out as pretty noticeable. Just don’t stare at it too long. Everything loads quickly and easily with no problems during both the main menu area and as a pop-up menu during playback.
The extras for this release include the clean versions of the opening and closing sequences, which is always welcome. We also get some extras that weren’t listed on the package with two unaired scenes in different versions and some unaired felt animation material, again two versions.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Based on the manga by Bkub Okawa, Pop Team Epic is a twelve episode series that aired during the winter 2018 season. The original manga, being released by Veritcal Comics in English, has two volumes out since it began back in 2014 as it’s your basic gag manga. The anime adaptation was interesting in how it was presented because it weas streamed pretty much everywhere and with all kinds of services at the time that people hadn’t heard of. Sentai Filmworks got the streaming rights and mechandising rights while Funimation got streaming, TV rights (with it ending up on Toonami) as well as the home video release, hence geting this out – another show within the same year of its broadcast, which still feels weird.
The premise here is that it follows the adventures of two fourteen-year-old-girls named Pouko and Pipimi. And that’s it. What it does is basically work as a kind of series of shorts, skits, and gags with plenty of repetition because of the nature of the dub in both Japanese and English. The two leads are voiced by different actors in each episode with a look at different ways to interpret scenes with what feels like some ad lib aspects. Each episode is presented as two episodes within it with these changes and there are some subtle differences put in as well with the animation along the way, though I’m hard pressed to admit that I noticed any of it during marathon sessions because the whole thing just wore me down. It’s an interesting approach to do it like this with the actors and the repetition and that combined with the wide variety of styles is interesting. There’s one sequence where it’s a live-action piece where they flip around sketchbooks to tell the story with an immense amount of creativity that’s impressive.
Unfortunately, the show is just not funny at all. Humor is hugely subjective and there’s a wide range that I like. But this show reminded me heavily of the Ren and Stimpy style from the 90’s with what it does and that just left me completely disinterested in that show back then. Pop Team Epic feels much the same way where it does all these disjointed quick hit gags, which has potential to be sure, and it does it with some neat styles – including some fabric sequences. But while the style and design is interesting, the gags, the stories, and the comedy just doesn’t work. I found myself becoming bored with the first half of the first episode – and then it repeated it just with different voices and the subtle differences. Knowing that was going to be like that for the next eleven episodes? It just killed all the momentum. It’s something that probably works in broadcast/weekly simulcast form in this way but in watching it for review as a marathon session, it just flamed out in a huge way that revealed it to be exceedingly unfunny.
Pop Team Epic simply isn’t for me. I asked around with a few friends that had seen bits and pieces of it, never a full episode in one sitting, and they raved about it with the weirdness and surreal aspects. I’ve enjoyed a lot of those in short-form anime series before but the charms of those didn’t come through here. Pop Team Epic has some interesting choices and ideas within it in how it’s put together but the heart of it just wasn’t there. The humor didn’t just fall flat, it fell through the floor and down several levels. I may have smiled at a couple of scenes, but that’s a couple of scenes after a 4 ½ hour viewing experience of the whole show. Fans will love what they get here with a great looking presentation and a great cast to enjoy in a tight little package. For anyone else, sample elsewhere first.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Textless Opening & Closing Songs
Content Grade: F
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B-
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: October 2nd, 2018
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.