We (attempt to) explain the appeal of the fan-favorite series
Those who have not yet experienced Pop Team Epic in any of its forms are probably having a hard time understanding what it's all about. If that's you, don't worry – those of us who have experienced it aren't entirely sure what it's all about either. The 4koma-turned-anime has developed a cult following around the world, with surreal and referential humor that once in a while makes sense (but largely does not).
So what is Pop Team Epic? Um... okay. We'll try.
The Creator: Bkub Okawa
He's Japan's self-proclaimed "kuso manga boy," and... well, that's about all we've got. Prior to the massive popularity boost he received from creating Pop Team Epic, the series' creator, Bkub Okawa, was known for his work as a Touhou Project doujin artist.
His signature art style and weird sense of humor have landed him jobs outside of his best known creation – he's done redesigns for Gintama collaborations, created short comics for personality Mafia Kajita and mobile game Ensemble Stars, and designed Sumire Uesaka's variety show mascot, Subculture Woman Absolutely Nailing It Man:
He's also found success with his new manga series, Hyper Ultra Girlish.
The Original Manga
Also known as Poputepipikku, Pop Team Epic is a largely plotless (okay, entirely plotless) gag manga starring two "perfectly normal" teenage girls. The short one, Popuko, is aggressive and quick to anger. And the tall one, Pipimi, is somewhat calmer... but will also punch you in the face given the opportunity.
The "stories" of each strip could be as straightforward as dragging the publishers, or as inexplicable as Popuko dying if she witnesses a dialogue bubble with an exclamation point in it. There's a lot of swearing, a lot of violence, and very little sense. So, of course, the Internet became its perfect home.
Nowadays, it's difficult to make it around a messageboard without either Popuko or Pipimi accentuating a point. And, to be honest, we wouldn't have it any other way.
And then there was the time Okawa announced that Pop Team Epic was ending, with his new idol manga Hoshiiro Girldrop starting in its place. The cute, upscaled romcom was to focus on average high school boy Daichi and his childhood friend Sosogu, who becomes the center of the idol group Drop Stars. A neat little plot, but the comic had barely started when this happened:
Sosogu ripped her mask away to reveal that she was actually Popuko, and Pop Team Epic would be returning for a "second season."
This wouldn't be remotely the last time Okawa trolled his audience, though.
So Many Lies
It should come as no surprise that the entirety of the anime's production process was fraught with grade-A trolling.
First off, the upcoming show was announced as being a Hoshiiro Girldrop anime. But savvy fans weren't about to be fooled twice. And sure enough, even after character profiles and staff were announced, it was revealed that the series to await was a Pop Team Epic adaptation.
But things were just starting.
The anime's first PV contained no animation, consisting instead of Popuko and Pipimi mascots beating up a Russian anime fan for expressing excitement about Basilisk.
Then the show got delayed into the winter 2018 season, which it "celebrated" with a collaborative shaved ice flavor meant to remind you of faceplanting into the dirt when you heard the news.
And the fake-outs continue even into the premiere. Those, however, you'll have to see for yourself.
Okay, But What Is Pop Team Epic?
It's practically dadaism.
It's two girls blowing things up with their minds.
It's full of references to that stuff you like.
For the rest... well, your guess is as good as ours, frankly.
Kara Dennison is responsible for multiple webcomics, blogs and runs interviews for (Re)Generation Who and PotterVerse, and is half the creative team behind the OEL light novel series Owl's Flower. She blogs at karadennison.com and tweets @RubyCosmos. Her latest stories can be found in Whoblique Strategies.