Pop Team Epic: How to Get Started With the Anime and Manga

The recent announcement of Pop Team Epic Season 2 has many comedy anime fans excited to continue its adventures and hijinks. This series has been a cult favorite in Japan for quite a while, but its anime adaptation saw the franchise go viral in North America as well, earning a legion of new fans and generating a whole host of new memes.

However, Pop Team Epic has had a confusing Western release history due to the series' habit of pulling highly imaginative meta stunts -- and because of some odd choices by distribution platforms. But for newcomers wanting to jump into the franchise after hearing Season 2's announcement, here's what the series is all about and where to enjoy it.

The Plot Of Pop Team Epic

Created by Bkub Okawa, Pop Team Epic started life as a four-panel gag-strip manga. The series follows Popuko and Pipimi, two 14-year-old schoolgirls who get into various comedic situations. However, due to the strip's surrealist nature, these situations are not regular schoolgirl problems, and the series is packed full of parodies, pop culture references and non-sequiturs. Many jokes play with the anime and manga mediums in strange ways, making Pop Team Epic a highly unique experience unlike anything else on offer.

Where To Read The Pop Team Epic Manga

Pop Team Epic started out as a manga in 2014 that was published on the Manga Life Win website before being collected into three tankobon volumes. Each of the books contains a "season" of the webcomic. While the first volume landed in Japan in 2015, the series took a while to arrive in the States. Vertical Comics, an imprint of Kodansha USA Publishing, licensed the series and brought the first two volumes to the West, launching them at the tail end of 2018.

However, the third volume, Pop Team Epic: Season Three and Four, has not been released in the US yet despite hitting stores in Japan in 2019. 2018 also saw the release of the Hoshiiro Girldrop Comic Anthology, which collected the comics based on the fictional parody manga Hoshiiro Girldrop into one book. However, like Season Three and Four, this hasn't been released in North America.

Where To Watch The Pop Team Epic Anime

Pop Team Epic Chicken

The Pop Team Epic anime was animated by Kamikaze Douga, with several other studios coming in to animate individual sketches. This adaptation continued the franchise's trend of surreal medium-bending as it featured frequent style changes, and Popuko and Pipimi's voice actors likewise constantly changed.

The series was broadcast in Japan in 2018, and was shown on Crunchyroll and HIDIVE in North America with Funimation carrying the English dub. Netflix began to stream the series as well, but made one controversial change to the show. Pop Team Epic episodes originally ran for 23 minutes, with a unique gimmick: the second half of each episode was a re-run of the first half with different voice actors and subtle changes to the animation and jokes.

However, Netflix removed this gimmick, cutting each episode down to 11 minutes and removing the repeated second half. This means those who watched the show when it launched on Netflix got only half of the experience, including many setups with no punchlines. Netflix did fix this after viewers complained, but it can be confusing for those who went into the show with little foreknowledge.

Pipimi And Popoku Discover Escargot In Pop Team Epic

In 2019, a two-part Pop Team Epic special aired in Japan. These episodes, named "The Convenience Store" and "Edo Era Pop Team" (though they're often combined into one OVA in many watch orders), featured another unique gimmick. Four versions of the specials exist. Dubbed Blue Dragon, Vermilion Bird, White Tiger and Black Tortoise, each featured different voice actors, with each streaming platform randomly getting one of the four versions. However, Crunchyroll currently hosts all four versions of the special, allowing fans to watch all of them together.

Then in 2021, Pop Team Epic Repeat (Remix Version) was broadcast. Once again, this was carried by Crunchyroll, HIDIVE and Funimation. The series features the same content as the original version of the first season, only it swapped around the voice actors and tweaked things a bit.

While this can seem intimidating to new viewers, the commonly accepted watch order is to start with the original series, then watch one or more versions of the four specials before moving on to the remix series. This will allow longtime fans and newcomers alike to enjoy all of the fun medium-bending Pop Team Epic rejoices in.

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