Thursday, January 26, 2012

Popotan Anime Review

Geneon (Pioneer)
Complete Collection - 3 discs
300 mins. - 12 episodes
$34.98 (2007)
$29.98 (2009)
ISBN 013023295292
Japanese/English Audio - English Subtitles
Director - Shinichiro Kimura
Studio - Shaft

Synopsis: A magical house mysteriously appears outside of town and is rumored to be haunted.  A young boy musters his courage and enters the house to investigate.  Instead of finding ghosts he accidentally barges in on a naked young lady after her bath!  He discovers the house is inhabited by three lovely sisters, their maid, and a feisty little ferret.  They befriend him, but soon thereafter the house and sisters disappear.

We follow the sisters as their magical house travels through space and time on a search for an enigmatic young woman.  At each place the sisters converse with 'popotan' (dandelions) and find clues to the whereabouts of the young woman.  The sisters also make friends and help people at each place, but are forced to abrubtly abandon their friendships when the house transports. 

Mai, Mii, Ai, Unagi and the mystery girl
Their quest becomes increasingly difficult as the sisters continuously leave friends behind.  They move forward in time and witness the negative results of their departures on those left behind.  Can the sisters maintain their quest despite the grueling emotional challenges they face? 

List of characters residing in the house and participating in the quest:
  • Ai - the oldest sister who wears glasses, has large boobs, cooks terribly, has the ability to speak to the 'popotan', has an easygoing nature, but is too accomodating and will let people walk all over her
  • Mai - the middle sister who is more athletic, has small breasts (and is constantly reminded of this fact by her younger sister), is tomboyish, has the hardest time dealing with leaving her friends behind each time the house travels
  • Mii - the youngest sister who cosplays as 'Magical Girl Mii', is obsessed with rubbing her face on anything 'puffy' including people's cheeks and especially breasts (particularly Ai's)
  • Mea - the sisters' maid, is apparently an android showing very little emotion, has small breasts like Mai, a voracious appetite, and is a skilled fighter
  • Unagi - the sisters' pet white female ferret, she can apparently transform into human form, and likes to hang out in between Ai's breasts (because they are warm and soft)
Pros: Lots of fan-service/nudity - the girls take a lot of baths together (at least once an episode), opening/ending theme songs are really catchy (especially the ending song), good soundtrack, trip to the hot springs episode, nice theme of valuing your friendships with other people

Mii loves her 'puffies' at bath time! 
Cons: Nothing is really explained about the ultimate purpose of the sisters' quest or the convention of how the magic works, character designs are a little bland, the youngest sister Mii is shown naked quite a bit - lolicon (see explanation below) and could be offensive to some viewers

Mike Tells It Straight: Based on an adult-themed computer game (a visual novel with decision points varying the plot), Popotan has a storied and successful history in Japan.  The video game's protagonist was a wandering guitar player who rents a room with the sisters and his goal in the game is to have sexual encounters with all of them (and then unlock a couple more girls for him to have sexual encounters with).  Yeah, this doesn't happen in the anime. 

Instead we get a show with heavy fan-service and a minor lolicon character in Mii.  Lolicon is the Japanese version of the "Lolita complex" where underage girls are portrayed in sexually suggestive poses, clothing or situations.  Mii runs around naked in the bath, talks about and rubs her face on 'puffies' (boobs) a few times.  This could be offensive to some viewers and if you're one of them - the show is not for you.  Be glad Mii doesn't act the same in the anime as in the video game (which will never be released in the US). 

This dance became an internet phenomenon. Try it! 
 As far as I can tell this show is for introverted, adult males (otaku) based on the source material (a video game where you get to score with girls).  It really doesn't explain much about the setup for the story - the girls just keep jumping to a few different places and forward in time.  The game goes into a lot more detail, but first-time viewers are not given any backstory. 

I almost gave up watching this show after the first few episodes because it seemed ridiculous.  Every episode the girls talk to flowers, take nude baths together and then disappear.  Sticking it out was a good thing as the story progressed beyond the mere fan-service vehicle it seemed into a poignant tale of caring for ones friends.  The message was heartfelt, but I didn't really care about any of the characters except Mai.  She was the most interesting and showed genuine emotional loss at the forced abandonment of her new friends.

The progression of time and effect the sisters' relationships have on other people was done well as everything interlaced quite nicely.  I loved the ending theme song too - it was super-catchy.  This show had some good points, a lot of mediocre bits, and gets a fair recommendation.  It won't blow your socks off (maybe that happens in the video game), but you'll probably enjoy some of it. 

TO BUY and Recommendations: