Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Holiday Review: POP TEAM EPIC

Let's wrap things up with the most gentle, good-hearted manga to come out in 2018, a story of love, stardom, and magic...
Just kidding.  Merry Christmas!

POP TEAM EPIC (Poptepippiku), by Bkub Okawa.  First published in 2014 and first published in North America in 2018.


I'm not going to even try to sum up the plot here because there is none.  Even by the standards of random 4-koma, Pop Team Epic is not concerned with making sense and that's what makes it so funny. 

Okawa's sense of humor is beyond surreal, throwing references to recent anime and other bits of pop culture at will.  There's not much to say about the main characters Popoku and Pipimi (other than Popuko is far more prone to random violence), but that just lets them adapt all the better to whatever gag follows.  Even the punchlines are surreal.  Yet it's not complete randomness for the sake of randomness.  

There is structure to each strip's gag, even if it's strange, dark, or sometimes metatextual.   There are also flashes of inspired humor - there's a good reason that a lot of the best strips here ended up becoming memes well before this got published (or before the anime, for that matter).  They don't lose anything in translation, thanks in no small part to Yota Okutani's translation.  Okawa may break down 4-komas in his own fashion, but he also puts it back together to form a style and sense of humor that is truly unique.


Okawa does this virtually with only two chibi-style characters, with their signature combination of giant shiny eyes and permanent cat smiles.  Their faces are masks that seldom change, but more often than not that's part of the joke.  Since this is a 4-koma, there's little in the way of backgrounds, but that doesn't matter since that leaves room for plenty of visual gags.

I would almost consider Pop Team Epic beyond critique.  It's a comedy manga that is all its own, and thanks to the anime many of its jokes have been cemented into anime fandom.  If you want to check out the frontiers of comedy manga, look no further than here.

This series is published by Vertical.  This series is complete in Japan with 2 volumes.  Both volumes have been released and are currently in print.

Want a chance to win a $25 RightStuf gift certificate?  Then check out our Holiday Review Giveaway to learn how to enter!  The giveaway ends at midnight Central Time!

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