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Ever since it was announced last year that bkub Okawa's surreal comic four-panel manga Pop Team Epic was getting the anime treatment, fans both in Japan and abroad have waited with bated breath to see what their favorite bird-flipping, trash-talking, pop culture reference-throwing, rule-bending 14-year-old schoolgirl duo of Popuko and Pipimi would look like on screen.
It turns out they weren't disappointed. Not only has the first episode of the anime exceeded 1 million views barely a day after being released on popular video sharing platform Niconico Douga (and has passed 1.5 million as of this writing), it shines in terms of the level of commitment to its fans as well as its roots in Japanese pop culture encompassing everything from video games, manga and anime to Japanese TV dramas. Full of non-sequiturs, parodies, pastiches, and even a Parisian flipping le bird, it's everything fans of the manga have come to expect.
In terms of fan service, although some fans may still be miffed that the creators did not make good on their announcement to cast voice actresses Sumire Uesaka and Mikako Komatsu as Popuko and Pipimi, avid fans who had been following the manga carefully were delighted with their replacement in the first episode by the famous male voice actors Masashi Ebara and Hochu Otsuka. In a highly circulated tweet, Tokyo resident anime and game fan Michael explained: "There was one comic where they ask for two VERY famous MALE VAs for the anime. Way before an anime was ever considered. So of course they did it."
More recently, fans have focused attention on a sequence in the first episode in which Popuko and Pipimi appear in an 8-bit video game. Experts in 8-bit programming who analyzed the frames of the anime were quick to note that the creators were not content to merely rotate the characters by 45 degrees to make them change direction, which would have made animating the sequence far easier. Instead, the sequence was truly programmed from start to finish. A look at the ending credits reveals a certain Makoto Yamashita as director of the 8-bit game sequence. Fortunately, Mr. Yamashita spoke up on his Twitter account:
---"I directed the game part in Pop Team Epic!! I'm currently a senior in university. I'll do my best not to get wiped out before I become a working member of society, so please look forward to my next work :)"
Considering that Mr. Yamashita won the Bronze Campus Genius Award in the 22nd Student Computer Graphics Contest, and now with an anime debut under his belt, the chances are good that we may be seeing more of his work in the near future!
One thing is sure. As one Twitter user put it: "Pop Team Epic (...) has unstintingly invested talented staff, technique and passion. It's a genuine kuso anime." And no greater compliment could be awarded than that: