Hoshiiro Girldrop opens up with a typical anime romcom plot: average high school student Daiichi Taira is about to enjoy having the house to himself as his parents leave for an extended trip abroad, but his classmate, the mysterious (and cute, of course!) Sosogu shows up, promising all the cliche hijinx we’ve come to love about anime. Luckily, we get through the entire opening animation before the real fun begins:
Pop Team Epic is a 4-koma manga that feels more like a collection of quick memes than anything episodic, and the anime adaptation unabashedly continues this. Starting off, we’re treated to a few skits with the same type of off-the-wall comedy we get in similar shows like Nichijou. Very quickly, the shows’s true nature reveals itself: lack of punchline as a punchline, pushing the boundaries of the visually absurd.
The next few segments, a collection of references and glitched-out video take this theme and crank it to eleven. Quick jokes at the expense of Your Name, Chrono Trigger, and even Skyrim. We even get a few references to 2017 pop culture itself, with fidget spinners and the “reset marathon” of the gacha games like Fate/Grand Order and Fire Emblem Heroes.
The first half of the episode concludes with a few, (somehow) more surreal clips, including one entirely in French. And what do we get for the second half? The entire episode again, but with different dub actors, and subtitles for the French section. You can’t make this stuff up, folks.
Ultimately, Pop Team Epic won’t please everyone. This is certainly not for anyone with a more serious taste in anime, or someone without the background to appreciate the quick references to other work, but if you unironically enjoy the dank memes of today prevalent on the social media platform of your choice, Pop Team Epic will likely resonate with you. My one worry is that Kamikaze Douga (the same studio who created the first four JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure openings) won’t be able to keep up the intensity throughout the season without relying on the same joke formats. I enjoyed the Hoshiiro Girldrop fake-out, and actually wouldn’t mind them continuing with that over the season, but I hope they don’t repeat the rerun gag every week.