Encompasses: Complete Series
Published by: Geneon Entertainment (Original North America), Sentai Filmworks (North America)
Based on: 18+ Visual Novel by Petit Ferret
Genre: Comedy, Fanservice, Harem
Audio: English and Japanese Dubs
Runtime: 300 Minutes
Classification: 16 Years Old and Up
Special Thanks: Copy purchased out of my own pocket. Purchased in three individual volume releases “Vanishing House”, “Enigma” and “Decisions of the Heart”, which were original releases by Geneon Entertainment. While the content of the episodes should not differ between releases, there may be differences in extra content.
Beautiful sisters Ai, Mai, Mii, their android maid Mea and slippery pet ferret Unagi make an amazing journey together through time and space without ever leaving their beloved mansion behind! Following the clues of the strange dandelion-like “Popotan,” the girls are theoretically seeking the person who has the answers to their most personal questions, but they seem to have more than enough time to take side trips, meet new friends, visit hot springs and occasionally operate the X-mas shop they keep in the house along the way!
Yet, the girls’ ultimate destiny holds more than a few surprises of its own, and not every moment is filled with hilarity, as moving through time means having to leave friends behind as well.
While it has only been in the last couple of years that visual novels have become more frequently released to the English market, visual novel to anime adaptations have been more frequently seen a release outside of Japan – some of these being based on more storyline-based releases such as Fate/stay Night and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, while others such as Popotan were based on eroge-oriented series. An eroge I highly doubt you would be seeing outside of Japan, Popotan was a CERO 18 visual novel released in 2002 by Petit Ferret and in the subsequent year saw an anime release which was picked up by Geneon Entertainment in 2005. While it does not contain any eroge content from the game, the fanservice and occasional over-sexualisation of the characters do exist, to the point where in 2007 I named it one of my Top 5 least favorite anime series…. but considering an increase in my anime repertoire does my perception of this series change? Read on to find out in my review of Popotan.
The series follows three “sisters” cleverly named Mai, Ai and Mii alongside their robotic maid Mea and ferret Unagi as they travel through time and space in their house which also doubles as a Christmas Shop, appearing on everything from a hillside to a beach on a clear summer day. Each episode usually features a different time period with different characters in each, alongside usually featuring one of the four main female characters as they get acquainted with and try to sort out the problems of others. The storyline involves the girls travelling through time to meet a certain “someone” in a certain “place” and especially in the final episodes this proves to be pretty well delivered albeit not perfectly explained – but otherwise the episodes primarily focus on delivering short storylines with as much fanservice as possible.
The characters pretty much stick to their stereotypes throughout the entire series – Ai is your quiet, well-endowed person of “often” common sense, Mai is the “self-conscious about her bust size” middle sister who tries to be trendy, Mii is your generic cutesy loli who dreams of becoming a magical girl and Mea is the silent sarcastic maid type with a few secrets of her own. Each of the characters receive ample character development with some of the secondary characters – however only Mai and Mea seem to provide anything to the overall value of the plot with Ai having nothing much of interest and Mii’s episodes basically being about her making friends. Honestly I wouldnt half mind Unagi having been a main character… least her role as the family ferret generated some laughs. The secondary characters also varied in quality but I do think being included in only an episode or two rather than the whole series was a beneficial choice.
Aside from this, if you enjoy fanservice of girls from a variety of bust-sizes, personalities and age groups…. welcome to a series that might just interest you, however with the exception of a few episodes there is nothing all too special plotwise and while I have only read brief synopsis’, may have benefited from being more in line with the visual novel release than deviating into average at best mini-stories. If they spent more time on plot development, I think they would have had quite a nice series to watch casually.
Popotan was one of the animation studio SHAFT’s earlier works prior to going on to major series such as Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Bakemonogatari and iven its age, the design quality of this release is satisfactory and uses the source material from the visual novel release well. The character designs suit the individual characters personalities well and considering the focus on delivering bathing scenes, panty shots and so forth, taking this into account they were designed appropriately even if I am surprised there was no sign of conveniently placed fog. Environment designs fare a little bit better and given the different environments the characters visit are of a consistent quality.
The opening sequence Popotan Batake de Tsukamaete by UNDER17 is the sort of music I would have expected from this series and music group, Upbeat J-POP with bright, colourful and overly happy animation. The ending sequence S-U-K-I by Funta is a comparably upbeat sequence that features singing and dancing dandelions “Tanpopo – Popotan in this series”.
Music quality varies across the series and while the last few episodes do have some rather nice melancholic music, most of the time I was left feeling rather indifferent to it. When it come to the voice acting, while it was nothing special and came across weak, but I do think they managed to fulfill the characters roles appropriately given the themes of the show. Nicole Oliver, Nicole Bouma and Jocelyne Loewen voiced Ai, Mai and Mii respectively and did an acceptable job considering their roles, although Mii’s voice was a bit too on the overly loud side. Instead, the voices that really did save the voice acting in this series came from characters such as Anna Cummer as Mea, who were not required to be as out there and pulled the roles of quite well. I do feel this is a series where the Japanese dub would be a better listen to than the English one.
With extra content, Geneon Entertainment’s release came with a rather nice batch of extra content including:
- Non-credit opening and ending sequences
- Full Colour Art Galleries x 3
- TV Commercials (Japanese)
- Geneon Trailers – Many titles of which are either discontinued or can be purchased through other publishers such as Sentai Filmworks
In my opinion, if you were to go into this series wanting and expecting a series filled with bathing scenes and unnecessary fanservice while delivering some occasionally drama then Popotan might prove to be an enjoyable series for you. However, looking past this while some concepts are interesting the writing falls short of expectations. Alongside average designs and voice acting there is nothing much to say about this series.
Storyline / Character Development: D
Music/Voice Acting: D+
Extra Content: B
Personal Preference: C-
Overall Score: D+