Every so often, a manga suddenly goes BOOM. It jumps straight into modern Japanese pop culture, so quick the ink’s hardly dry on the first chapter. 2017’s manga BOOM has got to be Pop Team Epic. It kicked off in late 2014, with a 4-panel style and a seriously WTF sense of humour.
To be fair, it was popular from the start. But this year’s gonna be a big year.
As PTE’s popularity ballooned, so did the sheer amount of merch. If something can fit either of these cute, massive faces on the front, you bet it’ll sell.
Take a super popular example: Nendoroids. The anime/manga/game character equivalent of celebrities getting their own waxwork. When Nendo Popuko and Pipimi showed up, we knew they’d made it.
And yeah, it’s getting a damn anime this October. As if they’d make Hoshiiro Girl Drop and ignore Popuko, come on. “Remember, Takeshobo…” Announcing it on April Fool’s Day was a genius troll move.
Sure, it won’t be the first anime based on a 4-koma manga. We’re still curious how PTE will translate to TV. And whether they’ll bleep out all the naughty words or only air it after midnight…
It’s gone BOOM in Japan and on the internetz, for sure – the rest of the world needs to catch up. Pop Team Epic didn’t even have an English Wikipedia page when we wrote this. Gotta make do with the Know Your Meme entry.
And as you might know, Japanese trends don’t stick around for very long. We… uh, we almost missed the whole thing. The Poputepi tankobon was published over a year ago. And we’re not sure how we didn’t know. Look at it. LOOK at it. How the hell did that slip past us?
The kind of masterpiece a hipster would frame and hang in their study.
POP UP SHOP UP
We heard a pop-up shop for Pop Team Epic was coming to Osaka. On the POP TEAM EPIC POP UP SHOP official Twitter, the same place we got half these pics.
For anyone unsure where this was gonna be, they shoved takoyaki and okonomiyaki spatulas on the poster. Nothing says ‘Osaka’ quite like ‘high cholesterol’.
Namba Marui wasn’t the first department store to get the PTE treatment. Or the second. Or… the third. It sort of looks like we were last in line. The pop-up shop already happened in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Fukuoka before arriving in Kansai.
When even Hakata gets something cool before Osaka does, that’s a problem.
To tell you guys the truth, we were scared. By a tweet.
“Depending on the situation on the day, we might decide queue order and entry times by shuffle lottery.”
Would we get a look in?
Spoiler alert: yeah, we did. Going at 7pm on a Wednesday was a solid plan. There were people around, but zero lines. A perfect time to wander around at an annoyingly slow pace.
What you got for me, huh?
As we moved up the escalator to Marui’s 7th floor, we started to see things. Weird things. Things we had a sudden urge to take terrible smartphone photos of. Because we’re subculture bitches.
Once we peeked around the corner, it was clear we’d made it to the right place. (But we have no idea why they’re wearing some kind of ugly tartan. This has got to be a real obscure pop culture reference we’re missing. Anyone got any guesses?)
Half the event space was for taking photos. If you remembered to turn your camera flash on. A mirror on one side had Popuko eyes and hands stuck to it. Like one of those carnival mirrors that makes you look like an angry Japanese schoolgirl. But, uh, good luck taking decent selfies with shoppers constantly walking behind you.
On the other side, delicious branded merchandise. The number of staff following people around made it clear that spending money was A-OK… but taking pics of the goods was not. So we’ve had to improvise.
Some of the stuff was limited to the Osaka shop only. And some items were made exclusively for the pop-up shop run. The special goods by Kotobukiya x Ojaga Design had us excited. Like these crazy perfect leather pass cases.
As Pipimi might say, WHAT.
The more stuff we looked at, the less we knew what to buy. Everything was so cool. How were we meant to decide what to get?
The flashbacks started. To when the Evangelion vs. Shin Godzilla pop-up shop was in this exact same spot. We’d have happily drained our bank balance to own one of everything in that store. A bag of Eva postcards and hand towels sits at home as a reminder.
We stuck to a reasonable budget. This meant making sacrifices. Those pass cases stayed in their glass display case. Couldn’t leave without the tankobon, we felt it necessary.
Our stationery haul included a shop-exclusive memo pad. Some of the sheets are blank 4-panel designs, for writing your own PTE manga. We sense some kind of social media contest coming on… if we can ever get a decent photo of the page, that is…
Eat the katsudon!
The POP TEAM EPIC pop-up in Osaka is OVER. It ended yesterday. But don’t make that ugly cry face! You can find POP TEAM EPIC items online all the time.