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"Popotan" (Vol. 1) Made a Popofan Outta Me!

Popotan‘s packaging might lead you to think that it’s only about one thing—boobs—but it’s about a lot more. Don’t let this genre-bending show slip under your radar; it richly deserves to find an audience.

Popotan is about three magical sisters who live in an equally magical house. The ditzy yet kindhearted Ai, the tomboyish Mai, and the adorable Mii (whose obsession with all things puffy is quite odd, especially when it focuses on Ai’s enormous breasts) have the ability to magically heal people, talk to flowers, fly, and many other marvelous feats. The show takes its title from their name for dandelions, to which they are somehow linked.

The first episode deals with a young boy named Daichi, who comes to the sisters’ house in search of ghosts to photograph. Not knowing that the house is occupied, he is shocked to find that people live in it. The three sisters and their maid Mea agree to help Daichi fake some ghost pictures, which he wants so he can validate the claim of a girl in his class that her mother’s spirit came to visit her. The episode gets off to a rocky start: every harem anime cliché—towels falling off, new girls popping up every second—gets trotted out, and for awhile I was ready to write off the series entirely. But once it got going, I was instantly hooked. There is a touching scene at the end where the sisters and their house disappear, leaving Daichi and his friend to contemplate the true existence of ghosts.

The next episode starts with Mai still getting used to the new town they’ve come to. She is unwilling to make friends with anyone because she knows she will have to eventually leave them behind when she moves. But one girl at school refuses to take no for an answer, and Mai eventually succumbs to her new friend’s charm. But once it’s time for her and her sisters to leave, Mai remembers why she had given up on friendship in the first place. If the first episode almost brought a tear to my eye, this one damn near had me bawling at the end, when the two girls realize that they will always be friends no matter how far apart they are.

The third episode is the strongest of the four, as it features the hilarious Mii and her exploits as a “magical girl.” After getting a custom-made costume of one of her favorite TV characters, Mii runs around town performing different good deeds for people. She eventually meets up with a hospitalized girl named Miyuki, who is a big fan of the same TV character. Together the two run amok until Miyuki falls and injures her arm. To help her, Mii demonstrates that she does indeed have magical powers and heals the lifelong illness that Miyuki suffers from.

The final episode is fairly weak, but it stars Mea (wonderfully voiced in the English dub by Anna Cummer), who I think is the most attractive character. After a young girl comes to Mea to get her doll fixed, Mea’s housemates begin to disappear. The girl takes Mea to an abandoned village and explains that she used to live there before everyone moved to the city. She reveals that she has captured Ai, Mai, and Mii and is keeping them there asleep. Mea fights the girl and rescues her friends but comes to learn that the girl is just a lonely spirit looking for companionship in the afterlife.

I have to say that I was not expecting this disc to be very good, and it came as a real surprise. With its well-balanced blend of comedy, fanservice, drama, and magic, it stands head and shoulders above much of what has come out in recent memory. The mystery of why the sisters have to keep moving and their unexplained connection to the Popotan are enough to keep me interested in the second disc. An extremely competent dub cast complements the appropriate musical score, and the bright animation makes this a pleasing show to take in. Highly, highly recommended!

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