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Popotan
Reviewer: Rowena Lim Lei 08/19/2005

Synopsis:
Ai, Mai, and Mii are sisters who journey through time and space in search of their destiny, or something like that. They travel in a magical mansion along with their maid Mea, communicating with dandelions (“popotan” is a slang term for “tanpopo” which means “dandelion” in Japanese), and helping out problematic people they meet along the way. But is this never-ending journey all there is to their existence? Ai, Mai, and Mii eventually begin to wonder…
 
Review:
With its weird blend of sugary sentiments, comical bits, and excessive fan service, Popotan gives a whole new dimension to the term fluff. That was my first thought after watching all twelve episodes, despite the slew of good customer reviews at good old Amazon.com.
 
Ai, Mai, and Mii are sisters who jump from one period to another in a magical mansion which is passed off as a Christmas Shop to outsiders. They also have a robotic maid (up to now I’m not quite certain if she's really a robot or just an extremely stoic person) named Mea who takes care of the mansion and all their needs. This is basically how each episode goes: Ai, Mai, and Mii would arrive in a certain time and place. Ai would help out someone in need. That someone would become Ai’s friend. By the end of the episode, the sisters would have to move on to the next destination and Ai would become separated from her new friend… causing some sadness and heartbreak both on Ai and her friend’s part. Now just substitute Mai's and Mii's names for Ai and you have individual episode summaries for most part of the series. Popotan is structured rather uniquely, taking its characters individually and then giving each an episode to strut their stuff with. Now it's Ai, next it's Mai, then Mii, and then Mea. Rinse and repeat.
 
There is a twist, however. In the later part of the series, the girls would start bumping into the friends they made in the past. Time would have passed for those friends – they are older, they have children, and some of them are even dead. The girls would be just as they were when they first met (since they don't age), and eventually these friends (or their descendants) start piecing together the mystery behind the sisters. Then there’s the sisters’ journey. They don’t know who or what exactly it is they are determinedly searching for, making the series seem rather directionless and at some points even silly.
 
Another thing I could not quite fathom was the sheer amount of gratuitous nudity. The girls, especially big-breasted Ai, are always shedding off their clothes and flashing their boobies for no reason. There’s also a bath scene in almost every episode, wherein even the lolicon Mii displays her nonexistent assets. Further research on my part revealed that Popotan is actually based on an adult bishoujo game, which should explain the raunchy scenes. Well at least the fan service is not as annoying as the one thousand and one panty shots of Agent Aika.
 
The art and animation are pretty good. Character designs are glossy and distinctive, while scenes are detailed nicely and brightly rendered. The theme songs and background music are cutesy in style, complementing the series perfectly.
 
Popotan is a one-of-a-kind series that explores an angle of friendship with some depth, I'll give it that. The way it attempts to connect the sisters' overly ambiguous journey with dandelions is weak though, and I felt the series could have benefited more from a less contrived approach. The ending is also not as conclusive as I would've liked. All in all a notch above average, but not something I'd readily recommend.
 
Miscellanies:
Popotan spans twelve episodes.

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Popotan
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Review Title:
Popotan
Alternative Titles:
Po-Po-Tan
Type:
TV
Episodes:
12
Duration:
300 Minutes
General Rating:
3 out of 5 stars
Aired:
2003
Suitable For:
Young Adults
Genres:
Comedy, Drama, Supernatural
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