Text & Art: Annie Hansen
Popee The Performer is a 3D animated kids show created by Ryuji Masuda. The show aired on TV back in 2001-2003 in Japan and it lasted three seasons with 40 episodes that have around a 4-5 minute long runtime.
At first glance, Popee The Performer might look like a bizarre and creepy low quality project with ugly, lazy animation and filled with over-the-top violence and immature content. Some people might therefore turn their nose on it and not give the show a proper chance. But there is so much more to Popee The Performer and it’s 100% worth giving it a chance. Keep in mind, this is early 2000s computer animation so it’s not going to live up to today’s standards, especially not with the small budget and tight deadline the creator had to work with. Ryuji Masuda took all the limitations and used it to his advantage and really made it work. The unique and somewhat off-putting artstyle and movement of the characters work in the show’s favor, because it adds more spice to it’s already bizarre nature.
The plot is quite simple. The show’s two main characters are, of course, Popee the performer himself and his assistant, Kedamono. The episodes often start out with the characters trying to perform a circus trick or something similar, and it somehow always goes horribly wrong. Popee is a clown with severe anger issues and he loves to use violence to deal with all of his problems. The one who usually has to suffer through Popee’s excessive violence is Kedamono, Popee’s masked purple wolf assistant. There are other characters that are introduced later on, such as Papi, who is another clown with a very flamboyant personality that loves to challenge Popee’s violence with even more violence. There is also a frog, an alien and a sentient elephant car.
The series is filled with slapstick comedy and is pretty similar to Tom and Jerry, just way more extreme and bloody. The characters die regularly in very gruesome and violent ways. Anything from getting shot or hit by a car to destroying the earth by throwing the sun at it or even fighting God, could happen in this show. Because of its short runtime things need to happen fast. The plot of the episode therefore always escalates quickly in very extreme and bizarre ways and it is always hilarious. The creator couldn’t afford voice actors so the show had to rely on visual storytelling and physical comedy instead, which is a great choice since it makes Popee The Performer completely universal. Anyone, no matter what language they speak, can understand and enjoy the show.
Popee the Performer got pretty popular in Japan back in the days. Both the TV-station and viewers of all ages seemed to enjoy it and there was even some merchandise and a manga made. Now, twenty years later it lives on as a bizarre series of videos with a dedicated fanbase that you might stumble upon on the internet if you are lucky. Go check it out.