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While a lot of anime OVAs to come out in the 80s and 90s were heavily aimed at a male audience, there was the occasional release intended for girls. Pops is one such example of this. It’s a 30 minute video based on a shoujo manga from the late 80s. As one can probably guess from the length of the show, it has to cover a fair bit of ground in a very short amount of time. Despite this, it manages to present an engaging story that, while a bit chaotic yet predictable early on, does close up nicely at the end.

This is the story of a high school girl named Kusuko. She’s generally pretty quiet and hasn’t had a boyfriend before, but winds up developing a crush on a boy named Mishima who just so happens to be the local ladies man in his school. Seemingly every week he has a new girl that he’s hanging out with yet Kusuko feels drawn to him despite every ounce of her good senses telling her it’s not a wise idea. Making matters worse is that Mishima starts taking an interest in her as well.

From there, viewers embark on an uncomfortable journey of watching Kusuko getting swept away by her emotions. She clearly likes Mishima, and while she resisted this at first, acknowledging he was a playboy. When she finally succumbs to her feelings, it's not hard not to groan a bit and question what the heck she’s thinking. Making matters worse is that it quickly becomes clear that Mishima has a girl on the side that he is much more seriously attracted to and is basically just playing with Kusuko. Pops is not at all a happy love story. It’s a 30 minute death march of uncomfortable feelings. In the last five or so minutes of the show, the story manages to pull a reasonably acceptable 180 and resolve things in a satisfying manner, though, which was a surprise. It isn’t a bad story at all, but expect it to draw an unpleasant emotional response while watching.

Visually, the art style is in line with what was popular in shoujo manga of the era. This means lots of tall, slender character designs, with 80s hair styles and fashion. The show’s color scheme is actually a bit light and washed out compared to other anime. It’s not so pronounced to come off as dream-like, but there’s a noticeable softness to how things look. Environments are also nicely done, with a good amount of detail at all of the teenage haunts that Kusuko and her friends would go visit. From time to time, there is some humorous cinematography in how scenes are presented as well, not so much from an intentional attempt at humor, but because they are so noticeably over dramatic in presenting some of the situations that Kusuko finds herself in.

It’s not often that anime adaptations of shoujo manga are covered on this site, but Pops was an entertaining, albeit obscure, example of this from the 90s. What makes it worth watching is the story. While it will likely make viewers uncomfortable as they shout at the screen telling Kusuko to dump Mishima, it is a decent story of young love where a girl gives in to her feelings when she probably shouldn’t.

- IroIro
May 14, 2019

Directed by: Morio Asaka
Studio: Madhouse
Episodes: 1
Released: 1993

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