is a Japanese eroge PC game. There is also a PlayStation 2 port of the game and a anime series produced by Shaft from July 7 through October 12, 2003. Popotan is created by under the alias . Only the anime series was released outside Japan by Geneon.
"Popotan" is a nonsense word that is based off of the Japanese word for dandelion, "tanpopo". Popotan is almost literally like saying "liondandy". It also uses the flipped "tan" to essentially call the dandelions by name; "-chan" is a suffix added to names, sometimes used as a fond diminutive, and a child's pronunciation often renders it to "-tan". Thus, "liondandy" becomes "Lion-chan".
The story revolves around three sisters, Ai (the eldest), Mai (the middle child), and Mii (the youngest), their maid, Mea, and a white ferret named Unagi, as they travel through time in a mansion running a Christmas
shop and searching for a flower called "popotan" which resembles a dandelion. Although the story follows these three sisters, the anime alludes to the fact that others have attempted to make similar journeys in the past. This, however is the only glimps into the past and relations with the characters is never revealed leaving mysteries as to how and why Shizaku, Keith and Mea are associated. While the sisters eventually meet Shizaku, the story ends with a continuation of them traveling in the mansion leaving an unanswered questions as to their final destionation, if any, nor why they were chosen. Their bodies are connected to the mansion where they live, which is also the vehicle that allows them to travel through time. When they are outside the mansion, their bodies cease to age, to the point where even their hair stops growing. Every time they travel through time in their mansion, they jump five years into the future and, with one exception, never ends up in the same place. The one exception is when the party is split, presumably because it needed everyone together. As they travel through time, meet and leave friends they make, they are given a descion to determine whether they will stay in the era they like most or continue on their journey together.
The anime, which is an adaptation of the eroge PC game, takes place in an alternate reality to the game on which it is based. The relations between some of the characters change, although all of the notable female characters are represented in some way in the game.
While the anime has an overall comedic tone, though each episode varies in the amount depending on which of the four girls (Ai, Mai, Mii or Mea) it revolves around. While the general theme is geared towards a younger audiences, there is periodic nudity in many episodes, though no sexually explicit scenes occur on camera. Geneon placed an age rating of 16+ because of the nudity and language. The series has received acclaim for its surprisingly emotional storyline and strongly fleshed-out central characters.
- Ai, the oldest of the three, is a motherly 18-years-old sister. She is often wears a Santa-styled hat over her green hair, and is the only major character with large breasts, a fact which she is often reminded of by her youngest sister, Mii. Ai is very near-sighted and requires glasses to see clearly.
- Ai is an awful cook, but that unfortunately doesn't stop her from cooking anyway. Daichi, a young boy the girls meet on their travels, is the only one willing to eat her food. Ai has a heart of gold and is always ready to help others in need. She seems to be the de-facto caretaker of the sisters' pet ferret, Unagi. She also loves to relax by taking bubble baths. Ai is used to the traveling and non-aging and takes it in stride, mostly unaffected by it until she meets Daichi as an adult.
- Ai has the unique ability to speak to plants which leads her to often spending time talking to the dandelions which she, and her sisters, refer to as "popotan". They help guide her on her family's quest, to meet Shizuku.
- She has one character song named "Ai no Sekai" Sung by her Seiyū, Ohara Sayaka. She is voiced by Mayu Fujisaki in the game.
- Mai, the middle sister, is a tomboy-ish 14-year-old girl. She has pink hair and usually wears sporty looking clothes. Mai is constantly reminded of her flat chest by her younger sister Mii which causes her to blow a fuse.
- Early in the season she was acknowledged for having problems with constantly moving for which she got constantly depressed about to the point she refused to go to school. This was because she thought everyone hated her after making friends and then abandoning them. She understood the impact of their journeys on others, unlike Mii, but did not have the mental maturity, like Ai, to cope with it. Later in the series she makes friends with a classmate of hers, Konami. When it was time to leave, Konami helped convince Mai that she was wrong and in consolation Mai left a sketch portrait Konami they were to make for a class assignment for Konami as a departing gift stating that they'll remain friends forever, even if they never see each other again. While she waits for Mai's return, Konami passes away 2 years before the mansion is in a location where they could meet again. She still was hoping to see Mai again..
- Later in the series Mai meets Konami's daughter and at first mistakes her for Konami, but quickly learns her name is Mai, the same as herself and named by her mother after her freind. The middle sister, Mai, discovers that Konami's daughter, Mai, has more in common with her than a name. She reselmbles what the younger sister Mai was like before meeting Konami and feels it's her duty to both Konami and her daughter to show her that way of thinking was wrong, just as had been done to her. Mai, the middle sister, ultimately gave up and failed at the time when she Konami had still been waiting for her even as she lay dying. This, compounded with Keith's words about the pain the girls bring to others, reawakening her depression in a much deeper manner. When she returns to visit Konami later and leaves, as a departing request, asks Konami to explain to her daughter what she felt so that she wouldn't follow the same path as the younger sister Mai.
- Mai is, along with Mea, the maid, left when the mansion disappears into the future without them. It is during this time that Mai realizes that she cannot age and Ai explains the connection to the mansion and aging process.
- Mai has one character song named "Endless Trip" Sung by her Seiyū, Asano Masumi. She is voiced by Mio Oukawa in the game.
- Mii, the youngest sister, the 11-years-old girl is by far the most energetic and naive of the three. Her light-purple hair is often tied in a double-bun on her head, except when she cosplays as "Magical Girl Mii".
- Mii has an obsession with defining plushy things, especially girls breasts, and constantly touches things that are, especially people. Being so young she quite naive and energetic. Through she passes through time like the rest of the girls, her very naivity and energy allow her to overcome most of the jumps with ease.
- "Magical Girl Mii" was a specialized cosplay costume she had created in the episode where he met a chronically ill girl named Miyuki she attempted to cheer up and it apparently cost a lot of money, but Ai seemed easily able to pay for it. After this, she often wears it around and pretends to help stop evil and believes she has superpowers. Later during the episode, Miyuki collapsed from overexertion playing with Mii. Mii tried to use powers she thought she had to heal her. The attempt was successful, and Ai revealed to the viewers that Mii's special power was healing. However, Mii remains unaware of this for a good portion of the season, and continues to believe that she has other powers as well.
- She has one character song named "MAHOU SHOUJO ~ Miitan Sanjou!!~" Sung by her Seiyū, Momoi Halko. She is voiced by Toromi in the game.
- Mea (sometimes referred to as Mare), the three sister's maid, is actually a life-like android. Her scarlet hair is tied down into two long ponytails that almost touch the ground. She has an amazing appetite and, like Mai, is reminded that she is flat chested by Mii, though unlike the former does not go ballistic. She is shown as being completely unemotional in her voice-tones, espcially during the first few episodes, but still does have her own desires and she becomes less robotic as the story progresses.
- Mea gets left behind with Mai when the house vanishes after visiting the hot springs. She later rejoins the group, along with Mai, when the mansion returns 5 years later to the same spot.
- Later it's revealed Mea is a 'guard' for the girls set to help them along their journey. Further on it's shown Mea is working with Shizuku along with Keith. It appears she is subordinate to Keith as he gives her orders near the end to bring them to Shizaku.
- She is voiced by Asumi Noda in the game.
- Unagi, the ferret, is found usually around Ai. She introduces the next episode as a young girl and who is afraid of Mii. In the anime's closing previews, Unagi is shown in her humanoid form taken from the game, though she never appears as such in the anime. However she is suppose to be able to do this as well in the anime. She is voiced by Kanon Torii in the game.
Main Supporting Characters
- Konami is the closest friend of Mai. She is the one responsible for breaking Mai's cyclical nature of her depression. She becomes a great artist and eventually has a daughter who she decided to name Mai.
- The daughter eventually meets Mai, the middle sister, who at first mistakes her for Konami as they look exactly alike. The daughter resents Mai, the middle sister, for abandoning her mother which further deepens the latter Mai's depression. Konami's daughter, Mai, develops a similar personality to that of the other Mai in that she chooses to close herself off from having friends. When Mai, the middle sister, returns to be with Konami later she asks Konami to teach her that both of them enjoyed their friendship and never resented the other for leaving, hoping to change the personality of her daughter.
- She is voiced by Miki Haruse in the game.
- Nono is one of Mii's closest friends, though its unclear whether she would distinguish her as her like that. It is likely due to her association with the game that the anime links it as such. Nono is a shrine maiden slightly older than Mii with blue hair. She is shy and seems to care deeply about her grandfather, who is very strict when it comes to training, especially heathen holidays like Christmas.
- She is voiced by in the game. (child), (adult)
- Daichi is a very kind and protective person. He is the first person seen in the anime as he takes pictures of the mansion which some students say is haunted. When he learns the truth, the girls decide to help him out. He, like Ai, goes out of his way to help his friends and is likely why the two connect.
- In the year 2000, as an adult, Daichi's daughter takes a picture at the beach and he sees the mansion where the girls lived, but obviously not in the same location he visited it. He goes to see them and meets Ai who becomes agitated because she doesn't know what to do. At the time she denies any connection, but later when he returns and is attacked by Keith she reveals the truth.
- Keith plays a role, along with Mea, as a 'guide'. has special abilities similar to the girls. He first appears wearing a business suit with his distinguishing white hair in an attempt to help out Ai dissuade an adult Daichi who she really is because of the nature of the mansion and their agelessness. At first she welcomes him and sleeps with him, but later resents him after he attacks Daichi. Later on, Keith tries to convince Mai the actions they take only end up hurting those they befriend.
- Keith is like Mea, but stronger and gets into a fight with her. While it appears he's trying to work against the girls, in one of the final scenes he's shown to be happy at the decision they eventually make.
- Shizuku is the reason for the travels and journeys the girls have had. Shizuku can be recognized by light green hair and her only article of clothing is a poncho.
- She is portrayed as a goddess of the dandelions. For most of the anime she is referred to by the three sisters as "The One" as they do not know her name. When the sisters finally meet Shizaku, she gives them a test to allow them to go back to an era when they were happiest or continue to travel.
- She is voiced by Minami Nagasaki in the game.
The player takes on the role of Chris, a highschool dropout who decided not to get a job because he's turned his back on society. He did this because he said he saw the direction it was heading and didn't like it. So because of this, he's been roaming for some time on the streets now. He makes a living, what little he can, by playing the guitar, but generally doesn't feel up to it without an audience and being a drifter makes that hard. As the game starts, he is wandering around and happens upon a mansion where he meets three sisters and their maid: Ai, Mai, Mii and Mea. He decides to stay with them because their rent is cheap and he likes staying in a house with three girls.
The Playstation 2 port adds some extra cutscenes and other content, while censoring some images, but not others. Both versions are rated CERO 18 in Japan.
A fan disc was later made for the game, which has generally signaled the end of a series.
- Game Opening Theme: "Icchae! Popotan" by Under17
- Anime Opening Theme: "Popotan hatake de tsukamaete" by Under17
- Anime Ending Theme: "S-U-K-I" by Funta
- Popo Music - Popotan Original Soundtrack by Osamu Tezuka
- Popotan e.p. - a Maxi single featuring full versions of opening and ending themes, as well as "Gem Stone"--a bonus collaboration between Under17 and Funta
- It's A Popo Time! - an album of character songs performed by the original cast
The PC game is an eroge visual novel and became a cult success because of the dance performed by Mai and Mii in the game's opening to Caramelldansen spreading through the internet as a meme.